Editing pitch

In this tour, you will learn how to work with Melodyne’s pitch tool.

The pitch tool

Choose the pitch tool from the toolbar or the context menu in the editing area.

Drag a note up or down to alter its pitch. If the note is one of several selected, all the notes in the selection will move up or down en bloc.

Depending upon which of the options No Snap, Chromatic Snap and Scale Snap in the pitch grid menu is selected, notes can either be moved freely or will snap to the nearest semitone or note of the selected scale.

Hold down the [Alt] key as you move notes if you wish the selected grid to be ignored; this will allow you to position the note freely.


As you move a note in pitch, you will hear the ‘frozen’ sound of the note at the position clicked. By moving the mouse to the left or right whilst doing so, you can put other parts of the note under the acoustic microscope.

If several notes sound simultaneously at the time, you can hear not only the note being moved but also its harmonic context, which is very useful if, for example, you wish to construct chords. To do this, press and hold the [Command] key once you have begun to move the note and you will hear the frozen sound of all the notes of the chord at the position in question.

The inspector

As an alternative to editing a selected note with the tool, you can enter the desired value in the inspector beneath the toolbar. Drag the existing value to change it or double-click the box and type in a new value.

In the case of the pitch tool, you can enter the pitch in semitones in the left-hand box and in cents in the box on the right. If you have selected several notes that differ in pitch, three hyphens are displayed in the boxes – followed, as you click in the box and drag, by values describing the extent of the relative change.

When typing values into the semitone field, you can enter either absolute values (C3, D4 etc.) or relative ones (+2, -1, etc.).

Quantizing pitch to the semitone

You can see that a note is sharp or flat from the fact that it doesn’t lie plumb in the middle of any of the horizontal lanes in the editing display. These represent the notes of the chromatic scale, the note in question, in each case, being indicated by the vertical pitch ruler to the left of the editing area. If, with the pitch tool selected, you now double-click the offending note, it – and any other notes selected at the same time – will ‘snap to the grid’, which means each will move instantly to the very center of the lane representing the semitone nearest to it in pitch.

A word of caution here: notes often fluctuate slightly in pitch, so their position is based on a mean pitch that Melodyne has to calculate. This value, which we call their pitch center, forms the basis for any pitch quantization. If a note fluctuates slightly in pitch, it cannot be guaranteed that after snapping directly to the nearest semitone during quantization it will sound ‘right’ at the new pitch – especially since ‘correct pitch’ is not an absolute but something that depends at all times upon the musical context.

Pitch transitions

When one note follows another and a tonal relationship between the pair has been detected, the pitch curve is drawn through them, and in the area between them a thick orange line is displayed that represents the pitch transition.

If you position the pitch tool over the rear part of a note, click and drag vertically, you can make the pitch transition steeper or less steep.

If, with the pitch tool selected, you double-click on the end of a note, you will switch off the pitch transition between it and the note that follows; the orange line will disappear. If you double-click a second time, you will switch the transition back on again.

Resetting specific edits and introducing random deviations

In the Edit > Reset Specific Edits > Pitch cascading menu, you will find a variety of commands that can be used to reverse the effects of particular types of pitch editing, thereby restoring specific aspects of the notes selected to their original state. The commands apply only to the current selection and are grayed out whenever no editing of the type in question has yet been applied to the notes concerned. Note that these commands operate entirely independently of the normal undo function!

With the commands in the Edit > Add Random Deviation sub-menu, you can randomly alter the pitch of the notes currently selected – introducing either slight, moderate or drastic deviations from the original intonation. You can also employ the commands several times in succession to intensify the effect. These commands are useful when, for example, you’ve doubled a track in order to obtain a fuller or ‘fatter’ sound. By introducing random deviations, so that the copy is no longer identical to the original, you can simulate more realistically the effect of two performers playing or singing in unison. All these commands affect only the selected notes and are therefore greyed out if no notes are selected.