Mastering MIDI Editing With 10 Easy Techniques

Mastering MIDI Editing: 10 Easy Techniques

MIDI editing is essential for any musician or producer working with digital audio workstations (DAWs). Mastering the art of MIDI editing can enhance your creative process, streamline your workflow, and bring your musical ideas to life with precision and ease.

To help you harness the power of MIDI, we have compiled a list of 10 easy techniques you can incorporate into your music production routine. These techniques will enable you to create more expressive and polished MIDI tracks, ultimately improving the overall quality of your music.

By following these simple tips, you will improve your MIDI editing skills and unlock new creative possibilities within your DAW, allowing you to express your musical ideas with greater accuracy and efficiency.

So let’s dive into these techniques and elevate your music production game.

Key Takeaways:

  • MIDI editing is vital for efficient, creative music production in a DAW.
  • Master 10 techniques, including quantization, velocity editing, and MIDI automation.
  • Improve by utilizing advanced techniques, practicing regularly, and exploring DAW features.

What Is MIDI Editing?

MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) is a communication standard that allows digital music gear to speak the same language, enabling you to control various instruments and devices in your music production setup (LANDR).

MIDI editing involves manipulating MIDI data to create, modify, and fine-tune your music compositions within your digital audio workstation (DAW).

Your DAW’s MIDI editor enables you to perform a variety of functions, such as drawing in and editing MIDI notes, adjusting their pitch, velocity, and duration, and even adding various MIDI control messages to shape the overall expression of your music.

Some common MIDI editing techniques include:

  • Quantization – Correcting the timing of notes to match the grid of your DAW
  • Velocity editing – Adjusting the intensity with which notes are played
  • Filtering and layering – Controlling which MIDI messages are affected by your edits
  • Automation – Adding dynamic changes to parameters like volume, pan, and effects over time

Mastering MIDI editing can significantly enhance your workflow and creativity.

When you become proficient with MIDI editing techniques, you’ll be better equipped to develop intricate compositions, quickly experiment with new ideas, and fine-tune your arrangements for optimal final results.

10 Essential MIDI Editing Techniques

This section will explore 10 essential MIDI editing techniques that will help you improve your MIDI tracks and achieve the desired sound.

1. Quantization

Quantization is the process of aligning MIDI notes to a grid, making your performance tighter and more rhythmically accurate.

To utilize quantization effectively, select the notes in your MIDI editor and apply the desired quantization value.

2. Velocity Editing

Modifying the velocity of your MIDI notes can add expressiveness and dynamics to your performance.

Velocity editing in piano roll

In your MIDI editor, simply select the note or notes whose velocities need adjusting and change the value to achieve the desired intensity.

3. Pitch Editing

Correcting pitch issues in MIDI performances is crucial for maintaining musical coherence.

To edit the pitch, select the notes in your MIDI editor that require pitch adjustments and either move them up or down accordingly or use pitch transposition tools available in your DAW.

4. MIDI CC Automation

Adding MIDI Continuous Controller (CC) automation to your tracks can enhance the expressiveness and realism of your virtual instruments.

Routinely used CC parameters include modulation, expression, and sustain. In your MIDI editor, draw automation curves for the desired CC parameters, following the natural flow of your performance.

5. Note Duration and Timing Adjustments

Manually adjusting the duration and timing of MIDI notes can result in more organic performance.

In your MIDI editor, select the notes whose duration or position you want to modify and then drag the edges or move them within the grid.

6. Layering and Combining MIDI Data

You can create richer and more complex textures by layering multiple MIDI tracks or combining data from different sources. This technique includes taking multiple MIDI clips and merging them together or stacking multiple instruments in your DAW to play the same MIDI data.

7. MIDI Channel Setup

Properly setting up MIDI channels is crucial for organizing your tracks and controlling multiple instruments from a single MIDI source.

Assign each instrument to a distinct MIDI channel in your DAW, ensuring clear separation and easy routing of MIDI data.

8. Managing MIDI Control Surfaces

MIDI control surfaces can enhance workflow by providing hands-on DAW and virtual instrument control.

Configure your MIDI control surface in your DAW’s preferences to get started and then map its knobs, faders, and switches to the desired parameters.

9. Working with MIDI Ghost Notes

Ghost notes are used as a visual reference for composing and working with harmonic structures.

To create ghost notes, either duplicate your MIDI clip to another track or use your DAW’s ghost notes feature, if available. The ghost notes will be grayed out and won’t produce sound, but they will help you make informed decisions during the MIDI editing process.

10. Fine-Tuning MIDI Data Using Humanization

Use the humanization feature in your DAW to add a human touch to your MIDI performance. This tool introduces small variations in velocity, note duration, and timing, avoiding a mechanically perfect playback.

Apply this effect sparingly to maintain the natural feel of your performance.

Additional MIDI Editing Tips

This section will discuss additional techniques to help you enhance your MIDI editing skills.

We will cover the following topics: MIDI Effects Processing, Utilizing MIDI Expression Maps, and MIDI Editing Shortcuts and Macros.

MIDI Effects Processing

Utilizing MIDI effects processing can enhance your MIDI tracks by adjusting and refining the playback.

Numerous MIDI effects are available in various DAWs, such as Ableton Live or FL Studio.

Consider incorporating these MIDI processing effects in your workflow:

  • Arpeggiators: These effects create melodic patterns by automatically breaking up chords into individual notes.
  • Transpose: This effect shifts the pitch of all MIDI notes by a constant interval.
  • Chord generators: These effects automatically generate chords based on the input notes, which can be especially useful for creating harmonies.

Utilizing MIDI Expression Maps

MIDI Expression Maps enable you to create custom control layouts for your MIDI devices, allowing you to edit MIDI parameters more intuitively.

To utilize MIDI Expression Maps in your editing process, follow these steps:

  1. Choose a compatible DAW that supports MIDI Expression Maps, such as Cubase or Dorico.
  2. Create a new expression map, assigning specific CC values and key switches to individual articulations, dynamics, or techniques.
  3. Apply the expression map to your MIDI tracks, so your MIDI controller can easily manipulate the desired parameters.

MIDI Editing Shortcuts and Macros

Shortcuts and macros can significantly speed up your MIDI editing workflow.

Here are a few essential tips on using MIDI editing shortcuts and macros:

  • Learn your DAW’s built-in keyboard shortcuts for common MIDI editing tasks, such as quantizing, transposing, or splitting notes.
  • Customize your own keyboard shortcuts for quicker and more efficient MIDI editing. Most DAWs provide options for user-defined shortcuts.
  • Create custom macros that combine multiple actions, allowing you to perform complex MIDI editing tasks with just a single command.

By mastering these advanced MIDI editing techniques, you can effectively enhance your music production and create more professional-sounding tracks.


In your journey to master MIDI editing, these 10 easy techniques have provided valuable insights and practical tools to enhance your workflow. You’ve learned different ways to navigate your DAW, the importance of detail in editing, the creative utilization of MIDI effects, and much more.

To keep honing your MIDI editing skills, remember to:

  • Explore your DAW’s unique features
  • Utilize shortcuts and hotkeys
  • Regularly practice and experiment
  • Stay updated on advancements in MIDI technology

Incorporating these techniques and principles into your work will make your projects more efficient, and your music will undoubtedly benefit.

Stay curious, and embrace the power of MIDI editing in shaping your musical vision.

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