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Digital Subscriptions > MusicTech > Mar-18 > STEP-TIME SEQUENCING IN LOGIC PRO X


Step sequencing is the backbone of electronic-music production and a great way to create exciting keyboard lines. Take your first steps with Mark Cousins…


The humble step sequencer has proved itself to be an integral part of the world of electronic music, from the chugging modular Moogs of Tangerine Dream in the 1970s, through to the squelchy TB-303 sequencer lines that are still popular today. At its heart, of course, a step sequencer negates the need to be a proficient keyboard player – simply enter the pitch of each step, press play and enjoy a fast-moving, mechanically precise synth line! In Logic Pro X, you’ll find many ways to explore step sequencing, fusing synthesis and music creation in an exciting and dynamic way.

We’re going to explore the process of step sequencing by recreating the sound and performance of a TB-303. For the uninitiated, the Roland TB-303 was originally designed as a ‘budget’ combination of step sequencer and synthesiser, with a relatively simple control set that lent the unit an instantly recognisable sound. Replicating the classic TB-303 sound, therefore, requires both an understanding of its synthesis architecture and the unique features of its step sequencer.


Replicating the sound of a TB-303 using Retro Synth requires little more than a few tweaks to the basic preset. The sound uses just a single oscillator, set to either a Square or Sawtooth waveform, which is shaped by a resonant low-pass filter. The envelopes are also straightforward, with a Gate for the amplifier, and a simple A/D setting for the filter. The most important element is to ensure Retro Synth is set to monophonic legato mode (also disabling any unison voicing) with a small amount of Glide. This will help create the distinctive glide effect that’s intrinsic to a TB-303 sequence.

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About MusicTech

Now settled into 2018 we look ahead to the future of music. With NAMM 2018 behind us we had a chance to ponder on the many new and exciting pieces of tech we saw and their impact on music creation. In this issue, we bring you our annual show report, containing info on all the latest tech that you can expect to get your hands on in 2018. In keeping with the ‘future’ theme, our lead interview highlights the work of the legendary technological pioneers at the Bell Labs and their collaboration with artist Beatie Wolfe. Their augmented reality, 3D work Raw Space reimagines the album as a multi-sensory, immersive experience. We also speak to Aki Mäkivirta from Genelec about the advanced tech at the heart of the award-winning The Ones monitors. Elsewhere this issue, we have a guide to taking your mixes to the stage, our usual tips and tutorials and an expanded reviews section. We hope you enjoy the issue…