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Logic 9 Configuring Logic for Piano MIDI playback (beginner)

Discussion in 'Logic 9' started by kendradog, Sep 8, 2011.

  1. kendradog

    kendradog New Member

    I just installed Logic Express 9 for Mac (Lion), and am quite confused, even after reading the "documentation" (?) that comes with the program.

    I want to do a simple thing: I have a two track General MIDI file of a piano. I want to import that file into Logic Express and play it back with different Logic Express pianos. All the documentation/tutorials I saw seems to involve so much more complicated stuff that I can't figure out how to do this very basic thing.

    I tried two approaches.

    (1) I created an "Empty Project" and imported the .midi file. I got two tracks in the Arrange pane that say "EXS Grand Piano". I could not figure out how to get a different grand piano though.

    (2) I created a new project using "Software Instruments" template. Then I got a column of about 15 different instruments in the arrange menu. One of these was "Yamaha Piano Hall", an instrument which did not show up on the "Library" tab in the earlier project. I tried to assign both tracks to "Yamaha Piano Hall", but when I did, I could not individually mute either track. Either they both were muted or neither were muted.

    Can someone help explain:

    (a) What is the best piano sound that comes with Logic Express?

    (b) Where is it located, and how do I configure a two-track MIDI file to play using that piano sound?

    (c) Does anyone know why it could be apparently impossible to play only one track - i.e. muting one track mutes the other, and unmuting the track unmutes the other?

    (d) What are "EXS Grand Piano", "Yamaha Piano Hall" and all the other software instruments versus libraries versus MIDI?

    (e) Is any of this documented anywhere?
  3. georgelegeriii

    georgelegeriii Senior member

    Wow, post number 700 for this...

    Yes the documentation is in the menu that says "Help".

    Look for the topic "channel strip settings" and how to change them. That will tell you what you need as far as looking at the different pianos. Be careful to check that there is no other data with your smf import: CC7 (volume) CC10 (Panning), maybe a program number. These are usually in the first bits of data on a track, so open the event edit menu and look for it, then remove it.

    Yes, Logic is a program that requires a bit of learning time, though it is actually pretty simple once you figure it out. Check out Youtube, or Groove 3, and Mac Pro Video, for online "classes" for Logic, and how to use it. There are also some great books by Peachpit with step by step tutorials that show you the basics. David Nahmani's Basics book is really fantastic.

    Good luck, and don't forget to breath. and if you have to, walk away from the computer ;-)
  4. Pete Thomas

    Pete Thomas Administrator Staff Member

    many people (incuding me) do not like the onboard help, so those nice people at Apple have made a good old fashioned PDF available. You can download the Logic Express one here:


    Whenever a new version of Logic comes out I like to print off the manual and keep it as essential reading in the bathroom or on my bedside table as well as having it handy while playing with Logic.
  5. kendradog

    kendradog New Member

    I ordered the Nahmani book you recommended, but even after reading the online documentation I do not understand why clicking "mute" mutes every track. Typically, if one clicks on something in a GUI, one wants that click to affect the thing clicked on, not other things. Is this supposed to be some kind of weird puzzle where you have to find the right combination of clicks to turn on mute in one box? So I get a free computer game with my sequencer?

    If I mute track 1, why do the designers of this software believe I also want to mute track 2? I look forward to the $34.00 Nahmani tome that will explain this.

    P.S. If there is a modern, good sequencer for MIDI piano supporting AU on Mac Lion feel free to let me know or PM me if this site supports it or something; and if someone knows if there is a way to persuade Apple to let a user expecting "works on Lion" to mean "works on Lion" to return the software, let me know as well.

    Seriously, is Apple just losing interest? Is this a dead product? The documentation appears barely to have been updated in many years and is extraordinarily badly written, as if one of those old VCR manual writers got a new rush order; the help display and much of the GUI fails utterly to work with Lion swipes and the help system is flaky even handling mouse clicks; the GUI seems to have been designed in 1995 for a 14'' VGA display; etc., etc., etc. I literally haven't used a GUI that clunky (outside of bad freeware) in over a decade. When I pay hundreds of dollars for a piece of software advertised to work on Lion, I don't expect a trip to some computer history museum of how GUI's were designed in the 1980s.

    To me, as a new user, the product has the feel of discontinued item. You know, you see this in software when a company has lost interest in improving an old product, and just sells to previous users who are locked in and the occasional naive buyer (cough cough) who realizes too late that Apple has a "no-trial, no return" policy on the software for a very good reason.

    I'm still interested though in specific answers to the questions about piano tracks I posed.
  6. Pete Thomas

    Pete Thomas Administrator Staff Member

    This usually means that the two tracks share the same instrument, one track is a duplicate of the other track not a different track.

    This is useful sometimes, but very often you want actual separate tracks, in which case create a new track: (Under the track menu you will see New or Duplicate. Or you can use either of the two buttons at the top of the track list)

    However you can toggle between whether Logic mutes each of a duplicate track or whether it mutes them together as in your case

    Go to prefences>Audio>general and switch between:

    Track mute/solo = slow or fast from dropdown.
  7. kendradog

    kendradog New Member

    Thanks that seemed to work.

    In hindsight, it was obvious that to mute a track individually, one simply needs to go down four levels of menus and select "CPU-saving slow response" in a drop-down menu. Master GUI designers at work.

    By the way, the tracks were not duplicates. The two tracks had been imported from a MIDI file with two tracks using "Import File", they had completely different notes. After importing, I had used "Reassign Track" after ctrl-clicking on them to assign each of the two different tracks to the same instrument, namely to the Yamaha Piano Studio.

    I must be doing something wrong for this process to be that convoluted - hopefully that book will clarify matters.

    Also thanks for the pointer to the pdf documentation, it is better than the "help" version.
  8. Pete Thomas

    Pete Thomas Administrator Staff Member

    It's not at all obvious or intuitive the way this is implemented. It took me a while to correlate the behaviour with the decription

    Yes, but they could still be two different regions with different notes with one region on a track and the other region on a duplicate of that track.

    The way to know is to look at the parameter box for the track. (the second box down in the Inspector).

    There you will see the instrument number e.g. Core Audio: Inst1

    If both tracks show the same thing there, they are duplicates irrespective of having different notes in the regions.
  9. kendradog

    kendradog New Member

    Interesting, yes, they share the same instrument. But isn't this just the same as using a non-software instrument, where "mute" just mutes one track? One is the right hand, one is the left hand. Is there a better way to organize this?

    Along these lines of hopefully using Logic to play piano MIDI files, do you know if there is a way quickly to play a MIDI file through Logic, without going through a lot of importing, duplicating, and so on? Ideally, I would just want to say be able to type "play temp960.mid" from the command line, and have that use the particular AU plugin (Ivory) or software instrument that is the best piano sound. (I will have hundreds of these files that need to be played).
  10. Pete Thomas

    Pete Thomas Administrator Staff Member

    I tend to have RH and left hand on the same region, ie all the piano is together. For me that is better, but I can see why some people like LH and RH in different regions, even if on the same instrument on duplicate tracks.

    The muting thing is to do with CPU which I presume it only applies to audio and SI channelstrips, not MIDI instruments.

    Hopefully someone lese may answer this, I very rarely import MIDI, and if I do there is no favourite default sound I would need.

    However if iw as doing a lot and, like you, had a favourite piano and/or other instruments I agree it would be good if there was a way to assign them as defaults for playing MIDIfiles. Maybe there is.
  11. georgelegeriii

    georgelegeriii Senior member

    Oh, here's a good "Logic is illogical" one: mute the audio, but midi being sent to an external tone generator won't mute. Got me so many times back when I started out, and even today is I use an external mixer for synths without making a audio aux for the return in Logic.

    Don't say I didn't warn ya!
  12. JuanTahnahmahrah

    JuanTahnahmahrah Senior member

    I feel your pain...

    Breathe deeply...

    Assuming you are familiar with MIDI, you might want to assign each track to a different MIDI channel. If this sounds bizarre, you may need to read up on MIDI behavior.

    If you have a Steinway grand SI in a small hall, try that...

    That said, I am otherwise unclear what you need, there is so much complaining. Logic is more like chess than checkers, it was never implemented for people who only wanted to play back files in jukebox manner.

    The programmers of Logic have always assumed users will have (or be willing to acquire...) a broad base of knowledge of MIDI fundamentals, audio signal flow, and mixing.

    My perception of Logic is that of a 3D spreadsheet. If there are those among us who believe Logic does not have a steep learning curve, please holler.

    Version 7 of the Quicktime Player should be able to open and play your MIDI files. Snow Leopard jumped to Quicktime 10, which dropped MIDI functionality. When you click on a MIDI file, it should ask if you want to open it with Logic or Quicktime 7. Wikipedia indicates QT7 and QT10 can coexist.
  13. kendradog

    kendradog New Member

    By the way thanks for this suggestion, it is quite helpful. The pdf is far easier to read and understand than the online "help" viewer.

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