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How to Create & Use Custom Groove Templates in Logic

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Read Time: 7 min

Groove templates can be very useful when making music, and Logic makes it quite easy for you to make your own and use them in your projects. However a little homework is required and there are a few tricks to doing it right. That’s what this tutorial is all about.

I would like to mention that I am not going to provide the project file for this tutorial. If you do it right, this has to be done only once. So if I do include the project files, it would make the tutorial redundant.

For the uninitiated, a groove template is made using a MIDI pattern that has been quantized with a certain groove. Therefore a prerequisite to this tutorial is that you have some other source for a "groove" at hand. For example a drum machine or a sequencer other that Logic (like Ableton Live). This may seem strange but there small differences in the groove quantization.

I will be using Ableton Live to create the source MIDI files which we will later use in Logic. Again, you can use any sequencer or plugin that can add groove to MIDI sequences. (a plugin that can do this is GURU by fxpansion)

Let's get started.

Step 1

Open Ableton Live and create an Instrument Track. Now drop a “Simpler” instrument on the track and drop the “Click Attack” sample provided on Simpler (this is only for monitoring purposes). Double click in any cell of the instrument channel to create a MIDI region.

Step 2

At the bottom left corner, right click/crtl click on the "1/16" and select 1/8 in the popup menu to change the grid.

You could use 1/16 notes too, but I'm sticking to 1/8 notes for the purpose of the tutorial. Once you learn how it’s done, you can create MIDI sequences with different grooves based on both, 1/8th and 1/16th notes.

Step 3

Now double click after the first grid line to create a MIDI note. In this case it makes no difference which note you are using since this has nothing to do with tone or pitch.

Do this for all 8 divisions of the grid, or simply use the shortcut “Command-D” seven times (Ctrl-D in case of windows).

Play the MIDI clip to hear how it sounds without any groove applied. This way it will be easier to hear the difference once you apply a groove to the sequence.

Step 4

Once the notes are drawn, locate the “Clip” section towards the bottom left of the screen. (It’s right beside the “Status Bar”.) Here you will find the Groove drop-down menu and right next to the word “Groove” a small round “Hot Swap” button. Click the Hot Swap Button to reveal the Groove Library.

Now you can see all the grooves from various sources that you can apply to your MIDI patterns within Live. Ironically there is also a folder of Logic grooves you can use in Live. For the purpose of this tutorial, we will chose the MPC folder which uses grooves generated using the legendary AKAI MPC sampler. (I suggest experimenting with the others later.)

Step 5

Now double click on any of the MPC 8 Swing grooves to hear how they sound with the pattern you created earlier. Experiment to hear what they sound like and make notes since you can make templates out of all the grooves that work well with your music.

In the case of this tutorial, we will use the “MPC 8 Swing-60”. To apply the selected groove to the MIDI clip, click on “Commit” right below the Groove drop-down menu in the Clip section. The quantization will visually change on the right side to show the applied change. You should also be able to hear the difference.

Step 6

We now need to export this MIDI data so that it can be used by Logic. To do this, simply right click / ctrl click on the MIDI clip and select “Export MIDI Clip” in the menu. Save the file in an easily accessible location since it will be needed soon. I also suggest naming it depending on the groove used, for example: mpc8-60.mid. This will avoid confusion when using the files later.

This process can be repeated for all the chosen grooves and also using the 1/16 grid. By the end of this you should have your own pool of usable MIDI grooves that can now be converted to Groove Templates in Logic.

Step 7

Once this is done it's time to open Logic and start a new project. If you use a “Project Template” or “Autoload” in your workflow, I suggest incorporating the next part into the Template and saving it. If you do not use a template, now would be a good time to start. The reason for this is that Logic will not remember your groove templates across projects or even within the same project if it is not being used.

Step 8

Import or drag and drop all the MIDI files that you created using Live and organize them in the arrange window. Rename the tracks to exactly how you want them to appear in the Quantize menu before saving them as Groove Templates. Once the tracks have been renamed select all the MIDI regions that were imported containing groove information , right click / ctrl click on the selection, scroll down to “Name & Color” and chose “Name Regions by Tracks” in the sub-menu.

Step 9

Finally we get to creating the actual groove template in Logic. This is a really simple step. Just select a track which has a MIDI region with groove information and in the “Inspector”, found at the top left of the page, click on the arrows next to “Quantize”.

The menu that appears will have all the default logic quantization values and at the bottom of the list an option to “Make Groove Template”. Clicking one that adds the groove template to the list and it is ready for use. Using the templates is easy. Just click on any other midi track to which you want to apply the groove and go back to the quantization menu and select a groove from the list. The groove templates will also be available in the Piano Roll editor.

Step 10

Now that we are done with the creation of Groove Templates, it’s time to clean up and organize. First of all, remove all the virtual instruments that were created on the instrument tracks when the MIDI files were imported. This is very important! You could also choose to not send them to the stereo output (by assigning them to “No Output”), but this is not essential.

Step 11

Select all the MIDI regions you used as groove templates and right click / ctrl click on the selection, scroll down to the last option in the drop-down menu and select “Pack Folder” from the resultant sub-menu. You may want to rename the folder at this time following the same steps as renaming a MIDI region.

Step 12

On top of the Arrange window, immediately to the left of the “Edit” button is a button with the letter “H” on it. Clicking on this button turns it green and reveals a smaller “H” button on all the tracks in the Arrange window. Click on the small “H” corresponding to the folder track containing the MIDI grooves. This will also turn green once activated. Now simply click on the larger “H” next to the “Edit” button and the track will be hidden from view in the arrange window. The button will also turn orange to indicate that the project has hidden tracks.

Step 13

All that remains now is to save all this work. As mentioned earlier, those that started this exercise within their Autoload or Default Template should save it as a part of the template. For those that haven’t been using templates, save this project as a Template.

By doing this, the Custom Groove Templates that were added to the Quantize list will appear on every new project.

Have fun creating your own pool of Groove Templates for Logic.

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