How to Record Logic Pro X’s Arpeggiator Notes

Logic Pro X has an impressive Arpeggiator plug-in. It's one limitation? Arpeggiator notes can't be recorded as MIDI in the Piano Roll... or can they? Peter Schwartz shows us how!  
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It was a long time coming, but it finally happened. When Logic Pro X hit the market, it included a feature on many people's wish-list: an MIDI plugin arpeggiator. Prior to Logic X, creating arpeggiated patterns meant delving into the Environment (where many a mortal fear to tread), creating an arpeggiator "object", and literally wiring it into Logic's MIDI pathway so that arpeggiated notes could be recorded. As if that wasn’t tedious enough, setting the arpeggiator's controls from the environment window was finicky and limited in scope.

Logic’s Environment-based arpeggiator and parameter controls.

Logic’s Environment-based arpeggiator and parameter controls.

Logic's MIDI FX arpeggiator plugin made those drudgeries a thing of the past, sporting a proper GUI with a wealth of controls, and new features which left the old arpeggiator's capabilities in the dust.

There was and remains just one problem, however: unlike the environment-based arpeggiator, there's no way to easily record the actual notes that the arpeggiator generates, thus making it impossible to edit note pitches, velocities, or rhythms of arpeggiated patterns.

In green, a block chord being arpeggiated. In red, recording of the actual notes generated by the arpeggiator – the desired result.

In green, a block chord being arpeggiated. In red, recording of the actual notes generated by the arpeggiator – the desired result.

The Solution!

I've come up with an easy, 4-step solution for this situation where the actual notes of an arpeggiated part can be recorded. This workaround involves the use of the Mac's built-in "MIDI pipeline" called the IAC Bus. Here's a breakdown of the process:

• Send the arpeggiated part out of Logic via the IAC bus and loop it back into Logic, recording the arpeggiator’s notes on a new track

• Move this recording to the track that was originally playing the part, but with the arpeggiator turned off because it’s no longer needed!

Step 1: Preparation

Create two new instrument tracks. This creates two new instrument channels. We're going to add some items to the first channel, but leave the second one entirely blank.

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In the mixer, Option-drag the arpeggiator from your original part's instrument channel to the first of the newly created channels. This creates an exact copy of the Arpeggiator on the channel.

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Then, install the External I/O plugin as the instrument for this channel.

A copy of the arpeggiator and an External I/O plugin installed in the first of two newly created instrument channels.

A copy of the arpeggiator and an External I/O plugin installed in the first of two newly created instrument channels.

Step 2: Get On the Bus

From the External I/O plugin’s MIDI Destination menu, select IAC Bus 1. 

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However, if you don't see the IAC Bus listed there, activate it by:

• opening AudioMIDI Setup

• locating the IAC Bus icon

• enabling it

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Once you've done that, go back to the External I/O plugin and select the now visible IAC Bus item from the menu.

Step 3: Move ‘n’ Loopback 

Move (don't copy) your original MIDI part to the new track containing the copy of the arpeggiator and the External I/O plug.

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Now select the second of the new tracks you created, put it into record-ready, and record the entire arpeggiating part down from the top.

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Step 4: Rearrange the Furniture

When you're done recording, do just three things:

a) move (don't copy) the newly recorded MIDI part to the original instrument's track

b) bypass the arpeggiator on the original instrument track (it’s no longer needed)

c) mute or turn off the track with the External I/O plugin

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Now hit play and you'll hear the same arpeggiated pattern playing from your original instrument's track!

Final Notes: 
If you open the event list on the newly recorded part, you’ll likely discover that the note positions won’t appear to be quantized. They may be behind the beat, ahead of the beat, or a mixture of both. The reason: timing of MIDI data along the IAC bus is, and always has been, a bit imprecise. But since arpeggiated parts are inherently quantized, the solution to restore the timing is simple: just quantize the part using the Region Parameters. Voila! 

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Peter Schwartz, composer, orchestrator, arranger, pianist, synthesist, and musical director, began piano studies at age 5 and went on to earn a degree in piano performance from Manhattan School of Music. It wasn't long afterward that he began working as a product specialist for New England Digital (Synclavier) and also as a sound progr... Read More

Discussion

Chas
This is GREAT info! I just tried it & it works like a champ. Thanks much for this article.
Colin
Nice tip Peter, but it seems that if the chord symbol is selected for any of the steps in the Arpeggiator, the chords are not recorded using your method above. Only single notes are recorded.

Check it out....
Colin
Here's a free plugin that does the trick:
http://www.audiocr.com/midi-fx-freeze/

It even records the chords when the Chord button is enabled.
Simple and effective....
Peter Schwartz
FWIW, it's never possible to cover every little detail in a short-form article such as this. Being able to record the notes of an arpeggiated pattern was the objective, and what's offered here is a simple and effective method for doing just that. Voila.
Yosser
Great article, by far the simplest DIY method of achieving this that iv seen.
lostinthesound
Hi Peter,

Why not simply use the drag n drop function that's built into the arpeggiator (located next to the play button)? Buy clicking the icon that looks like a small MIDI region and dragging it into a drag, you can instantly have a MIDI region with all of the raw notes rendered from the arp plugin. No need to mess with the Environment or the IAC for that matter. Cheers.
Yosser
That doesn't record the midi data that the arpeggiator spits out, it only records the notes you press. It also won't record a live performance as you need to press a note, then drag and drop, press another note drag and drop again etc

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