3.8 Piano Roll

Piano Roll Editor
The Piano Roll Editor is the main workspace for composing and editing melodies and harmonies. It can be accessed through either the right-click context menu on or double-clicking on:
  • a segment in an instrument track, e.g.
  • a step in a track in the Beat+Bassline Editor
It can also be accessed using the Show/Hide Piano-Roll button
in the main toolbar (shortcut F7, or Ctrl+3 in 1.3).
Notice that the Show/Hide Piano-Roll button opens the last edited segment. If you just started a new session (not to be confused with starting a new project), you must first connect Piano Roll to a segment to be able to use it. LMMS will not remember the last edited segment from one session to another.

3.8.1 Toolbar

Piano Roll toolbar
Many of the tools are similar to those found in the Song Editor, with several important additions listed (listed below). Playback and Record

Playback and record buttons
In addition to the Playback and Stop controls, there are two Record buttons which will record the notes you play on either:
  • an attached MIDI keyboard
  • your computer's keyboard
Either Click
to start recording without playing Song Editor/B&B tracks, or Click
to start recording with Song Editor/B&B tracks playing. Press
to stop playback or recording. The computer keyboard's spacebar can toggle between Playback and Stop in both playback and record modes. As of 1.3,
allows you to record notes one at a time. After you press stop, you will be able to see all the notes you played in the Piano Roll. These notes can be edited just like any other notes. Editing

Editing tools
Selected notes can be manipulated together. Some keyboard shortcuts include:
  • Moving the selection (left click + drag)
  • Copying the selection (Shift+left click + drag)
  • Transposing the selection (Shift/Ctrl + arrow keys). Shift will move the selection one beat/semitone at a time, while Ctrl will move the selection one octave/measure at a time.
The 4 editing modes (tools) are Draw, Erase, Select, and Detune. You can draw notes with Left click and erase with Right click. (These are explained in further detail in the Edit Notes subsection of this Section).
The Select mode tool allows you to select individual notes to create a group or "selection" of notes, which you can manipulate.
  • Rectangular Selection: use the Select tool to drag a rectangular area around some notes. When you release the mouse button, the selected notes will turn blue.
  • Individual Selection: use the Select tool to left-click on a note - it will turn blue
  • Add to (or remove from) Selection: you can add more notes to the current selection by holding down the Shift key (Shift+drag or Shift+click) and the additional notes will turn blue, too. If the notes are already selected, it will remove them from the selection.
  • Clear Selection: left-click on an empty space in the Piano Roll
Detuning (Note similarities to Automation Editor)
The Detune mode allows you to edit the frequency profile of an individual note. When you click on a note, an Automation Editor window opens for that note, and from here you can use your mouse to plot points for a Detune profile graph, this profile will be used to alter the final pitch of the edited note when played. Notice that in Piano roll, edited notes will have green lines that reveal their Detune profile.
VST instruments cannot have per-note detuning. You may still detune the instrument as a whole from the Instrument Window's "PITCH" knob. Clipboard

Clipboard buttons
The Clipboard buttons allow you to cut, copy, and paste a selection, and the Delete key on the computer keyboard will delete the selected notes.
  • Click the Copy button (Ctrl+c) to copy the selected note(s) and place them in the clipboard. Shift+drag on the selected note(s) to duplicate - drag a copy of the selected note(s) away from the original(s). Playback Control

Playback buttons
These work the same as the playback controls in the Song Editor. To repatriate loops:
  • Set right loop-point: use right mouse button only
  • Set left loop-point: use right mouse button + Shift
  • (1.3 and later) Set both right/left loop-points: use right mouse button near desired loop-point
Hold Ctrl to place loop-points freely. Zoom

Zoom control
This works the same as in the Song Editor. The drop-down menu can be used to set horizontal zoom.
Vertical Zoom Control
As of 1.3, vertical zooming is now avaliable in the Song editor. Quantization

Quantization control
The Quantization can be set using drop-down menu, this allows you to set the minimum resolution for manipulating note length using that fraction of a bar, when using both Draw mode and Record. For example, if you set the Quantization to 1/1 , you'll only be able to place notes at the start of a whole bar, and you'll only be able to adjust their length in 1-bar increments. If you set the Quantization to 1/16, you'll only be able to place notes at 1/16 intervals, and you'll only be able to adjust their length in 1/16 intervals. So on and so forth.
snaps notes to the nearest division (set by Quantization) in the Piano Roll. Tools

As of 1.3, Tools are new avaliable in a dropdown menu next to
  • Glue (Shift+G): combines two notes if they are right next to each other and on the same pitch.
Glue Tool Edit Notes Draw and Move Notes

Use the Draw mode tool to place notes in the Piano Roll. As you hover your mouse or move a note in the work area, a gray horizontal line will track the vertical position of your mouse. This can help you see the pitch of the note you're placing by allowing you to track back to the Piano Keys.
  • Left-click to place a note, or if a chord is selected:
    • Place the notes of the chord with current note as the root note
    • Shift+left-click to place notes in arpeggio mode (this will only duplicate notes onto themselves if no chord is selected)
  • Hover over the center of a note until a four headed arrow appears then:
    • Drag to move the note(s) either left/right in time or up/down in pitch. The note(s) will snap to the nearest time increment as set in the Quantization drop-down menu.
    • Alt+drag to move the note(s) either left/right in time or up/down in pitch, but without snapping to the nearest time increment. Instead, the note(s) will "free-drag" and snap to the nearest 1/192 time increment (max Quantization in LMMS).
  • Hover over the right end of the note until a two headed arrow appears, then
    • Drag the end of a note to the left/right to change the length of the note(s) in accordance to the current selected quantization.
    • Alt+drag the end of a note to the left/right to change the length of the note(s). The right end of the note(s) will "free-drag" and snap to the nearest 1/192 time increment, i.e. max Quantization
Holding down the Ctrl key in Draw mode converts the mouse cursor to the Select mode tool, and it returns to the Draw mode on release. Erase notes

There are 3 ways to erase notes:
  • Use the Erase mode tool to delete notes: (both left and right-click)
  • Right-click to delete notes in Draw mode
  • To delete multiple notes, use the Select mode tool (or Ctrl+click and drag) and press delete Default Note Length

Note length control
The Default note length setting (in bars) can be set using a drop-down menu. This sets the default length of notes made when you click in the Piano Roll with the Draw mode tool. You can choose either between a specified note length, or that the next note will be the same length as the last drawn note. As soon as you have established a perfect note-length and position, you will normally like to use the setting "last note".

3.8.2 Note Volume and Panning

Individual note velocity
Click the Note Volume/Note Panning button below the piano keys to toggle between the Note Volume and Note Panning editor. Velocity is shown as a vertical green bar below the note in the Note Volume editor. You can change the velocity of each note by clicking on the desired value above/below the current value. The color of the note will brighten with increased velocity and dim with decreased velocity.
If you are using a Velocity-Sensitive Midi keyboard, the velocity of each note will be set automatically when using Record. Also note that Velocity may affect more than just Volume, depending on the instrument.
Individual note panning
Pan is the ratio of the note volume that is transmitted out the right stereo channel versus the left stereo channel. Pan is shown as a vertical green bar below the note in the Note Pan editor. You can set the Pan for each note by clicking on the desired value above/below the current value. The color of the note will darken on one side depending on the strength/direction of the Pan (Right: Bottom will darken, Left: Top will darken).

3.8.3 Piano Keys

Piano keys
You can vertically scroll the Piano Roll using either the scroll bar on the right side of the window or the scroll wheel on your mouse (Holding Ctrl allows you to scroll horizontally). Left-click on any piano key (or or press a key on a connected midi controller) to hear the corresponding note. You will also hear any noteblock that is Left-Clicked from within the Piano Roll.
Your Keyboard can be used to play notes in the Piano Roll.
You can mark all whole notes with their appropriate alphabetic notation (This option is found in the General Settings page as "Enable note labels in Piano roll").
Piano Keys with note labels enabled
You can also mark individual notes, chords and scales. All these options are available as items in a context menu, by right-clicking anywhere on the Piano Keys. The piano key you open the context menu impacts what notes are affected by its options.
From this context menu you are able to:
  • mark scales, chords, corresponding octave semitones, and semitones.
  • unmark corresponding octave semitones and semitones, or unmark all notes.
  • select all corresponding octave semitones.
C major marked on Piano Roll
To mark/unmark Scales/Chords, you first need to select the type of scale/chord from the two rightmost drop-down menus found in the toolbar.
Chords/Scales are marked from their root notes/1st scale degree, respectively.