The Song Editor displays the structure of the song.
The left side of the window displays the instrument and beat/bassline tracks
The right side of the window displays the actual content - the note blocks, or segments of each track at each bar in the project
Each track has content in the form of segments or elements, often you will hear other users using the term "blocks".
For instrument tracks, the display is a miniature piano roll. Double-clicking on it will open the Piano Roll Editor window where you can add, delete, or modify individual notes.
For sample tracks, the display is a miniature waveform of the sample. Double-clicking on it will open a File-Open dialog where you can choose a new sample for that element. LMMS can't edit recorded sounds, nor can LMMS record sound!
For Beat/Bassline tracks, the display is simply a colored block/segment showing that the beat/bassline is active. Double-clicking on it will open the Beat+Bassline Editor window where you can add, delete, or modify individual notes in the beat.
To create new segments, left-click in the track activity area within the bar where you want the segment to start. For instrument and sample tracks, this creates a blank area where you can put notes or samples. For beat/bassline tracks, this creates 1 (or more) bars filled with that particular Beat+Bassline as configured.
To move a segment, drag it by clicking and holding the segment. As it's dragged, the segment will snap to the start of any bar, but you can free drag (with a 1/64th resolution) by holding down the Ctrl key after you begin dragging (Ctrl+drag before you begin dragging initiates the "copy" procedure).
To copy a segment, hold the Ctrl key down before you begin dragging and then drag the copy to its new location. You can also right-click on the segment, select copy, left-click to create an empty segment where you want the copy to go, right-click and select paste. You can't copy segments of one track type to tracks of a different type. To copy again, the Ctrl key has to be released and repressed before the next drag operation.
To delete a segment, click it using the middle mouse button or right-click on it and select delete. Double-clicking on a block opens the Piano Roll or Beat+Bassline Editor, so you can edit the segment's contents.
The Song Editor window has a toolbar that allows you to control playback of the song, add new tracks, choose edit tools, customize the method of playback, and control the general view of the song.
Despite their different content, the ways of working with segments are mostly similar. Most of the work in the Song Editor is done using the Draw mode tool.
Left-click in an empty bar to add a segment
Middle-click on a block to delete it
Ctrl+middle-click is a mute/unmute toggle for that block
Right-click on a segment to get a context menu
Left-drag on a segment to move it (block will snap to bar boundaries)
Ctrl after left-drag begins on a segment to move it freely (won't snap to bar boundaries)
Ctrl before left-drag begins on a segment to copy it
When you hover your mouse over the right end of a segment, the mouse cursor becomes a double-headed arrow so you can drag the end of the segment to make it extend over more or fewer bars (this does not work for instrument tracks)
left-drag: the segment extension/retraction snaps to bar boundaries
Ctrl+left-drag: the segment extension/retraction is free (does not snap to bar boundaries)
The Edit mode tool, also known as the selection tool, allows you to drag a rectangular selection box that selects multiple segments. You can then handle the selection as a group. Selected segments change their color to distinct them from unselected.
Ctrl+left-click on any segment you want to remove from the selection group
Drag horizontally on any selected segment to move the selection group:
left-drag: movement where segments snap to bar boundaries
Alt+left-drag: free movement (segments don't snap to bar boundaries)
Click on any empty bar to clear the selection from the selected segments
Marked blocks can not only be moved, but can be copied (Ctrl+c) and inserted (Ctrl+v) at the play-head position, anywhere in your project. You can also delete (DEL) marked blocks. It is recommended that you use the magnification settings, to find the magnification, that gives you the best view of your project. Since 1.2, LMMS has a 12.5% magnification, that allows you to see 350 bars of your project!
Sometimes whole segment of a project is either needed to be removed, or you need space to insert new blocks. This is where you use INSERT and DELETE. First you move the play-head to the position where you want the change.
Shift+Insert key inserts a new, empty bar to the right of the play-head's current position into all the tracks. You will essentially push everything upwards, and hence have a longer project, as the result!
Shift+Delete key moves all one bar to the left of the play-head's current position. You will essentially pull everything downwards, and hence have a shorter project as the result!
Both methods are powerful tools for making big changes in your project.
The scroll bars at the right and bottom of the window allow you to move the editors view around, but you can also scroll with your mouse-wheel.
Use Shift+mouse wheel to scroll horizontally, Ctrl+mouse wheel to scroll vertically.
The Play button starts playback at the current play-head position. The keyboard space bar has the similar functionality, depending on the settings for play-head behavior of the Return mode button (see below).
During playback, a Pause button icon represents the Play button icon. It will pause playback and leave the play-head at its current position.
The Stop button (or keyboard space bar) stops playback (or a paused playback), and returns the play-head to the location defined by the Return mode button.
The Return mode button is a 3-position toggle that controls where the play-head moves when you halt playback using the Stop button. There are 3 modes:
Back to Zero (default): the play-head returns to the beginning of the song (bar #1)
Back to start: the play-head returns to the position where this playback started
Continue: the play-head remains where it was stopped, i.e. it doesn't move
The Auto-scroll button is ON by default. During playback, the view in the Song Editor window will automatically scroll horizontally to display the current play-head position. As the play-head moves past the right edge of the window, the window will scroll horizontally so the play-head continues at the left edge. In the performance settings, the option "smooth scrolling" can be enables. With Auto-scroll OFF, the play-head can disappear during playback.
Loops in LMMS are understood as 1-n bars! It is the logic of a sequencer that determines that loops are the same as whole bars. The Loop-points button is OFF by default. When turned ON, the loop will appear (bright green) on the timeline. You can set the loop-points as follows:
When you click on the time bar for setting right-loop-point use right-click only
When you click on the time-bar for setting left-loop-point use Shift+right-click
Setting loop-points will by default snap to the bar dividers. You can control that. If you hold AltGr, then you can set your loop exactly as you want. You can even drag them up and down.
During Song Editor playback, the play-head will loop continuously between the start and end loop-points. This is useful for testing a particular section of your piece, but only exists in playback mode. It is not a way to repeat a section a certain number of times within your composition - you'll have to use copy/paste for that.
There is no button for adding a new instrument track. You do this by dragging the desired plugin or preset from the Sidebar to an empty area in the Song Editor. Next, click on the instrument track's name to show/hide the Instrument Editor window for that plugin. This window is where you can make changes to the sound of the instrument.
To add a new Beat/Bassline track, click the Add beat/bassline button. Right-click on the beat/bassline track's name to rename it.
To add a new sample track, click the Add sample-track button.
You can zoom in to show fewer bars or zoom out to show more bars in the window. There are several ways to zoom:
Hover your mouse over the zoom number and roll your mouse wheel up/down to zoom in/out
Hover your mouse anywhere else in the Song Editor window and Ctrl+mouse scroll wheel up/down to zoom in/out
Left-click on the zoom number to zoom in by 1 level. Right-click on the zoom number to zoom out by 1 level.
Use the zoom drop-down arrow and select a zoom level
Anywhere in a track, use Shift+drag to change the height of a track. You can only make it taller than the default height, not shorter.
The left side of the track, the track settings bar, contains buttons and controls that allow you to work with the tracks as a whole.
The stippled area at the left end of the track is the Grip handle. In Draw mode, use it to drag a track up or down in the track stacking order. The track order has no effect on the sounds produced, it just helps you keep things organized. Ctrl+drag on the grip handle makes a clone of the track that you can place either at the bottom of the track list, in Beat+Bassline Editor, or even in an other opened project, if you have enough RAM for two instances of LMMS. You use considerable less RAM if you only copy-drag, and do not play any of the projects!
The Track tools icon has a tool-tip that says "Actions for this track". Click it to see a menu with options:
Clone this track makes an exact copy of the track (instrument settings and segments) and pastes it at the bottom of the track list
Remove this track deletes the track
MIDI: option for instruments to connect a MIDI device
The Mute/unmute toggle looks like a green light that you turn ON and OFF by clicking on it. Use it to turn off the sounds from this track temporarily. For example, you may want to hear the track of an accompanying instrument without hearing the lead instrument. As all knobs, lights and faders in LMMS these can be automated. The Solo/unsolo toggle is the second light, the one to the right. It is a red light that you turn on and off by clicking on it. Use it to turn off temporarily all the other tracks except this track, or add some other tracks to the playback, simply by un-muting any track of your own choice. That way you can have one solo track plus any number of selected tracks playing together alone. When you want to have all tracks active again, you simply unsolo the solo track. That will unmute all tracks in your Song Editor again.
The rest of the track settings bar displays the sound source information. This varies somewhat between instrument tracks, sample tracks and beat/bassline tracks.
Instrument tracks have:
a volume and a pan control (automatable)
a button that displays the instrument's preset name
left-click opens the Instrument Editor
right-click opens a dialog to rename the track
the activity light is a rectangular light located far right in instrument tracks, which lights up whenever the instrument plays a note. You can click it to preview the sound of the instrument.
Sample tracks have:
a volume control (automatable)
a button that displays the track name
left-click opens the Effects chain Editor where you can choose effects to add
right-click opens a dialog to rename the track
Beat/Bassline tracks have:
a button that displays the track name
left-click opens the Beat+Bassline Editor, if it's not already open
right-click opens a dialog to rename the track
The track context menu appears when you right-click on a segment in the track. The options available vary by the type of track as follows:
Open in piano-roll opens the clicked-on pattern in the Piano Roll Editor
Delete deletes the clicked-on segment
Cut removes the clicked-on segment and puts it in the clipboard
Copy makes a copy of the clicked-on segment and puts it in the clipboard
Paste pastes the contents of the clipboard into this segment, overwriting its previous contents. The segment name is copied and pasted with the contents of the segment which helps you see the original source of this segment (see "Change name" below).
Mute/unmute allows you to turn off the sound of the clicked-on segment. It does not affect the volume of the other segments in the track.
Clear all notes allows you to erase the contents of the clicked-on segment without deleting the segment itself
Reset name resets the segment name to the track name, and the name is again hidden
Change name allows you to change a segment's name. Segments within a track can have their own names, and by default the segment name is the same as the track name.
Add steps and Remove steps allow you to add or remove the number of steps in a bar. This is the same option as in the Beat+Bassline Editor.
Clone steps allows you to duplicate your current steps.
The actions of each option are essentially the same as those for the instrument track above.
The actions of each option are essentially the same as those for the instrument track above. The only addition is:
Open in Beat + Bassline Editor allows you to open the selected pattern in the Beat and Bassline editor.
Change color allows you to change the color of the segments in the BB track. This helps you to distinguish the function or content of the tracks by their color, and helps you to quickly know which bassline you are dealing with in a complex rhythm sections. You can use the edit mode tool aka selection tool to select a group of Beat/Bassline segments and color them all at once.
Sometimes you may like to use notes you have in another project. You can't use the notes in other projects just as a reference, but! You can copy these notes from one project to another! Let's say we have a nice arpeggio, and we'd like to reuse that within a tiny change, in a new project.
If you have decent hardware, with 2+ GB of RAM, you can have two LMMS running simultaneously. Point to the track with the existing arpeggio. On the track button we have a nobbled bar leftmost in this picture:
Point on the nobbled bar
Press and drag the whole track button from the "donor" project to the receiveing project's Song Editor
You now have copied all notes and the preset into the new project. In our case we would have "both" the arpeggio-notes, "and" all the arpeggio settings in the preset copied to the new project. If you create a project called something like .my-aprs.mmp, and build all the arps, you can think of, then you can use that project as a template for any project, and that way you have an arpeggio library.
This is not at all as potent, byt can be used by anyone, despite low-end HW.
Open the piano-roll pattern in project 1
Mark all (Ctrl+a)
Copy all (Ctrl+c)
Create a new project or open an existing project
Open a piano-roll in that project
Insert the notes from the first project (Ctrl+v)
As you can see we only had one instance of LMMS open, and this is a very CPU and RAM friendly way to copy between projects, but we only got notes from one note block, with this simple method.