Last week we talked a bit about keys and chords and some of the basic musical theory behind them. Although we thoroughly recommend spending time studying music theory to anyone who wants to become a well rounded music producer, the truth is that the tools we now have available to us means this not strictly necessary to make great melodic music.
Depending on which way you lean in the ‘nowadays everyone is a producer’ debate, these techniques are either a brilliant shortcut opening up new creative pathways, or just a form of cheating which dilute the work of all those ‘real’ musicians who have studied their craft long and hard. We think these tools are great (if you were wondering) but always reiterate the benefits of mastering music theory to our students.
So for today’s Logic tutorial Danny J Lewis demonstrates how to create a chord menu in the EXS24. A chord menu is a collection of different chord samples spanned onto the keyboard so that they will transpose up and down in pitch over a specified range.
First he creates a series of 4 deep chords in the ES2 and bounces and loads them into the EXS24. He then maps each chord across a range of notes giving a variety of chords that fit together melodically all in an easy to play format. Save your instrument and you can call it up any time for instant inspiration. You can jump up and down the zones for more scope too and this is where things truly come alive!
There is something to watch out for though: as with any other samples on EXS24, increasing the pitch of a sample increases the playback speed and decreasing the pitch slows the playback down. If you plan on transposing by a large amount higher than the root key make sure you have a long source sample so that the chord isn’t too short.
This tutorial is a sample from the Deep & Soulful House Pro Producer Course in Logic. Try a free sample and get a feel for how the online courses work by clicking here.
Danny is otherwise known as Enzyme Black, with releases on labels such as Defected, Masters At Work and his own imprint Enzyme Black Recordings. He is the head of course development at Point Blank’s online music production school. If you want to learn more about producing or performing with this unique piece of software, check out our whole range of Logic Courses.
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Now we’re going to make our own chord menu, so I’ve got a progression here, which is the same in the last example you saw in the chord memorizer charts. Have a listen.
This is the ES-2, by the way. These are the settings. Single oscillator; turn the voices up to 16, a bit unison on. I still thicken the sound out, turn the cutoff down to 0.168. Modulation amount to 0.69, slowed the attack 27 milliseconds. I think that’s pretty much what I did on there, so you can recreate that if you want. Let’s send this out so that we can use it in the sampler. Left and right locators around each chord, and we’re going to click on ‘bounce’. We’re going to set Chord 1 ticking [PCM], making sure your resolution and sample rate is the same as the project you’re working on.
Add to audio bin, and click on ‘Bounce’. That’s the first one done. Let’s pick up the next one. This is going to be Chord 2. Next one over, ‘Bounce’ again, Chord 3. Next one, Chord 4. We’ve got the three of them, four of them, in fact. What I’m going to do is I’m going to turn this off, and we’re going to come down to this track, and we’re going to load up the EXS-24. Let’s focus on the track and make sure we’ve got the chords on and I’m going to take away the piano role for the moment. Let’s open up the EXS-24, and I’m going to drag these chords into the edit area.
We’re going to span these for an octave, each one. I’m going to do this manually up here, so C-1 up to B-1. You can see it’s spanning the complete octave over here. Let’s do the same, C-2, this is going to go to B-2, C-3 to B-3, and then C-4 on to B-4. What I’m going to do though also is I’m going to set the root key, you know, the key that the actual song plays at originally, I’m going to place it somewhere in the middle, so about “F”. To do this, you come up to this area here, going to do F-1, come down to F-2, F-3 and then F-4. That’s sorted then, save this. I’m going to save that, going to give it a name: Chord Menu. It’s saved. Now, I’ll show you how it sounds. Let’s take this away from the keyboard.
That’s the first octave and you can flip up, and then you keep going up the keyboard, there’s lots of possibilities. Real kind of nice deep house flavor there, coming from that chord menu, so you can see the possibilities. You could create the same thing again, but choose a different instrument source this time. Lots of possibilities there, but that means you can then trigger this over a beat. It’s a lot easier than trying to remember where all those chord placements are, and then, of course, the transposing of those chords as well, which is the other factor. That’s the extra depth that we’ve got here, compared to the chord memorizer.