September 16, 2003

The Logic Environment  [ Edit ] 

I’ve been doing a fair bit of exploring Logic’s Environment trying to figure some things out, and I’ve learned some interesting things. Because this is a learning process, my thoughts aren’t organized enough to break this into separate articles, so I’ll write a bunch and expand on some of these points if I have the need.

I hope to give you an idea of what Logic’s Environment is, and how it will impact using Logic Audio.

I remember when I got my first exposure to Logic, when I was living in Oakland, occasionally working at the Jazzschool in Berkeley. Students in their computers and music class used Logic Fun, the free version of Logic Audio 4.7. It could do some MIDI, but not audio, or something like that. It seemed kind of complicated.

My second exposure to Logic came through Tony, a friend who is interested in this stuff. He gave me the dime tour of Reason and Logic, showed me Rewire, and told me how scared he was of The Environment, which was a magical, mysterious thing that most people are afraid of.

Now I know what he meant.

Logic seems to be the ultimate MIDI processor for any computer. Logic can take the MIDI messages your keyboard is sending it, and do literally anything with them. The simple example in the manual is setting up an arpeggiator, so when you play a chord, it repeats the notes as an arpeggio (one at a time, up or down, or both).

But that’s not all. You can take any piece of hardware (old or new) that speaks MIDI, and as long as you can connect it to your computer’s MIDI interface, Logic could do all kinds of terrible things to the MIDI data and make that module create sounds its own onboard hardware could never produce.

So it’s a very powerful tool, this Enviroment. But, of course, there’s a catch. emagic appears to assume a large degree of nerditude in its users. Let’s say I want to hook up my inexpensive MIDI controller that has some knobs on it that send MIDI, and I want to map those knobs onto the knobs I see onscreen for the Fender Rhodes emulator (emagic’s EVP73, a mighty fine virtual Rhodes, maybe the finest ther is). This is one of the key questions I’ve been hoping to answer.

In this article, I’ll just say it’s very hard, and involves mucking around with the Environment to a degree that doesn’t necessarily please me.

One of the things I always heard the Jazzschool students complaining about with Logic Fun was that it was a bitch to get any sound out of the thing at all. It may have been the case with that piece of software, but I can happily report that getting sound out of Logic is just as easy as it should be. Once you know how to select an instrument, and assuming you have Quicktime hooked up for MIDI (which is also easy, but not necessarily intuitive), you can get sound out without any trouble.

So, this Environment really doesn’t get in your way for the very basics. That’s good. It makes anything, even the most difficult or obscure MIDI task, possible. That is also good. However, it doesn’t make the slightly harder than basic tasks easy, which isn’t so good from my point of view.

However, if you can find someone who has configured their copy of Logic to do something you want, you can benefit from their work. Logic supports importing other people’s Environment objects, and also lets you just copy and paste Environment objects from another song into one of your own. This allows you (or someone else, preferably) to create all kinds of objects in the Environment, save the song, and then just use the ones you need when you need them. Super cool!

Logic Audio users should also be warned that their ability to create Environment goodies is limited relative to their Gold- and Platinum-using brethren. You don’t have Transformers, or a number of the other juicy MIDI processors (which seem to be what emagic refers to as the advanced and extended sets of Environment objects), at your disposal. The good news is that you can still import and use them from other people’s Environments, but you can’t create your own, or modify the ones you import. This turns out to be problematic when trying to map the keyboard knobs.

Posted by Joe | TrackBack

Hi Joe,
I'd like to thank you for your articles : I am becoming Logic Pro today and I was looking for some site such as yours.
Keep on the marvellous sharing job :)

Posted by: mirko at March 3, 2004 3:06 AM

you gotta try logic pro 8

Posted by: jb at June 2, 2009 4:16 AM
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