Logic 8: On Writing a Book About It

Peter Alexander has just completed writing The Street Smart Guide to Logic 8. Going back to the Atari days, he co-wrote the book on C-LAB Notator (the forerunner to Logic), and in 2003 co-wrote the Logic 4 online course. He has previously written help books on Cakewalk, Cubase, Finale, Performer and Vision. Additionally, Peter has the added vantage point of having been the North American distributor of Notator during which time his company developed the first certification program for it. In this week’s column he shares his perspective on the Logic along with insights for educators looking at Logic for their school’s vs. a traditional notation program. SPECIAL INVITATION: If you’ve authored a third-party support book on a comparable program, you’re invited to share your experiences by writing in the Comments box below this article.

A Degree in Logic?

I’m not overexerggerating when I say that Logic is so complete, that if the coursework were available, that Logic could easily be the centerpiece of an associate arts degree program for music production and film scoring. That’s because with Logic as the centerpiece of the curriculum, the following can be taught:

  • MIDI sequencing/editing/recording
  • Audio Recording
  • Audio Editing
  • Effects/Effects Programming
  • Mixdown
  • Mastering
  • Synth Programming
  • Notation
  • OS 10/Leopard instruction
  • Remix
  • Film/TV/media scoring
  • Rap/HipHop Production

To this, Logic can easily be used in Piano lab, harmony and composition classes on which to produce and record homework.

When looked at from this perspective, it’s easy to understand why Logic has such a deep learning curve. The Street Smart Guide to Logic 8 came in at 330 pages with a focus on sequencing and recording. But, any other aspect of the program could easily be a 250-500 page book especially if you start from the beginning assuming no prior sequencing or recording experience.

Whether adult or student, before any beginner approaches a sequencing program, it’s clear to me that we’re at the point where the prospective customer needs to have spent some time learning both MIDI and recording basics to fully grasp and appreciate what’s included in the program. At one time, you could cover a lot of MIDI basics in a sequencing book, but now, thanks to miniaturization and the integration of audio recording, that’s not really possible. In fact, it bogs down the learning flow when you try inserting MIDI basics into the Logic instruction set.

Thus, a primer is needed to lay the MIDI/recording foundation so that before the student/end user has bought and installed Logic, or any sequencing/digital audio program for that matter, their expectations are set for the learning curve.

Simply put, the more the end user brings to the table knowledge-wise with even the most rudimentary level of MIDI/recording basics, the faster Logic (and yes, the other programs, too) can be learned and mastered.

One example that illustrates my point are the effects. Starting with SilverVerb and ending with PlatinumVerb, you work your way up in complexity for each reverb. This doesn’t factor in AVerb or Space Designer, Logic’s convolution reverb, which is, as they say among New England fishermen, a whole nuther kettle o’fish. With Logic’s depth of completeness (I haven’t even talked about EQ and all the other effects), there’s a genuine need for an engineer who can teach to write a beginning audio curriculum.

Teaching Approaches

As I see it, there are three different approaches for teaching Logic:

  • MIDI/Sequencing recording
  • Audio Recording
  • Dance/Remix

Of these three, a film/TV composer needs to take all three, based on the industry’s current climate.

Before writing, I did read other Logic books based on 7 and 8 to see how my colleagues approached it.

Some tried to shortcut the learning curve by blending audio and MIDI instruction at the same time. For me, I find it takes longer to learn a program with that kind of approach since audio and MIDI, while similar, are still very different from each other. Trying to do/learn two things at once is a trend in some circles, even with some employers! But I think the ability to focus and learn one thing serves the student better then trying to get everything at once. One significant end result of this kind of focused training is that it builds student confidence. Having conquered one discipline, how difficult can the next one be?

At the same time, the learning path also depends on how you want to use the program.

Others put things in an advanced manual that I felt were important to learn early.

Some began teaching Logic from the perspective of loops.

So many teaching approaches demonstrate the number of different uses and potential customer bases for Logic!

My approach was distinctly different.

Because I have some training in quality control, especially in an area called Lean Six Sigma, I focused my instruction around this question: How do I use Logic today to run my music production business? So by the end of the book, the reader knows how to sequence, use loops, apply effects, record audio, and do sufficient work in the Score editor to produce lead sheets for copyright and homework assignments. I wrote in a strictly procedural manner with each chapter dedicated to a specific operational task. I also dealt with two important studio uses: setting up audio MIDI and Multi Instruments in the Environment, and setting up External MIDI hardware. I also looked at specific issues involving K2 players, PLAY and the Vienna Instruments.

Easy to Learn

My opinion after writing/producing three works on Logic (including this one) is that Logic, contrary to what’s said about it on the street, is very easy to learn if you teach it procedurally and with the Key Commands. This not how the manual teaches Logic, and frankly, I found that getting to simple was a real chore because of how the program is presented.

Speaking as an end user who paid cash for two copies of the program, one for myself and one for Caroline (my wife who is also an excellent media composer), I honestly feel that Apple’s teaching approach is so dysfunctional, that if Logic 8 were a person it would find itself at home in a Twelve Step group.

This poor program!

(I don’t mean to be caustic. But there are marketing reasons for my comments which I’ll cover at the end of the column.)

Logic comes with two manuals, one for the program and other for the plug-ins. Combined, they’re just under 2000 pages. The learning problem with the manuals is that they give you a definition of the feature, but often, not enough of an explanation to understand how to use it and apply it. In other words, like a typical manual, it doesn’t connect the dots. If the end user is new to all this, connecting the dots doesn’t come easily, unless you want to pay $1200 for Logic training, which I didn’t.

The Lean Six Sigma approach I wrote about earlier was also the basis for how I taught Logic 4 as an online class in 2003.

Egotistical me, I thought I’d be able to update the instruction from that class in a couple of weeks. Three weeks tops.

Ho ho ho!

No way. Even with having produced a class on this material, some days it took 4-6 hours to write a single lesson, and in some cases 2-3 days.

Talk about being humbled!

I’ve done so many of these books, usually I can do them in one draft, sometimes one and a half. This was not the case with Logic 8. Each chapter averaged three drafts. Some four.

Separate from the Logic manuals, one issue that drove me wild was not having a screen capture program on the Mac that was the equal of the one I use on the PC, Snag-It from Techsmith. The problem with the Mac screen capture programs (I ultimately settled on Snapz thanks to a reference from the NY Times’ David Pogue and the folks at VSL), is that they only do 72DPI which is a lower DPI than what you need for physical printing (our printer wants a minimum of 300 DPI).

Snapz has two advantages. First it does screen capture, and second, you can do video capture to which you can add audio commentary.

With Snapz, unlike Grab which comes with the Mac, I was able to shoot more meaningful screenshots so that each action was clearly stepped out visually. With Logic, showing a picture vs. trying to describe it in prose makes for a much effective learning curve. So, thanks to Snapz, we’ll be releasing a second work on Logic 8 cued to the book which will be a supplemental video manual.

Here’s the teaching advantage of applied video.

Logic is so feature rich that trying to explain something that’s really very simple to do can take several paragraphs and a number of screen shots. For example, setting up a new project in Logic is extremely simple and fast. But to explain it, especially for those who are more visually driven, is to be longwinded. However when the same move is done with video capture, you see that the setup task takes under 25 seconds to do.

Just sitting and watching the video capture teaches an important lesson to both the sales prospect and the end user – Logic is really easy to use. In fact, in most things, I found Logic 8 to be blazingly fast to use once the various procedures were stepped out.

Looking back, I’d have to say that the most difficult thing to explain was setting up external synths and computers. Here, you must first set up the external instrument in the Mac audio MIDI section. Then within Logic, you setup what’s called a Multi Instrument. This can go one of two ways depending on where you click the mouse. After that, you can then setup an external instrument with the same speed as setting up an internal Software Instrument. To explain that was about 28 pages. Making the video demonstrated that the entire procedure takes under 2 minutes to do.

With Logic, it’s not text or video, it’s text and video to best demonstrate the procedures.

Once you’ve setup the external MIDI instrument, working with players like K2 and PLAY are really easy. It’s really a very well thought out approach.

Logic 8 Score Editor

The notation program was a bit of a disappointment to me. Compared to Finale and Sibelius for notation, I think it’s fair to say that you can do 65% in Logic’s Score editor of what you can do with the other programs.

Before I go further, I need to give credit to Johannes Prischl who wrote the 200-page Logic Notation Guide way back in 1998, which you can still order online. Johannes is the only individual who’s put the time into such a worthy project and I salute him for his work. Thank you, Johannes!

For the teacher/composer wanting to compose in Logic for one instrument per line (as can be done in Finale and Sibelius), Logic’s Score editor can be reasonably comparable today with Finale and Sibelius if Vienna’s Special Edition, or any member of the Vienna Instrument library, are used with Logic. I would say that as well for Cubase, DP and Sonar since all three have notational ability.

But at day’s end, if you look at professionally marketing your music in different venues, then at some point your career will demand that you learn either Finale or Sibelius.

You can do a lot with the Score editor, and having access to Adobe’s Sonata font is a real bonus because the printed output looks very professional. But if you agree that time is money, then you have to determine for your career where your time is better spent – mastering the Score editor, or mastering a full fledged notation program.

I think, however, that four features need to be reviewed for Logic notation that are found in other comparable programs.

Add Guitar chord position symbols – you can do tablature and create chord symbols, but no guitar position chord symbols. At least, not that I could find. As a result, Logic users can’t create their own P/V/G (piano/vocal/guitar) lead sheets or songbooks.

Fix the bloody MIDI import – really! With MIDI import, similar to Sibelius, Logic now assigns sounds to each track. This is totally obnoxious especially if you’re bringing in a file from Sibelius or Finale that you want to assign to programs like QLSO or Vienna. Sometimes you can work around it with a drag and drop approach, but like the Borg, Logic seems to adapt! Please! Where’s the OFF switch!

Improve the MIDI Meanings – Many musical performance symbols are graphic only. I think it’s time to relook at this area compared to other programs and see what can be improved.

Simplify bars per line – This is much easier in other programs.

Other Issues

For recording your MIDI sequence to an audio track, I must confess, I found the procedure easier in Cubase SX 3. I thought that setting up a bus in Logic before you set up your audio track was a little clunky, especially when working with software instruments.

For the audio mixing board, I’d like to see Apple go back to 2003 so that you could setup a channel strip that also included a visible parametric EQ. Hardware mixing boards are still with us. I think whenever the virtual version looks comparable to the hardware version, instruction is both simplified and multiplied because you’re not creating a double learning curve of virtual vs. hardware.

For the mixing board, I’d like to see a discussion about effects chaining, especially when building an eletric guitar sound. Here I think is a real opportunity to offer some preset solutions not unlike the older Korg A3 which was a chain effects reverb heavily used by guitarists in its day. For the record, you can set up an effects chain, but it starts from the top of the Insert area and works its way down.

My Own Feelings

Overall, I’m still glad I made the transition from Cubase SX 3 to Logic. And frankly, I’d have a hard time going back to the PC for sequencing because I enjoy working with Logic so much. But I’m also glad I won’t be writing another book until Logic 9!

Why Sequencing Education Is Important to Music Technology Sales

Here I want to explain why I’m being so harsh on Logic (I’d be just as harsh if I were doing a book on Cubase 4).

Because our industry is built of artistisans not marketers (like myself from a previous life) it’s not really understood that as go sequencer sales, so goes much of the industry. Consider the types of products that follow sequencer sales (meaning until the sequencing program is sold, the end user has no need for the product):

  • computers
  • software instruments/VSTi’s
  • audio cards
  • MIDI interfaces
  • software audio programs like Altiverb, Waves and others

What I’ve continued to find over the years is that the very people the industry needs, newbies, are the ones they least want to deal with because their knowledge level is at ground zero. Take a look at this chart I created showing the Rogers Curve of Technology Adoption. The Innovators represent 2.5% of the market. We call them peers. And they tend to learn without instruction. They’re the sales guys who say a Korg Triton is so easy to learn you don’t need a manual.

Now, here’s reality: the remaining 97.5% do need a manual, and one that’s easy to understand, too. This is critically important to the industry because when sequencing sales falter and slide, so do all the support products.

Once a newbie is brought in and trained for results, that newbie becomes a repeat customer.

For the industry to grow, it has to reach out and tap into this curve of newbies. And for some manufacturers of support programs like VSTI’s and virtual samplers, there exists the sincere need to package a sequencing/digital audio recording program with cogent instruction with their software to eliminate their need of being followers of sequencing sales.

Here’s what I find so interesting about Apple. In 1985, Apple’s marketing guru, Regis McKenna, wrote a book entitled The Regis Touch which outlined Apple’s word of mouth strategy which took into account the Rogers Curve of Technology Adoption. When I look at Logic, I wonder where that thinking has gone. Or has it been applied to GarageBand?

In Closing!
Just a reminder to those fellow authors who’ve also written books on Logic or other programs, chime in with your experiences. Not many of us are doing this kind of writing so I think it would be a great thing to hear from all of you.

Also, I want to thank Nick Batzdorf and Jay Asher who graciously brought me up to speed on some Logic issues I didn’t quite get.


  • June 3, 2008 @ 11:29 am

    Thanks for the tip of the hat, Peter. This looks like a very valuable book and will be an excellent compliment to David Nahmani’s excellent Apple Pro Training Book.

    I am not here to carry Apple’s water but Apple’s philosophy of how to teach Logic (and I am a Level 2 Certified Trainer teaching at UCLA Extension) is that students come into the classroom with very different levels of musical training, interests, DAW and/or computer literacy, and owning different software/hardware combos. So under the “no child left behind” idea, we have to teach all aspects of the app, even though certain users may be only interested in specific aspects. Also, we have to utilize material that all students will have, especially Apple Loops. Peter’s more modular approach will be a welcome alternative for those who have neither the time nor the inclination to do it the Apple way.

    Interestingly, the students who have found learning less daunting are not necessarily the well -trained musicians as you might think but the DJ/Electronica guys who are less daunted by technology. And like it or not folks, the majority of new users are young people migrating from Garageband who are more tuned into using loops, beats, etc, than formally trained musicians.

    I would disagree with the statement that Logic’s score editor will only do about 65% of what the dedicated score programs. If you know it well, it is far more capable than that.

    That said, there is certainly something to be said for learning Sibelius or FInale if you are not already fluent with Logic’s score editor.

    That said, there is certainly something to be said for doing it all in one app :)

    I too am writing a Logic Pro 8 book called “Going Pro with Logic Pro.” It is tutorial based and targeted to more advanced users, addressing issues involving using Logic with third party software instruments outside of Logic, interacting with other apps, and other very specific Logic tasks that you will not find in the manual or Pro Training series. Plus, there are some tutorials that address just my own preference of how to accomplish certain tasks.

    I hope that folks will find it useful. Thanks Peter, for the opportunity to plug it here, and best of luck with your book. I look forward to seeing it.

  • June 9, 2008 @ 1:46 am

    Hi Peter,

    I read about your book a week or so ago on this site. I’ve lost the link to it now but I do remember that your approach seemed a refreshing one with an accent on sequencing and notation.

    I wrote a book about using Logic called Get Creative with Logic, which was essentially a project book. In fact, to begin with, it wasn’t about Logic at all. It was a book about making music with Cubase.

    As a long time Notator and Logic user I suddenly found myself having to teach Cubase to a bunch of music technology students, so I gave myself a crash course in Cubase VST. It was a great learning experience and led to my first book, Get Creative with Cubase.

    The projects are musically based (a simple piano piece, computer game looped piece, a TV football theme and so on) and it was a reasonably easy task to rewrite the whole thing for Logic. That’s how the Logic book came about. Since those books I’ve written several books on Cubase and GarageBand but nothing further on Logic.

    As for Logic’s notation editor, I agree with Jay, it’s capable of most things that Sibelius and Finale do – it just takes hours to do them. I know this because I’ve arranged big band scores in Notator and printed them out for concert performance. The process was very slow, though, because back then (early 90s) I was using an Atari and a dot matrix printer. However, Notator, did an adequate job. I now use Sibelius and Finale.

    Thanks for tip about Snapz, which looks great. I didn’t know about this.

    Good luck with the book Peter (and you Jay).

    All the best,

    Keith Gemmell

  • June 10, 2008 @ 11:58 am

    Hi Peter and All

    It’s great to hear someone else’s perspective on creating these kind of resources.

    Logic 8 is a great program. It’s finally everything I hoped Logic 7 would be when I swapped from Cubase SX2 on a PC (It couldn’t handle Cubase 4 so I went and got a mac. I also had to teach Logic to university students so getting a mac was pretty much essential-glad I did though)

    It’s also cheap cheap cheap. £300ish for the full version £118 educational price. It’s no wonder that there are lots of resources for Logic 8 appearing to help all the starry eyed newbies make sense of what they can do with this stupidly powerful program. BTW I don’t work for Apple (despite my seemingly gushing praise) and there are still a few annoying things about Logic that I won’t go into here but overall I’m a big fan.

    I too got dragged onto the Logic resource bandwagon. Suddenly I found myself being asked to produce a Logic 8 tutorial DVD called “Logic 8 Level 1” (snappy title-not mine!) for an English company called Talented Pixie. It’s the first of three staged discs.

    For me, the difficult bit was working out what to demonstrate and when. There was a bit of a “chicken and egg” situation where I had to explain a process but in order to do it I had to explain something else earlier than I wanted to. Like you, I chose to separate MIDI tutorials from audio because they are still pretty different even though they appear similarly in the mixer.

    The problem is, with such an open ended platform you can produce music/audio in several different (and probably equally valid) ways, so when you write a resource you are having to set the reader/viewer down the path you would normally follow, which is why it’s probably a good thing to have several Logic resource products to choose from.

    Also hello Keith, your “Get Creative” books were always very good. Do you remember that it was my music tech students that you taught Cubase VST to several years ago? Keep up the good work with the books and the articles.

    Anyway, good luck with the smart guide. I wish you (and everyone else) every success.

    take care

    Jonathan Vincent

  • June 10, 2008 @ 12:28 pm

    Jonathan, you wrote, “…and there are still a few annoying things about Logic that I won’t go into here but overall I’m a big fan.” Please do comment. As a small fraternity writing these books it’s good for Apple to hear from those who teach the program live and in print areas they need to review.

    Keith & Jonathan – Post links to your books!
    Here’s mine: http://www.truespec.com/street-smart-guide-logic-p-1120.html

    Jay & Keith – please feel free to explain why Logic is more than 65% of Finale or Sibelius. My attitude as a writer/publisher is this: If it can do 90% of that which Finale and Sibelius can do, then give me clear connect-the-dots instruction to better manage my learning time.

  • June 10, 2008 @ 1:36 pm

    Hi Peter
    Ooo, I’m on the spot now, but most of the gripes that come to mind are audio based. e.g.
    -I still find dealing with audio editing clunky. Chopping up and sorting out audio in the arrange area is still much faster in Cubase in my opinion. Even though the zooming is quite flexible I really miss single keystrokes for incremental zooming instead of Logic CNTRL and arrow combo.
    -The sample editor is still a bit of a pain and the lack of in-program printable effects is quite frustrating. Why should we have to launch soundtrack pro to print cool effects?

    If I think of any more I’ll repost them.

    As regards a link to my Logic DVD it’s very kind of you to allow this so here goes…
    You can download a sample tutorial, if you can stand my dulcet tones.

  • June 10, 2008 @ 2:33 pm

    I concur about the audio editing. My option here is what I call the “poor man’s Pro Tools” which is to either record the audio in Logic and export it to Samplitude (depending on the project), or record the audio directly into Samplitude.

  • June 13, 2008 @ 5:49 pm

    Hi Jonathan – what a nice surprise. Yes, of course I remember your students. It was an all PC college, I seem to remember and Cubase definitely ruled. Nice to hear that you’re thriving (on a Mac too) and good luck with the tutorial. It should do well with all the current interest in Logic 8.

    Hi Peter – to be honest, I haven’t used the notation editor for printing scores since the C-Lab Notator days so I’m rusty in that respect. I used Finale for a while but now use Sibelius.

    Having said that, Sibelius is expensive, and if personal finances are tight, musicians can produce a decent score using Logic.

    Preparation and organization is the key. Using a duplicate copy of your file is important because the score will need to be quantized. Merging all the regions on the tracks and having them start and end exactly (one for each stave) is important, too, for a neat display.

    Choosing the best quantize setting (the default 16,24 is often best), checking the Interpretation box and experimenting with the Syncopation option will clear a good deal of the preliminaries out of the way. After that enter all the dynamic markings and so on and go through the options in the score project settings.

    As I say, I don’t use it anymore but for every day bread and butter scores and parts it’s fine. Just a bit fiddly, that’s all. I guess, like everything else, if you use it daily, it quite easy to get up to speed.

    My books, by the way (you did ask), are at:


    All the best – KG

  • June 18, 2008 @ 7:56 am

    I am sorry Peter, but there are no shortcuts to learning how to use Logic’s Score Editor efficiently, any more than there is for FInale.

    Your best bets are to either take some lessons from someone who knows it well or to spend some serious time with the Prischl book, “The Logic Notation GUide”, which although somewhat dated, is still the bible.

  • June 18, 2008 @ 10:48 am

    Well, Jay, having already written two books on Finale before there were other help guides, I can certainly spend the time and teach myself how to do it. But that also reflects the point I made as part of my critiques which is, “time is money.” Which path best supports my career path and music business:

    1) take the time to figure out the Logic notation package?
    2) invest the same time into Finale or Sibelius?

    Given the Mac presence in academe, and given that most music comp professors would prefer a notation approach to learning Logic vs. a sequencing one, it might behoove Apple to consider creating a simplified problem/solution approach.

  • June 18, 2008 @ 11:58 am

    It depends. If like me, you are already a hard core Logic user and do score prep work for other hard core Logic users, as I have over the years, then I would say it makes sense to learn Logic’s score. If not, then certainly it makes more sense to learn an app that is specifically created for that purpose.

    What amazes me is that some folks actually compose in either Finale or Sibelius. I would rather have bamboo inserted under my nails. But then again, I am a player, not a step enter kinda guy.

  • July 16, 2008 @ 3:01 am

    well, i concur with jay, the score editor can do a lot more than 65% of sibelius and finale, AND i AM a step enter kind of guy. the main advantage of using logic to score is speed and flexibility. also, logic’s score editor is by FAR the most intuitive editor to get to know, provided you understand 2 simple fundamental principles; staff styles, and instrument sets. a 3rd less crucial but still important element is to understand it in terms of midi.

    all you need to get to grips with the score editor in logic can be spelt out in 2 paragraphs, the rest can be figured out by yourself.

    while logic is much faster and in many ways easier than the notators, the last 10% of work obliterates the speed gains of the first 90%, because the score editor is essentially unfinished. to get a really professional result requires work arounds and work arounds, and at some point it becomes a hiding to nothing. the solution then is to export to a notator – the best method these days probably being PDFtoXML, since logic doesn’t export XML directly.

  • July 21, 2009 @ 9:38 pm

    Hi there mr. Alexander.
    You talked about how dissapointed you are with logic notation compared to Finale or sibelius, and that at one point a musician to fully notate his work will have to learn one of the two…
    But I’ll give you more:
    The composers to picture from Rio de Janerio, Brazil [me included] we decided to form an association in order to put things right in our almost invisible profession, at least in our country.
    And we were invited to do a concert with our work, naturally one of the guys that has more orchestra handling hability was in charge of the conducting and organizing duties, and everybody gave him a recording and some sort of midi file to prepare the parts, but me being a very persintent animal and not that untrained, said to my self: ‘ I’ma prepare the whole thing on me own!!!’
    I even was bragging to the cats how cool was to do it within logic for it could quantize the score separately than the sequence, which did not give you a headache of listening to your music too quantized…
    Oh boy, I was so humiliated when I presented my score, I was crushed.
    Logic simply is like FRUTY LOOPS of notation programs!!!
    Among the ludicrous limitations are:
    _You cannot change the size of a TIE!!!!
    _SLURS look ugly! and never on the right spot
    _the orch template is bigger than a page!!!
    _Can’t edit the song title size
    _Cord symbols look OLD, connot write, for instance:
    The extetions are small…they’re plain UGLY!!!… I’m UGLY…and humilated…
    I’m almost desperate for I cannot change a program in the middle of the job…
    I hope I’m wrong about some of these remarks, for I’m almost desperate…
    Any thought other than, get Sibelius quick?
    Peace, jPM>

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