Making Whole Session Edits in Pro Tools

Turning your ideas into a music doesn't stop once you've finished recording. These tips on arranging your session will help you save time when experimenting with your arrangement.  

Often times during the production or songwriting process, you'll want to take a whole section of the session and either remove it, move it, duplicate it or copy it. You may also wish to add silence at the beginning or in the middle of a session. Here's a quick and dirty method for doing so.

Step 1

Simply make a selection of the section you wish to edit

To move it choose Edit > Separate Region > At Selection (Command-E) then pick it up with the Grabber tool and move it

If the regions in the section require selection, use the Object Grabber. 

What the Object Grabber looks like when selecting regions

What the Object Grabber looks like when selecting regions.

Step 2

To duplicate a section you will first need to create the space for the new section, so select all subsequent regions then choose Edit > Shift… 

Enter the number of bars you need in that space and press OK. Select the section to be duplicated and choose Edit > Duplicate (Command-D)

Eight bars - duplicated

Eight bars are duplicated.

Step 3

You can also use Markers to make selections.

If you are thinking in terms of verse, chorus, bridge, etc. then marking sections with memory locations is a good idea.

To use the Markers Ruler open it using the Ruler View Selector, click in the timeline where you want a marker, then click the '+' button on the 'Markers' ruler track header

Click here to create a marker

Click here to create a marker.

Make sure the New Memory Location dialog window has 'Marker' selected (as markers are only one type of Memory Location), give the marker a name then click OK. You can also add descriptive text in the New Memory Location dialog window.

Make sure that the 'Link Timeline and Edit Selection' button is enabled.

Click in any timebase ruler to make sure there is an edit cursor flashing in all tracks; if a selection has been made in one or more but not all of the tracks the next step will not work.

Click the marker at the beginning of the selection, then Shift-click the mark at the end of the selection; you can also click and Shift-click markers in the Memory Location window (Window > Memory Locations).

The Memory Locations Window

The Memory Locations window.

Step 4

Finally you can delete sections and insert silence. To delete a section it should simply be a case of selecting it and pressing backspace, right? But that depends on which Edit Mode you have selected:

• In Slip or Grid edit modes a corresponding section of silence will replace the deleted material.

• In Shuffle edit mode the subsequent material will move backward to fill the gap left by the deleted material.

If you want to insert a section of silence at the beginning of the session, simply use Edit > Shift… as before.

In Slip and Grid edit modes, the Edit > Insert Silence command will delete the selected material. When in Shuffle edit mode, subsequent material moves down the timeline to accommodate the new section of silence.

Shuffle edit mode selected

Shuffle edit mode selected.

Find out more Pro Tools tips, tricks and more in these seven Pro Tools 9 Video Tutorials.

Mike has been obsessed with music software since he first saw Fairlight's Page-R, and has tracked its development through his work as a performer, composer and producer. As a writer he has contributed articles to Sound On Sound since 1999, and currently writes their Apple Notes column. As well as being a certified Logic Pro and Pro Too... Read More


I think the best way to play around with parts of a song is to combine the tips in this article with the Region Group function in Pro Tools.

i like to build Region Groups for every part of the song and move them around,duplicate them...
If it feels right,you can Ungroup them all with a single click and just finish the transitions....and thats it :-)


Good points well made Chris - I feel another post coming on!


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