STEP 1: Run Adobe Audtion 3 and add a MIDI track
Click Insert > MIDI Track (or Alt-M). If this is the first time you’ve added a MIDI track, your system might scan for VSTi’s and other plug-ins before the track appears; this should only take a minute or so. When this is done, your new MIDI track will appear in the mixer (next to the six default audio tracks that automatically show up when starting a new session).
STEP 2: Access the squencer button
On the top of the MIDI Track mixer, you’ll see a button called Sequencer…. Click on it to bring up the brand new built-in sequencer panel. You’ll see the brilliant simplicity of the interface, along with some familiar features. You should be able to get started right away with MIDI files, editing, transposing and picking your software synthesizers. Adobe Audition 3 comes with three Adobe-branded Soft-Synths to get you started.
STEP 3: Browse online for MIDI files or use your own
On your computer, browse for the MIDI file that you want to import into the session. For this example, I merely opened up Trent Reznor’s "The Fragile".mid file that I found on a NIN fan site via Google. Though you can use just about anything you want from your own compositions for creating soundscapes, or other MIDI files just to hear them played back, and converted from General MIDI instruments to higher-quality Soft-Synths.
STEP 4: Add VSTi soft-synths to each track
Each Sequencer has various sections to the left (VSTi, In, Out, etc.). Click the VSTi drop-down list, and pick the synthesizer that best fits the particular track. You can also name each track in the sequence (bass, guitars, keys, drums, etc.) by clicking the blank space next to the note icon.
STEP 5: Playback, tweak and test
After you’ve picked all the soft-synths that you want to put on each track, you’ll get an idea of what it will sound like all together by pressing Play at the bottom left. You get really responsive play meters at the bottom and right side. You can tweak each Soft-Synth until you are satisfied with the overall sound of the MIDI performance. I’m using Dimension Pro (a third-party software synthesizer by Cakewalk). I tested several third-party soft-synths for this tutorial and found that they work just fine inside AU3, without any problem or extra config.
STEP 6: Modify and start editing
Like most sequencers, AU3 has familiar tools like "selecting," which you do by clicking and dragging the mouse and drawing a box around the notes (MIDI events) you want to change. If you drop down the internal Edit Menu, you’ll see Humanize, Quantize, Random Velocity and Transpose- very cool self-explanatory functions.
STEP 7: Use the three edit modes
Each sequencer track has three modes of editing: Note Edit Mode, Velocity Edit Mode and Controller Edit Mode. Note Editing Mode is for moving around, adding and deleting MIDI events (or notes) in a given sequence. Velocity mode brings up the "blue bars," showing you the volume/strength of each note. You’ll be able to lower the intensity of each event this way, which is very useful for MIDI performances and the leveling of individual notes or strange dynamic "jaggedies." The third mode is Controller Edit Mode. This is for editing when you’ve got automation and want to affect things like decay, resonance or filter cutoff, as opposed to just MIDI files or basic note entry.
STEP 8: Your personal pro cheat sheet!
I asked the programmers for some cool tips and tricks that I could share in this article and was given some very useful stuff. Rather than tell you, I’ll just list these great key shortcuts:
- CTRL + Right-Mouse-Button-Drag: Let's you drag copy notes to a new location. A VERY useful trick.
- Up/Down: Transpose selected notes by a semitone.
- SHIFT + Up/Down: Transpose selected notes by an octave.
- Left/Right: Moves selected notes by a snapping grid unit.
- SHIFT + Left/Right: Moves selected notes by a measure.
- CTRL + Left/Right: Moves selected notes by a small increment.
- Double-click a track editor to zoom so that all notes are visible.
- Holding CTRL while clicking the vertical zoom: Lets you vertically zoom the selected track (as opposed to zooming the height of all the tracks).
STEP 9: Final play, effects chains and mastering
Audition users will already be familiar with most of the other things in this software, like the Effects rack, etc. In this example, I added Mastering, Full Reverb, Stereo Expander and, of course, the delicious Multiband Compressor from iZotope, which I’ve grown quite fond of. It gave this particular MIDI performance a very warm and full sound, ready for export. You can play with numerous plug-ins and effects that AU3 now bundles as part of the standard package! Have at it!
STEP 10: Export and mix down
Export and mix down is a piece of cake with this software. Click File > Export > Audio Mix Down… (CTRL + Shift + ALT + M) to bring up the menu with all of the various detailed options for export. Everything from file type, bit depth, embedding of data, ranges, channels, sample rates, separated tracks, outputs and other options are contained within this one menu. I export as a.wav. When the file is done processing and exporting, it automatically opens back into AU3 if you check-mark the Insert Mixdown into: Edit View box. Now that your MIDI performance is rendered out as a.wav, you can use it in your video or music project.
Dark Classical Composer
Justin Lassen is an accomplished dark classical composer, producer and remix artist with over 10 years’ experience in the video game, music and film markets. He’s a longtime user of Adobe Audition/Cool Edit Pro, Sony Sound Forge, as well as Sony Acid Pro 6.0, Sonar 6.2 Producer Edition, FL Studio 7 XXL and Project5 2.5. He has produced remixes for such artists as Madonna, Garbage, Blue Man Group, Lenny Kravitz, Robert Miles, Majandra Delfino, Nine Inch Nails, Linkin Park, Evanescence and Tweaker, and has worked on various projects for game and technology companies such as Interplay, Novus Delta, Cakewalk, Intel and Carbon6. In 2003, he released the critically acclaimed chamber suite, And Now We See But Through A Glass Darkly.
Justin Says Keep in Mind…
As a rule, you won’t want to use copyrighted.mid files or music in your project. In this tutorial, I just wanted to show you what can be done in AU3’s MIDI Host. Preferably, you will be editing your own MIDI performances, or using some from royalty-free libraries. I recommend saving your files whevever you can. You never know when they’ve got all the bugs squashed in any given software. Nobody is perfect. There is much more that this MIDI host/sequencer can do, and as usual, this just scratches the surface of its full power.