How To Use The Live Loops Grid In Logic Pro | Brainstorm IdeasNov 09, 2023
In the world of music production, digital audio workstations (DAWs) have evolved as the beating heart of every studio. Typically, the primary interface for many DAWs consists of a linear grid on which you can visualize the position and length of each track.
However, there are other non-linear layouts that many producers prefer over the traditional ‘tape recorder’ look. Apple’s Logic Pro comes with a built-in Live Loops Grid that can revolutionize how you approach songwriting. Like Ableton’s widely popular “Session View,” the Live Loops window in Logic allows you to work with loops and sequences of sound.
This style of music production is predominantly used for creating and playing EDM, house, and other electronic music genres. However, producers working in other genres can still take advantage of Live Loops features for brainstorming and fleshing out ideas for songwriting.
In this post, I will walk you through the basics of working with Logic’s Live Loops and show you tips and tricks I use to streamline my songwriting sessions.
Getting Started: Opening The Live Loops Grid
Upon opening a new project, Logic Pro opens the tracks area by default. You can toggle the Live Loops on and off using its dedicated button from the top-left corner of the main grid.
As the screenshot above shows, the highlighted button on the right indicates the track area. Click the button on the left to open Live Grid. You can close the track area by clicking its button and turning it off.
Once you open the Live Loops grid, you’ll see empty blocks in front of each track. These are called cells. Each cell can house an audio, MIDI, pattern, or drummer region that can be looped within the grid.
Let’s import some samples from the Apple Loops menu to get an idea of how this whole thing works.
By clicking the loop button from the top-right corner of the screen, I opened the Apple Loops menu and imported some samples in the Electro House genre. You can add any sample by dragging and dropping them onto the Live Loops grid. Anything you import from the loops library will automatically adapt to your project’s tempo.
You can click on each cell to play it on a loop. To keep things nice and tidy, Logic plays/stops each cell on the first beat of each bar. This ensures that your cells play in sync with one another. You can change the Quantize Start feature from the top-right corner of the Live Loops grid.
Moreover, you can play groups of vertically stacked cells from the bottom section of the Live Grid window. Each column is referred to as a “Scene,” allowing you to create arrangement segments for your songs.
Instead of using a blank Live Loops window and building it up from scratch, you can also make use of Logic’s built-in templates to get inspiration.
- From the top-left corner of the screen, click “File.”
- Select “New From Template…”
- Choose a template from “Live Loops Grids.”
Using The Live Loops Grid For Songwriting
Personally, I believe the Live Loops grid works best as an empty canvas that allows for trying different ideas to see how they sound with one another. This is how it fits within my workflow as a pop songwriter and producer. I find Ableton’s Session View more suitable for EDM and playing live. So, I think Live Loops is a songwriter’s tool at first, more than anything else.
Logic’s Live Loops window has a pretty straightforward interface. It is your workflow and strategy in using the features that can turn it into an excellent tool for brainstorming and getting new ideas.
One of the vital pillars of creating a smooth and efficient workflow is using Logic’s shortcuts and key commands. Luckily, most of the key commands that you can use in the tracks area are applicable to the Live Loops grid. You can use the same way you copy and paste regions (“OPTION + Click + Drag”) to duplicate loop cells across the grid.
Moreover, you can press “COMMAND + RETURN” on your keyboard to reset the playback on all cells.
Capturing audio and MIDI is what takes Live Loops to the next level. Similar to the track area, you can add new audio or software instrument tracks and record sounds. Control-click on a cell to add a MIDI/pattern segment for software instrument tracks.
For recording audio and MIDI instruments live, you should arm tracks for recording. Then, a circle with a red dot appears when you hover your pointer on a cell. Click it to start recording.
Say you have a couple of guitar riffs, some bass lines, and chord progressions you want to test. Recording each of these in Live Loops cells and playing them in different orders is an easy way to get ideas for what works best.
Instead of a region inspector, each block comes with a cell inspector menu that you can toggle by pressing “I” on your keyboard.
Two of the main things you’d want to look at here are “Loop Length” and “Cell Length.” Changing the Loop Length value can be useful when you want to loop only a portion of a cell. On the other hand, Cell length determines the overall length of a cell.
Transferring Loops To Tracks Area
Eventually, once you flesh out the structure of a song, you’d want to transfer the materials to the tracks area. Recording guitar solos, bridge sections, and vocals is not efficient using the Live Loops grid.
Logic offers two ways for moving stuff to the tracks area. One way is to arm the entire Live Loops grid for recording and playing cells/scenes in the order you like.
Another way is to insert/copy each scene to the tracks area. Control-click on a scene and select “copy Scene at Playhead.”
Final Thoughts On Using Live Loops In Logic
This guide should work as an introduction to what Live Loops does in Logic Pro and how I take advantage of it in my songwriting sessions. Make sure to try different approaches to see what fits within your workflow.
If you still need help using Live Loops in Logic, you can click here to watch my YouTube video tutorial on how I use it to brainstorm ideas.
If you’re interested in learning more about music production, mixing, mastering, and songwriting, I highly recommend downloading my Free 6 Pillars To Learn Logic Pro Faster guidebook.