Checking and editing the note detection within melodic material

In this tour, you will learn how to check the note detection in monophonic material and how to reassign notes.

Occasionally the pitch of a note may, on account of its pronounced overtone content, be displayed an octave too high or there may be a note separation too many or too few among the detected notes. You can correct these things very easily.

The procedure

After transferring or loading audio, select the note assignment tool, which is set slightly apart from the others, to change to note assignment mode.

In the stand-alone implementation, note assignment mode only ever applies to one of the audio files in your project at a time; in the Melodyne plug-in, it applies to a single transfer. This means that in note assignment mode you cannot always see all the notes belonging to a given track simultaneously; only those derived from a single file or transfer. Click therefore on a note belonging to the first file or transfer you wish to work on, and then switch to note assignment mode to see the notes in question. When you have finished correcting the note assignments within this file or transfer, quit note assignment mode before selecting a note belonging to the next file or transfer you wish to work on and repeating the process. In this way, you can edit the note assignments of each file or transfer in turn.

Please note that for technical reasons, when you switch to this mode, the undo history will be deleted, so any actions taken prior to the mode change cannot subsequently be undone.

The editing background is indicated by different coloring to remind you that in note assignment mode no audible editing of the notes takes place. In this mode, you check through and alter Melodyne’s interpretation of the notes in the audio material. You assign falsely interpreted notes to the correct pitches in order to achieve perfect agreement between the displayed notes – and to create the essential foundation for subsequent editing with the other tools.

Against the editing background, you see in this mode solid (active) and hollow (potential) notes. 

The active notes are those to which Melodyne in the course of the detection process has assigned the highest level of plausibility. Melodyne proceeds on the assumption that these are the notes that were actually played. The hollow potential notes represent alternative notes with the next highest level of plausibility. It might also be these notes that are heard in the material, although the probability is greater that the active notes are the right ones. Although Melodyne has a high quota of hits, its conclusions can sometimes be wrong.

In the illustration above, for example, you will see, an octave beneath the active detected notes, the same notes again but this time as hollow potential notes. The reason? Melodyne cannot be sure whether the sound of the recorded instrument might not have a pronounced overtone an octave above the fundamental. If it has such an overtone, it could be that the entire melody has been detected an octave too high. The octave beneath the detected notes, in other words, is the next most plausible location for the notes of the melody, which is why these notes are offered here as potential alternatives to the detected notes.

Now, it can happen that one note in a melody, because of the way it was played or sung, has a different overtone structure and is for that reason detected an octave too low. A telltale indicator of such an error is often the presence of a steep notch in the path traced by the melody.

One way to correct this error of interpretation is to double-click the potential note at the correct pitch. If you do this, the potential note will be activated and the falsely assigned note deactivated. Alternatively you can simply drag the falsely assigned note towards the correct pitch (in this case upwards); it is not necessary to drop the note exactly on the correct pitch.

The dragging triggers a new search for the note with the hint: ‘Look for the correct pitch higher up’. When you then release the note, it jumps to the next most plausible higher pitch, which in all likelihood will be the correct one.

The Monitoring Synthesizer

A considerable aid when checking and correcting note assignments is proposed by the sine wave icon, which you will see beneath the toolbar. This is both a switch and a rotary control. When activated, it causes the sound of a synthesizer to replace the normal sound of each blob. To turn the knob, click on it and drag the mouse pointer to the right or left, thereby increasing or decreasing, respectively, the volume of the synthesized sound.

But why should you do this? Simple. The monitoring synthesizer allows you to hear the notes that you can see and that are currently active, making it easy to check whether these notes correspond to those that can be heard in the material.

Think of the solid blobs as representing a transcription of the music in the audio file. The synthesizer allows you now to check this transcription with a MIDI tone generator and therefore easily determine whether all the notes are at the right octave. You can carry on reassigning notes as described above and arrive more swiftly at the ideal: where the solid blobs displayed represent all, and only, the notes actually played.

Note separation

When you place the mouse pointer somewhat above a blob, the arrow turns into the note separation tool. With this, in note assignment mode as well as in normal editing mode, you can separate notes or remove separations.

Quitting note assignment mode

To quit note assignment mode, simply select one of the other tools. As you leave the mode, Melodyne will perform a fresh analysis of the material based upon the changes you have made. This could take a few moments.