Editing midi in reaper using osara

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introduction and a brief concept explanation

In most digital audio workstations, midi can work alongside audio, or in conjunction with, audio. This is because there are a number of resources and tools available to produce great sounding arrangements using midi and you could probably want to record a live, real instrument to supplement the song you are producing. The user guide has got some of the common htings some folks are used to, some behaviors if you will, in other software based editors like qws, and you shoudl go here if you want to hear your keyboard coming through as you play it and here if you want to control some basic parameters like pan and volume of a track . We will deal with patches and other things in a little while . For now thtough, there are two main ways that midi is used into modern digital audio workstations.

  1. by using an external synth or keyboard or midi module, any hardware that can produce sound based on midi and then recording the audio directly from that equipment. For Configuration basics to get your midi devices working in reaper, check out the article on Enabling Midi Devices if you haven't done so already and the one mentioned at the top of this section.
  2. By using a virtual instrument on an inserted track. You need to have for this any kind of virtual instruments or instrument libraries as they are called and will still need any kind of midi device for input.

The second option is becoming very popular nowadays because of the higher quality of the libraries and instruments. Which means that a great majority of those instruments are no longer gm compatible and also usually have a few, very few or even just one kind of instrument, since they are usually specialized, responding to very specific needs. SO the more virtual instruments you might want to have per song, the more ram you will need.

recommended settings

Before continuing, make sure that the following is set.

  • Under Editing Behavior>midi editor, the

Behavior for "open items in built-in MIDI editor": should be: Open the clicked MIDI item only

  • Active MIDI item follows selection changes in arrange view. Should be checked.
  • Only MIDI items on the same track as the active item are editable. Checked

the grid concept

one of the ways audio and especially midi is being edited in many modern programs uses what is called a grid, which is just a visual representation in timing. It looks just like a square grid , composed of vertical bar lines, which are the equivalent of.. you guessed it, musical bars. In reaper you have different grid divissions which will let you move notes, adjust their duration, or quantice them to different rhythm values. For this you must always set first the grid size, and then perform the desired operation. Common rhythm values follow. You will notice that they just divide musical bars by a certain ammount.

division type time signature corresponding note value
1/2 4/4 half note, or minim
1/4 4/4 quarter note, or crotchet
1/6 4/4 one quarter note triplet or one third of a crotchet
1 6/8 a whole bar in 6/8 time, which can be translated as a doted half note or a dotted minim.

As you see, setting the grid to a certain ammount is always dependent on the time signature, not on the strict value that is mentioned or specified. Whenever you set the grid to a specified size, any actions that depend on it will perform and affect notes by that ammount. for example You could probably set the grid to 1/2 and move audio items by that distance sooner (left) or later (right) during playback, when editing.

editing midi notes in reaper

Reaper comes with its built in midi editor. You can work on one item at the time. To edit a midi itemt that you have recorded, follow this general procedure:

  • First select the midi item with control left or right arrows, respectively.
  • Bind or invoque the action Item: Open in built-in MIDI editor (set default behavior in preferences) (I have set this to control plus w)
  • Once the midi item ahs been opened, you will be in the piano roll view by default.
  • You can then use the actions (bound to the arrow keys and shift and the arrow keys) to move by chord or note. Osara makes a distinction between notes and chords since there can be many notes in the same place or beat, sounding simultaneously. And you can select or manipulate all of them or just some. Usually every isolated note is technically considered a chord. You should hear the notes or chords when you are moving being played through your keyboard, synth or virtual instrument.
  • you can then use any of the actions that perform the operation you want. Delete, move copy, ETC. selected notes, quantice.
  • When you are done editing, press escape to close the midi editor window, otherwise it will remain open and take up some space!


Normally, the midi editor will focus or be directly on the bar that you have last paused or placed the cursor. If this however is not the case, you can use the page up and down keys in the midi editor to move forward or backwards by measures respectively. You can also use OSARA: Report edit/play cursor position bound to command/control shift j to check where you are directly within the midi editor.

changing propperties for one or more notes

there will be times when you wish to move a note to a desired location, to extend or shorten its length, to even change the channel it is played on, or to change the pitch, or strength (velocity). Of course, all of those things can be done by using action that you have bound to keys (usually the numpad keys) to achieve all of this, but if for one you know the value, and wish to be very specific about it, you can select any note and then press control plus f2 on it to open the note properties dialog. The guide has more information on some useful actions. When clicking or dragging si mentioned on that section, you can usually accomplish the ssame by selecting all notes and then opening the note properties dialog instead.

patch and bank changes

(editors note: please clean this up, its from an old e-mail from the rwp list)

This procedure depends on the instrument. If you have virtual instrument (vst) loaded, you can

usually change patches straight from your keyboard, which is acting as
a controller in this case, assuming that your vst supports the
standard program and bank change messages it will respond as it
should. For me this is the easiest setup. You simply load your vst and
control everything from the keyboard.
For the other way, which is using the midi from the keyboard, its  a
bit more involved. It probably has been discussed here before but I
think time is our enemy and never lets us give complete and accurate
answers. But I will do my best.
There are two ways to acccess it but they show the same option. You can either:
  1. insert the effect called reaControl into the midi track or
  2. Press control applications on it, then select show/hide midi track controls
In both cases reaControlMidi will be added to the track. Good news is
that it is pretty accessible.  This plug-in is used because reaper has
no native support for sending control messages to external midi
modules or hardware or vsts...


In that dialog there are checkboxes and different values. There is one
that allows you to send control messages, another that lets you send
bank and path change messages. They have to be checked otherwise
controls will not move and even if you put values I think those
messages do not get sent. The rest are just settings for the behavior
of the reaControl vst. (note: some of those checkboxes just say "enabled" before the corresponding parameters and thus are not propperly labelled.)
You can also, load a patch list or reabank file or convert from a .ins
file if you have one that is specific to your keyboard, I am sure
there are files out there. You can look into the reaper stash at the
reaper website for reaBank files. That way you can select things from
combo boxes with patch names instead of having to type in all of those
values. And that would be pretty much it.
Also, make sure that your keyboard has or is set to a multiTimbral
mode, where it can send and receive data from every midi channel at
the same time and that you select one midi channel per instrument.
I say this because Korg has a way of working that I never liked. In
program mode for instance, you have only two channels that respond to
external midi messages, which are channel 2 I believe which plays the
current program or patch you have selected at a given time. and
another which is the drumtrack channel but I don't think it is 10
anymore, we have progressed from the gm standards, lol. Then in combi
mode you have just.. the same thing, plus another channel which is the
arpeggiator channel and .. that option is a bit silly because it
enables a channel to have two different patches into one, according to
ranges you have set. The one that works is simply, sequencer mode.
There everything responds as it really should. You should make sure
too that only one track is armed and monitoring, because you then can
create double parts on instruments you did not intend. .. when
recording.