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This tutorial will demonstrate the process of using a single sample to create the foundation of a track primarily using Flex Pitch. It should help people with writer's block get some inspiration to create something new. I will only be using samples and tools that come with Logic Pro X, so everyone can try this out without any external tools or plugins.
To start off, I'll be setting my tempo to 126 BPM and the key of the project to D minor. You can chose any tempo or key you like when experimenting with this technique in the future. With some basic knowledge of music theory, a part of this technique can actually be used to find the key of a melodic sample if you plan to use it as the basis of a new track.
Here we are setting the key from the beginning because we want Logic to play every sample or loop in the key of the song instead of the original key. This is an amazing feature in Logic, and can be very useful when dropping in melodic samples midway during production.
Note: A bit of care should be taken, as sometimes altering the pitch of a sample too much might produce undesirable results. Trust your ears.
Next we open up the loop browser from the right hand side of the toolbar, and import an appropriate sample to work with. I say appropriate since this technique will not work well with polyphonic samples or complete tracks. The best samples to work with are solo melodic instruments and vocals. The less processing, the better the results.
In this case, I have used a vocal sample called "Yasmin Melody 05". This is part of the "Voices" pack, if you haven't downloaded it yet, you can do so by selecting Download Additional Content from the Logic Pro X menu. It can be found in the Legacy & Compatibility section. Once you have located the sample, drag it into the arrangement.
Now, locate the Show/Hide Flex button on the project's toolbar. Clicking it will put all the tracks in the project in Flex mode and show the corresponding options. Set the Flex Mode to Flex Pitch as you see in the image below.
The waveform will now change to show the notes it has detected and the variation in pitch of each note from the key it is meant to be in.
You can highlight all notes and pull down on the note which is most distant from the median to bring them all into perfect pitch.
Double click on the clip to open it up in the Audio Editor window. Once the Audio Editor window comes up, from its Edit menu, select Create MIDI Track from Flex Pitch Data.
A new track will be created with a MIDI region in place that contains the notes from the sample we used. That was simple enough, but usually it needs a little tweaking. Mainly with note length and quantize. Both of these can be easily fixed right here in the Audio Editor.
Select all the notes (Command+A) and select a Time Quantize value from the left hand panel. I have used the standard 1/16 note quantize. You can also change the note length at this point to your liking. Notice i have overlapped a couple of notes to facilitate glide.
Next, open an instance of the ES2 synth and load the Classic Techno 02 preset. I tweaked it a little, you can look that up from the image below. Although, you could use any synth or preset you like.
Now we can go ahead and make things a little interesting by adding some basic beats from the Logic Pro X library and chopping up the vocal sample we used to create the MIDI notes. For this example, I used the Technical House Beat 02 from the Tech House Pack.
The process to chop up audio by note length in Logic is very simple. If you are chopping it up into sixteenths like I have done here, place the cursor at the end of the first sixteenth division, hold down Option and click. The entire sample will be automatically chopped into sixteenths. This works the same if you want to chop it into any other size as well.
Remove or rearrange these chopped parts to create interesting vocal stabs or effects. How this is done is entirely up to you. If you would like to see how I did it, refer to the last image of the tutorial.
You can now go ahead and use a combination of these techniques as well as some effects to sculpt out a track.
For example. I used some basic effects in Logic like reverb and delay to add more dimension to the vocals and synth line. I also made a copy of the MIDI region and used a simplified variation as my bass track. The bass instrument is Logic's ES M synth.
So once again, here is the final product after tweaking:
You can now go ahead and either replicate this with the same samples and edits or try out your own. Have fun!