Take Folders in Logic were designed for loop recording. This is where an artist sings or plays a short 2–4 bar phrase over and over again until they have multiple tracks to compile (or comp) into a single master track. In Logic this is done using the Quick Swipe Comping feature. In this tutorial I'm going to show you a beautiful hack that turns Take Folders and Quick Swipe Comping into a formidable beat creation tool.
Step 1 - Assemble Audio
I usually start by assembling 5-6 pieces of audio that work well together. Slower tempo material works the best I've found. In this example I've used Apple Loops, but for the love of humanity please feel free to use audio from somewhere else. Often I will start with a heavier type of beat that has a big skeleton to it for the first track. Then I'll use one or two other grooves to pick up higher frequency elements like snares and percussion. Lately I've been comping big bass lines and distorted synth parts into my grooves to good effect, which is what I've done here.
Step 2 - Do a Basic Mix
At this point I do a basic level adjust and add plug-ins to taste. The idea is to get every element speaking clearly in its own sonic space without crowding the others.
Step 3 - Order Tracks & Color Regions
The next step is also pretty important. Give every region a distinct color and order your tracks from low frequency to high. I put my heavier skeletal beat tracks to the bottom and synth lines and melodic elements on the top. This will help you visually and mentally keep track of the process.
Step 4 - Pack Your Take Folder
Now let's get down in it. Shift select all of your regions, and then Control-click and select Folder > Pack Take Folder. Don't panic. Just leave it and continue reading…
Step 5 - Open the Take Folder
When you first pack a Take Folder it seems like you've made a big mistake. You haven't. Logic will gather all of the regions into your top track and empty out the rest. Logic has consolidated them into one region on the topmost track and given it the default blue color. At the top left of that new region is a disclosure arrow. Open it. The orange arrow points to my disclosure arrow in the figure below.
Step 6 - Use the Comp Swipe Editor
Ok it's music time. The Comp Swipe tool appears as a black vertical bar. Once a selection is made you can fine-tune it with the region re-size tool. It appears when hovering over the left or right borders. When the mouse is in the center of a selection, a left-right arrow tool appears. It looks similar to the Flex Tool. You can drag the entire selection to the left or right. The moment you make any selection, that selection (and color!) are updated into the top track. Start playback. Work on the first bar. Then bar two. Move on down the line until you have a four bar phrase that brings you life. You are making order out of chaos so give yourself plenty of time to play around with the possibilities. If it's not working, go back and try it with just two beats.
Step 7 - Create Multiple Comps
Now let's create an alternate version within your take folder. Simply click (Control-click will give you a different menu) on the letter “A” next to the disclosure arrow at the top left of the track. From the menu select Duplicate. Now you will be working on version B. Here is a badass tip for coming up with cool variants: you can exchange any selection with any other by right-clicking on a selection (in our case a color) in the top track and choosing another track from the pull-down menu.
Step 8 - Fine Tune Your Edits Using Flatten
In most cases you will hear some clicks and pops between your various edits. Fixing them is easy. But… before we go there might I venture a bit of advice? Through the years I've learned that venturing into “fine tuning” mode can turn into an ever expanding self-discovery odyssey pretty quickly. This is the bone yard of where perfectly reasonable songs and ideas go to die. You can, and will edit to the point where the idea no longer feels fresh. Having the courage to leave something alone is the mark of a great artist. That said, fixing edits is easy. Click on the Comp letter “A” (or B or C) and select Flatten. Now select the Fade Tool (see the orange arrow) from the Tool Menu and hack away.
Step 9 - Lastly…
Once you have a cool groove with two or three variants click on the Comp letter “A” (or B or C) and select Flatten and Merge. Now you have finished pieces of audio with your comped ideas. One little catch that you may run into: Sometimes you can go back into a Take Folder and find editing completely disabled. It's easy to fix. Click on the Comp letter “A” (or b or c) and make sure Quick Swipe Comping is checked.