Preparing MIDI for Orchestration Inside Logic Pro X


90% of the time you're going to receive MIDI files from composers to work from. Unless these MIDI files have been perfectly quantized with no overlapping notes, your preferred notation program will have a field day trying to re-notate and fix all of the errors. Fortunately, The Score Editor in Logic Pro X makes the task of cleaning up MIDI and correcting notation quick and easy. Afterward you can either import the MIDI or MusicXML file into your preferred notation program and get to work with no more errors.

MIDI in the Piano Roll 

For this Example I've isolated just a single melody to work with. The smallest note value we can see played here in the Piano Roll are 16th notes.

1/4-note triplets, 1/16-notes, and 1/8-note triplets

Quantization Mistakes

If we quantize to a 16th note value, we will lose our quarter and 8th note triplets and that would be a grave mistake in the end! Even if we quantize the triplets separately we still have many overlapping notes to deal with as we can see below. If you ask me, this is already taking too long. Let’s learn a much easier method. 

The correct Q (Logic)

Step 1—Correcting Notation Quickly 

Most of the time the Score Editor Parameters won’t need to be adjusted as they are set by default to include both checked boxes. You can easily get the correct notation to display by the "Quantize Settings" inside the "Score Region Parameter” on the left.

Here I have chosen 16,12 to display the intended mixed notation values of 16th notes and Triplets. I now can export a MusicXML file and be done. That took one step!

16,12 quantize

Step 2—Correcting MIDI The Easy Way 

As you may have noticed in the picture above, the notation appearance has no bearing upon the actual MIDI performance. If you’re still interested in Quantization and correcting overlapping notes in the Piano Roll, you can do so while still inside the Score Editor. Highlight the notation and inside the Score Editor and 

Go to “Functions”→“Quantization”→“Fix displayed Note Positions and Durations”. 

All notes will not only be accurately notated in Step 1 but precisely played as well. 

Correctly quantized with no overlapping notes

In future tutorials I’ll dive deeper into how I manage large consolidated MIDI regions with multiple parts as well as rewire in Logic Pro X to play back stems while I orchestrate or compose inside Sibelius (my preferred notation program).

Happy composing and orchestrating!

Learn more in the AskAudio Academy about Orchestration here and Logic Pro here.


Composer/Orchestrator Jason Turbin is known for his work on NY times critics choice Dementia, Proxy, Dream Theater’s The Astonishing, Life of Crime, Oculus, Linsanity, Before I Wake and Ouija: Origin of Evil just to name a few. As a multi-instrumentalist Jason has also played on recordings and stage for Juliette Lewis, The Emmy winnin... Read More


Good stuff Jason. Looking forward to more of your workflow tips and tricks!
Jason Turbin
Thanks airforceguitar! Glad to have helped:)
I'd be interested to know Jason in your upcoming Sibelius -> Rewire -> Logic tutorial whether you will address if / how it's possible to send more than 16 MIDI streams from Sibelius to Logic with a larger orchestral template. As far as I can see it isn't - and one is limited in just the same way as with hardwired controllers to separating them by MIDI channel - giving only 16 possible staves that one can compose on in a notation program at a time. The same limitation would seem to apply to IAC bus as well. I use Notion (and Sibelius) and one can send MIDI over 4 IAC busses from Notion giving 64 channels - but, while other DAWs are capable of handling that, it appears not to be possible in Logic. I'd love to know if there's a way! :-)

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