(pianoPed) midi sequencing with studio one

daw software

Studio One belongs to a class of software usually referred to as Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) software. DAWs provide the ability to record/edit/play audio and MIDI in multiple tracks, with non-destructive effects, and usually include some virtual instruments. Similar programs include Logic Pro X, Ableton Live, MOTU Digital Performer, and Avid Pro Tools.

Studio One is available in a free version, for both Mac and Windows, from Presonus. (download Studio One – choose the free version)

We will be using Studio One to record, edit, and play MIDI sequences with virtual instruments.

getting started with studio one

Open Studio One and choose Create New Song. Use the empty song template. You will need to add everything you need to your session (“song”), but you will have a better understanding of the different components. Name your song (lastname_fugue), and choose a folder to store your project in. On lab computers, I would put the folder on the desktop so you can find it easily, and remember to back it up to removable storage when done. Keep the sample rate at 44.1 kHz, but change the resolution to 16 bits. The song length doesn’t really matter, but you can shorten it down to 2 minutes, and set the timebase to Bars (musical time). Tempo and Time Signature can be changed later.

setting up virtual instruments and tracks

Studio One hides some of the MIDI setup functions from you — namely, MIDI channels. Most DAWs allow you to create an instrument track, and choose your instrument and MIDI channel within the track. Studio One requires you to create instruments so that you can choose them as outputs from instrument tracks.

Go to the console (choose Console from the View menu). There will be an instrument tab. Click the + (plus) sign to add an instrument. The free version only has one virtual instrument, Presence, but it has many different presets allowing you to have different timbres/sounds. Choose a preset for your top voice and close the instrument editor window. You will see a listing for Presence in the instrument list, and a channel strip with that name in the pane to the right. Right click the instrument name in the list and type in a descriptive name that matches your instrument.

Repeat the process two more times, for each part in the fugue.

Now add tracks in the arrange view in the pane above. Click the + to bring up the track add dialog. Don’t worry about the name, but specify 3 tracks and instrument as the track type. Don’t worry about input and output since you’re setting up multiple tracks. Click OK and you see three tracks appear.

Each track has an info entry on the left. You can double-click the track title to edit it. Right below the track title is an output box that should initially read “none.” Click on the output box for each track and assign it to one of the instruments you previously created.

configure your metronome

In the Transport menu, choose Metronome Setup. Click the arrow at the top to make the metronome active. I would enable a precount of 1 or 2 bars. I usually choose to enable the metronome only during recording. In Studio One, the option is to enable the metronome during playback. If it is active but not enable during playback, you only hear the metronome during recording.

playing instruments and recording midi

Click on an instrument track title, or any blank space in the info space, and that track will go into record and monitor mode. Now when you play on a MIDI keyboard, you should hear associated instrument playing.

Since the fugue starts with the second voice, enable that track for recording. You can set the metronome speed to a slow tempo for recording. Make sure the transport is at 0, and click on record in the transport. You will hear the countoff, and see it countdown in the record icon. After the countoff, you can start playing. Your data will be recorded into the selected track. Try to keep playing through mistakes — you can edit your performance later. Stop the transport when you are done recording.

Repeat the above process for the remaining two tracks.

editing midi

Double clicking in the arrange space for a track will bring up a MIDI editor for that track. Here you can adjust start and end times for each note, adjust note velocities, add and delete notes, and quantize your performance. If you want to have the ability to drag note starts and ends freely, turn quantize and snap off in the edit window. Pitch information is in piano roll style. Velocity information is shown as bar graphs below. Right-click the unit display on the left and choose MIDI for displaying MIDI velocity values (0 – 127), or percentage (0 – 100%). You can adjust velocities to create dynamics and accents.

Recording and editing performance information to get a precise yet human performance can be a little tricky. Human performance does not precisely adhere to a grid, but editing multiple tracks recorded separately can lead to problems in lining up events if you are not snapping to a grid. You can choose to quantize or not for this project.

converting to audio

Most DAWs allow you to convert a MIDI/virtual performance to a digital audio recording. Studio One has an Export Mixdown… command in the Song menu. Before you choose that, it may help you to insert an End marker into the marker track. You will also want to adjust your metronome tempo to something more suitable for playback (instead of recording). Once you choose the command, set the export range and click OK.

being creative

You can assign your virtual instruments to specific panning locations. You can also double octaves, or add multiple instruments on a single part. Try different combinations.