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Ableton Live 8 Essential Training with Rick Schmunk offers a comprehensive overview of Ableton's live audio and MIDI sequencing software and the techniques required to compose, record, and edit music, in real time, on stage, or in the studio. The course includes tutorials on compiling live sets from audio and MIDI clips, loops, or samples, applying MIDI effects, warping audio, and recording and producing songs in any number of contemporary styles. Exercise files are included with the course.
When editing MIDI, we often focus on quantizing and fixing rhythmic errors, and forget to use the other tools that are available to improve a MIDI performance. In this video, we'll learn how to edit note duration, transpose notes, and edit note velocities. So again, editing MIDI starts with making a selection. So let's open this bass clip up in the MIDI Editor, by clicking on the clip. So in this clip, I've got notes that are at the wrong length and the wrong pitch and the wrong duration. So let's see how we fix that. Now, I can change a note's duration by moving my cursor to the edge of the note and then dragging out the length of the note. And I am going to zoom in before I do that so we can see a little bit more detail.
So again, just move my cursor over the edge of the note and click and drag. Now I have got my Follow switch on, so we heard it play. And because the grid is enabled, the note immediately snapped over to this other gridline. So let me undo that. If I want to trim a note out or change its duration without having it snap to the grid, I can do two things. I can turn off the grid by right- clicking and choosing Off. Or because sometimes I may want to go to the grid and other times not, I can override the grid by holding down my Command key, going to the edge of the note, Command+Dragging that note out. And now you'll notice that I can do that without snapping to the grid.
Now, I can do this to multiple notes at a time by simply selecting those notes. Let me get this back where it was. Select multiple notes, and now I can Command or Ctrl on the PC, click those out so that they are all longer. I am going to zoom back out, and I am going to actually do that to this whole selection of notes that starts this clip, because it looks like they're all about the wrong length. (Bass playing.) Notice that all I have to do is barely touch the note when I click and drag that way to include it in the selection.
So let's move to any one of these notes, and go to the edge and then Command+Click and drag, and I can increase the note duration. I am going to listen to this for just a second, and try and find those wrong notes. (Bass playing.) Okay, so in the second group of notes, these two notes that are currently on C# should actually be Cs, and then these D# should be Ds.
So I can transpose a note by simply selecting it, and then hitting the down arrow or the up arrow to move it to the pitch that I desire. I can do that to a group of notes by dragging and closing them, and doing the same thing. And if I want to move the notes a full octave, I can do that by holding down my Shift Key and then either down arrow to go down to octave, or up arrow to go up an octave. So one of the other things that's really overlooked when we edit MIDI is the note velocities. And you can see down here when I point in the Velocity Editor area that the velocities of these notes are really not consistent at all.
And oftentimes, when we record a MIDI performance, we focus on the quantization to fix the rhythmic problem, and oftentimes it's actually not a rhythmic problem, but it's a velocity problem, and these really inconsistent velocities end up having a very jumpy effect. So to edit the velocity of the note, I can select the note by clicking in the middle of it and then grabbing the velocity marker and dragging up or down. I can also do it the opposite way by selecting the velocity marker down here in the Velocity Editing area and then dragging it.
You can drag and close a group of notes, and adjust the velocity to all of them simultaneously. And if you want to reset them all to be the same velocity, all I need to do is drag it down to either at the very lowest velocity or the highest velocity, and then return it to the velocity that I want to be at. I am going to turn off the Preview here for a second, so I don't have to listen to that. Now, watch what happens as I drag down. Okay, now they are all at the same velocity, and when I bring them up, they are all at the same velocity. And that might be a good way to initially set a group of these so that they are more consistent, and then you can go back and edit the individual ones.
So I'll select these and do the same thing. This time I'll go all the way up to the top and then bring them down. And I missed that one in my selection, so I'll have to do it separately. Now if you find editing these note velocities down here in the Velocity Editor awkward, you can also edit note velocities by going up and selecting a note and then holding the Command key down and then dragging either up or down. And you'll see up above that note that I have selected, the velocity actually changing as I drag up or down.
So a couple of things you might think about when you're editing velocities, just has to do with how music works: Notes are typically a little bit more velocity when they're on the beat. So if you have a repeating pattern and you want it to sound, for instance, like a drummer would play a hi-hat pattern, the drummer is going to play a little bit harder on the beat then off the beat. And you can go through and adjust the velocities so you have those accents where they are appropriate. So for instance, with this bass part, I might want to go through and some of these notes that are on the beat, just raise them ever so slightly more than the rest.
Now if you want to draw in a crescendo or what we call a velocity ramp, you can hold down your Command Key or Ctrl on a PC and click and drag across a group of notes. You first have to select them, so let's give that a try. So now I am going to Command+Click across those. Draw in the ramp and then let go, and now I have my crescendo. Now one last thing that you might want to do is to actually crop a MIDI clip. So I am going to over here and select the drum clip for this purpose. So I've got a 4-bar drum clip, and I'm actually going to set the length of that by moving the start marker and the end marker so I have got a 2-bar clip.
And in many cases this is fine. I can leave this alone, and it will only play those two bars. But there might come a point where you actually want to make sure that that's what you have in this clip, and that there is nothing that might happen because the start and end points have changed. So I can crop this to the selection by right-clicking in the MIDI Editor and choosing Crop Clip from the contextual menu. And now you'll notice that I have only got 2-bars in that clip. Now if you need to delete any notes, simply Click+Select those and hit your Delete key, or if you want the notes to stay in the clip for use at another time, you can right-click on them, and you can choose Deactivate Note from the contextual menu.
So now that we've discussed these advanced MIDI Editing techniques, you're ready to fine-tune your MIDI projects.
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