This is an excerpt from my column “The Pro Tools Corner” at audioMIDI.com
Pro Tools 8: MIDI Editor
The MIDI editor in Pro Tools 8 is one new feature that has certainly been turning heads, especially those of other “sequencer heavy” DAWs. While many users have been making comparisons to Logic’s flavor of MIDI editing, the Pro Tools MIDI editor features a few unique tricks that are sure to speed up your sequencing workflow. This week at the Pro Tools Corner I will walk you through the basics of the MIDI editor and help you unlock to true sequencing power of Pro Tools 8.
Opening the MIDI Editor
First off, if you are worried that your current MIDI workflow isn’t going to translate in Pro Tools 8, fear not. You can still work with MIDI data in the edit window just as you had in Pro Tools 7 and earlier, but once you experience the MIDI editor you probably won’t want to.
Working with the MIDI editor is fairly straight forward, and the editor can be accessed in one of two ways:
To open a floating MIDI editor: With the MIDI or Instrument track view set to “regions,” double-click with the grabber tool on any MIDI region or simply select a group of notes and choose Window > MIDI Editor.
Note: double-clicking with the grabber tool in PT 7 and earlier brought up the “rename region” dialog, you can return this functionality in the MIDI tab of your preferences.
To open a “docked” MIDI editor: Choose View > Other Displays > MIDI Editor. This will dock a MIDI editor at the bottom of the Edit window.
If the windows “target” button is active (red), this docked editor will update dynamically as you select new MIDI data in the Edit window and can be resized vertically to the size of your choice. The “target” is the small square in the upper right-hand corner of a floating window.
Hint: Save a window configuration of the docked MIDI editor to toggle it instantly.
Using the MIDI Editor
The beauty of the MIDI editor is that its toolset, zoom settings, grid resolution and edit modes are completely isolated from the Edit window. For example, you could be using the smart tool in grid mode with a resolution of 1 bar in your Edit window and have the pencil tool in slip mode active in the MIDI editor. Generally, all of the tools in the MIDI editor will work the same way as they do while editing MIDI in the Edit window, so you don’t really need to learn any new edit tools, you just have get used to looking at MIDI in another window.
Note: If you are used to using single key shortcuts with command-key focus, you will need to focus them to the MIDI editor while docked. Command-key focus is represented by the “a-z” button in the top right hand corner of the editor.
Like the Edit window, The MIDI editor allows you to view additional MIDI/Instrument track data below the piano roll. By default, Velocity is shown but additional lanes can be shown or hidden by clicking the “plus” or “minus” icons. This can be very handy when you are editing multiple layers of CC data.
To quickly switch the editor into score view, simply click on the score button at the top left hand corner of the editor.
Viewing MIDI in Layers
By default, the MIDI editor shows only the selected track’s MIDI data. By using the track show/hide list attached to the MIDI editor, you can actually view MIDI data in overlapping layers. Think about editing multiple tracks of MIDI drums within a single piano roll and you will understand the power of this special feature.
The black dot to the left of the track name represents the track’s show/hide status, while the pencil to the right lets you know which track you are currently editing.
When you work with MIDI in layers, by default each layer will be represented by its region color. Because many times you may have regions that are the same color, the MIDI editor features two alternate color-coding options for notes.
Color notes by track:
Regardless of track color or region color, this option will assign a different color to each note layer in the MIDI editor. This helps when two tracks have the same region color.
Color notes by velocity:
This option will color code notes based on their velocity. Darker colors represent higher velocities. You can set all MIDI notes to color code by velocity automatically within system preferences, under the “Display” tab.
MIDI Editor Options:
You can set custom scrolling options in the MIDI editor using the discloser triangle at the top right hand corner of the editor
Just like the edit window, you can view additional ruler displays (like meter, tempo, etc).
While it might take you a little time to adjust to editing MIDI in a different window, I think you will find that the new editor makes working with MIDI in Pro Tools much more efficient and intuitive. In the past, I would always have trouble getting the correct level of horizontal, vertical zoom and octave range on my MIDI tracks, the MIDI editor has completely eliminated these navigational inefficiencies for me, and with a little practice I think it will for you as well.
This entry was written by Articles, PT Corner and tagged editing, MIDI, pro tools, PT Corner. Leave a comment or view the discussion at the permalink and follow any comments with the RSS feed for this post.
Score! Working with the Score Editor in Pro Tools 8
By far one of Pro Tools 8’s most anticipated new features was the score editor, finally providing users a built-in notation package without having to export MIDI data into Sibelius. The Pro Tools 8 score editor introduces basic notation based editing and printing functionality and is surprisingly easy to use once you get the hang of it. This week at the corner I will walk you through a basic workflow using the score editor to create and a print a score directly inside of Pro Tools.
Setting up: Key Signature
Before using the score editor there are a few session level set-up tasks that you will want to consider, starting with the sessions key signature ruler. To view the key signature ruler choose View > Rulers > Key Signature.
To insert an initial key change for the session (which will become the sessions default key), return the edit cursor to measure 1|1 and click on the small plus sign on the key signature ruler.
If there are any other key changes in the session that I want to account for in the score I will continue to add those changes by clicking again on the plus sign of the key signature ruler.
Setting up: Score Setup
Before opening up the score editor, I will open up the score setup menu to enter title and composer info and set up the spacing/layout preferences for the session. To open score setup choose File > Score Setup.
Opening the Score Editor:
In this simple example I have 3 instrument tracks that I will configure in the score editor. To open the score editor simply choose Windows > Score Editor or use the shortcut Ctrl+Option+= on Mac or Start+Alt+= on PC.
Note: Each track’s name is reflected in the score and any print outs so be sure to name your tracks appropriately.
By default all MIDI and Instrument tracks are displayed in the Score Editor, I can selectively show or hide tracks from the score using the tracks list. Simply click on the small circle icon to the left of the track name to show/hide that track from the score. When printing scores use the show/hide menu to print out individual parts.
Formatting the Score:
The default setting for tracks in the score editor is “Grand Staff,” because showing both bass and treble clefs for each track may be unnecessary, Pro Tools allows you to format each track’s settings individually using the “Notation Display Track Settings” dialog. To access a track’s notation settings simply right click on the track in the score and choose “Notation Display Track Settings.”
Here I can set each track’s display settings as well as configure global display settings for quantization, straighten swing and note overlap. Remember that display quantization settings and “straighten swing” have nothing to do with note quantization or swing in the sequencer, it is purely for cleaning up the score to avoid strange looking rhythms. Each track can have its own display quantization settings or be set to follow the global defaults.
After setting up the correct display settings for the 3 instrument tracks my score looks much cleaner and I am no longer wasting space with the grand staff for each track.
Inserting Chord Changes:
The Score Editor can also display a chord chart as defined by the session’s chord ruler. To show the chord ruler switch back to the edit window and choose View > Rulers > Chord Symbols.
To insert a new chord change simply click on the plus sign on the Chord ruler or Cntrl-Click (Mac) Start-Click (PC) anywhere on the Chord ruler.
After inserting my chord symbols I can switch back to the score. Because the spacing might be a little tight with the new chord symbols, I change the “System Spacing” in the Score Setup window to 11.0 to accommodate the chord symbols.
Editing the Score:
While I personally find it easier to edit notes in the matrix editor or event list, you can edit directly within the score editor using the same tools you are use to in the edit window.
To add notes:
Use the pencil tool to add new notes or modify existing ones. The note value and default velocity is set in the top left hand side of the score editor and follows the grid by default. To delete a note simply Option-Click (Mac) or Alt-Click (PC) on the note.
To move or transpose notes:
Use the grabber tool (or pencil tool) to move/transpose single or groups of notes. When notes are selected they will be shown in blue.
Moving the playback cursor:
The edit insertion is represented by a solid blue line in the score, you can click and drag this to start playback from different points.
Docking the Score Editor:
You can easily “Dock” the score editor to view while editing by using the new Window > Arrange commands like “Tile Horizontally.”
Printing the Score:
To Print the score I first activate the double bar line to cut the score at the end of the last midi region.
To Print the score I simply choose File > Print Score or hit Command+P (Mac) or Control+P (PC) and choose print (assuming my printer is hooked up). At this point I could just as easily create a PDF to email.
While the Pro Tools 8 score editor provides basic notation resources, great for lead sheets and simple editing, depending on your needs you may still want to invest in a dedicated score editor like Sibelius. For example, currently the notation display preferences don’t have any provisions for displaying percussion notation, tempo, dynamics or lyrics data, basically you get notes on a staff and that is it.
This entry was written by Articles, PT Corner and tagged editing, MIDI, notation, pro tools. Leave a comment or view the discussion at the permalink and follow any comments with the RSS feed for this post.