Creating Arpeggiated Patterns in Logic - Part 1

Logic comes with a built-in arpeggiator. It's true! Many new Logic users search for it within the DSP Effects area to no avail - or hope that it may be an option within the included instruments. Inste  

Logic comes with a built-in arpeggiator. It's true! Many new Logic users search for it within the DSP Effects area to no avail - or hope that it may be an option within the included instruments. Instead we'll need to delve into Logic's Environment to create an arpeggiator that'll work great once you know how to use it.

There's two primary ways to setup the arpeggiator in Logic. In this tutorial we'll explore the simplest way to it up and running and create some arpeggiated patterns.

01 - Choose your Instrument

I've started out by creating a new Software Instrument track and have chosen to use Sculpture as my instrument of choice. If you'd like to follow along I've used the preset:
06 Mallet Instruments > Classic Vibraphone

Next, I've created a MIDI region on the Vibraphone track and penciled in some chords:

Here's what our Instrument sounds like:

02 - Create an Arpeggiator

If you've never ventured into Logic's Environment before and the thought of doing so disturbs your sleep, have no fear. It's really quite a friendly place once you understand the basics, and once mastered you'll understand why Logic is so popular!

We're going to be creating a new Arpeggiator object and routing it to the Vibraphone track.

Choose Window > Environment to open an Environment window. You should see the Mixer view and be able to see the Vibraphone channel strip.

Choose New > Arpeggiator from the Environment's local menu.

An Arpeggiator object is created. You can drag this around and place it in a convenient place in the Environment window.

03 - Connecting it up

The Arpeggiator has a triangle at it's top-right. This is an output slot. This allows us to connect it to another object and output the MIDI signal from the Arpegiator object to a channel strip.

In this case we want to arpeggiate the Vibraphone instrument. So drag that output triangle and a cable will appear. Drop this cable on to the Vibraphone channel strip. A connection is made!

We've routed the output from the Arp to the Vibraphone channel strip.

04 - A Track for the Arpeggiator

Our Arpeggiator needs it's own track. It can't create sound, but it can arpeggiate the MIDI notes we play (or place on the track) and send them to the connected Vibraphone track.

Back in the Arrange area create a new track. It doesn't matter what type of track as we'll assign it to our Arpeggiator.

Position the Environment window so you can see the Track Header List on the Arrange page. Drag the Arpeggiator object from the Environment window onto the new track header. The arpeggiator object is now assigned to that track.

If you hit play now, you'll hear the original Vibraphone chords, without any arpeggiation applied to them.

The Arpeggiator cannot arpeggiate the MIDI notes of a region on a different track. The solution? Simply move the region from the Vibraphone track to the Arpeggiator's track in the Arrange area.

05 - Real-time Reality!

If you hit a MIDI note on your MIDI Controller or using the Caps Lock Keyboard you'll only hear the single note / chord being played. This is because Logic's Arpeggiator only works in real-time: the Transport has to be running, or in other words, you must be in "play" mode.

Hit play and you'll hear the arpeggio that has been created from our chord pattern.

06 - Arpeggiator Options

There's plenty of things we can do to change the way the chords are arpeggiated.

Select the Arpeggiator track and in the Inspector click on the Arpeggiator's Track Disclosure arrow to show further options.

Here you can set the Direction of the arpeggiated chord. For example, Up will play the lowest notes to the highest, Down will go from highest to lowest and Random will play the notes in a random order.

You can also set the Velocity of the arpeggiated notes, choose to limit the pitch range to determine which notes will be arpeggiated. (Any notes outside of the Key Limit range will not be arpeggiated).

The Resolution determines the note division of the arpeggiated pattern. This could also be described as speed. For example, setting the resolution to 1/8 will result in a slower pattern than 1/16. If you're after a very avant-garde effect try setting the Resolution to Random!

Another interesting option is the Octaves setting which can span the arpeggiated notes to be repeated over up to 10 octaves!

It is possible to "remote control" these settings in the Arpeggiator, but this is beyond the scope of this tutorial. More advanced Arpeggiator tips and tricks can be found in Steve H's Logic TNT1 tutorial here.

07 - Getting Creative & Exporting Tips

As the arpeggiator is an Environment object it can be routed to other instruments to created layered arpeggio patterns.

Create a new Software Instrument track and place an Instrument of choice on the track. In this example I'm using the ES2 and the setting:
12 Synth Keyboard > Electric Harmonics

Now jump back to the Environment window and drag the second output of the Arpeggiator to this new software instrument channel strip. With a few adjustments you can create some interesting arpeggiated patterns. Of course the sounds you choose can make a big difference. Experiment with shorter synth bass and stab sounds for Dance and Trance music.

However, there is one caveat to setting up the Arpeggiator in this way. The Arpeggiator doesn't write the output of the notes as an arpeggio pattern (whether you record them onto the track or use a MIDI region). So if you record a chord progression to the Arpeggio track, you will record the original notes you play and not the arpeggiated pattern that you hear.

As a result, if you want to render the pattern to audio then make sure to use Realtime mode when bouncing. This allows Logic to send the original chords through the arpeggiator and record the output, which must be done in real-time.

After you've created an Arpeggiator, you may wish to save your project as a template to avoid needing to re-create an arpeggiator from scratch. However, stay tuned for Part 2 of this tutorial where we'll look into creating an Arpeggiator Environment that can be toggled on/off and can be applied to any Software Instrument track without extra messy cabling required... This method will also write the arpeggiated patterns direct to your chosen tracks.

Download the Logic 9 Project file to accompany this tutorial here.

Check out this tutorial for even more Environment tips and tricks that'll make your music productions stand out from the crowd!

Find Part 2 of this tutorial-article here.

Rounik is the Executive Editor for Ask.Audio & macProVideo. He's built a crack team of professional musicians and writers to create one of the most visited online resources for news, review, tutorials and interviews for modern musician and producer. As an Apple Certified Trainer for Logic Pro Rounik has taught teachers, professional... Read More


Hi Rounik,
The guidelines were helpful, however, I had a little problem - with this method the output from the other tracks in the arrangement window goes away! Would be grateful if you could let me know how could I bring it back on?

Hi Ankush,

What do you mean "it goes away?" Are the level meters of those channel strips still registering an output?

Are those MIDI regions muted?

This shouldn't happen... unless one of the channels is solo-ed or some connections inthe Environment's 'Cables and Ports' layer have been broken... Try creating a new project and following the steps from scratch. Also you can download the project file to accompany Part 1 here:

Furthermore, I'd recommend following Part 2, as it's a more flexible way to use an Arpeggiator in Logic:
Thanks to you, I just noticed that, though in the arrangement window none of the tracks were solo-ed or muted, in the mixer window there was an extra instrument that was solo-ed and hence was creating the problem. Its gone now and working fine.
Thanks a ton again.
Hey Ankush,

Glad to have been of help! Here's a useful article on troubleshooting Logic:

Good to check out if you're coming up against "no sound output" issues. Of course, do pop by the macProVideo Logic forums any time if you need any help or have any Qs at all, or just wanna say hi!
Being as I am jumping into the middle of Logic without a lot of the initial training, this may be an easy answered question but...

I followed your steps and got the arpeggiator working well except for one odd thing that I can't solve.

The initial chord that I created using the pencil tool starts with a full chord bang of the notes so if I use something with any reverb or echo, it lingers rather than just doing the random order I asked it to.

The rest of the chords sound like they should which is strange since I copied the initial chord and pasted it in to make the learning process quick and easy.

Any thoughts?

By the way, easiest Logic tutorial I've tried so thank you for the good work!

Hey Kyle,

Thanks. Glad you've been enjoying the tutorial :)

Is the first chord starting on Bar 1? Or does the playhead start playing back before the first chord... say a bar or so?

Also, what version of Logic are you running? e.g. 9.1.5.

I'm on 9.1.5

The first chord is right on the beginning of Bar 1 and there is no delay from hitting the play button to the sound.

It literally sounds like I've pounded the first chord with the sustain pedal held down but I drew the notes.
Thanks for this tutorial. I was up and running in no time. Aside from bouncing to audio, I would like to record arpeggiated notes using a pre-existing MIDI region. It seems that, for recording purposes, the input is only recognized physically and not with pre-existing MIDI regions. For example, I record-enabled the software instrument track and created an empty MIDI region on that track as well. When I try to record the arpeggiated notes onto the software instrument track using a pre-existing MIDI region on the Arpeggiator track, it plays the music during the recording, but the MIDI data does not get recorded onto the MIDI region. Is there a way to route it in the Environment to get it to record the arpeggiated notes onto the software instrument track using a pre-existing MIDI region on the Arpeggiator track? This is in contrast to playing the chords by hand while recording. I'm wondering if I'm doing something wrong or the capability is not there. Thanks!
Hi Dheeraj,

Yes! You can do this. First I'd recommend you setup the Arpeggiator using the second tutorial in this series:

(Link is at the bottom of the article above.)

This will give you much more control over creating Arpeggiated patterns. Save the arp project as a template and then follow these steps:

1- Place the MIDI region (preferably chords) you wish to arpeggiate on any Software Inst track. Bypass or remove the Instrument on that track.

2- Next you need to cable the output from that track's channel strip to the input of the Arpeggiator. (i.e. the Arp On/Off switch).

3- Back in the Arrange area select the Soft Inst track you want to record to and hit Record.

You should now have an arpeggiated pattern :)

Hope this help,
I just followed your steps on a track I finished this morning and it works great! Step 2 was exactly the solution I was looking for: creating a connection to the Arpeggiator from the software instrument track output. Thanks so much, Rounik!
Hi Dheeraj,

Glad to hear and thanks for letting me know!

Hope you find more Hub articles and MPV videos here of use.

Cheers :)
This is a great tutorial but please answer Kyle's question. I'm having the same problem. Bar 1, Beat 1, hit play, blam, the chord rings out, then the arp kicks in. This is super annoying.
I move the midi pattern back a bar, problem solved. Well Logic, what if I wanted the arp. to start on the first bar?
Hi Eric & Kyle,

What version of Logic are you running? Which plug-in are you using? Buffer I/O size?

Sometimes Logic can be a bit fussy if the MIDI event start exactly on the beat (Bar 1, beat 1). It's a legacy thing. It's not uncommon for many long-time pro Logic users to start their projects at Bar 2 or 5... just not Bar 1!

I'd suggest following part 2 of this tutorial-article, you'll actually be able to print the arpeggiated to the MIDI region and therefore be able to bounce your pattern / song to audio without using the real-time mode. Lot's of other advantages too :)

Hope this helps
Hey there, need help guys! i just started using environment for the last 3days, i manage to do a few stuff, but there is one thing i still can't do.
I simply cannot create a new instrument track on my mixing table (environment one), wether im starting on an empty project, or a template. I go to "new", "mixing table" and there the option to create a new software instrument track is disabled. (same same for the audio)
I know i can create new tracks directly from the edit window, but this is not what i want.
Can somebody please help me getting this option enabled in the environment window?
I also tried ALT + Click, which allows me to copy and paste the track, but as soon as i change instruments, all tracks become the same intrusment.
Hi Aksel,

yeah, Alt-drag/click will create a copy, not a new track.

You will need to create your tracks in the Arrange area, and the corresponding channel strip will appear in the Environment window.

It'll just take a couple of quick key commands to do this:

1. Switch back to the Arrange window (Command ~)
2. Hit Alt-Cmd-N and create as many tracks as you need.
3. Switch back to the Environment (Cmd ~)

Alternatively, if your MUST stay in the Environment only then create some Aux channel strips and assign them to software instrument channels in the Inspector's Channel drop down menu.

Hope this helps
Thanks for the quick reply Rounik.
What you told me does not really help though.
I have an exercice to do for school.
Here's the thing:

I have 5 tracks on which there are no outputs, so my guess was to create 5 new tracks in the environment window and then come back to the arrange window to map them to the right track.

I tried creating aux tracks, but it still does not work, meaning there are already midi notes recorded on each of the 5 tracks I have, played, without getting any sound from it.

any ideas?

ps: what worked (but is surely not the best way): i created new tracks in the arrange window like you advised me to, and i mapped each existing tracks to the new instruments one newly created .
Hi Aksel,

You don't need to be in the Environment window to set the inputs and outputs of tracks.

Simply create a new track in Arrange area and in the window set the input or output.

If you're working with already created tracks then simply select the track header and change the input / output in the left channel strip (in the Inspector).

Not sure why this isn't the best way... why do you need to be in the Environment? What are you trying to achieve? If you already have tracks created in the Arrange then Logic has already created channel strips for you which you'll see in the Environment window, Mixer window and the Arrange area's Inspector.
Very clear and easy to follow. Thanks!
Thanks Morry!!


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