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Logic 9 Tips for quantizing session w/no click

Discussion in 'Logic 9' started by joegold, Mar 2, 2013.

  1. joegold

    joegold Member


    So I've got this jazz session I did in a studio a while back (on Protools) that I want to try various edits on here at home (in Logic).
    I've got all the required separate audio files loaded into a Logic Project and everything sounds and works fine.
    But this music was not recorded to a click so there is no beat/bar structure assigned to the audio.
    Some things were played a bit sloppy and the tempo varied a bit too much for my tastes, so I'd like to see if I can make it any "better" by doing some audio quantizing.

    I've got a little bit of experience using Flex Time (but since I don't really know what I'm doing I might just be getting lucky).
    Yesterday I thought I'd created a decent working beat map for this tune but the transients I used for it came from the right side of the drums overhead mics which then created a problem with the left oh mic's track which was locked with the above mentioned track as part of a split stereo file when I started the beat mapping process.
    This seemed to cause some very weird behaviour when I un-muted the other tracks but I'm not sure I understand why yet.

    But, assuming that I can actually create a decent Beat Map for this tune, all that will do is to make Logic's internal click follow the music's beat structure by adding Tempo Change events to the project.
    The question then is, how do I remove the tempo map, so that I have a single tempo from beginning to end, with the audio quantized to the Logic's beat structure?

    I saw no way to do this in Logic's menus or in the manual, so I went at it from a different angle.
    I decided to try simply using Flex Time w/o a Beat Map to move the audio so it lines up with the beats for a single steady tempo in Logic.
    This actually worked out OK (I think) for about 8 bars but took an awful lot of time for just the drum tracks (9 tracks of drums) and I can see that doing the entire 5 minute-long tune this way will drive me nuts.

    This tune's timing is quite complex and employs many time signature changes and poly-rhythms, so the whole endeavour might be doomed anyway, but if there's an easier way to any of this I might still give it another try.

    Any tips?

    When using Flex Time in the past, I usually got the best sounding results with the Polyphonic Mode and that's what I was also using on the drums overhead mic's tracks.
    Because the overheads have a lot of wash from the cymbals I figured I'd need the time-stretching abilities of Polyphonic Mode, but would I be better off using Slicing or Rhythmic Mode on these overheads tracks instead?
  3. Peter Schwartz

    Peter Schwartz New Member

    Suggest you start with a clean slate. Start a new Logic project and add your audio files.

    And for now, forget about flex. Just concentrate on getting a click, but my recommendation is not to rely on just one method. Later on you can straighten the beat out using flex.

    And of course, I'm shooting in the dark because I haven't heard the piece so I have no choice but to make some assumptions. Here goes...

    • Establish the tempo for the first bar of the piece: trim your audio files so that they all start right at bar 1, beat 1. This applies even if there's a pickup (in which case you want to establish the tempo for the pickup plus the first bar). For now I'll just refer to this as "first bar".

    Figure out the tempo for the first bar. You can do this any number of ways. One is to simply hunt and peck for a tempo that fits by adjusting the tempo and listening to the metronome. Another way is to tap in your own click on an instrument (drum kit HH or whatever) and once you're satisfied that you have the tempo for this first bar, SMPTE-lock your click region and add a beat map "node" at the downbeat of bar 2. Your tempo will now reflect the average tempo of your manually-played click.

    Remember the BPM number (or write it down) because it might disappear with this next step: Delete your beat map "node". If the tempo changes, put it back to the number you wrote down. Oh, and don't worry if the value is fractional. Maintain the fraction and don't worry about numerical neatness.

    If there was a pickup, slide your audio regions to an appropriate beat so that the actual downbeat corresponds with bar 3. Now you'll have a two-bar countoff into the piece. Then, for good measure, SMPTE-lock your audio regions.

    • Continue manually playing in the click all the way through the piece until you arrive at a click track that's acceptable, and follows the timing of their performance (no matter how bad it might get). The click doesn't have to be absolutely perfect at this stage. Now, indeed, you can use beat mapping to accomplish this same task, but considering what you said about some sections being wonky, I think a manually-played click will be a better approach. And there's an advantage to doing this too...

    By manually playing in the click, you will have no choice but to learn the time signatures as you go. Suggest entering the appropriate time signatures as you encounter changes while you're working on the click. This will only make things easier later.

    • Now that you've got a decent (though perhaps not perfect) click track, it's up to you whether you want to try and perfect it by manually punching in sections of your click, or, go on to the next step which is a refinement step using the audio tracks themselves to indicate the click. But before I get to that...

    • Once you've settled on your manually-played click track, SMPTE lock it and beat map it. Now, yes, the "Protect MIDI" function is going to be staring you in the face, asking, "why not use me?!?" but I don't trust that function at all. SMPTE-locking the region is a foolproof approach.

    • Next... there might be sections of your track that are playing more in time with themselves (as an ensemble) than you were able to play in the click yourself. In this case, SMPTE-unlock your click track and mute it. Turn on the metronome which will now play the click track according to your beat mapping. Then select an audio region that has good transients (drums, bass, or whatever) and is playing in time enough to serve as a rhythmic template and click Detect in the beat mapping track. Using the transients which that process detected, re-beatmap sections of the song anywhere you need to.

    Keep in mind that you can use any of your audio regions at any time to serve as the source for beat mapping or re-beatmapping a section of the song. Just select it and click Detect before you do.

    • After you have a click that follows the track very tightly -- warts and all -- then you can start to think about flexing sections to straighten them out.
  4. joegold

    joegold Member

    Hi Peter

    Thanks for taking the time to write that lengthy response.
    But it doesn't seem to me that you understand what I've already done and/or what I'm trying to do.
    Either that, or I'm missing something in what you wrote.

    1. I've already created a beat map using the audio transients of the drums overhead mic track.
    This resulted in a Global Tempo Track with lots of little tempo changes relative to the music in the audio.
    The tempi listed in the Tempo Track vary from 113bpm to 130bpm depending on which division of the beat (1/4, 1/8, 1/16, etc.) the transients are Beat Mapped to.
    But generally speaking the actual tempo of the performance varies from about 117bpm to 125bpm approx, i.e. we rushed in places and the tempo 'breathed' quite a bit.
    The music was performed well, just not perfectly.
    I can see how having Logic know where my downbeats are could be useful if I was going to record more music into this project, but that's not what I'm trying to do.
    What I want to do with the beat map is to use it as template with which to *quantize* the performance so that it stays at 117bpm throughout.

    So the only things that I don't really understand in your post are:
    1. What will locking the SMPTE timing of my Beat Map accomplish, if anything, towards helping me to quantize my performance to 117bpm?
    I.e. After locking the SMPTE timing, how do I quantize the audio to 117bpm?
    [Note: I've never worked with SMPTE in the past.]
    2. You talk about manually playing in the click but don't say how to do that.
    How is that done?

    At any rate...
    Since my original post I've had a certain amount of success with simply using Flex Time w/o a Beat Map.
    The tune was counted in at 117bpm at the session so I just set my Logic Project tempo to 117bpm.
    Then I lined up the 1st beat of the recorded count-in to 0 and used Flex Time (across 12 tracks of audio) to move the audio performances onto the beats.
    This works, but it's very slow-going and prone to sounding quite odd when I make errors.
    Sometimes I think it sounds odd even if there are no errors, especially on the drum tracks with so much bleeding from all the mics (9 drum mics/tracks) and the potential for weird phase relationships between tracks, so the whole endeavour is probably doomed anyway.
    But I've certainly learned a lot by trying.

    I've done about 1 minute of music so far this way and have about 4 or 5 minutes more to do if I decide to continue.
    So I'd just like to find a faster and potentially more efficient way to do this.
  5. mt100uk

    mt100uk Senior member

    The only sure way is to systematically go through the track I'm afraid. If you make sure all the audio tracks are grouped together you only need to go through one track and the changes will be reflected in all the others (presuming everything was played in together in time!). I usually use the kick mic if there is one. I manually move the audiofiles so the first beat of the first bar falls on bar 5 or 9 (it's always leaving some space at the start) then lock the first transient to that bar. I then go through the track locking beat one on every 4th bar for a rough idea of the movement of the tempo, too many intervening nodes and you'll pick up a lot of artefacts, but sometimes this is necessary. Ideally you want to do as few as possible and only fill in extra nodes where you can hear they're needed.
  6. joegold

    joegold Member

    Thanks mt100uk.

    First off, when you say "locking beat one", you mean by moving Flex Markers, right?
    Or are you talking about nodes on a Beat Map relative to Logic's transient markers?

    Thus far, as I've said, I've just been moving Flex Markers w/o a Beat Map.

    During the written Intro sections of this tune I've had to use many many Flex Markers to get the timing I'm after.
    But during the bulk of the tune, especially the improvised sections, I've only been using the Flex Markers that denote the 1st beat of each measure, just to keep everything as close as possible to 117bpm.

    I'll also try your idea of only doing this every 4 bars or so.
    Thanks for the tip.
    That'll probably sound a bit more natural than what I've been doing.
  7. Peter Schwartz

    Peter Schwartz New Member

    Hi Joey,

    You're welcome. But I reviewed what you wrote and I'm not sure I understand where the discrepancy is, other than I'm suggesting that you start from scratch to get a better result.

    The procedure I outlined will be painstaking but there really is no quick way to obtain a quality result. In short, it's a two-part solution:

    Step 1) get a tempo map (and time signatures) for the entire song
    Step 2) use flex to straighten out the tempo

    You asked:

    I wasn't suggesting you SMPTE-lock the beat map, as that's not possible anyway. Rather, I was suggesting you SMPTE-lock the regions to fix their positions in time so that will not move from their original positions as you adjust tempo values. In this case SMPTE-locking has nothing to do with SMPTE, per se. It's just a utilitarian move for ensuring that events in MIDI regions, as well as the position of audio regions, don't move around when you play with the tempo.

    Actually, I did, but with so many words something's bound to get lost LOL! Call up a drum kit (any one will do) and use a HH, rimshot, or other sound with a sharp attack to play in the click. (I'm tempted to say "more cowbell". :D )
  8. mt100uk

    mt100uk Senior member

    Yep meant flex markers!
  9. joegold

    joegold Member


    Again, I don't get why you're talking about locking the tracks to the SMPTE timing code so that the audio position stays fixed.
    What I'm trying to do is to *move the audio* so that the tempo is steady from start to finish.
    And in my experience, audio tracks don't change or 'move' when I adjust the Logic's tempo unless I'm using the Varispeed feature.
    Maybe you're referring to an audio Region's start and end time, relative to bar 1, which would move if the tempo is changed (relative to bar 1), but all my audio tracks start at bar 1 so they don't 'move' if I change the tempo.

    BTW There are no MIDI tracks in this tune.
    It's all audio of real musicians playing in real time with no click.

    And again, you're talking about manually playing in the click with some sort of a drum sound but you don't say how to do it.
    I guess you mean creating a MIDI track using a MIDI keyboard to trigger a drum sound via a software synth with MIDI note events where all the downbeats of music in the audio happen to be.
    After that I guess there's some way to get Logic to Beat Map to the MIDI events, but I'm not sure how that's done either.
    I.e. So far I've only done Beat Mapping to match transients in the audio. I'm not sure how to Beat Map to MIDI events.

    But again, none of that really matters because I've already got a Beat Map of the entire tune and I've already got the bar structure laid out in the Time Sig track.

    So basically, except for the SMPTE thingy, I'm already doing what you're suggesting.
    1. I create a Beat Map which allows me to create a Time Sig track.
    2. I turn the beat Map off, by selecting an alternate Tempo Track with a clean slate for a single tempo of 117bpm for the entire tune, and then I painstakingly move Flex Markers within the audio to match the beat structure of the Time sig track.

    Thanks again for contributing.
  10. Peter Schwartz

    Peter Schwartz New Member

    Hi Joey,

    I'm sorry if my instructions or explanations were unclear. But having reviewed what I wrote, I'm not sure I could improve on how I explained things. I didn't mind trying, though, and I hope you end up getting the result you need.
  11. joegold

    joegold Member

    Thanks again.

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