The Piano Roll is used to graphically edit and display any recorded MIDI you’ve played into Logic, or it can be used to step-enter notes directly. You can also edit the controller data you play like pitch bend and modulation here. In this article I’ll show 5 Piano Roll tips to make working with your MIDI recordings easier.
Tip 1 - Make All Notes the Same Length
Click a MIDI region in one of your songs and press the P button on the Mac’s keyboard. This opens the Piano Roll window. When playing bass lines, programming drums, or recording chords and melodies you’ll often want all the notes to be the same length to achieve a tighter feel. Select the notes you’ll be processing by either selecting them with the mouse, or press Command-A to select all. First, click the end of a region to adjust its length. Then hold Option-Shift while you’re adjusting. All selected note ends will snap to the current grid setting.
Tip 2 - Make All Velocities the Same
Now while you’re at it, you might also want all MIDI velocities to be the same. More often than not, velocity—how hard you played the keys—is assigned to an instrument/drum’s volume, so adjusting this will level out the sound’s overall volume. This can be great for stabilizing a kick or a MIDI recorded piano/keys part. Again, select the notes to be leveled first, press the Option key, then drag the velocity slider up and down.
Tip 3 - Quantize Notes to Fit Your Song’s Key and Scale
Although I prefer using Region Parameters (at the top of the Inspector), you can easily quantize notes and even “quantize” to a musical key and scale here. Yes! You can bang out random notes on your keys and they’ll still fit your song perfectly! From the Piano Roll’s inspector, you can select the root key and pick from a nice list of scales.
Tip 4 - Moving Notes Around With Key Commands
Wether you play the keys or step-enter every note, being able to easily move a single note left or right—without accidentally adjusting its start and end points—is very useful… also, moving notes up and down to change their pitches. Select a single note in a MIDI region and while first holding Option, use the Up and Down arrow keys. This moves notes up and down the vertical piano on the left. Now what about left and right? That would be great if it would jump to the grid. Right-click or Control-click on a single note and from the “Set Nudge Value To” menu that appears, select “Division.” Now while holding Option you can use the Left and Right arrows to move a note/notes by a snapped division step.
Tip 5 - Edit Pitch Bend and Mod Wheel Data
The wheels on your keyboard controller are great for bending and adding life to your sounds. When you record from these, you can easily edit this data. Click the icon to the right of the local view menu. The MIDI Draw area will appear below the Piano Roll. From the “Controller” drop-down menu in the inspector, select either Pitch Bend or Modulation. You can easily edit this data when it appears. Clicking on any Node/Point will allow you to adjust it. From the Piano Roll’s Snap Menu, select “Snap Automation” and the data will now snap to the grid/division setting. You can also switch to the Pencil tool and draw data freehand!
Thanks for reading, hope you enjoyed these tips!