Monday, June 28, 2010

A Melodyne moment.

Melodyne Editor

Melodyne Editor, created by Celemony, is just awesome for fixing a sour note, here or there, in a vocal line, or perhaps in a guitar solo!

Melodyne Editor is a rather important part of my vocal work flow. However, I refuse to use this powerful tool in order to play God! Let me explain what this means. I use Melodyne Editor in my music writing just like photographers might use Photoshop in their wedding photography. What does this mean? A photographer might use Photoshop in order to slightly manipulate the color correction of an image, and not to create an image with it alone. Well, I like to use Melodyne Editor to correct a sour note here or there, and not to compose a vocal line with it.In a world full of Auto tune madness, less is more.

Melodyne Editor can be used to correct pitch, vary note length and time, raise or lower a notes volume, and to delete any bad notes all together! Melodyne Editor can distinguish between percussion lines, monophonic information, and polyphonic information. This is scientific talk for drums, single note events (like a vocal track or a guitar solo), or chords of notes (like a rhythm guitar or a piano).

The Melodyne Editor interface is easy to learn and very fast to use.

Melodyne Editor allows for all sorts of editing features that make fine tuning your audio a breeze. Notes can be “snapped” to a grid or placed manually into semi note values. Melodyne Editor “listens” to the audio as you transfer the audio into it. Then it displays the audio (as “blobs”) where it lies on a scale. Choosing the pitch correction tool, you then can double click on the “blobs” which places them right onto the closest semi tone on the grid. This does not mean that these notes are now perfect, but they are now tuned to the closest semi tone pitch. Now you can easily drag the notes up or down on the grid and place them where ever you want them to be.

There is one thing about Melodyne Editor that drove me crazy, well, until I figured out what was going on. Melodyne Editor sometimes misses the mark when separating “long notes”, and shows these long-duration notes as just one single “blob”. For example, a note that might contain sub notes could be a long multi-syllable note, or maybe a sliding guitar note. No matter how I moved these longer “blobs” up and down in the Melodyne Editor grid, they just did not sound right. Then I found the note separation tool.

Splitting these blobs (with the note separation tool) fixes that problem. Let me explain. Once these long notes are separated you can then better edit the pitch of each of the newly created “blobs”. After separating the long “blob” into two or more “blobs” you can once again choose the pitch correction tool and then double click on each of the freshly separated “blobs”. This is just to center them on to the closest semi tone. Then you can move these new “blobs” where they need to be in the Melodyne Editor grid. Problem fixed!

I highly recommend that you use Melodyne Editor to fix up your audio before you add your effects. Although Melodyne Editor does a pretty good job of dealing with effected audio (like reverbs and delays), it can get strange sounding at times. So, record your vocals, then put them through the Melodyne Editor, and then effect your audio to taste.

Now that your main vocal tracks are tight, it may be time to record a backing vocal track or tracks. Are you going to belt out tracks at higher or lower octaves, or in chords? What would these tracks sound like? What might sound proper?

Here is a little beauty mark for the whole Melodyne affair. With Melodyne Editor the ability to take a copied vocal track and then audition it in “any place” on a scaled grid, in seconds flat, is possible. I feel as if I am coming close to playing God here, as I do this vocal auditioning, so please revert back to the “less is more” rule that I mentioned at the beginning of this post. Try not to record backing vocals from simply copying tracks and moving them in pitch (to perfection) with Melodyne Editor. Our trust as musicians is at stake.

Melodyne Editor has even more very cool features. One is the ability to use a “snap to” grid feature. This is a feature that allows you to chose a specific key in which to allow our “blobs” to snap to. Think of it as you might snap midi notes to a time grid, but instead you are snapping audio notes to the notes to only the notes in a key. This is fool proof, and extremely cool to play with. If your song is playing in a D Major, then set the “snap to feature” to D Major. Each note will jump to the nearest note in the D Major scale. Then you can change them by moving them to the next note in the chosen key. Can you say “hello back-up vocalists?”. Copying and pasting notes is possible too, so beware, this can become addicting!

I posted a review a long time ago, about the full version of the Melodyne plug in, which can be viewed here. This post (above) is the "Editor" version of Melodyne. The main difference is a "save as" funtion. Melodyne Editor does not save audio to your hard drive. Instead, you simply bounce the new audio to a new track.


  1. Great post.
    I think it only refuses to save as when you're using it as slave. If you use it stand alone, it will save the file to your hard disk.
    If that, cause I think either way, it will save.
    Maybe the Assistant version does not.

  2. Thanks! Please keep the feedback pouring in! Melodyne rocks, and the more we all learn, the better our cuts will be!