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