Editing timing

In this tour, you will learn how to edit the position and length of notes with the timing tool.

Modifying position and length

Select the timing tool from the toolbox or the context menu in the editing area.

Click the center of a note (or of one of a number of selected notes) and drag it to the left or right to move the entire note (or notes) horizontally. Press and hold the [Alt] key during the movement if you wish the time grid to be temporarily ignored to permit finer adjustment.

If you only wish to move the beginning of a note but not the end, click on the front part of the note and drag. Depending on the direction of movement, the note will be time-stretched or -compressed. Press and hold the [Alt] key if you wish the time grid to be ignored during the movement.

In the same way, you can move only the rightmost part of the blob (which corresponds to the end of the note).

Notice that as you move the beginning or end of a note in this way, the preceding or following note, if adjacent, is either stretched or compressed by the same amount to avoid either the two notes overlapping or white space (silence) appearing between them. This is invariably the case when a pitch transition has been detected between two notes. By moving the adjacent note as well in this way, Melodyne prevents discontinuities occurring and preserves the musicality of the phrasing.

You can, if you wish, deactivate the link between notes, by cutting and then pasting back one of the notes or by dragging it to another position, causing the link between it and the adjacent note to snap. Subsequently a bracket will be displayed at the point of rupture to tell you that the link between the two notes has been severed.

With the context-sensitive tools for pitch, formants and amplitude (positioned in each case at the note ending) you can toggle such links on and off.

Correcting timing with a double-click

If you double-click a note with the timing tool, it (and any other notes selected) will snap to the selected grid – for example, to one of the subdivisions on the second ruler or one of the vertical lines indicating the start of an eighth-note. As a result, the musical beginning of the note will come to rest directly on top of the nearest grid line.

The musical starting point of a note is indicated by an orange anchor somewhere near the start of the blob but not necessarily at its leftmost extreme. Melodyne places the anchor at the point at which the sound has unfolded sufficiently for the pitch to become discernible, as it is this moment that is of relevance for the purpose of quantization. For a note to snap to the nearest grid line, however, there must be sufficient room; if an adjacent note is in the way and cannot be squeezed enough to create the requisite space, quantization of the note to the desired grid will be impossible. In such cases, note are quantized to the next possible value, such as the eighth-note nearest the desired quarter-note.

If no grid is active, a note will be quantized to its ‘intended’ beat – i.e. to that indicated by the left side of the grey frame enclosing it. This is the beat upon which, according to Melodyne’s analysis, it was intended to fall.

Note: it is not possible to quantize to entire bars: only to fractions of bars.

A further important point regarding quantization: In the case of polyphonic material, as well as anchors with triangles there are anchors without them. Notes the anchors of which have no triangle are in a temporal relationship with another note with a triangle and are therefore treated differently during quantization. If you play a C on the piano and immediately afterwards an E, the C can also contain starting transients belonging to the E. The C here gets a marker with a triangle; the E, one without. To move these two notes for no good reason by different amounts during quantization might not make much sense musically and could even produce tonal artifacts.

The following rules therefore apply: If during quantization both notes are selected, the note with the triangle and that without it will move towards the marker by exactly the same amount. There is here, in other words, a master-slave relationship. If you have only selected the note with the triangle marker, only this will be quantized. If you have only selected the note without the triangle marker, no quantization will take place. The same goes for a multiple selection. Naturally, you can move all and any of the notes manually if you are not satisfied with the way they sound together.

Adding random deviations

With the commands in the Edit > Add Random Deviation sub-menu, you can randomly alter the timing of the notes currently selected – introducing either slight, moderate or drastic deviations from the original timing. 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.