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Fixing Notes in the Piano Roll Editor

Previously, you used the Score Editor as a guide while you practiced the bass part. For this exercise you’ll work with the Piano Roll Editor to modify the length and position of the individual bass notes to fix any timing issues your recording may have.

  1. Move the playhead to bar 9 in the timeline.
  2. Select the Fingerstyle Bass track containing your new recording.
  3. Press E to display the Score Editor. Click the Piano Roll button to display the Piano Roll Editor.

  4. Swipe over the region in the Piano Roll Editor display area left or right, or drag the horizontal slider at the bottom of the editor (which appears when you swipe) to position the beginning of the region (bar 9) at the beginning of the visible area of the editor. Also adjust the horizontal zoom slider in the editor or pinch on your touchpad as needed until the grid shows each beat in the measure. The beats are listed in the editor ruler as a decimal point after the bar number, such as 9.3 for the third beat of bar 9.

    Human performances usually aren’t perfect. Sometimes the imperfections in music add subtle nuances and feeling to a song. In fact, you probably could get away with your recording as is, with no additional editing. However, since you need to learn how to edit anyway, let’s fix it.

    Each note (represented by a green bar in the Piano Roll Editor) should start exactly on a beat. The long notes should start exactly at the beginning of a measure (bar). To fix the timing or position of a note in the Piano Roll Editor, you simply click and drag the note in the middle to move it, and on the edge to trim or lengthen it.

  5. Drag the first note in the region to the left until it starts at the first beat (beginning) of bar 9. Chances are, your first note will not look exactly like the one shown in the screenshot. Regardless of its length, you’ll need to move the first note to the beginning of bar 9.

    Notice that when you select a note, the Notes tab at the top of the Piano Roll Editor inspector turns blue.

  6. Drag the second note to the fourth beat of bar 9 (9.4).

As you can see, fixing notes individually is not difficult. However, if you are working with a long region or a lot of notes, this process can become rather tedious.

Quantizing Notes in a Region

Rather than manually moving each and every note in a region to fix the timing, you can quantize the timing. Quantizing is a digital music term for automatically fixing timing based on set parameters. In this case, GarageBand will automatically move all the notes to the nearest gridline based on the settings in the Piano Roll Editor inspector.

You can use the Time Quantize button to fix the timing of all the notes in an entire region or selected notes. These timing changes are nondestructive. The original timing is never lost, so you can turn off Time Quantize at any time to return to the original recorded timing.

One thing to keep in mind is that the Time Quantize feature is selection based. If you have a note selected, only that note will be fixed. To fix all the notes in a region at once, you need to first deselect any notes. The Piano Roll Editor inspector controls change depending on whether you have a region (all notes) or individual notes selected. The Region or Notes tabs change automatically based on your selections.

  1. Click any empty space in the editor display area to deselect all notes within the region. The top of the inspector shows which items will be modified.
  2. In the Piano Roll Editor inspector, type My in the Region Name field so that the name of the region changes to My Fingerstyle Bass. Press Return to implement the change. This will help distinguish your recording from the one provided in the starting version of the project.

  3. In the Piano Roll Editor inspector, click the Time Quantize pop-up menu and choose 1/16 Note. Perfect timing—instantly!

    The Strength slider is only available when an entire region is selected. Leave the Strength slider set to 100. Lowering the strength decreases the amount of quantization.

  4. Press E to hide the Piano Roll Editor. Press K to kill the click track (to turn off the metronome).
  5. Play the project from bar 9 to 17 to hear your edited recording in action. Well done!

    Now that your recording is finished, you don’t need the original Fingerstyle Bass track. To delete the track, let’s use the shortcut menu in the track’s header.

  6. Control-click (or right-click) the track header for the top Fingerstyle Bass track. Choose Delete Track from the shortcut menu. Click OK in the warning dialog that says “There are regions in this track!”

  7. Save your progress.
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