Drawing MIDI in the Piano Roll

What are you steps or tips for drawing MIDI in the Piano Roll? Particularly, what do you select in the Snap menu? Do set it to Smart or Division? Do you use the division display to change the grid?

I always play my parts because it’s faster than using a mouse and it keeps some imperfections that are needed to help the music feel less robotic. If it’s a fast or complex passage, I either slow down the tempo until I get it right and, then quantize everything to 60% to keep the small imperfections or in some rare cases, I use step input mode and the keyboard.

As for the modulations, I know many people use the mod wheel or pedals, but I find that the good old mouse works best for me :slight_smile:


If you draw them in without snapping to a grid, there’s still imperfections!

I might start playing in more, though.

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Medhat you uses the same workflow as me it seems.

  1. Record with MIDI keyboard at correct speed
  2. Record with MIDI keyboard at a slightly slower tempo
  3. Step Input for really tricky fast ostinatos, arpeggios etc.

Then quantize depends on what the part is. For rhythmic parts I quantize more, for leading melodies I quantize very little or nothing at all. :slight_smile:

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Good question Joseph,
I practically always leave the snap on smart mode, and yes I have set up custom key commands to change the division and grid if I need to. I mainly use those when I want to add in triplets as those will not fit a straight grid. :slight_smile:

However, when writing many notes manually in the piano roll to create a new part I mainly choose “step input recording” as my main method, as you can use your numpad to quickly change note values, add rests etc. Much quicker than the mouse on each note. :slight_smile:

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There’s also the option of using the pencil tool in logic which can actually be very quick and easy if you’re doing triplets etc and quicker than recording it if you know the structure and notes.

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I have several ways about drawing midi in Piano roll:

  1. Sometimes i play chords and then edit them in piano roll
  2. Sometimes i use chords from some midis like Apple loops and edit them in piano roll

The same about melodies Im not a pro piano player so i cannot play anything to the tempo i play my parts in the most slowest tempo i can and then do editing in piano roll according to the tempo I’m composing music.

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Mikael, I’m finding that many composers leave the snap to smart mode. For the key commands, I assigned the bracket keys to change the division value.

I tried using Step Input. Do you enter the note by playing your MIDI keyboard or by using the mouse to click on the little keyboard on the screen?

Personally, I always use my MIDI keyboard when writing with step input, the advantage is that I can get the control and variation in velocity values (dynamics).

Then you can use your numpad (assuming you have a keyboard with a numpad?) to change the note lengths in the step input window, even adding rests or setting it to triplets etc. :slight_smile:

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