The Great Drummer in Logic Pro X
Hello Logic users, Mike here. And I will now share my Complete Guide + Top Tips for improving your drums, beats and percussion workflow in Logic Pro X, using the Great Drummer Track.
This is my complete guide on the Logic Pro X Drummer for Music Production.
PS. Feel free to Bookmark this Page for future reference! =)
Add a Drummer (Option + CMD + U)
You start by simply adding a drummer track to your project. Either from the menu: Track – New Drummer Track. Or by using the key command (Option + CMD + U).
Make sure to drag it to the proper place in your sequencer. For example, at the top of your drum group. Or perhaps even the top of your sequencer altogether.
Choose your Style (Genre/Style)
When you have the drummer track selected, you simply open up the library view, where you will find the genre and style browser for the drummer.
The left column is where you choose the main genre, and to the right you have different drummers with unique performance styles that you can try out as a starting point for your project.
Whenever you choose a new drummer, Logic will automatically assign the corresponding drum kit. You can see the current selected drum kit in the instrument library below the drummer assignments.
POWER TIP: You can actually change drum kit manually from the instrument library, so that a specific drummer and genre of your choice is performed on a drum kit that you can also choose. It can be a drum kit plugin, or a sample library.
As long as it is mapped to the standard general MIDI drum mapping it should work fine. Meaning the kick drum is the same key, the snare is the same key and so on.
Create Drummer Regions (Sections & Sub-Sections)
When you create a new drummer track, Logic will create the first drummer region automatically. For any drummer region, you can resize it, split it up into several parts, move it in the sequencer.
And of course, you can create new drummer regions simply by hovering your mouse at the right side of the track header, or just to the right of another drummer region.
You can also add a drummer region by right-clicking (or CTRL + Left-Clicking) and choose “Create Drummer Region” from the menu.
In this same menu you can also choose “Populate with Drummer Regions” which will create drummer regions for the entire project.
POWER TIP: If you have added arrangement sections in the global tracks area, you can use “populate with drummer regions”, and it will add drummer regions that correspond not only to the length of the arrangement sections, but also to the category of each section.
For example: the intro section will get an intro type drum performance, the verse will have slightly higher energy, and so on.
Control the Energy (The X/Y Pad)
First bring up the drummer performance view. Double-click a drummer region, or select one and click E for editors.
Every region will have an independent performance based on the AI of this drummer performance view. And the main control over the performance is the X/Y controller for strength and complexity.
The more you move it up, the louder the drummer will make the performance. And the more you move it to the right, the more complex the beat will become.
Every time you move this dot, the AI will update the drummer region. And this is the main way to shape the drummer’s performance, so make sure to add variation to each region, and add more regions for even more detailed control.
Shape the Style per Region (Beat Presets)
You can even use independent beat presets for the drummer on each region inside the drummer track. You will find these presets just to the side of the X/Y-pad, and the actual preset names will be different depending on the genre and drummer you have chosen.
Create More Regions (Scissor Tool)
The Drummer AI works per region, so by creating more regions you can add more variation into your drummer track. I personally use 4 bar regions as my “standard length” instead of 8 bars which is the default.
I do this because drummers often add a little fill or variation at the turn of every 4 bars. And also because of the added control I get with more regions.
Control the Transitions (Create Transition Regions)
If you want even more control over the drummer track in a transition from one section to another in your track, you can simply cut a small extra region just before the transition point.
For example 1 bar, or even half a bar if you want to be really precise. Then you can dial down the fills knob on the region just before, and increase it on the short transition drummer region.
POWER TIP: Since transitions are so incredibly important in music you might even want to convert the short transition region on the drummer track to customize the beat exactly as you want it.
Change the Instrumentation (The Drum Kit)
You also have independent control over the parts of the drum kit used, per region. You have a clear visual representation of the drum parts used from the specific drum kit.
Simply select or deselect any part of the drum kit that you want in the specific drummer region’s performance. Take advantage of this for adding even more variation between your regions.
Drum Part Variations (Part Variation Sliders)
You can apply variations to the main parts of the drummer’s performance, with the sliders beside the drum kit.
These sliders will change depending on the drummer’s style. But mainly they are: percussion, hi-hats & shakers , and the main beat (kick, snare, clap).
Add some Fills (Fills Knob)
You can use the Fills knob, and dial in the strength and complexity of all the fills, the Drummer adds to a selected region.
The main fill will always be focused to the end of a region, but the Drummer can also add for example a cymbal crash in the start of a region, and some small extra details in the middle depending on the setting of this Fills knob.
Add some Swing (Swing Knob)
Swing is when the players don’t follow the straight beat, but rather play in a swing fashion. Full swing will be a triplet groove. But you can dial in how much the drummer will swing the beat with this dial.
You can also choose if the swing will be based on 8th triplets or 16th triplets feel.
Both the Fills knob and the Swing knob can also be locked, so that you can try out different beat presets without these dials changing.
Polish the Finish (Details Button)
You can shape and polish the performance with the details button, which has different features depending on the drummer style.
For the rock drummers you can control the Feel (Pull vs Push), Ghost Notes (Less vs More), and Hi-Hat preference (Closed vs Open).
And for the electronic kits you can control the complexity range per drum part, as well as the humanize level and phrase variation.
And again, what is so powerful is that you can control all of these per region.
Keep your Settings (Cog Wheel – Keep…)
You can lock your settings so that you can change the drummer, while still maintaining the performance you already created and shaped.
You can even lock the drum kit, so that it will remain, even when changing to a completely different style of drummer. For example, having a rock drum kit played by a hip hop or EDM drummer.
You will find both of these settings if you click the cog wheel beside the beat preset list.
Add some Refreshments (Cog Wheel – Refresh)
The drummer in Logic is truly remarkable, because even with the same settings on all features you can get a slightly different performance due to some randomizations in the algorithm.
And you can always re-apply this slight AI randomization by going into the cog-wheel and choose “refresh region”. Every time you do this, you will get a tiny variation to the performance.
Convert to MIDI (Convert or Option-Drag)
Right-click (or Ctrl+Left-Click) on any Drummer Region and you will get a menu. Find “convert” and then choose “convert to MIDI region”.
Now you can go in and adjust each drum hit individually. Add or delete notes, control the timing, velocity and so on.
POWER TIP: If you want to use the drummer as a workflow booster, for creating percussive MIDI parts in the rest of your music composition, you can simply (Option+Drag) a drummer region to another MIDI track, which will automatically convert it to a MIDI performance as well.
Follow the Drummer (Shift+Option-Drag)
If you want to use another drum plugin, but still get the performance of the drummer track, you can simply create an “alias” of the drummer region.
I personally call this “the mimic method”, because it is essentially mimicking the region you create the alias from.
For example: Create a new track below the drummer and assign another drum plugin and kit. Then (Shift + Option-Drag) a drummer region to the new track below. Then you can mute the drummer track completely, and the new drum plugin that you dragged the alias region to, will still play the performance based on the drummer region.
Power Tip 1 – Follow the Groove
When using the drummer in Logic Pro X it can sometimes be a bit difficult to get it to “behave” in a way that suits the timing of other rhythmic parts in your composition.
This is why I personally love the feature in the Drummer, simply called “Follow”. When checking this checkbox, you can choose which track inside your project the drummer will be influenced by, when creating its performance.
However, it is not always working as expected, so you might want to double check. Also, if you change the track it follows, you need to refresh the drummer region, to make it update its performance accordingly.
Now, as with almost anything inside the drummer track, this feature is also region based. So you can have one drummer region be influenced by your bass track, and the next region by perhaps an ostinato strings track.
Power Tip 2 – Percussion Part Creator
One of my personal favorite ways of using the drummer in Logic Pro X, is not to create complete drum performances. I like to instead use it as a “Percussion Part Creator”.
For example: I can use the drummer for adding fills to my epic cinematic toms. Or spicing up the high-end with stick hits on my Taikos, by using the hi-hat performance from the Drummer track, and so on.
Basically: I choose the drum part(s) from the kit, to create the percussion performance from. Then I choose the drummer, the style, shape the performance, and then I drag and drop the created region to the track I want to use it on. Then finally, I polish the MIDI in the piano roll.
Power Tip 3 – Fills & Transition Creator
Transitions and fills are so important in music, for adding that spark of change and anticipation, for something new that you will introduce in the next section of your track. That is why I often use a 1 bar drummer region to help me get a starting point for a fill or transition, that I can then option-drag to one or several percussion tracks in my composition.
Then I can go into each of the copied regions and make some customizations to fit my specific needs. But the point is that I get a great starting point, which cuts down the time dramatically. And I love features that make my composition workflow more efficient! =)