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Midi Editing Paradigms

Discussion in 'Recording' started by Kruddler, Jun 23, 2011.

  1. Kruddler

    Kruddler Active Member

    Please forgive my ignorance on this topic. There are some assumptions here based on the packages I have used. I don't like using the word "paradigm" but it fits here. I am using the word paradigm to broadly descrive the approach that a particular DAW has when it comes to editing midi sequence data.

    The two major paradigms for midi editing in DAWs seem to be Linear and Clip based editing.

    Logic fits in to the Linear category. Notes are lumped in to "Regions" and placed upon a linear timeline from the start to the end of a song.

    Ableton supports linear editing but is geared toward the Clip based paradigm. In this paradigm short sequences are broken up in to "Clips". These clips can then be copied along a linear timeline, or mixed and matched with other clips of the same time signature. etc.

    My question is: what other paradigms exist? Are there any DAWs out there that take a radically different approach?

    I see the major DAWs as being fundamentally flawed and awkward. Ableton being a little less awkward than Logic, but awkward nonetheless.

    Just as a hypothetical, I would design my DAW completely differently. I would employ a "Clip" concept. And those Clips could be placed on a linear timeline. However, the clips on the timeline would be actual instances of the original clip (not copies). This means that if the original clip is changed, all clips along the timeline are also changed so you don't get rogue parts of the song that sound different.

    Then, I would have what I call "Sections". This spans multiple tracks' clips in order to create something like a "Verse", or "Chorus". At the highest level you could simply drag the sections around to make something like Intro->Verse->Chorus->Verse->Chorus or Verse->Chorus->Verse->Chorus->Coda.

    Is there a DAW that behaves like this? It seem to me like all the existing DAWs are fundamentally unintuitive and follow the old 4-Track recorder paradigm. Why? Why can't a DAW act more like the way a songwriter will play around with different parts in a band?

    Note: This is not a philosophical question! I want to know if there is a DAW that actually is intuitive.


    PS: I'm really sick of this:

    Q: What is the best DAW?
    A: They're all as good as eachother - it just depends on what you want to do.

    My current answer is:

    A: They're all just as crap as eachother - it just depends on how much crap you are willing to put up with.

  2. Mo Facta

    Mo Facta Active Member

    Whenever I hear people accuse DAW's of being "counterintuitive" it's almost always because they don't fully understand the software, or are expecting it to read their mind.

    If you can't get software that is used by countless professionals worldwide to create great music (and hits) to work for you, then I would say the problem is with you, the end user. Designating them all as "crap" is an ostrich head in the sand mentality.

    That being said, sure, DAWs are not all perfect. They have flaws and they get addressed every revision. However, when it comes to MIDI some are better than others. Whatever "better" means. I would say "better" is whatever is in line with YOUR workflow. But you can't simply say, "OK DAW, you better do things EXACTLY how I want you to or you're crap".

    Have you checked out Cubase? MIDI is it's forte (although it does audio equally well).

    Cheers :)
  3. Ripeart

    Ripeart Active Member

    Mostly tl;dr but your quote describes exactly how Digital Performer can work. DP refers to the static blocks of music you describe as chunks that can be freely moved about, copied, etc while the original remains intact. YouTube up DP and chunks you'll see what I mean, or - what you mean, really.
  4. Kruddler

    Kruddler Active Member

    Clearly, you haven't attempted to grasp the OP. I've come to understand a couple of DAWs quite well. However, I find the overall paradigms employed by the DAWs quite counterintuitive. If you don't find the overall paradigms counterintuitive, then this thread is probably not for you.

    It's this kind of mentality that keeps the status quo. It's not that it's impossible to use any of the DAWs out there. Infact, they all do pretty much the same thing well. What I am saying is that there are alternative paradigms out there that have not been completely explored yet, if at all. I want to know why, and whether or not there are software houses out there that are experimenting with different ways of doing things.

    I hear that a lot. This DAW does this thing slightly better than this DAW, this DAW does this thing in a slightly annoying or clunky way and so on. That's not the point of this thread. It's hard for people to think of how DAWs
    work, when people have been using the same paradigm for digital music production from day one. I'm talking about fundamental differences, not just little tweaks here and there.

    I will definitely check out DP.

    PS: This really a thread about human nature. If you want to know what I am talking about, read the book Structure of Scientific Revolutions by Thomas Kuhn. Heavy reading but applies to DAWs - seriously.
  5. vttom

    vttom Active Member

    I think I've been able to do, to some extent, just what you describe with GarageBand, which is descended from Logic.

    For example, let's say I record a 2-bar (8 beat) MIDI "loop". I can then repeat that loop as many times as I like in the timeline. And by repeat, I mean I use the repeat function of the track (grab the top right corner and drag it to the right), not copy/paste. Now, if I edit any notes within the loop, that same change is applied to all repeats of said loop.

    The only short-coming is that repeats are contiguous in the timeline. If I have a loop that comes and goes, then I would have to copy/paste it into various points in the timeline, and each copy would need to be editted separately.

    Also, now that I've gone back and read your post again, it occurs to me that maybe you shouldn't be using a DAW, but rather a score-editing program like "Sibelius" to create your MIDI parts, and then export them to your DAW if you need to mix in wave-based recordings.
  6. Kruddler

    Kruddler Active Member

    " I can then repeat that loop as many times as I like in the timeline. "

    Yes. This is a core part of Logic. You're definitely on the right track. The only problem is that if the particular loop ends, and then starts again at a particular point along the timeline, you have to copy and paste the loop. But, what happens if I go back and edit the original loop and forget to edit the second part?

    Only small changes to the standard way DAWs work would bring some really good functionality to the way they work.

    Tell me more about Sibelius. Does it allow you to record midi from keyboard? Does it allow you to edit notes in a piano roll style? Does it support VSTs?
  7. vttom

    vttom Active Member

    Sibelius, and other programs like it, is a WYSIWYG score-editing program. Think of it as a word-processor for musical notation. It supports musical constructs like repeats, D.C./D.S. al Coda, etc.


    I think so, but most people use it to edit the MIDI information in musical notation representation.

    Not sure. It's really a score-editor, not a musical recording editor, so its support for MIDI instruments and voicing during playback is pretty bare-bones. But I'm pretty sure you can export the music as a "flattened" MIDI file, meaning that all the repeats, codas, etc. are followed as if an instrumentalist (or band or orchestra) were performing the score. That could then be imported into your DAW for final mixing.
  8. Kruddler

    Kruddler Active Member

    Interesting. This is really why I bought up this topic. There are electronic artists out there writing music on software like Ableton, FLStudio, Sonar, Logic, Reason, etc. But, then there are composers who are doing it differently with software like Sibelius. My real question is why?

    Presumably, music that composers write is not so different from electronic music that the methods of production required are completey different. My way of thinking is that if composers use certain tools to write their music, they should be useful for writing electronic as well. Personally, I find musical notation clunky for writing any kind of music. I used to have a program called MusicWorks as a kid and that was really hard to do anything with. But, that doesn't mean that some of the other tools built in to a package like Sibelius would be really good for writing electronic music.

    Anyway, the point being, Sibelius sounds like it lacks the tools to create electronic music straight out of the box while most DAWs lack the compositional tools that Sibelius sounds like it has. Sibelius is another package I will have a look at. However, I would like to see a piece of software that does everything in one. If I did composition on Sibelius and then imported the midi in to a DAW, it would be just as frustrating and time-consuming as the current scenario so it's not an overall solution to the problem.
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