Multitrack editing

  • Editing multiple tracks– Display and edit as many tracks as you like simultaneously, so each note can be seen in context.

In Melodyne studio, you can work with multiple tracks – in the stand-alone implementation and also when it is running as a plug-in in an ARA DAW. You can move from track to track with the utmost ease, and even see and edit simultaneously notes belonging to different tracks.

Multi-tracking in Melodyne

In Melodyne, multi-tracking has a particular meaning, because here you are working not simply with audio files but with notes. For this reason, it is in the Note Editor that Melodyne’s multi-tracking comes into its own.

Consider the case where you have one track containing vocals and a second track with a guitar accompaniment. As soon as you switch the vocal track to edit mode, the notes of which it is composed appear in the Note Editor. Now, if you switch the guitar track to reference mode, its notes, too, are displayed in the Note Editor. The guitar blobs in this case are gray and can neither be selected nor edited. They are simply displayed for the purpose of orientation in the background to the vocal notes. This makes following the melody child’s play.

What happens if, while you are editing the vocal track, you notice something on the guitar track that you would like to alter? No problem. Just switch the guitar track to edit mode or double-click one of the gray blobs and immediately the two tracks will swap roles: it will be the guitar blobs that are colored and capable of being edited while the vocal blobs are displayed in gray in the background.

And you can change tracks on the fly like this while working with any number of reference tracks. This makes it very easy for you to edit your audio material in the desired context not only acoustically but also visually. In this, you are supported by intelligent monitoring that allows you to control the volume ratios between the edited track, the reference tracks and all other tracks. Whenever you break off editing one track to edit another, the volume mix adjusts automatically.

But these are by no means all Melodyne’s multi-tracking capabilities: If you wish, you can even switch several tracks to edit mode at the same time, selecting, editing, deleting and copying notes across tracks.

In the following sections, we will set out in detail the concepts underlying multi-tracking in Melodyne and show how to take full advantage of the possibilities it affords.

The track headers

You can make a list of the track headers visible in Melodyne:

In the list, you see the Melodyne instance that is currently open as well as all the other Melodyne instances that you have used on the tracks of the current DAW project. The idea behind this is to allow you to work at all times in a single Melodyne plug-in window, whilst being able to see and edit there the contents of all your Melodyne instances.

The colored blob icon in the track header is the Edit button, which causes the notes of the track in question to be displayed in the Note Editor. If you click the Edit button or double-click in the track region of another track, its notes will replace those of the first track in the Note Editor.

If you hold down the [Cmd] key now and click on the Edit button of another track, the notes of the new track will be added to those already displayed in the Note Editor. You will see then the notes of both tracks and be able, if you wish, to select and edit them together. Proceed in the same way to add the contents of further tracks to the Note Editor. Clicking on an Edit button that it is already active removes the contents the respective track from the Note Editor.

The gray blob icon in the header is the Reference button that causes the notes of a track to be displayed in the Note Editor for reference purposes only. The resulting gray blobs can neither be selected nor edited. They are there in this case solely for purposes of orientation – for instance, to facilitate adjustments in pitch or timing. By clicking on further Reference buttons, you can add the contents of further tracks to the Note Editor – again, purely for reference purposes – and remove them in the same way.

If you switch a reference track to edit mode – either by clicking its edit button in the track header or by double-clicking one of the gray blobs currently displayed for reference – the gray track will turn orange and the track that was previously orange, gray. Putting it another way: the two tracks will swap roles.

The Editing Mix Fader

When you are editing the notes of several tracks simultaneously, the Editing Mix Fader is of great assistance. Our intention here was to provide you with the acoustic equivalent of focusing visually on particular blobs: when you are editing a track, you want to be able to concentrate entirely upon that track and not be distracted by others. Visually, that is easy to accomplish: You simply select one or two tracks to edit, show perhaps two or three others tracks in the Note Editor for reference, and hide the rest.

Acoustically, focusing can be achieved by means of “local” playback, which is what you hear if you commence playback by double-clicking in the background of the Note Editor. Melodyne then runs “alone” and you hear only the Melodyne tracks, while the DAW remains stopped (and therefore all the tracks you have not opened in Melodyne are muted). The mixing ratios of the Melodyne tracks can be adjusted using the Editing Mix Fader. This is the quickest way to obtain a “working mix” that doesn’t require you to mute numerous unimportant or distracting tracks in the arrangement or mixer of the DAW.

If you move the Editing Mix Fader all the way to the left, you will hear only the track or tracks currently activated for editing in the Note Editor – in other words, the ones with the orange blobs. As you move the fader button gradually towards the center, the gray blobs displayed for reference will gradually become louder, until at the center position the colored and gray blobs will be equally loud. As you now move the button from the center position towards the right, all the remaining Melodyne tracks – by which we mean those on which Melodyne is in use but which are currently set neither to ‘edit’ nor to ‘reference’ in the Track Pane – will gradually fade in.

In this way, you can quickly and easily arrive at the ideal acoustic balance between the notes displayed for editing, those displayed for reference, and the rest of the arrangement.

If you then commence playback from the DAW, you will hear the full arrangement – i.e. all the tracks, including those to which Melodyne has not been applied. In this way, you can assess the results of your editing within the context of the full mix.

Controlling the Melodyne display remotely via the DAW

You can also control the orange Edit switches remotely from the DAW. To do this, activate the option “Follow Selection in the DAW”.

If you now click in the DAW on a track header or on a single event on a track, the Edit button in Melodyne switches to the corresponding track.

The status of the Reference switches in Melodyne, on the other hand, cannot be set remotely from the DAW but only from within Melodyne. You also make a multiple selection of Edit switches – for example, if you want to see and edit three instruments at the same time – in Melodyne as before. This also applies if you are working in “Follow Selection in the DAW” mode.

Remote control of the Edit switches is only possible in Track Mode. Once Melodyne is in Clip Mode, changing the selection in the DAW has no effect on the clip displayed in Melodyne.

Track order, track names and muting/hiding tracks

The order of the tracks in the Melodyne track header corresponds to the track order in the DAW. If you rearrange tracks in the DAW, this is immediately reflected in Melodyne.

The names displayed in Melodyne are also taken from the DAW. Furthermore, any change of name in the DAW is immediately reflected in Melodyne. However, it is not possible to assign another, independent name in Melodyne.

Whether muting tracks in the DAW or hiding them with the “Hide” command has any effect in Melodyne depends upon the DAW in question. Try it with your own personal setup and see what happens when you mute a track. In Studio One, for example, you can still see the corresponding notes in Melodyne and hear them during local playback; when you start playback from the DAW, however, they do not sound. In Logic, on the other hand, muting regions means that the corresponding notes are no longer displayed in Melodyne and can therefore no longer be heard even during local playback.

Copying between regions/clips/events and tracks

Melodyne offers flexible copying functions for notes. These work without restrictions as long as the note copied and its destination lie within the same audio source. If you want to copy notes from one location on a track to a completely different location, or the destination perhaps also lies on a completely different track, this is not possible in all cases. The decisive factor is whether or not the note copied and its destination originate from the same audio source. Here is an example of when copying is possible and when it is not:

Let’s say you have recorded a fairly long guitar take where the musician was improvising over a certain riff. In that case, initially, you have a single long clip in your DAW. This is what we mean here by “the audio source”. Now slice this one long clip in the DAW into as many smaller segments as you want and make extensive changes to their order. By the end, for example, you have puzzled together a 16-bar sequence, of which the first bar is taken from Bar 30 of the original recording, the second bar from the original Bar 10, etc.

In such a case, all segments are accessing the same audio source; it is only the order of the original recording that has been changed around. In this case, you can copy notes freely from one clip to another within Melodyne.

If you now record another take, for instance because the musician wants to try out further variations, a second physical recording will be created; this counts as a separate audio source. Suppose you then combine in the DAW segments from this second recording with others derived from the first one, mixing multiple sources on a single track. If you insert Melodyne on this track, Melodyne will also display the image of the clip sequence. Now, you may find you can copy a note from Bar 1, say, to Bar 5 – this will be possible if the clip of Bar 1 and that of Bar 5 happen to be derived from the same source (e.g. the guitarist’s first take). On the other hand, you may perhaps be unable to copy the note from Bar 1 to Bar 9 – namely when the clip in Bar 9 stems from a different audio source, in our example: the second guitar take.

This restriction is strictly limited to copying notes and has no influence at all on Melodyne’s other editing options. This is because, no matter how many audio sources are used on a track, Melodyne operates in principle in a way that transcends sources, letting you edit all the notes, no matter how extensively you may have shuffled the various clips around in the DAW.

For more information on copying, see the tour “Copying Notes”.

"Spread Unison Tracks"

When you are displaying several tracks simultaneously in the Note Editor, before long you may find certain notes overlapping, making it more difficult to see and edit the material. The switch shown here, which you will find near the bottom right-hand corner of the Note Editor, can be of assistance in such cases. What it does is separate and spread vertically the various tracks shown in the Note Editor – causing them to fan out, in other words – which makes it easier to see and select notes of the same pitch on different tracks. This obviously has no effect upon the actual pitch of the notes in question; only upon the way they are displayed. Since the Pitch Ruler provides only an approximate guide to the pitch of the notes when the tracks are fanned out in this way, the grey and white stripes in the background of the Note Editor (imitating the keyboard of a piano) disappear.

The Spread Unison Tracks switch can only be activated when several tracks are being displayed simultaneously in the Note Editor and their notes overlap.