How To Change Key In Logic Pro | Top 4 MethodsSep 20, 2023
One of the first steps in writing and producing a song is to decide what key you want it to be in. The notes, scales, and overall mood of your composition vastly depend on the key in which you write your song. Additionally, finding the proper key in which a vocalist can sing comfortably is a critical step in music production and songwriting.
Apple’s Logic Pro offers a vast array of tools and features that come to your aid to express your creativity with sounds. One of the advantages of this digital audio workstation (DAW) is that you can often find different routes and strategies within the workspace to reach a particular objective. This allows you to choose the most efficient method depending on your intent and workflow.
Whether you want to transpose a track or change the key of your entire project to shift the mood, you can use different methods to reach your goal. Without further ado, let’s take a look at some of the best ways you can change the key in Logic Pro.
Change Key Signature From The Control Bar LCD
When you open a new project, Logic defaults the key to C major. The project key defines the central note to which other notes relate. You can see the key signature from the LCD display at the top of Logic’s workspace.
If you can’t see the project key at the top, here’s how you can toggle it on:
Control-click on the control bar and click “Customize Control Bar and Display…”
Under the LCD column, check the box next to “Key Signature / Project End.”
As shown above, the key signature is now visible in Logic’s control bar display. Customizing your control bar is one of the first settings you must change when starting to produce with Logic Pro.
You can change the key signature by clicking on it from the LCD. Changing it will not affect the MIDI or audio playback of your tracks. However, Apple Loops will automatically transpose to fit in the key you’ve chosen for your project. For more information about using Apple Loops sounds in your project, check out my ultimate guide for using Logic Pro.
Moreover, Logic will automatically apply key signature changes to the score editor for MIDI. Additionally, changing the key on the staff from the score editor will affect the project key signature from the LCD as well.
Transpose Tracks Individually In Logic
As I mentioned, changing the key signature will not affect your audio and software instrument tracks. So, if you wish to change a region’s key signature, you can use the transpose feature in Logic:
- Select the region you want to transpose.
- Click the little “i” in a circle at the top-left to open the Inspector menu.
- Open the “Region” drop-down menu and double-click “Transpose” to change the value.
You can use this method both for MIDI and Audio tracks. Moreover, you can use the shortcut (key command) for it: “Option + Arrow Up/Down.” Learning to use Logic’s key commands is essential to streamline your workflow.
Logic allows you to change the key of the selected region one semitone (half-step) at a time. For instance, if your region is initially in the key of C and you want to transpose it to G, you’d have to change the transpose value to +7 (or -5 to bring it an octave lower).
If you don’t know how many semitones are between your initial root note and the note to which you want to transpose your region, you can look at a piano keyboard and count all the white and black keys between the two notes.
For MIDI, you can also open the editor menu, select the notes you want, and drag them vertically on the grid to transpose them simultaneously.
Transposing Projects From Global Tracks
One of the ways to transpose different tracks in your project is to use the transpose feature in the Global Tracks. Press “G” on your keyboard to open the Global Tracks. If the “Transpose” row is not available, control-click and select “Transposition.”
The transpose feature in the Global Tracks menu allows you to change your project's key at any point. You can use this feature to change the key for a bridge section or shift the dynamics of your composition.
Bear in mind that this will only affect MIDI instruments and Apple Loops sounds. Audio tracks will not be affected unless you enable the Flex Pitch mode from the editor’s menu for your audio tracks.
Programming Key For MIDI Instruments
One of Logic’s most underrated yet powerful tools for music production is its MIDI Transposer. This plugin can transpose incoming MIDI Data in real-time based on a selected scale.
The Transposer MIDI FX can come in very handy for less-experienced keyboard players who may not have a firm grasp on all scales and chord patterns. To add the Transposer to your MIDI track:
- Open the Inspector menu for your MIDI track by clicking the little “i” on the top-left corner of Logic’s workspace.
- Click “MIDI FX” to open the plugins menu for MIDI.
- Select “Transposer.”
This plugin lets you transpose incoming MIDI notes up to -/+24 semitones (half-steps). What’s more, you can choose or create custom scales, and Logic automatically transposes any note outside of the scale to the closest note within that scale in real-time.
Final Thoughts: Different Strategies For A Goal
The more you gain experience with Logic Pro, the more you realize there’s no fixed formula for creating music. Producers and musicians all around the world use different methods and strategies for different purposes, and that’s one of the main reasons the world of music is full of creativity and novelty.
The same goes for changing the key in Logic Pro. Depending on what you want to do, there are different ways to transpose notes and change key in your project. The methods mentioned above are equally useful and valuable.
If you need more help learning music production, songwriting, mixing, and mastering, I highly recommend getting my Free 6 Pillars To Learn Logic Pro Fast.