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Exercise 3: Use the Grabber in Grid Mode

We’re going to skip the Trimmer and the already familiar Selector for now, and move on to what most users call “the hand tool” but what the Pro Tools manual calls the Grabber. You already used it a bit in Chapter 2, but now you’ll see some other things it can do.

Clicking and holding on the Grabber reveals a pull-down menu with the choices Time, Separation, and Object. The standard mode is Time. When you use the Grabber in Time mode, you can move audio regions in time on the same track or drag them to another track. We’ll be working with the Time Grabber throughout most of the book.

In case you want to know, Separation mode for the Grabber is used like this: You highlight a portion of an audio region with the Selector, then choose the Separation Grabber, and click your highlighted area. This will make the area into its own separate region. The Object Grabber is used when you need to highlight regions that are not connected, or regions on multiple tracks.

At the top-left of the Edit window are the four Edit modes: Shuffle, Spot, Grid, and Slip. The most common modes for music are Grid and Slip. We’ll address the other modes in the last exercise of this chapter, but for this exercise we’ll use the Time Grabber tool in conjunction with Grid mode.

  1. Choose Grid mode. Click Grid mode. (It might already be selected.)

    Grid mode is the mode you will use most for arranging and editing music. While in Grid mode, all of your editing will be done to the beat of your specified tempo. The cursor will now only move to exact beats. With Grid mode turned on, whatever you drag into the track will snap to a specified grid, such as quarter notes or eighth notes. Grid mode is especially helpful while creating a song arrangement, giving you the ability to copy and paste sections of your music at specific bar numbers. We will work extensively in Grid mode throughout this book.
  2. Set the grid value. Below the Edit tools, you will see the setting of your grid value.

    Click on the tiny white triangle next to the grid value. A pull-down menu shows you the options for changing your grid to another note value. Let’s change it to eighth notes.

    Notice how the grid lines that divide up the Edit window have increased in number. Since your grid value is smaller now, there are more lines or subdivisions of the beats. Change it back to quarter notes, which is the default. Notice the three light-blue lines and the one dark-blue line in each bar? Those lines are showing you where your quarter notes are.

    Now that we’re in Grid mode with the grid value set to quarter notes, let’s move some Kick samples around so you get the hang of using this mode.

  3. Use the Grabber. Activate the Grabber, and click the one kick drum sample. Move it anywhere in the track and let go. Drag it again with the Grabber. Notice that the kick can only be placed on exact quarter notes.

  4. Read the location indicators. To the right of the Edit tools are the location indicators, which tell you where your cursor is in the song. Move the Kick sample to the second blue line from the beginning. This will be seen in the Main location indicator as 1/2/000, which means Bar 1, Beat 2, and zero ticks.

    If Pro Tools reads 2/4/480, that translates to Bar 2, the fourth beat, and the second eighth note of that beat. In musical terms, you might call it the “and” of Beat 4 in Bar 2, or perhaps the “eighth-note pickup to Bar 3.”
  5. Read the Sub location indicators. Notice that you also have a Sub location indicator below the Main location indicator. Pro Tools is simply giving you two ways to view your song. My Main location indicator is set to Bars and Beats, and my Sub location indictor is set to Minutes and Seconds (the default settings—just click the arrow to the right of the indicator to change it). With Bars and Beats, I can always tell exactly where I am in a song, while Minutes and Seconds helps me keep track of how long the song is.

  6. Duplicate the Kick sample. Drag the Kick sample back to Beat 1. Now hold the Option (Mac) or Ctrl key (Win) and drag the kick to Bar 1, Beat 3, or 1/3/000. Hold the Option/Alt key and drag to make a copy of the waveform. Your kick should now look like this:

  7. Drag another kick. From the Region bin, drag another kick sample to the track and place it at 2/1/000. Do it again, dragging another kick to 2/3/000. As you can see, these are two ways of accomplishing the same things. You can Option/Alt-drag a region, or drag more regions from the Region bin. Your Kick track should now look like this:

  8. Use the Selector. Choose the Selector tool and highlight from Bar 1 to Bar 3. It’s much easier to click at Bar 3 and drag left than it is to click at Bar 1 and drag right. You should have two bars of the kick highlighted now.

    The Selector is the most important Edit tool and the most often used. We’ll use it about 80 percent of the time. In this exercise, we’ll use it to highlight regions and then copy and paste.
  9. Duplicate the kick. With the two bars of kick highlighted, we’ll use the keyboard shortcut 170fig_01.jpg+D (Mac) or Ctrl+D (Win), or the Duplicate command on the Edit menu. The Duplicate command will take whatever is highlighted and place a copy directly behind it. Press 170fig_01.jpg+D or Ctrl+D four times to duplicate the kick. Since you had two bars of kick highlighted and you duplicated these two bars four times, you now have eight bars of kick from Bar 1 through Bar 9.

    Note that you could have also used Edit > Repeat as you did in Chapter 2. But I think of using Repeat for something I want to continuously repeat, and Duplicate for something I just need a few copies of rather than many repeats. You can use these two commands interchangeably.
  10. Change the track size. Now that you’re done creating the Kick track, make the track smaller again. Click on the Track Height selector and choose medium.

  11. Play the kick and save it. Press spacebar to play your kick. You should now have eight bars of a kick drum that plays on Beat 1 and Beat 3 of each bar. Press 170fig_01.jpg+S/Ctrl+S to save your session.

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