Working with a Software Instrument Recording in the Timeline
When you played the first part of the project in the previous exercise, you probably noticed the pauses between certain parts of the song. These pauses were added intentionally during the recording process. Even if I thought I could record a song straight through, I’d still leave pauses between sections to give myself more options later.
For example, if I make a mistake, it’s easier to rerecord that section than to start over. Also, I may not know exactly how I want to arrange the song with other instrumentation. Maybe I’ll leave a pause at a particular point in the song for a cymbal swell, strings, or some other instrument highlight. Maybe I won’t want a pause at all. The good thing about pauses is that they are easy to remove if I decide not to use them. Keep in mind, there’s nothing wrong with recording a long piece in one take. However, you may find that with some songs it’s easier in the long run to give yourself more options.
When you’re recording long takes, such as the one in this project, consider creating edit-friendly moments within the take by inserting a brief pause and releasing the sustain pedal if you’re using one. This will produce a clean break between notes for editing. (Obviously you wouldn’t do this in a live performance.) Note that this technique works not just for piano but for all the other instruments as well, including vocals, and it is not limited to Software Instrument recordings.
Let’s work with this edit-friendly Software Instrument piano recording in the top track. The first pause is at the 30th measure, so you’ll move the playhead a few measures before that to hear the pause in context. One of the easiest ways to get to a specific measure is to use the time display.
- Press Z or Return to move the playhead to the beginning of the Timeline.
- Click and hold the measures portion of the time display, then drag the mouse upward until the display shows the 25th measure
The playhead is now at the beginning of the 25th measure.
- Play the project from the 25th measure through the first pause.
Any thoughts on the pause? I think it feels more like a big pause or hesitation than a light break in the song. I say we get rid of it by splitting the region and deleting the pause.
Splitting a Region
Splitting a region means that you physically slice the region at the playhead position, creating two regions, one on either side of the split. To split a region within a track, first select the region, then place the playhead at the point where you want to divide the regions, then press Cmd-T or choose Edit > Split.
The trick in splitting a track is finding the right spot to create the split.
- Select the Grand Piano region in the top track of the Timeline, if it is not already selected. Make sure the region itself is selected and not just the track header.
- Press the left arrow key until the playhead is at the beginning of the 30th measure, which is also the beginning of the pause.
- Press Ctrl-right arrow several times to zoom in for a closer look at the selected region in the Timeline.
- Press Cmd-T, or choose Edit > Split, to split the selected region at the playhead position.
The region splits at the playhead position into two separate regions.
- Press the right arrow once to move to the beginning of the 31st measure, which is also the end of the pause.
- Press Cmd-T to split the region at the 31st measure.
That was easy. Now you can simply select the small region containing the pause and delete it from the project. Right now all of the regions in the top track are selected. Before deleting, you’ll need to be sure that only the region you want to delete is selected.
- Click the empty gray space below the Timeline tracks to deselect all regions in the Timeline.
- On the top track in the Timeline, select the short region containing the pause.
- Press Delete.
All that’s left to do is close the gap where the pause used to be in the track.
- Drag the second region in the top track to the left until it starts at the beginning of the 30th measure.
- Play the song from the 25th measure to around the 33rd measure and listen to the section without the pause.
- Press Cmd-S to save your progress.
Voila! No pause, and the piano part continues seamlessly without the gap as if it was originally recorded that way. The best part is, if you decide to add a little bit of a pause back in, you can always separate the regions a beat or so as needed.
It’s your turn to find the second pause in the song, split the region, and delete the pause. Feel free to work on your own, or use the following steps. Closing the gap on this edit will be a little trickier because, in this case, the song will sound better if you leave a one-beat gap between regions. When you’re ready to close the gap, move the playhead to the 2nd beat of the measure, then drag the edited region to the playhead. Use the time display to move the playhead to the 2nd beat of the measure (036.2.1.001).
- Play the project from the 33rd measure and listen for the gap.
The gap is between the 36th and 37th measures.
- Select the region and move the playhead to the beginning of the 36th measure.
- Press Cmd-T to split the region.
- Press the right arrow to move one measure to the right. Then press Cmd-T to split the region again at the 37th measure.
- Deselect all regions, then select the region containing only the gap.
- Press Delete.
- Press Ctrl-right arrow to zoom in to the Timeline until you can see the beat marks between the measures in the Beat Ruler.
- Change the the time display to show the 2nd beat of the 36th measure, which will move the playhead to that position (036.2.1.001).
- Drag the last region to the playhead position so that it begins on the 2nd beat of the 36th measure.
- Press Cmd-S to save your progress.
- Play the project from the 33rd to 38th measures.
Nice work! Sounds very natural, yet still includes a slight pause between sections of the song.
Trimming a Region
There are two ways to extend or shorten a Software Instrument region. You can extend it as a new looped segment by dragging the upper-right corner to the right in the Timeline, or you can trim it by dragging the lower-right corner toward the left. You can only extend or trim a region from the right side. This is to maintain the original integrity of the piece. If you want to remove part of the beginning of a region, you can always split it and delete the segment before the split.
In this exercise, you’ll trim the excess notes from the end of the last region. These were backup sections I recorded at the end of the song in case I wanted to use them instead of the first take.
- Play the song from the 60th measure.
You should hear a clear ending of the song, before it starts to repeat. The repeated notes, starting around the 67th measure, are a second take of the recording.
- Move the playhead to the beginning of the 65th measure. This is where the region will end after you trim it.
- Adjust the zoom level in the Timeline if needed for a clear view of the region from the 65th measure to the end of the song.
- Move the pointer over the lower-right corner of the last region in the top track to see the resize pointer.
- Drag the lower-right corner of the region to the left until you reach the playhead position (65th measure).
The region has been trimmed so that it now ends at bar 65.
- Press Ctrl-left arrow to zoom out of the Timeline until you can see the entire project.
The second Grand Piano track in the Timeline shows the recording before all of the gaps were split and deleted. The Split and Trimmed track shows the final timing with all of the gaps removed and adjusted and the excess trimmed off. You’ll notice that there is an extra split section at the end, which was created to remove a slight gap between the last two parts of the song. Feel free to experiment in removing the last gap after this lesson.
Joining Regions in the Timeline
Once you’ve split and positioned all of the regions in a track, you can join the parts together to create one long region. Although joining isn’t necessary, it can come in handy sometimes if you want to move the entire finished piano parts around in the track, or copy and paste them, or even modify their timing or velocity.
You can join any recorded regions together, or regions from loops that came from the same original loop. The Joined Final Piece track shows all of the separated regions joined into one finished region.
To join regions, you first select them, then press Cmd-J or choose Edit > Join. Let’s try it.
- Click the top track’s header to select all three regions in the track.
- Press Cmd-J or choose Edit > Join.
The separate regions become one joined region.
Now you know how to split, delete, move, and join regions to edit a Software Instrument recording in the Timeline.