The Piano Roll Editor in Logic Pro X allows you to view, edit and create MIDI notes and performances using a graphical timeline interface. This online video explains the details of the Piano Roll Editor, including how to resize, zoom in, zoom out, use the catch button and the MIDI In and Out buttons, move notes as a group, use the velocity tool, and more.
The piano roll editor is one of Logic Pro 10's best assets. It offers an easy and intuitive way to graphically view, create and edit MIDI note events and their velocities, all while viewing them in a timeline fashion. In this movie, we'll explore this powerful tool. The piano roll editor must be open from a MIDI region or when a MIDI region is selected. Let's double-click the first B section synth region. Notice that opens in the piano roll editor pane, which is cool for quick updating. Let's open the full window for this lesson. Go ahead and close the bottom editor, and to open up the piano roll as a pop up window, and remember we can hold option and double-click on the B section synth region.
Now we see the editor nice and big as a big pop up window on our screen. This window is just like the main window in that you can resize it from pulling on the bottom right corner. You can also use the zoomer tools in the top right to zoom out or in, vertically and horizontally. But we can also use the Cmd+ Left and Right arrows just like in the main window to zoom around. On the top of the window we have this little blue icon. This is called the Catch button. When this is on, the screen will update as the playhead moves off the screen. And when we unselect it, it lets the playhead go off the screen, but when we click it again, it brings us to that current location.
Let's check this out. (MUSIC) Notice the screen is updating and following the playhead. (MUSIC) If I turn it off, it no longer follows the playhead. It goes off the screen, and then when I hit Stop, I can click the button again and it'll catch us up to where that playhead is. Hence the name, the Catch Button. To the left of the Catch Button, we have the MIDI In, and MIDI Out button. The MIDI In button, as we saw, in working with step input recording movie, lets us step input into the piano roll editor.
The Out button is really important. Right now, it's selected, and we want to keep it selected, because when it's turned on, it lets the MIDI notes in the piano roll editor play the instrument on the track they're assigned to. So, if you want to hear the notes you're working on in the piano roll, this has to be on, and it's on by default. We'll keep it on for the remainder of this movie. Now, on the left hand side of the piano roll editor, we have a representation of a piano keyboard showing what notes correspond to the horizontal lanes in this window. You can actually click into this and play the notes.
So if I follow, this is the note F, and if I follow that out horizontally, everything in that lane is going to correspond to that F in the second octave. You can also use this piano to select a bunch of notes that happen to be in that lane. So if I click on the C2 button (SOUND) all the notes in that lane were selected. And those all happen to be C notes. So these little rectangles we see those are the MIDI notes and they're varying lengths they're also color coded.
The color coding notes velocity of the note. Notice I can deselect the notes when I click into the gray area over here. To create a note, you can do a couple things. You can right click and choose Create Note, or you can use the pencil tool. Right now, our main tool is the pointer tool but the pencil tool is our alt tool. Remember, we can Cmd + Click to get our alt tool. So that's the best way I think, the fastest way to create a note is to just hold Cmd, turns into pencil and create a note. Now, once we have a note, I'm still holding down the mouse, I can then drag the note out to however long I want to make the note.
And notice that I have a little status menu below that tells me what the length currently is. So that's probably the best way to make a note is hold Cmd + click and drag the note for the length you want. Now to edit a note, the pointer tool really is your master. You can hover on the outside edge of the note and your pointer turns into a trimmer. Now I can edit the length of the note to whatever value I want. I can also do this on the front side of the note. If you want to move the MIDI note, you click right in the middle of the note and your pointer turns into a little hand and you can pull the note up or down, to make it play different keys.
(SOUND) And notice as I'm moving it, it's kind of sliding around. We might not want that, we might want to constrain its movement. It's actually easy to do that. The key to do that is when you hold it and you're about to move it, just type the Shift key, then as you can see, I'm moving left and right, and my movement is constrained. So, that's a really good way to move a note, and make sure it doesn't slip in time. Just remember, right when you grab it, just hold down the Shift key (SOUND) and it constrains it in time.
You could also move a bunch of notes as a group. The key with that is just selecting the notes, you can just drag a selection over all the notes you'd like to move. And I've got them all selected here, because they're lighter in color. And I can just grab a hold of them and move them as a group. (MUSIC). Oops, I just wanted to click off that till the note stopped playing. And get back to where I was, great, there we are. Now, I told you already that color-coding determines velocity. I'm just going to zoom in a little bit here. Notice each note is different colors here, and that's our velocity.
So, we can edit that, but we need to use a special tool. So I'm going to type t to open the tool menu, and here is the velocity tool. So t and then 9 will give us the velocity tool. Each note color determines velocity, but also inside the note, there's a line, and the longer the line is to the edge of the note, the higher the velocity is. So, with the velocity tool I can click and drag on the note and do this one down here. And I can pull up or down, as I pull down, (SOUND), it updates the sound.
I'm just pulling down, it's lowering the velocity, and the colors changing, and as I click and drag and pull up, notice the line in the middle of the note is increasing too. You also see this velocity slider is changing on the left hand side of the piano roll. So you can use the V tool or you can keep it on the pointer tool and just select the note and change its velocity that way. Now in the Edit menu of the piano roll, there's a whole arsenal of different options you have for editing. I just want to show you a couple cool ones.
One of them I like is, Select > Equal Colored Notes. Any note of the same velocity will then be selected. So all three of these have the same velocity as the one that I had selected when I started, and they all got selected. If I choose a red note here. (MUSIC) And go into Edit > Select > Equal Colored Notes, and now any of that exact velocity have been selected. So that's a cool one, you can tell there's a ton of them in here. Look at all these different selecting options, so you know, all following the note you are, all that happen to be inside your locaters, any your muted notes, so there's a lot of options to explore.
And of course, don't forget, the traditional Cut, Copy, Paste, those all work, just as simple as going here, Cmd + C, going over here, Cmd + V paste. One more thing I want to go over in the piano roll editor is the snap modes. Up here notice we have it set to Snap Smart. Smart Snap is probably the mode you want to be in 90% of the time. In this mode, Logic automatically adjusts the grid you're editing on, based on your zoom level. So we're pretty zoomed in here, and we have a pretty fine resolution in terms of movement. But when I zoom out a bunch.
Now, my snap turns into, you know maybe I can move' em, it looks like, one beat at a time. And when I zoom way in, I can now move it on the order of ticks or divisions. So, Smart Snap automatically adjusts it depending on your zoom level. But if you wanted to override this, you can just go right up in here and say, oh I actually want to move my notes only to the nearest beat. So if I select that, now I've got my note and I can only as you see move it, it's, confined to beats only. And one other thing you notice is, you have Relative and Absolute.
So it may be off, not exactly on a beat right now. But even though I'm in the Snap Beat mode, I can move it one beat forward or backward. If I were to change this to Absolute, it means first, if I move it to the left, it'll move to the nearest beat. Now it's on the exact beat grid of our timeline. So you do have the option of relatively moving one beat forward or backward, or changing to absolute where it just immediately the first time you move it, it'll lock into the timing grid. I'm going to move this back to Smart.
And actually before I end this here I want to go show you that if you want complete freedom the finest resolution of MIDI is ticks. So if I go there, there's really no grid at all. I can pretty freely move the note anywhere I want and really get a dialed in exact feel for where you want the note to be and just be independent of the timing grid. So now we've been introduced to the piano roll editor and all the editing features inside of it. I suggest practicing and getting good and fast at this window, because so much of Logic is based on MIDI and of all the applications I know, this is the best and most intuitive for MIDI I can think of.
- Exploring templates
- Controlling playback
- Making beats with Ultrabeat
- Jamming on the iPad with Logic Remote
- Recording MIDI in separate takes
- Quantizing MIDI performances
- Creating Apple Loops
- Recording live performances
- Composing in the Score Editor
- Scoring music to video
- Mixing with patches
- Adding reverb and delay
- Bouncing down your mix