The Region Parameters window is one of my favorite windows in Logic Pro. It's the small drop down menu at the top of Logic's Inspector. It's quite easy to ignore this window for its lack of visual appeal (to say the least!), but it has some of the most powerful capabilities in all of Logic. The amazing thing about this window is that everything you do is nondestructive and region based (nothing you select in this window is ever permanently applied to the region, and can be turned on/off at any time). In this article I'll be evolving a simple track by using various Region Parameters.
If you'll be following along, you can either download the logic project below, open a track you've been working on, or pull in some green apple loops. My sample track has drums, bass, and a synth pluck sound.
Step 1 - Quantization
First, let's quantize the regions. I played the bass and pluck sound live, so they're not perfect. A common value is 1/16 notes. Other common values would be 1/32 for retaining hi hat fills, 1/12 or 1/24 for songs with triplets, or high values like 1/64 and up to capture a drum flam, or strums.
Select all the regions (drums, bass and pluck), and choose 16C Swing from the Quantize parameters menu.
Step 2 - Q-Swing
You'll notice (directly below the Quantize menu) a parameter called Q-Swing (Quantize Swing). In addition to the pre-defined Swing values selectable in the Quantize parameter list, Q-Swing allows you to adjust the swing percentage manually. Swing adds “groove” to music. It's common in many types of acoustic and electronic genres. “Swing” occurs when every other note is played forward or back in time. For example, a 1/16 swing setting moves the even 16th notes in a bar forward, with a value above 50%, or back in time with a value lower than 50%. The odd notes are left intact.
Try adjusting this value above 50% to hear how it sounds, then return the value to 50%.
Here's an example of the drums without and with Swing:
Step 3 - Q-Strength
Now jump to the bottom of the list, and click the arrow to open the Advanced Quantization settings. These setting work in conjunction with the Quantize parameter… If no value is selected in the Quantize parameter, these will have no effect on your MIDI. We'll only be looking at Q-Strength today, but some of the other parameters are great; for example Q-Flam creates MIDI strums! Q-Strength's default setting is 100%.
The Quantize parameter above is set to 16C Swing… any note played will be quantized directly to a 16C Swing position. By lowering the Q-Strength, you “loosen up” the Quantize parameter so your notes are closer to the un-quantized performance. A Q-Strength value of 0% would result in no quantization.
For anything other than kick drums, I always pull this value back a bit. Let's reduce the Q-Strength on the bass line. First, open the Piano Roll, so you can clearly see the notes within the region, and pull the Q-Strength back while watching the start positions of the notes. They start to slowly shift toward their original positions with lower percentage values.
Let's set this value to around 90%.
Remember that this parameter only works on regions that were played in live. If you drew the notes in by hand, their original position will most likely already be on a grid/division value.
Step 4 - Transposition
Now let's Transpose our MIDI nondestructively. You can do this in semitones with a Click-Hold-Drag (up and down), directly on the “+/- 0” to the right of the word Transposition. You can also Transpose in octaves by clicking the up and down arrow on the right side.
Let's use this parameter in creative way on the Progressive Pluck sound. Play the track...
The pluck sound repeats the same riff all 4 times. Click each region and select a different semitone value for each one. Each region is labeled by the amount of semitones you should adjust them to, but this is strictly to taste really! This method is a great way to come up with variations on repeating loops...
Step 5 - Delay
Now to the Delay parameter. It allows you to “move” a region forward or back in time either by ticks, or by a predefined note value. The beauty of this is that the regions don't actually move, but stay perfectly in place while Logic nudges them forward or back in time internally. This is beneficial when arranging since the region hasn't physically moved, so you don't have to worry about the edges of your regions hanging over a bar when you go to copy/cut/insert/paste different sections.
Click-Hold-Drag (up and down) directly on the “0” to the right of the word Delay so the region will be “delayed” in ticks, or click the up and down arrows to delay the region by tempo synchronized note values. Above the zero position will play the region later, and below will play it earlier or “rushed.”
When used in ticks, the Delay parameter works great for chilling out a rushed snare, or tightening a bass with a slow attack.
Let's create a MIDI delay on the synth pluck. First, Option-Click-Drag the four regions to the tracks below till you have three tracks with four regions each (see image below).
Choose 1/8th note from the Delay menu on the middle regions and 3/4 on the bottom ones. Now from the Velocity parameter (directly below Delay), pull the value back to around -20 on the middle region, and -30 on the bottom one. (Your sound must respond to velocity for this parameter).
Here's what that should sound like:
Step 6 - Gate Time
Finally, let's play with the Gate Time on the synth pluck sound. Have you ever wondered what your MIDI part would sound like if played more shorter (staccato), or longer (legato)? This parameter shortens or lengthens all the notes within the region by a percentage. With a value of 25%, the notes will be a quarter of their original length, or 4X longer with a value of 400%.
Select random regions from the Progressive Pluck sound and change their Gate Times to values like 25%, 75%, and 200%. You can create crescendos by building a chain of regions starting from a low value and ending high.
The instrument this parameter effects must have sustain, like synthesizers, and piano sounds. If the instrument is programmed to be “one shot” (like many drum samples/instruments), you won't hear the effect of this parameter.
Here's what random Gate Time parameter settings sounds like...
Step 7 - Tips
If you select multiple regions simultaneously and adjust Region parameters, it changes for all the regions. If you adjust the Transposition of multiple regions that had different values, they're changed incrementally.
Here's a sample of the track sounds with middle and bottom progressive pluck sound Transposed an octave, and the with a Gate time of 50%: