In one form or another, the Piano Roll concept has been around since the early 1900s when the first mechanical Pianola pianos used a system of punched paper rolls to record and play back performances. It’s a firm favourite among Logic users, easily the most commonly used of the edit windows, and now version 10.1 has brought some cool new features to the Piano Roll table, such as Collapse View and Time Handles. Chief among these additions, though, is a new tool – the Brush tool – which enables you to literally paint notes into the grid as if wielding a MIDI paintbrush. Let’s take a closer look at what you can do with it – all the files needed to follow this tutorial can be downloaded from FileSilo.
1. Create track
Create an empty MIDI region on a software instrument track loaded with a suitable sound. We’ve gone for Synthesizer>Classics>Moving Fuzz in this example.
2. Select brush tool
Open the Piano Roll Editor either by doubleclicking the MIDI region or by clicking the scissors button in Logic’s toolbar. Select the Brush tool from the bottom of the tool menu.
3. Scale Quantize
The Brush tool works with the Scale Quantize function, over to the left of the vertical keyboard. This restricts any notes you paint to a particular scale, or set of notes.
4. Choose scale
Select a suitable root note and scale or mode from the pop-up menus – we’ve gone for C Major here. This means that only notes found in the C major scale will be inserted.
5. Paint notes
Using the Brush tool, click in the edit area and drag a shape like the one shown above, to paint notes into the region at the current quantize resolution.
6. Change resolution
Shorten the notes if required using the Pointer tool. To change the note resolution, select a new value from the Time Quantize menu. Here we’ve inserted a small cluster of 32nd notes.
7. One-click erase
Click with the Brush tool to delete any unwanted notes. You can also hold down and drag to remove multiple notes, as if painting over them with an eraser.
8. Define brush pattern
With some or all notes selected, Control-click in the Editor and select Define Brush Pattern from the pop-up. This stores the current pattern in memory.
9. Create harmony
Now when you hold down and drag, the brush clones the original pattern. The cloned notes also constrain to the selected scale, making this a great technique for harmony creation!