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Pro Tools has a dedicated MIDI and instrument track editing window called the MIDI Editor window. It's great for fine- tuning MIDI performance data. Fortunately, it shares a lot of common functionality with the regular Edit window. However, the MIDI Editor also offers up some unique features that you'll probably learn to love. Let's take a look at it. You can access the docked version by going down to this button down here, right at the bottom, near the left side, clicking on that, and it expands this whole window.
This is the docked version of the MIDI Editor. To close it, you can go back to this downward arrow and click it. However, I want to open up a separate window for this. We can go to Window > MIDI Editor. This opens up the entire MIDI Editor window, and you'll see we have the fullscreen version here. Before I show you more about it, I want to talk to you about some other ways that we can open up the MIDI Editor. If we go to Setup > Preferences, and on the MIDI page, we can say Double-Clicking a MIDI Region Opens: the MIDI Editor.
So, if we were to double-click a MIDI region anywhere in Pro Tools, this MIDI Editor window will open up. You can also right-click a MIDI region to access the MIDI Editor. So let's talk about what's going on here in the toolbar. So we've got our Solo button, Mute button. We've got the Notation display enable, which if I click this you'll see instead of the piano roll, you'll see notes. So now you can see the actual music notation for this part.
Next, we have the Edit tools: the zoomer, trimmer, selector, grabber, scrubber, and pencil. We've selected the Smart tool right here. Next, we have the track that's showing, Piano. We've got the note duration, which we could change to any size that we want. That indicates, if we add a note, that's the size that it'll be. So if we say quarter note, we can go down here and add a quarter note.
This is the default MIDI note velocity. If we had a new note, the velocity will be 80. This button is the Play MIDI Notes When Editing. If we want to hear the notes when we're inserting them or editing them, we'll keep this active. If we don't, click on it to turn it off. Next is the Mirrored MIDI Editing button. We use this button if we want to edit one MIDI region and have all the same edits applied to every other instance of that same MIDI region in our session.
Next, we have the Link Timeline and Edit Selection button, and this functions exactly the same way as it does in the Edit window where the timeline and the editing selections that you make are linked. We can unlink this if we want to have separated timeline and edit selections. Usually, we will just keep this linked. Now we have the edit modes: Shuffle, Spot, Slip and Grid. This area indicates the location of where we are.
So if I put the cursor down into this track, you see exactly where I am with the time, that is the Bars and Beats in this particular case, and also the pitch. So I am in E5 right now, and you see that indicated on the keyboard over here, as well as up here in this box. Next, we have the Grid value, and the gridlines are showing. If I click that, I'll turn off the gridlines. This shows the Grid value, and we can choose whatever we want for that.
Just like in the Edit window, we can use the Command key on a Mac, or the Ctrl key on Windows, and move these parts around. So if I click and drag, I can adjust these Edit toolbars to appear the way that I want them to. Over to the right, we can access the MIDI Editor Toolbar menu. If we need to change anything here, we can do that. Now, you'll see that we've got the Tracks list checked off. Let's go, check out the Tracks list. Tracks list is over here.
Right now, we are viewing just one track, the Piano track. You can see that by this circle that's active. We can add additional tracks to show by clicking on these circles. Now the trumpets are showing up on here. You'll see that the notes are superimposed in a different color. So now we've got the trumpet and the piano showing up on this same track. The pencil icon indicates which track that we would actually add notes on to with the Pencil tool.
So if I were to go in with the Pencil tool now and add a note, it will go onto the Piano track. If I switch this over to the trumpet track, it creates a trumpet note. Let's take a look at these two buttons right here. This is the Color Coding by Track button. If we activate that, the tracks in the MIDI Editor are temporarily assigned one of 16 fixed colors, in the order that they appear in the Tracks List.
They are indicated by these colors shown right here. Now why would we need to do that if the tracks are already colored the way that we have them here? Well, we don't really have to. It's just a matter of how you set up your color coding for Pro Tools in general. If the tracks and notes are not already colored, then using this button would be helpful. But since my tracks are already colored here, I don't need to do that. The next button down here is the Color by Velocity.
If I click that, you'll see that the MIDI notes are all the same color, red, on all the tracks displayed here, and the notes with the lowest velocities are lighter in color, and the notes with the higher velocities are darker. So if I end up taking this note and making it very quiet, you'll see that it's very light in color; however, these other ones are darker. Now personally, I don't really see the point of using this, especially if we have our preference set to show velocity.
So if we go to Setup > Preferences > Display, and we have this set: MIDI Note Color Shows Velocity. And if I turn this off, you'll see that the velocity is already showing because this is lighter in color. If I end up dragging this velocity up, you'll see this note become darker. So personally, I don't really use these two buttons at all.
Let's go back to the Pencil tool. If I want to add notes to a track, we can simply click on them. The Pencil icon here shows us which track that we're going to add to. Now if I want to add notes to multiple tracks, I can Shift+Click. Now, I have got the pencil icon showing on both of these tracks. If I add a note, it'll be added to both the piano and the trumpets. If I want to also add to the drums, but not to the bass, I actually have to hit the Command key in Mac or the Ctrl key in Windows and then click here, and now I can add notes for all three of these tracks.
So as you can see here, the MIDI Editor offers a ton of MIDI editing features. I personally find all the right-click options to be incredibly helpful, as well as the ability to add notes within any MIDI or instrument track all within this one window. If you write MIDI-based music, I'm sure you'll enjoy using the MIDI Editor.
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