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Pro Tools 10 Essential Training with musician and producer David Franz illuminates the process of recording, editing, mixing, and mastering in Avid Pro Tools, the industry-standard software for music and postproduction. The course covers recording live audio and adding effects on the fly, creating music with virtual instruments and plug-ins, editing for time and pitch manipulation, creating a musical score, and mixing and mastering a track.
In this video, I am going to explain some of the MIDI recording features that can make recording MIDI much easier in Pro Tools. The first one is Wait for Note, and that's located down here in the Transport window. You can also find it up here at the top of the Edit window if you're showing your MIDI controls. If you don't see the MIDI controls in your Transport window, you can choose them here. When you click the button and turn it blue, that means it's on. And when you enable this Wait for Note button, Pro Tools won't begin to record until it receives MIDI data, like when you press a key on your MIDI controller.
Use this function if you want the first MIDI event you play to be recorded at precisely where the playback cursor is currently located. In this case, I have the cursor located at bar 3, and that's exactly where I want my first note to be placed. So I am going to record a little bit, so I will record-enable this track. And as I hit the Record Enable button and Playback button, you are going to hear the click track going until I hit the first note on my MIDI keyboard. Then the click will catch up to what I'm doing and play along as I play my notes.
And the first note will be placed right at the beginning of bar 3. Let's check it out. (Music Playing) If I zoom in here, I can see that the note is right here at the beginning of bar 3. If you want to use pre-roll when recording MIDI with Wait for Note enabled, the pre-roll will engage after the very first MIDI event is received. Then it'll enter into Record mode after the pre-roll time passes.
And this is a pretty handy feature. Let me show you how it works. First I am going to undo that recording, and I am going to activate pre-roll down here in the Transport window, and it's set at 2 bars. So when I hit my first note on the MIDI keyboard, it's going to start the pre-roll, which will start here right at bar 1. It will roll to bar 3, and then that's when I'll actually be recording the first note. (Music Playing) So I am going to hit the first key. (Music Playing) When I zoom in here, I can actually tell that I didn't play this first note exactly on bar 3.
It's a little bit early. And the reason we can tell is because the MIDI clip starts before bar 3. It starts at bar 2. To help tighten up my performance, I can use Input Quantize. I can choose that here from the Event menu. I'll choose Event Operations > Input Quantize. Input Quantize automatically quantizes all incoming MIDI notes while you play them. And what Quantize really does is that it aligns the MIDI notes to the rhythmic grid, helping or forcing them to be more in time, or simulating a particular rhythmic feel.
Now I'm going to be covering quantization in much more detail in other videos in this course, so let's just take a quick look at some of the basic features of quantizing here. First we need to enable the Input Quantize, so I'll check this button off. We also need to select the parameters that we want to use. In this case I'm actually going to just quantize to this 16th note grid and leave the rest of these other options off. So I am going to try this recording again. First I will undo the previous recording, and I am going to do another take.
(Music Playing) So now I am going to zoom in and we will see how this performance works out. You will see that the notes are totally aligned with the grid. In fact, let me show the 16th note grid, and you will see that each note falls right on the gridlines. I like to use Input Quantize to immediately make my performances adhere to the grid, and this is terrific when we are trying to create beats that are totally in time and aligned with the tempo grid.
But, you can easily lose the human touch by relying on this feature all the time. Let's move on to another feature called MIDI Merge, and that's indicated by this button down here in the Transport window. We will turn that on. It's also, again, up here. The MIDI Merge function means that if we want to start recording over top of this performance here, the notes that we've previously recorded won't be erased, as they normally would be if I try to record again over top of this. Instead, with MIDI Merge engaged, these notes will still be here, and any new notes that are added are recorded and merged with the pre-existing notes.
So let's try this out. I'm going to zoom out a little bit, and I am going to record some more notes. (Music Playing) So as you can see here, the new notes that I just played are added to this MIDI clip, and the old notes from the previous take are still here. The notes have all been merged together, and this is a really great feature, especially when we are building drum loops, which I am going to cover in another video, or if you're trying to create multi-note chords, because you can just add one note at a time, building your chords as you go long.
Another simple way to add notes to a MIDI track or instrument track is to use the Pencil tool. So first I am going to switch over from clips to notes view, zoom in a little bit, and then go to the Pencil tool. I can come right down onto the track. Click to add a note. It's that simple. So the Wait for Note, MIDI Merge, Input Quantize, and inserting notes with the Pencil tool are all terrific features for creating MIDI tracks.
Practice using them and you will be able to create MIDI parts very quickly, which makes songwriting even more fun.
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