Edit mode is where you get in close and tell an instrument what to play. Unless you use alternative "Rack sequencing" (see Chapter 7, "Patterning"), Edit mode is where you'll spend most of your writing time.
To use Edit mode
In the Sequencer, select the eighth track down ("CCRMA E Piano") in the left column of the Demo Song.
Click the Edit mode display button in the upper-left corner (Figure 3.16) to look at the track, or press Alt+Tab (Win)/Ctrl+Cmd+E (Mac).
Figure 3.16. The Edit mode display button
You should now see a graph showing the notes in Track 8 (CCRMA E Piano), arranged on a grid (Figure 3.17).
Figure 3.17. A track displayed in Edit mode
If necessary, use the scroll bar at the side of the window to scroll up or down and see the notes, or resize your Sequencer window.
Move your cursor over the keyboard ruler at the left margin of the track display; when the cursor changes to a speaker icon, click the mouse to audition notes (Figure 3.18).
Figure 3.18. Audition notes on the keyboard ruler.
To see more or less of the track, use the zoom buttons. Vertical zoom is at the upper-right (Figure 3.19) and horizontal zoom is at the lower-left (Figure 3.20).
Figure 3.19. The vertical zoom buttons
Figure 3.20. The horizontal zoom buttons
Hit the play button on the transport bar (or press the spacebar) to watch the track play. You'll see the display scroll to the right as the song advances.
Longer notes sustain (Figure 3.21) and short notes are staccato (Figure 3.22). Soft notes appear in a lighter shade of red than those played very hard and loudly (Figure 3.23).
Figure 3.21. A sustained note
Figure 3.22. A staccato (short) note
Figure 3.23. Strong vs. light notes
Look below the note grid, and you'll see red vertical bars arranged under the notes. This is the Velocity lane; the bars represent the strength of the attack, or velocity, for each note.
Velocity is a note's speed of attack, not its volume. (Volume is another parameter that has its own controls.) If you're not sure what the difference is, see the sidebar "Velocity vs. Volume."
Velocity vs. Volume
Velocity is "relative note strength" and volume is "instrument level."
The term velocity comes from the way music keyboards keep track of how hard the performer is hitting a note. Though a piano responds directly to finger pressure, an electronic keyboard only measures how fast a key is struck, or how quickly the key moves between a high and a low sensor when played.
Measuring a key's speed is an economical and stable alternative to measuring pressure, because it minimizes the number of potential moving parts that can wear out; and speed is just as accurate as pressure as an indicator of the strength of note attack.