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Step Sequencing in Ultrabeat

Virtual drum instrument in Apple's Logic Pro 7 By Frank Moldstad

Ultrabeat interface
In this tutorial we're going to use the step-sequencing feature in Ultrabeat to create a drum groove, and then tweak the sounds with Ultrabeat's synthesis engine. Ultrabeat is a terrific new drum machine/synthesizer plugin that comes with Apple's Logic Pro 7 DAW application.

Step sequencing is the process of building a track one beat at a time. Like any soft synth, Ultrabeat can be played from an external controller, but it's easier and more precise to build drum parts by step sequencing. Besides, Ultrabeat has a great step sequencer. The step sequencing section might look familiar if youve ever used an analog groove box -- it features a horizontal row of spaces representing beats in a virtual Roland-style TR-606 or TR-808 arrangement.

But Ultrabeats sequencer is infinitely more powerful than the old groove boxes, as it's not only tied in with Logic Pro 7, but also into a full-fledged synthesizer. It can construct sequences containing up to 24 patterns, and and the whole sequence can be up to 32 steps long. With the possibility of playing up to 25 unique sounds per step, Ultrabeat has enough polyphony to construct nearly any drum groove imaginable. As the loop is costructed, each individual drum sound can be manipulated with Ultrabeats synthesis engine, which includes a Phase Oscillator, sample playback, FM, and physical modeling, opening a an entirely new range of creative sound possibilities.

All plugins in Logic Pro 7 can be inserted from the main Arrange window by creating an Audio Instruments box (Audio>Audio Mixer, then New>Audio Object). To insert an instrument plugin, you double-click the Audio Object icon, and in the Parameters menu on the left set the channel parameter to an instrument, in this case Instrument 1. Any instrument plugin can now be inserted into the instrument slot, whether its Ultrabeat or other instrument plugins such as the Sculpture virtual synth. If that sounds confusing, after a couple of times it becomes an automatic process.

Assignment section
After you select Ultrabeat as an input on an open audio track, the Ultrabeat interface is opened by clicking the track's header, next to the Record button. The first thing you notice is the huge industrial metallic Filter knob, with spokes going out in four directions. This is the synth section, with 3D knobs and faders for all the various parameters. Running down the left side of Ultrabeat's interface is the Assignment section, where individual drum voices are selected.

For this example, I chose the Hip Hop Kit 1 from the drop down menu at the top left, with no pattern assigned -- we're going to create one from scratch. Clicking on the Kick1 voice in the Assignment section enables the Kick drum for editing. All the synth settings now affect the Kick, too.

Running horizontally like a train track across the bottom of the interface is the Sequencer. To set up a loop, I selected a 32-step length and 1/8 notes from the resolution menu. At this setting, each step of the grid represents an eighth note. Other choices are 1/12, 1/16, 1/24 and 1/32.

With the Kick1 voice still highlighted, I began with beats on the 1, the 4 and the 5. The beats were set by clicking the number above the corresponding row. Small blue dots above the numbers were selected to accent those beats globally. Here's how it ended up:  

Step sequenced kick pattern

Switching drums in the Assignment  section, I added a snare on the offsetting beats, like this:

Snare pattern

When I introduced a closed high hat and some tom fills for variety in the second two bars, the loop started to come together.  

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Related Keywords:Ultrabeat, Logic Pro 7, Step sequencing


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