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Programming Rhythmical Gates in Logic Pro

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This is a subject I touched on briefly in a previous tutorial on gating and people were pretty interested in the technique. This tutorial aims to show the various ways of creating the effect in more detail.

I've used Logic but this can be achieved in pretty much any DAW that supports native side chaining and has a gate plug-in.

Step 1: Feeding Your Gates

If you plan to use the techniques outlined in this tutorial you'll have to ensure your DAW has a gate plug-in that supports native side chaining. To be honest most of the major players include this as a standard feature now, so it should be pretty easy to translate the methods I've used to your favourite app.

Routing audio to our various gate plug-ins is really not the challenging part of this technique, it relies more on what you feed your gate with and the settings used. To get an idea of what I'm talking about let's get stuck in.

Step 2: Our Target Sound

At this point you want to think about the sound you want to gate. I find this works very well with sustained sounds, such as strings, pads and vocal effects. In this case I have opted for a synth/string sample.

The synth sample we'll be treating.

The untreated synth loop.

Step 3: The Trigger

The whole aim of the game here is to create a rhythmical, groove based effect so a good starting point is to use a percussion (or drum loop) as our trigger or source. I have chosen a well defined, simple loop to get things going.

Anything with sharp transients will work here, try and avoid anything too busy though as the gate will find it difficult to clamp down on the individual sounds.

The percussion loop we'll use to trigger the gate.

The raw percussion loop.

The two raw sounds mixed.

Step 4: Routing the Gate Effect

Now we can route the percussion loop into the gate via the side chain input. In Logic this is simply a case of using the drop down menu in the top right hand corner of the plug-in. You should now see the available source and amongst them the percussion loop.

Using the gates side chain function.

Step 5: Setting the Gate's Parameters

With all the signal flowing in the right direction it's time to setup the gate. Move the threshold up until you hear the peaks of the loop effecting your treated sound. You should hear the sound 'flashing' on and off in time with your trigger sound.

The gates parameters are set.

The gate effect comes to life.

With the threshold set you can now adjust the attack and release settings. You'll find that you can get away with a pretty fast attack time but the release might take a little more time to tweak. Try and time the recovery of the gate with the tempo of your project, this way things shouldn't sound too choppy.

The gated string in isolation.

Step 6: Using Loop Slices or Audio Samples

Using a loop to trigger your gate is a great way to dial in a quick pattern but if you want something a little more 'custom' you could try slicing your audio and creating a new groove.

One of the easiest ways to do this is cut your existing loop into small sections and rearrange them. This gives you much more control over the gated pattern and can allow you to match the rest of your projects groove with ease.

The loop gets chopped to create a new groove.

The loop slices in isolation.

The sliced loop and the new gated string.

... and finally the new gated string in isolation.

Step 7: Using a MIDI Part to Trigger Your Gate

If you have success with creating grooves using audio parts but crave even more control over your gate patterns you might want to try using a MIDI triggered sound. Using a soft sampler or drum machine can give you ultimate control and you can even experiment with release times and various different samples.

An Ultrabeat is used to playback percussion samples.

A simple drum pattern is programmed to trigger the gate.

The MIDI part and gated effect.

... and the gated effect in isolation.

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