One of the great thing about making MIDI based music is that once you’ve finished recording, you can use your sequencer to edit the results to perfection. If only editing audio were as simple…
I’ve got news for you…it is! In fact, thanks to an excellent user interface, it’s actually simpler to edit audio with Melodyne Uno, than it is to edit MIDI with any of the major sequencing packages!
Uno’s main application is, of course, correcting vocals, which is something it does with ease…vocal ease. At it’s heart is a sample editor into which you load an audio file. When you do this, Melodyne automatically performs a background musical analysis, intelligently identifying individual notes, their pitches, their start and endpoints and the musical transitions and rhythmic relationships between them… almost instantaneously on a reasonably fast single processor machine. This information is then displayed on a pitch/time grid, with, to use the technical term, ‘blobs’ (sic).
The length of these blobs represents each note’s length, their vertical height signifies each note’s amplitude and their vertical position on the grid shows absolute pitch (which can be easily referenced against the handy ‘note ruler’ along the left edge of the grid) as well as pitch relative to each other. Superimposed on these blobs is the ‘pitch curve’, a thin continually variable line indicating the exact pitch at any point in time, plus vibrato and the transitions between each note.
The elegance and innovativeness of this approach can’t be overstated. It’s so simple and intuitive that even someone without any technical background in music will feel at home in minutes. If music notation had been invented in the computer age, instead of the dark ages, this is how every score would look!
Editing your file couldn’t be easier. Just click on a blob and drag it from where you/your singer sang it, to where it actually would have been if he/she/it could sing in tune/time and viola…perfect pitch and timing! You can even lengthen/shorten notes with a simple click and drag.
Since Melodyne can tell the difference between vibrato (nice) and tremolo (Hank Marvin), it will remove warblings, whilst keeping vocal character, particularly since it manipulates pitch independently of formants (the ‘acoustic fingerprint’ of a sound), though if you want to mess with formants you can…by simply dragging them…as easily as dragging to change amplitude, performance dynamics and add/ remove vibrato (yes, you can actually add realistic vibrato to a vocal performance)…and if you’ve got a really dodgy vocalist to sort out, instead of having to correct every note or section of track manually, you can just click the ‘correct pitch’ and/or ‘quantize time’ buttons to have the entire track automatically corrected in the blink of an ear.
Naturally, there is full manual control of quantization options, should you require it and this is where things get even more interesting, because Melodyne doesn’t just do vocals…it’s equally at home with percussive tracks, meaning you can quantize a drum loop not just with the aim of getting it in time, but to inject a swing…or even to completely change its time signature (changing a loop from 4/4 to 5/4 is unbelievably simple and effective)! It’s just a shame that the quantization grid doesn’t move in real time when you move the quantization slider (which would make life even easier).
In true loop sequencer stylee, you can edit the pitch, length and tempo of your loops (or vocals) independently of each other, to an almost unlimited extent thanks to some of the best algorithms I’ve heard. You can also easily create vocal harmonies, by using the snap to scale function, to transpose a vocal part, keeping all of its accidentals in the right place for the key to which you are moving. The one limitation however, is that you can only snap to a major or minor western tonal scale, which means that if ethnic music is your thing (I know it’s mine), or for that matter, modal music, you’re out of luck. I sincerely hope this will be addressed either with an update or in a future release.
Although Melodyne Uno will work with most monophonic material, instruments with a long decay time (e.g. the harp) or unclean guitar lead lines with droning open strings and/or accidental duophonies (or, for that matter, duophonic accidentals) do pose a problem, so if you’re planning on using it to edit lots of non lead guitar or other polyphonic parts, or want to work on complex vocal harmonies, you might be better off with Uno’s big brother ‘Melodyne Cre8’ or its godfather ‘Melodyne Studio’, which offer polyphonic recognition and multiple track creation/editing, in the case of ‘Studio’ at even higher resolutions than Uno’s 24/96. However, for 80% of users, Uno will be more than enough and since Celemony give you the option to upgrade, it’s win win…and with a UK recommended retail price of just UKP129.99, it’s also stunning value.
Ultimately you’re left wondering why DAWS don’t handle audio (and MIDI) editing in the same way as Melodyne…and bearing in mind that Melodyne Studio offers unlimited tracks at a resolution of 32/192, whether it’s going to evolve into a fully featured DAW…
Since, words alone can’t do justice to the quality of Uno’s algorithms or the elegance and simplicity of its interface, you might want to check out this video on Celemony’s web site. You may also want to download the demo version.
More information: www.arbitermt.co.uk
© 2006 – 2010, The Technofile. All rights reserved. Moral Rights Asserted.