So it's been eight weeks and things are finally starting to make sense and my workflow is starting to take shape to some degree. Learning a program like Logic Pro can be intense, and when they launch a massive update like 10.5 right in the middle of it all, it makes it even more insane. Ugh.
What's great about this process of learning with Point Blank is that you feel compelled and motivated to keep up with your coursework, if not simply because you have weekly tests, assignments, and masterclasses. One of the most important things about learning a program this immense is dedicating a good amount of time to it.
You will not be able to pull this off if you only have a couple of hours a day, it really requires three-plus hours of your time daily and a good five-hour chunk on weekends. If that doesn't sound doable, this is not for you.
So let's say you are down and decide to take the plunge, here are some tips and advice to keep you from getting overwhelmed:
- Dedicate a set block of time nightly to your coursework, then make sure to practice the exercise, open the DAW, and taking the time to get hands-on.
- Get the latest version of Logic, the program has gotten a lot better with the last couple updates and will help make your life easier.
- Do it your way! What I mean by this is that you will learn several ways to do one thing in Logic Pro, don't try to learn all of them or you will lose it. Master the way that feels right, and stick with that.
- Music theory is not a make or break, don't freak out if you don't understand all the notes, chords, inversions, etc. right away. Learn the basic notes, get a grip on chord structure, figure out octaves and semitones, and basics. Then learn how to play the piano next - just kidding - kind of
- If you are struggling with chords, you can get some help with Plugins like Scaler, Mixed In Keys Captain Chords, or even just buying midi templates with chord progressions that you can just drag in. More on that below along with some links.
- DON'T go buy a ton of gear, plugins, and loop packs. Logic has a log of great soft synths, plugin-ins, and yes even loops. Learn the DAW first, get the mechanics right then ease into it. More on that below as well, because some gear is indeed helpful for learning.
So here is what I learned the last four weeks in a very concise summary just to give you a reference for the course work and how Point Blank lays it out:
Week 5 - Virtual Instruments and Other Features in Logic X - this week we get schooled on legacy virtual instruments that are heavily used and are based on real hardware, thus you should have some idea what this stuff is. For example, you are introduced to the legendary B3 Organ, Clavinet, and Mellotron along with soft synths that are integral to Logic. By the end of this week, you have toured and noodled around with a good chunk of onboard virtual instruments, learned about the beast that is Alchemy and even some FXs, the pedalboard, and guitar/bass amp modeling.
Week 6 - Working with Audio - ESSENTIAL stuff and a lot to dial in with this week's coursework. From how to import audio to how to manage it within your project to how to make it all work in time. If you are going to be working with a lot of samples and loops, which you probably will, this was an exciting week. There is also a nice introduction to audio interfaces, what they do, and how to use them to make your first recording on your mic.
Note - Logic 10.5 now features Live Loops, which is an entirely new way to layout your ideas with audio and even midi - you will want to learn this ASAP.
Week 7 - Audio Processing - More essential stuff and a very important week, one that you will need to go back to a LOT. This week you are also learning a lot of different ways to do one thing, so remember to find one way and master it - at least in the beginning. From using Ultrabeat to chop up a sample to working out the tempo of a sample to using basic flextime to make it work with your song. This course work is all about how to make audio files your friend and make them work in harmony.
Week 8 - Creating Parts & Structure - After having learned how to make your beats sound good, your bass lines sound passable and how to make audio files fit into your song, now you need to actually make a song. Getting a dope groove going is a lot of fun, but this is where things get harder and more time-consuming. You are finally starting to figure out how to make a full composition from start to finish. Buckle up, this is where you need to start logging the hours. The best advice here is don't quit on a composition, finish what you start whenever possible to learn the process. The song might be crap at the end, but you will learn more this way - stay the course.
Some of the tools that will help you out and make the process more fun -
The Korg Minilogue XD - If you really, really, really feel the need to get a synth, then get one of these. It sounds great, it has a nice easy to use interface and you will have a decent understanding of how it functions because you will have been working with Logic's soft synths.
See our full review of the Minilogue XD right here, you can get one new for $650 or used for $500 or so.
The Novation Launchpad 10 - A great tactile controller for Logic's Live Loops functionality in 10.5, this is almost essential and SO much fun to use. See the video below, full article here.
Logickeyboard - Logic Pro X Keyboard - As far as actual learning tools go, this is another must-have. Key commands make your life easier, having them at a glance is a dream come true. Check the video below and the full article here.
Chord Plugins & MIDI Templates - So you can't play piano and your understanding of music theory is, well, basic. There are some helpful tools out there that can help you create chord progressions for your tunes, especially for chorus and lead parts in your arrangement.
Captain Plugins - This ingenious suite of five plugins will help you with all the parts of your composition, from chord progressions to melodies to bass lines to drum programming. I'll have a more detailed video in later posts, but here is a quick overview below in the video.
Scaler 2 - Plugin Boutique/Loopcloud has released the latest edition of Scaler, another plugin that is super helpful for creating chord progressions and finding the core part of your composition. This one is a little more difficult to learn, but by no means complicated. There are a lot of tutorials out there and we will be posting a more in-depth review in the next few weeks. Here is a quick overview of what it can do here.
Unison - Drag & Drop MIDI Files - Chord Packs - These guys are constantly doing good deals on these packs, so it's worth a visit to the site to see what special they are running. However, be warned they will try to upsell the living shit out of you so you might have to "unsubscribe" as your email box will become spamtastic. That being said, you can get a good deal on these chor progression and melody templates that are a more rudimentary way to drop in some chords to your work. These are better for learning, and since they are midi you can edit them how you want - which is nice.
Loop packs and Samples - This always is a slippery slope for new producers, it's very easy to go crazy and buy tons of sample packs. These purchases can add up quickly and often leaving you with a lot of sounds you don't like. What I recommend is getting a subscription to a service like Loopcloud or Noiiz, this will allow you to cherry pick the best loops and complete packs for your productions. I almost never buy packs, as there is too much that I don't end up liking. Digging through is a bit time consuming but it's time well spent and can end up being inspiring.
So that's it for month two, hopefully, you can take away some good tidbits from this and if you are ready to take the plunge, head over to Point Blank Music College and check it out. They are always running cool programs, have a great Youtube channel and all sorts of free masterclasses - which we regularly publish.
The next installation will be the final month of the Intro course before I take the next step into more serious business, and of course, my final track which will be the first real fruit of all this effort.
Check out some of their masterclasses HERE