Audio to MIDI

Ableton Live 9, tutorial 4 

Audio to MIDI one of Live 9's flagship features. I think the younger crowd are going to love it. Whether old dogs will want to learn new tricks remains to be seen! Just dive in and experiment. You have 3 kinds:

  • Convert Harmony to new MIDI Track
  • Convert Melody to new MIDI Track
  • Convert Drums to new MIDI Track

You get these via a right click, along with Slice to new MIDI Track. You can do it on audio tracks, audio clips, and directly on audio in the browser. 

converting audio to midi in Ableton Live 9

You can select a specific region, and the command will just convert that bit. To do that, you need to do it in the Sample Editor of an audio track. If you do it on the actual track (in Arrange) you will convert the whole thing. You will need to warp it first. 

converting a section of audio to midi in Ableton Live 9

Convert Harmony is for polyphonic audio, Convert Melody is for monophonic material, and Convert Drums is guessed it. Convert Harmony gives you a piano to play your midi initially, Melody produces a synth for you. Drums ingeniously attempts to put some actual drums in the right place for you. You can also drag audio into pre-existing midi tracks to have the existing instrument you have there play it! Load up a drum rack kit and try dragging in some drum loops, it's great fun. 

wav drum loop converted to midi in Live 9

You can get some completely random results of course, which can be a good thing, as you mix in different audio to what was in the original for example. Some things will need tweaking, for instance if it gets confused by pitch bends, which it doesn't attempt to replicate. You'll have to automate a glide or bend yourself for that. 

Audio to MIDI takes transients and warp-markers in the audio clip into account. If there are notes missing in the MIDI created, check to see if a transient or warp marker is preset at that position in the audio file. If not, insert one and re-analyse.
This will often pick up notes that would otherwise be missing in the resulting MIDI. Inserting transients and markers tell to the algorithm to look harder at a certain location for note information. The same thing applies to Convert Drum. 

The analysis obviously relies on transient as well as pitch detection. With this in mind it makes sense to check they are all there, as mentioned above, but also are in the right place. You can still do it from the Browser to start with, and then tweak later. For an explanation of how to check and move the markers, see the tutorial on accurate groove extraction

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