Overdubbing in MIDI Home Recording - dummies

By Jeff Strong

After you record some MIDI performances, you can easily add to or change them. The time-honored name for this kind of recording is overdubbing. Overdubbing MIDI performance data is similar to overdubbing your audio data.

Using MIDI Merge/Replace

When you overdub to a MIDI track, many MIDI recording programs offer you the option to either replace existing material or add new data to it. For example, in Pro Tools, you make this selection by clicking the MIDI Merge/Replace button. This button is located in the Transport window. Here’s how it works:

  • When the Merge/Replace button is engaged (MIDI Merge mode), new material is merged with existing MIDI data on the record-enabled track(s).

  • When the Merge/Replace button is disengaged (MIDI Replace mode), new MIDI data replaces existing information on the record-enabled track(s).

    Add new data in a sequencer program without erasing what’s there.
    Add new data in a sequencer program without erasing what’s there.

To engage MIDI Merge in Pro Tools, follow these steps:

  1. Open the MIDI controls section of the Transport window by choosing Display→Transport Window Shows→MIDI Controls.

    The Transport window expands to include the MIDI controls section.

  2. Click the MIDI Merge button.

    The button becomes highlighted.

Most MIDI sequencers have a similar function, but by default, any overdubs you do are placed in a new sequence — leaving the original intact.

Punching in and out

If you like some of your initial take and want to record over only part of it, you can set points at which to start and stop recording within the session. This is called punching in and out.

As is the case with audio tracks, most programs allow you to punch into MIDI tracks in several ways. These include punching in and out manually, automatically, and repeatedly (looping).

With the exception of being able to choose to merge your punched data with your original performance or being able to replace it, punching into and out of MIDI tracks is the same as punching into and out of audio tracks.