Step Entry

Entering notes in Ardour can be done by using a connected MIDI device like a MIDI keyboard or pad controller, or by using the mouse. A third option, which provides for fine-grained control, precision and speed comes from using Ardour's Step Entry dialog.

Ardour's Step Entry dialog
Ardour's Step Entry dialog.

The step entry dialog is accessed by right-clicking on the (Rec-Enable) button of the MIDI track to be edited and selecting Step Entry from the menu that appears.

Step editing and recording MIDI via the track's MIDI port cannot happen simultaneously.

The dialog (closely modelled on Logic's) contains:

  • Chord entry switch (successive notes are stacked in a chord until it is released)
  • Note length selectors
  • Triplet toggle
  • Normal, single, double and triple dotted note selectors
  • Sustain button
  • Buttons to:
    • Insert a rest of the current selected note duration
    • Insert a rest of the current grid step size
    • Move back to the last inserted note
    • Move forward to the next beat, or bar
    • Move to the edit point
  • Dynamics controls from pianississimo to fortississimo
  • Channel selector
  • Explicit numerical velocity selector, for more precise control than the dynamics selectors offer
  • Octave selector
  • A full 10-octave virtual keyboard

Almost all actions in the step entry dialog can be driven directly from the keyboard, so that moving back and forth from the keyboard to the mouse is typically not necessary—even for complex data entry. The default key bindings are:

` (grave accent)Set octave 0
1 to 9Set octave 1 to 9
0Set octave 10
f1Set note length to whole
f2Set note length to half
f3Set note length to third
f4 to f8Set note length to quarter to sixtyfourth
aInsert C
wInsert C♯
sInsert D
eInsert D♯
dInsert E
fInsert F
tInsert F♯
gInsert G
yInsert G♯
hInsert A
uInsert A♯
jInsert B
tabInsert a one note length rest
tabInsert a one grid unit rest
backspaceMoves the cursor back one note length
zSet note velocity 𝆏𝆏𝆏
xSet note velocity 𝆏𝆏
cSet note velocity 𝆏
vSet note velocity 𝆐𝆏
bSet note velocity 𝆐𝆑
nSet note velocity 𝆑
mSet note velocity 𝆑𝆑
, (comma)Set note velocity 𝆑𝆑𝆑
Set next note velocity
Set prev note velocity
Set next note length
Set prev note length
'Toggle triplet
.Set single dotted
.Clear dotted
| (bar)Toggle chord