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Editing In Melodyne | Manual Tools

Editing In Melodyne | Manual Tools

In this final installment of our How To Use Melodyne series we take a look at how to manually edit pitch using the Tools. Manual editing is an extremely powerful feature, allowing you to make precise changes to the pitch, amplitude, fade, timing, and much more. 

Welcome to part 3 of our series of Tutorial on Melodyne. In part 1 we explained the fundamentals of using Melodyne, Transferring audio, File Management, and understanding the interface. Part 2 explained how you can use the built-in Macros to adjust pitch, amplitude, and timing of audio. In this final installment, we will explain how to Manually Edit audio using the Tools. 

Manual Editing Tools In Melodyne 5

For the completes Melodyne Tutorial Series check out Part I, and II

Part 1 - Understanding Melodyne

Part 2 - Editing With Macros

Grid Snap

Before you begin working with the manual tools in Melodyne, there is one setting that should be addressed, as it can be a source of great frustration if not properly understood.  In the Options drop down menu there are different Pitch Grid settings that dictate the behavior of a note as it is dragged up or down within the note editor.

Grid Snap

No Snap

With this option selected, Melodyne allows you to move notes freely up and down the Note Editor window without locking or, “snaping,” to a specific pitch lane.

Chromatic Snap

With this option selected, Melodyne will force notes to snap to the chromatic pitch lanes of the Note Editor when being moved up or down.  This allows you to place a note precisely in a pitch lane with no concern of being sharp or flat by even a few cents.

Key Snap

With this option selected, Melodyne will force notes to snap only to pitches within a predetermined musical key.  The key in Melodyne will be auto-detected when transferring audio, or it can be set manually.  In the example below, the key was detected as Eb Major during the transfer process, so in this case, notes would snap only to pitch lanes that are in the key of Eb Major when the Key Snap option is selected.

Snap Mode

Note:  When working in Snap Mode, snap can temporarily be disabled by holding the [OPTION/ALT] key while dragging notes.  This is very convenient for quickly switching back and forth between modes without the need of accessing drop down menus.  Conversely, if you are working in “No Snap”, you can snap a note to any nearest pitch lane by double-clicking on it with either the Main Tool or the Pitch Tool.

Edit Tools

Edit Mode

Edit Mode

Displays all available Edit Tools

Main Tool

Main Tool

The Main Tool can modify pitch, expand or compress notes in time, and create or remove note separations.  The Main Tool in Melodyne is not unlike the Smart Tool in Pro Tools in that its function changes based on which portion of a note the cursor is addressing.

Scroll Tool

Scroll Tool

Moves the display area of the Note Editor vertically and horizontally by clicking-and-dragging over the Pitch Grid with the mouse.

Zoom Tool

Zoom Tool

Zooms the display area of the Note Editor vertically and horizontally by clicking-and-dragging over the Pitch Grid with the mouse.

Pitch Tool

Pitch Tool

The Pitch Tool modifies the Pitch Center of a note by clicking-and-dragging up and down with the mouse.  This can be done incrementally by cents (No Snap), by semitones (Chromatic Snap), by scale notes (Key Snap), or by chord notes, (Chord Snap).

Manual Edit in Melodye 5
Lead Vocal – Original – Slightly flat

Manual Edit in Melodye 5
Lead Vocal - After pitch shift – Centered in pitch lanes

Pitch Modulation Tool

Pitch Modulation Tool

The Pitch Modulation Tool exaggerates or flattens the Pitch Curve (change in pitch over time) of a note, by clicking-and-dragging up and down with the mouse.

Manual Edit in Melodye 5
Lead Vocal – Original - Before Pitch Modulation 

Manual Edit in Melodye 5
Lead Vocal - After pitch modulation shift 

Note:  The amount of flattening of the pitch modulation that has been applied in the above illustration is somewhat extreme.  It is important to remember that some modulation in pitch is quite natural, and in fact, the very thing that causes a voice to sound human.  Extreme application of the Pitch Modulation Tool can lead to some very artificial sounding vocals.  Although not wrong, this approach is more often employed for creative effect than for transparent vocal tuning.

Pitch Drift Tool

Pitch Drift Tool

The Pitch Drift Tool allows you to exaggerate or smooth out the “overall” drift in pitch across the duration of a note by clicking-and-dragging up and down with the mouse.  Where the Pitch Modulation will flatten or smooth out the individual modulations of a note, the Pitch Drift Tool will tilt and bend the pitch modulation line as a whole.  I have often found this tool useful on longer sustained notes such as “oohs” or “aahs” where perhaps the singer has started to run out of air and go slightly flat, or pushed too hard and gone slightly sharp.

Manual Edit in Melodye 5
Background Vocal – Original 

Manual Edit in Melodye 5
Background Vocal – After Pitch Drift correction 

Format Tool

Formant Tool
The Formant Tool shifts formants of a note up or down in pitch.

Formants are groups of emphasized harmonics formed by such things as the shape or volume of an instrument’s resonance chamber.  They occur at the same positions within a frequency spectrum regardless of a pitches fundamental note.  Other less sophisticated pitch-shifters, such as samplers, transpose the formants along with the fundamental frequency which can lead to unnatural results.  With Melodyne, we are able to shift formants within a frequency spectrum independently of the fundamental frequency.

When selecting the Formant tool, a horizontal line appears in the middle of each note.  Do not confuse this with the Pitch Curve line.  The formant line is a straight and solid bar.  By dragging the formant line upward, you can create a “lighter” tone.  Do this on a guitar note and it might sound more like a ukulele.  By moving the formant line down, you can create a “darker” tone, as if you were giving the sound a larger resonating chamber.  Do this on a violin note and it may sound more like a cello.

In practice, Formants can be adjusted drastically to completely change the character of a sound, or they can be adjusted gently to create subtle contrasts and variations in tone between doubled and tripled parts.  They can be used in various creative ways to add interesting or unique effects and are worth experimenting with.

Manual Edit in Melodye 5
Vocal – Formant view 

Amplitude Tool

Amplitude Tool

The Amplitude tool increases or decreases the overall level of a note by clicking-and-dragging up and down with the mouse.  In terms of vocal production, this feature is extremely useful as it allows you to balance the overall level between words or notes of a performance. Due to the punch-in happy nature of most modern vocal recordings, there are often times when a final vocal compilation has been pieced together from several takes over days-worth of recording.  Sometimes the singer doesn't carry the same "amplitude" between performances, even though they are hitting the right notes.

Manual Edit in Melodye 5
Vocal – Original 

Manual Edit in Melodye 5
Vocal – Amplitude adjusted 

Fade Tool

Fade Tool

The Fade Tool allows you to create fade-ins and fade-outs by clicking-and-dragging with the mouse on either side of a note.  This is an extremely versatile tool.  It can be used to soften a harsh attack in a single word of a vocal performance, reshape the decay of a snare drum, or even completely modify the attack of an entire piano performance creating a warping effect.

Manual Edit in Melodye 5
Vocal – Original 

Manual Edit in Melodye 5
Vocal - Applying Fade Tool 

Manual Edit in Melodye 5
Vocal - with fade-in 

Manual Edit in Melodye 5
Snare Drum – Original

Manual Edit in Melodye 5
Snare Drum - Applying Fade Tool 

Manual Edit in Melodye 5
Snare Drum – With fade-out 

Manual Edit in Melodye 5
Piano (universal algorithm) - Original 

Manual Edit in Melodye 5
Piano (universal algorithm) – Aggressive fade-in applied to every note blob for a warping effect 

Sibilant Balance Tool

Sibilant Balance Tool

The Sibilant Balance Tools adjusts the level of sibilance (relative to other parts of a detected note), by clicking-and-dragging up or down with the mouse. When decreasing a sibilant portion of a note, the tonal part of the audio remains untouched as the sibilance is reduced.  When increasing a sibilant portion of a note, the sibilance remains untouched and the level of the tonal portion is decreased.

Manual Edit in Melodye 5
Vocal – Original 

Manual Edit in Melodye 5
Vocal – Sibilance attenuated 

Manual Edit in Melodye 5
Vocal – Sibilance amplified  relative to attenuated tonal content 

Time Tool

Time Tool

The Time Tool allows you to shift a note forward or backward along the timeline, or expand and compress it in length.  To move a note in time, simply click on the middle and-drag left or right with the mouse.  To expand or compress a note, simply click-and-drag from the front half or the back half with the mouse.

Manual Edit in Melodye 5
Snare Drum – Original 

Manual Edit in Melodye 5
Snare Drum – Manually quantized 

Manual Edit in Melodye 5
Snare Drum – Expanded 

Manual Edit in Melodye 5
Snare Drum – Compressed 

Time Handle Tool

Time Handle Tool

The Time Handle Tool allows you to place an anchor point anywhere on a note.  Once placed, the anchor point can be moved in either direction across the note by clicking-and-dragging with the mouse.  This causes the entire pitch modulation to be expanded or compressed to either side of the anchor point, while having no effect on the entire pitch length.  Used on a vocal, this can change the entire phrasing or development of a single word.  Used on percussive material and it can lengthen or shorten sustain and decay.  If multiple anchor points are applied to a single pitch blob, then the entire envelope (attack, sustain, decay and release) can be manipulated.

Manual Edit in Melodye 5
Vocal – Original

Manual Edit in Melodye 5
Vocal – Pitch and modulation development compressed from center

Manual Edit in Melodye 5
Vocal – Pitch modulation and development expanded from center

Manual Edit in Melodye 5
Snare hit – Original

Manual Edit in Melodye 5
Snare hit – Sustain expanded

Manual Edit in Melodye 5
Snare hit – Sustain compressed

Attack Speed Tool

Attack Speed Tool

The Attack Speed Tool, much like the Time Handle Tool, allows you to stretch and compress the development of a pitch over time without effecting the overall pitch length.  However, unlike the Time Handle Tool in which you can create an anchor point to base where within a note you stretch and compress from, the Attack Speed Tool expands and compresses the entire pitch modulation specifically from the initial onset of the note.  With the Attack Speed Tool active, simply click-and-drag up or down on at the front of a note to speed up or slow down the onset of a note’s development.

Manual Edit in Melodye 5
Vocal – Original

Manual Edit in Melodye 5
Vocal – Onset sped up

Manual Edit in Melodye 5
Vocal – Onset slowed down

Manual Edit in Melodye 5

Note Separation Tool

The Note Separation Tool allows you to cut, “separate” notes, or heal, “un-separate” notes.  In the process of analyzing audio, especially with vocals, Melodyne will often detect and display what we may hear as two or more words, as a single note.  In the first illustration below, we see a single note that actually represents three individually sung words.  If no editing is required then nothing needs to be done, however, if we want to edit each word independently of one another, and to varying degrees, we must “separate” them first.  The Note Separation Tool is the solution in this situation.

Manual Edit in Melodye 5
Vocal – Original

Manual Edit in Melodye 5
Vocal – Words separated with Note Separation Tool

Manual Edit in Melodye 5
Vocal – Pitch correction applied to each word independently

Separation Type Tool

Separation Type Tool

The  Separation Tools allows you to apply soft separations (notes that are separated by pitch, but still linked together on the time grid), or a hard separation, (notes that are completely separated, and therefore separated by pitch, and separated on the time grid).  With the Separation Type Tool active, simply double-click on any note separation to alternate between soft and hard.

Manual Edit in Melodye 5
Soft Separation - Original

Manual Edit in Melodye 5
Soft Separation – Left note compressed causing right note to expand

Manual Edit in Melodye 5
Soft Separation – Right note compressed causing left note to expand

Manual Edit in Melodye 5
Hard  Separation - Original

Manual Edit in Melodye 5
Hard Separation – Left note compressed - right note unchanged

Manual Edit in Melodye 5
Hard Separation – Right note compressed -  left note unchanged

Summary

As you can see, Melodyne has a multitude of functions and possibilities. This tutorial should give you all the information you need to get started using Melodyne.  As with any “Tool”, keep practicing and developing your technique to complement your own unique style.  Although it may seem fairly daunting at first, you will be making singers shine, instruments sing, and maybe even have a few happy accidents along the way!

For the completes Melodyne Tutorial Series check out Part I, and II

Part 1 - Understanding Melodyne

Part 2 - Editing With Macros


Author: Chris Wainwright

Chris Wainwright
Chris WainwrightChief Engineer, Instructor at Interlochen School of Arts (Former Asst. Professor Berklee College of Music)
Chris Wainwright is a musician, audio engineer, music producer, and educator with over 25 years of experience. Chris began studying music at the age 5 on piano, trumpet in the symphonic orchestra in school, and finally at the university level as a guitar principal. In 2005, Chris entered Berklee College of Music as a student where he received a Bachelor of Music with honors in 2009, with a focused study on Music Production and Engineering. Aside from studies, his career expanded into a live-sound recording and broadcast engineering, even mixing recordings for the major Jazz Festivals (Saratoga Jazz, Newport Jazz, Bean Town Jazz, etc. including NPR interview with legendary George Wein and Christian McBride). Passionate about education, Chris eventually joined Berklee College of Music's elite group of instructors for the next decade, where he was eventually promoted to Chief Engineer then to Assistant Professor Valencia Campus teaching audio engineering and production techniques in both the Undergraduate Study Abroad and Masters of Contemporary Performance programs. In his role as Chief Engineer, he has had the pleasure of working with and/or recording great artists, producers and engineers spanning a wide gambit including Patrice Rushen, Clark Germain, Susan Rogers, Salomé Limón, George Massenburg, John McLaughlin, Pepe De Lucía, Billy Hart, Chrissy Tignor and Tommy Torres, just to name a few. Over the past few years, Chris decided to depart from his position at Berklee and focus on curriculum development, his family, life, and personal music production and engineering projects. He continues to write, record and produce from his home in Valencia, Spain as well as his commercial studio in Barxeta, Spain. He enjoys spending his summers in Michigan where he teaches Music Production and Engineering at the acclaimed Interlochen School of the Arts.

Who We Are

ProMedia Training is the premier authorized Avid Training Center since 2002, having prepared more students in Pro Tools than any other organization. We teach Pro Tools on all levels as well as offer exam preparation for Pro Tools Certification exams for those studying audio engineering, recording, mixing and related multimedia training for musicians, producers, recording engineers, worship facilities and corporations. ProMedia has been leading the way in short term, Pro Tools Immersion courses which focus in all areas from beginner to advanced Pro Tools Applications.  Our beginners learn the software for music production, recording, editing, audio engineering, and mixing. Our advanced users focus on cutting edge highly complex HDX systems, new concepts as well as workflow improvements. We also provide on-site training for corporations, Universities, Schools, and worship facilities where professionals can advance their skills while learning in their own working environment. ProMedia also participates in many of the musical associations and related organizations related to the recording arts including ASCAP, BMI, NAMM, TAXI A&R, Youth Organizations, NAB, Promo Only, and more.

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