August 20, 2005

Lead Sheets in Logic  [ Edit ] 

I made a lead sheet in Logic Express 7.1 yesterday, using the Score Editor. I’ve played with the editor just a little bit in the past, and I’ve noted that it is feature-equivalent with the one in Logic Pro, but this was the first time I’ve really sat down and used it for a real project. Here are some notes about my experiences, with two caveats.

First, the lead sheet I made was the type used by small jazz groups. It includes the melody and chord symbols, and that’s about it. Second, I rarely create these things, and I approach everything from a drummer’s perspective — take that how you will. I think this will still be pretty useful.

  • When inserting new notes, you may see them display as the wrong value. I had lots of eighth notes show up as quarter notes, for example. Don’t worry about it. I’m not sure what the issue is there, but as you surround the notes with other ones, the values should be displayed as they truly are. I do know Logic uses the current quantization level to determine the minimum note value. In other words, if Q is set to 1/4, the smallest note value displayed will be a quarter note, even though you can insert smaller notes — they just don’t show up that way. I generally did my note entry with Q at 1/16, so there shouldn’t have been trouble with eighth notes. If I figure out more on this, I’ll update this article.
  • It’s important to remember that the Score editor is a MIDI editor that happens to use musical notation. There’s no way to insert a repeat in a MIDI region (I don’t know if MIDI has a notion of repeats), so while you can insert repeats into your score, they don’t affect playback. This is covered in the Logic manual. My workaround was to make a separate region for each section I wanted to repeat, and uses region aliases to insert the repeated sections into the score. Aliases can be shown in the Score Editor if you turn that feature on, but they are hidden by default. To turn on the display of aliases in the Score Editor, choose Global Format from the Layout local menu, and check the “Show Aliases” checkbox. The same settings are found in File > Song Settings > Score.
  • Related to the repeat business, chord symbols have no affect on playback either. Logic isn’t Band In A Box, and won’t make up chord voices and play them.
  • Logic will not let you insert ties to tie notes together. The trick to getting ties is to insert a note of whatever length you want to show first, then extend its length using the parameter box in the sidebar, the Event List, or something similar.
  • The Score Editor’s Syncopation setting is related to the tie issue, and is applicable for jazz lead sheets. It’s more common in lead sheets with syncopated phrases to display quarter notes than two eighth notes tied together, but some people find the tied way easier to read. The Syncopation attribute of Logic’s Score Editor can toggle between these two ways of display notes. If you start with tied notes but prefer single notes, try toggling the syncopation attribute for those notes. You can also toggle this globally for an entire score in the Attributes menu.
  • There are two arrow tools in the Score Editor toolbox. One is the regular Arrow tool, the hollow one is the Layout tool. The primary use I found for the Layout tool is moving measures from one line of the score to another. Click a measure and drag it upwards to move it (and any measures following it on the current line) to the line above. The same goes for moving measures downward.
  • If you change global formatting settings, you may lose certain layout changes you’ve made, like which line measures appear on. I had this happen once when I was tinkering.
  • If you want measure numbers to appear below the measures instead of above, you must give them a vertical position value of -1 or less. If you use 0, the number will appear above the measure. This setting is found in Global Format, in the Numbers & Names tab.
  • Vertical position of chord symbols can be set using the sidebar. However, it doesn’t work like I expected. If you select more than one chord symbol, and they don’t all share the same value, their vertical position will be displayed as “”. If you change that value to a number, the number you enter will be *added to the current vertical position. This is unexpected and kind of weird.
  • Quantization in the score editor affects how notes are displayed when they’re inserted, and to a degree how their played back. However, there doesn’t appear to be any way to quantize enter notes for a swing feel. To change to swing or straight eighth playback, I used the Qua setting in Arrange. The popup menu includes settings like “8C Swing” and so forth, which will change the selected region’s MIDI playback so it will “swing”. Your original regions stored rhythmic values don’t change, though.
  • To enter a bunch of chords en masse, use the aptly named Fast Chord Entry feature. Enter one chord symbol, then type tab to move to next note or rest. Keep tabbing to the next note or rest that needs a chord symbol, and so on.
  • Chord symbols are set in Times by default, which means flats show up as “b”s in chord extensions. Changing this to a different music font should fix the problem. This is accomplished in the Text local menu, under Text Styles.
  • Chord extensions have fixed vertical position, as far as I can tell. Horizontal position appears to be set using spaces. This seems like a hack.

As usual, I welcome comments on all these notes and issues. If you have something to add, please let me know in the comments, or by email if you prefer.

Posted by Joe

to create tied notes, i create the notes without the ties and use the glue tool. this helps maintain the gap logic likes between notes.

Posted by: TJ at November 15, 2006 8:35 PM
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