Lesson 10

Basic MIDI Editing

When you edit MIDI data in Pro Tools, you will work either in Clips View or Notes View.

In Clips View Pro Tools organizes data into clips that appear in the Clip List. You have already worked with the Audio Clips in previous lessons. The Clips List also contains each MIDI track or a section of a MIDI track. When you record or import MIDI data into Pro Tools, the name of the new MIDI region will be listed in the Clips List.

Screen shot 2012-04-24 at 8.22.00 AM MIDI Clips in the clip list.

When you edit, paste, copy, or separate MIDI tracks. Pro Tools will also create new a new region in the Clips List.

The Clips List is located in the Edit Window on the right hand side. If it is not there, remember to expand the window to show the list by clicking on the double arrow button in the lower right hand corner of the Edit Window.

When you edit a MIDI track in the Pro Tools Edit Window, be aware that it looks a little different than an audio track.

Screen shot 2012-04-24 at 8.22.28 AM
MIDI Track in Edit Window

Screen shot 2012-04-24 at 8.22.44 AM
Audio Track in Edit Window.

Changing Edit Views in MIDI

You can select how you want to view and edit your MIDI data by clicking on the Track View Selector Screen shot 2012-04-24 at 8.23.07 AM located under the track name. You will now see the following window, allowing you to select how you want to view/edit MIDI data.

Screen shot 2012-04-24 at 8.23.14 AM
MIDI Track View pull down menu.

In the Clips View, you can drag regions from the MIDI Regions List into tracks and arrange them into sequences or songs.

MIDI Playlists

Playlists for MIDI and Audio basically function the same way with an important difference. MIDI Editing Is Destructive. MIDI data is recorded and edited right into the Pro Tools Session. There are no source MIDI files (like there were for audio files) that remain untouched on your hard drive.

When you delete a note it is gone! When I edit MIDI I typically make a copy of the track and then edit the copy. MIDI data does not take up a lot of room on your hard drive, so don’t be afraid to duplicate MIDI tracks and edit the copy. When you are sure that your edited track is what you want, just delete the original MIDI track. Better safe than sorry!

Let’s Do Some MIDI Editing!

Open up a new Pro Tools Session and title it MIDI Editing.

Add 2
Stereo Instrument tracks.

Screen shot 2012-04-24 at 8.23.54 AM

Label the tracks
Piano RH and Piano LH. We are going to be working with Virtual Instruments for this exercise.

Screen shot 2012-04-24 at 8.24.07 AM
NOTE: You can purchase VIs (Virtual Instruments) through Avid or use a third party VI. For this tutorial I will be using Garritan Orchestra. Your VI may be different, but the concepts are still the same.

Make sure that you are still in the Edit Widow. For this exercise we are going to want our Inserts and I/O to be showing in our mix widow as well. Click on the down arrow Screen shot 2012-04-24 at 8.24.45 AM located at the top of the track names and make sure that Inserts and I/O is checked.

Screen shot 2012-04-24 at 8.24.52 AM

From the File pull down menu select Import MIDI. Locate the Piano GM.mid file from your Pro Tools Course File Folder that you downloaded in Lesson 6 and select the file. You will now see the following dialog box.

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Select your destination as Clip List and click OK.

The two MIDI files should now appear in your Clips List.

Screen shot 2012-04-24 at 8.25.33 AM

You should be in the Edit Window. Make sure your Hand Grabber Tool Screen shot 2012-04-24 at 8.25.39 AM is selected and grab the files from the Cilps list and drag them into the proper instrument tracks. When you are done it should look like the following:

Screen shot 2012-04-24 at 8.26.43 AM

Make sure that your sequence starts at 0:00 and that you dragged the MIDI files to the left most part of the track.

Adding A Virtual Instrument

We are now going to add a virtual instrument and assign a piano sound to our tracks. Make sure that you have your Inserts showing in the Edit Window.

Go to the Inserts A-E located at the top of the Piano RH channel strip and click on the first slot. I am selecting the following for my Garritan Aria player VI (Virtual Instrument).

Screen shot 2012-04-24 at 8.26.49 AM

Once I select the Aria player I see the following window:

Screen shot 2012-04-24 at 8.26.55 AM

Arai lists 16 MIDI channels at the top of the instrument. I am going to add piano sounds to the first two MIDI channels as follows:

Screen shot 2012-04-24 at 8.27.46 AM

I am now going to assign the
Piano LH track to the Garritan Channel 2 from the Virtual Instrument that we added to the Insert A of the RH Piano track. This saves RAM by assigning multiple tracks to the same Virtual Instrument. Remember that you can assign up to 16 different sounds/tracks to the same virtual instrument.

I am going to the
MIDI Output Selector for the Piano LH track and selecting Aria Player 1 channel-2 since that is where I loaded another piano track into Garritan. Note that both tracks will be playing through my first RH piano track.

Screen shot 2012-04-24 at 8.27.53 AM

Play the sequence from the beginning and you should now be hearing the sound from your assigned Virtual instrument playing both tracks. In my case, I can adjust the volume of each track through the Garritan VI mixing board.

To view a brief tutorial on adding a VI in Pro Tools, click on the following link:

Clip 14

Editing MIDI Notes

Make sure you are still in the Edit Window. We are now going to edit the piano performance. To edit MIDI notes in our MIDI piano track, select Notes View from the Track View Selector.

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We are now going to make our view larger by clicking the
down arrow located to the left of the track name and selecting Large.

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Screen shot 2012-04-24 at 8.30.12 AM
Large View of MIDI Piano Track

You may also use the arrows located at the top and bottom of the piano keyboard to scroll up and down when viewing your MIDI track.

To audition notes in your MIDI track, select the
Grabber Tool Screen shot 2012-04-24 at 8.31.23 AM (notice the pointing finger) and click on a box in the MIDI track. You should now hear what note you played into the MIDI track. Click on your notes and listen to them in your MIDI track. Note that you may have to use the Zoomer Tool to enlarge your MIDI note boxes.

The MIDI Editing Tools

You have read all of this before, but there are some differences when using these tools for MIDI editing.

Screen shot 2012-04-24 at 8.31.12 AM The Selector Tool

This is similar to what you did in audio. The Selector Tool is used for selecting MIDI track material by moving the curser to a specific point for playback on a MIDI track.

To start playback anywhere in the track, make sure the
Selector Tool is highlighted, click anywhere on the track, then hit the spacebar to start playback from your selected point.

Make sure that you have selected
Link Edit and Timeline Selection from the Options pull down menu or this won’t work.

You can select a portion of a MIDI track with the
Selector Tool by clicking and dragging to highlight a portion of the MIDI track.

Screen shot 2012-04-24 at 8.32.04 AM
Using the Selector Tool to select a portion of a MIDI region.

To select an entire region, double click with the Selector Tool.

Use the above concepts and work with the Selector Tool on your MIDI track.

Screen shot 2012-04-24 at 8.31.23 AM The Grabber Tool

In MIDI editing, the Grabber Tool has three modes of operation. Time Mode and Separation Mode, and Object Mode.

Screen shot 2012-04-24 at 8.32.37 AM
The Grabber Tool’s Three Modes

When using the
Time Mode it is easy to select a part of a MIDI track, cut it or drag it and move it somewhere else in your sequence.

Make sure you are in
Slip Edit Mode, and then use the Grabber Tool in Time Mode to grab a MIDI note and move it around.

Screen shot 2012-04-24 at 8.32.44 AM
Using the Time/Grabber mode to move a MIDI note down.

When using the
Separation Mode, Pro Tools separates the selected MIDI material into a new MIDI region.

You can also select multiple MIDI notes by Shift-clicking each note with the
Grabber Tool.

Screen shot 2012-04-24 at 8.33.17 AM The Trimmer Tool

In MIDI, this tool is used to lengthen or shorten MIDI notes.

To use the
Trimmer Tool, place the cursor next to the start or end of a MIDI note. Click on the note and drag left or right to shorten or lengthen the note.
When using the
Trimmer Tool in Slip editing mode, you can trim regions visually wherever they appear on your computer screen.

Grid editing mode, when changing the start and end times of a MIDI event, the Trimmer Tool will snap the changed event to the nearest grid boundary.

When you are in
Spot editing mode, you will get a dialog box asking you where you want to place the new location for your MIDI event.

Try using all of the edit modes listed above with the
Trimmer Tool on your MIDI sequence.

Screen shot 2012-04-24 at 8.33.28 AM
Lengthened MIDI note using the Trimmer Tool.

Screen shot 2012-04-24 at 8.33.39 AM The Pencil Tool

The Pencil Tool allows you to edit MIDI velocities, MIDI automation, and MIDI controller events. The Pencil Tool can be used in seven different modes that are selected by clicking on the arrow on the bottom right of the icon.

Screen shot 2012-04-24 at 8.34.16 AM
The Pencil Tool’s seven modes.

We are now going to use the Pencil Tool to edit some automation data for volume control. Make sure that you are still in the Edit Window and that you are in Slip Edit Mode.

On your recorded MIDI track, select
MIDI Volume from the Track View Selector.

Screen shot 2012-04-24 at 8.34.23 AM

Notice that a line now appears across the very top of your MIDI track.

Select the Pencil Tool and from the Pencil Tool pull down arrow select Line.

Screen shot 2012-04-24 at 8.34.28 AM
Selecting Line Mode for the Pencil Tool.

Click and drag the beginning of the line downward to create a lower volume level and upward to create a higher volume level. Note that you need to release your mouse once to move down or up to enter the line. Your edited volume level may look something like this:

Screen shot 2012-04-24 at 8.35.09 AM
Using the Pencil Tool to Automate Volume.

When you are finished, play back your MIDI track and listen to the volume. You should now hear changes in the volume level of the track.

Note that MIDI volume will only control MIDI data. If you want the faders to move in the
Window select Audio Volume when you are entering your automation.

Experiment with the different edit modes and
Pencil Tool Line Modes on your MIDI track.

Screen shot 2012-04-24 at 8.35.24 AM The Zoomer Tool

When we used the Zoomer Tool to edit audio, its primary function was to enlarge a track so that you could perform finer edits. The tool works the same way for MIDI tracks. Experiment with the Zoomer Tool on your MIDI track.

Screen shot 2012-04-24 at 8.35.32 AM
MIDI Notes View after being expanded with the Zoomer Tool.

Screen shot 2012-04-24 at 8.36.25 AM The Four Edit Modes In MIDI

The four edit modes provide you with different methods for editing your MIDI data in the Edit Window. The MIDI Edit Modes function much like the Audio Edit Modes that you have already worked with in previous lessons.

Shuffle Mode
allows you snap regions to each other so that they are placed end-to-end.

Spot Mode prompts you to enter a location for placement of your edited region.

Slip Mode allows you to move edited regions freely in and among each other.

Grid Mode places edited regions to the nearest boundary.

Experiment with the four different
Edit Modes using your MIDI track.

The Cut, Copy, Paste, and Clear Commands

When you work with a word processing program, you have probably used the cut, copy, paste, and clear commands quite often. Editing MIDI data in Pro Tools pretty much works the same way.
Track View dictates what type of MIDI data you are editing.

Cut Command “cuts” the selected material and places it on the clipboard.

Copy Command duplicates the material and places it on the clipboard.

Paste Command takes the material that is placed temporarily on the clipboard and “pastes” it into a user specified location in a MIDI sequence.

Clear Command deletes the selected material without placing it on the clipboard. This is sort of like destructive editing.
Pro Tools offers keyboard shortcuts that will help you to perform your edits quickly. They are very similar to the keyboard shortcuts used for most word processing programs.

Screen shot 2012-04-24 at 8.36.58 AM

To view a brief tutorial on Editing MIDI in Pro Tools, click on the following link:

Clip 15

Pro Tools Project 17: MIDI Editing

Take the MIDI piano part that you imported into our last project and edit it using the concepts discussed in this lesson. Make it sound more human-like. Change the velocities, attacks, durations, or anything else you believe would make this track sound more like a “real” pianist.

Importing Audio Into Pro Tools

Pro Tools will also allow you to import audio files directly into a project. Importing an audio file requires a few more steps than are required to import a MIDI file, but it is still easy.

Create a new Pro Tools session and title it what ever you want, you are not going to save this
. You are going to import the Audio file titled Audio 1 located in the Pro Tools Course Projects Folder that you downloaded in Lesson 6. Note that depending on your operating system and version of Pro Tools, there are several audio file formats to choose from. All are 16 bit and you may have to set your session to 16 bit.

Once you have created your session, go to the File pull down menu and select Import-Audio. You will now be prompted to find the Audio 1 file. Locate the file type for your operating system and version of Pro Tools.

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Highlight the audio 1 file and it now appears in the left had side of the window below.

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Click on “Convert” and the audio file will now move to the right hand column.

Screen shot 2012-04-24 at 8.43.10 AM
Once the audio file appears in the right hand column, click on the done button. You will then be asked where you want to import the new audio file. Let's select New Track.

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Saving your Audio File to a new track

When you have completed the process, you will now have the audio tracks added to your session.

Screen shot 2012-04-24 at 8.43.39 AM
Newly created audio file and track.

Recap: Lesson 10

You should now be more familiar with:

Editing MIDI
Changing Edit Views
MIDI Playlists
Editing MIDI Notes
MIDI Editing Tools
The four MIDI Editing Modes
Cut, Copy, Paste, and Clear Commands
Importing Audio and MIDI into Pro Tools
Using Virtual Instrument Plug-ins

This ends the introductory tutorial for Pro Tools. You should now have a basic understanding of Pro Tools. I highly recommend the text
Pro Tools 101 An Introduction to Pro Tools by Frank D. Cook for a more in depth discussion on Pro Tools.

Good luck and have pfun!!

Dr. Rik Pfenninger
Saxophone Professor and Directory of Music Technology
Plymouth State University
Plymouth, NH

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