[Ardour-Dev] let's talk about MIDI regions

Lorenzo Sutton lorenzofsutton at gmail.com
Sun Mar 5 12:45:42 PST 2017

Hi all,

My take. Disclaimer: while I use Ardour quite a lot for audio-only, I 
hardly use MIDI for various reasons; so my point of view might be 
strongly biased by using other software.

On 03/03/17 16:03, Brett McCoy wrote:
> On Fri, Mar 3, 2017 at 5:02 AM, Paul Davis <paul at linuxaudiosystems.com
> <mailto:paul at linuxaudiosystems.com>> wrote:
>     one idea that is in the air for Ardour 6.0 is to move away from the
>     idea of MIDI regions entirely.

I think one of the problems with current *MIDI* regions in Ardour is 
that they are a bit confusing from an UI point of view when the MIDI 
notes grid is also visible (i.e. vertical zoom is enough to trigger the 
notes grid with the 'piano roll' like view).
With the default theme and the Draw tool it is very confusing if you are 
going to input a note or create a new region by clicking on an empty 
note space. When I tried *composing* (i.e. not recording from a MIDI 
instrument) in Ardour I easily found myself accidentally creating 
multiple empty MIDI regions ending up with not knowing where I could 
actually input notes in.
The fact is that audio regions as much as you can split them and 
theoretically arrive at sample granularity are unique events containing 
materials, while midi regions contain other discrete events which are 
essentially notes and other MIDI events (controllers, wheel, ..).

One idea would be to have the main window as an "arranger" only for 
MIDI, where regions become big 'blobs' which one just arranges like 
audio ones. Then actual editing of the events happens in a separate 
context (different window or space, e.g. down below on the bottom of the 

I am aware that Ardour developers have strong feelings *against* a 
separate MIDI editing window (piano roll, aka matrix), but the fact is 
that midi is completely different from audio, and there is a very good 
reason for having the option for several midi editing windows for a 
region, potentially many in parallel.

Now, personally I think that if Ardour stands still in not wanting to 
provide a dedicated MIDI editing environment like many sequencers do, 
and stick to only 'inline' editing, it *shouòd* indeed remove MIDI 
regions, just for the sake of making MIDI editing a bit more sane.

Overall I think it all depends on what the aimed target (use case) for 
supporting MIDI in Ardour is:
- quick adding of a bass-line or drum track in a still strongly 
audio-centric software?
- full blown midi sequencer support enabling composition?
- MIDI 'recording' with some editing and arranging feature?
- mix of the above?

My longish two cents :)

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