Working With Regions

What Regions Are

Regions are the basic elements of editing and composing in Ardour. In most cases, a region represents a single contiguous section of one or more media files. Regions are defined by a fixed set of attributes:

  • the audio or MIDI source file(s) they represent,
  • an offset (the "start point") in the audio or MIDI file(s), and
  • a length.

When placed into a playlist, they gain additional attributes:

  • a position along the timeline, and
  • a layer.

There are other attributes as well, but they do not define the region. Things to know about regions:

Regions Are Cheap

By themselves, regions consume very little in terms of computer's resources. Each region requires a small amount of memory, and represents a rather small amount of CPU work if placed into an active track. So, multiplying regions creation whenever needed should not be much of an issue CPU wise.

Regions Are Not Files

Although a region can represent an entire audio file, they are never equivalent to an audio file. Most regions represent just parts of an audio file(s) on disk, and removing a region from a track has nothing to do with removing the audio file(s) from the disk (the Destroy operation, one of Ardour's few destructive operations, can affect this). Changing the length of a region has no effect on the audio file(s) on disk. Splitting and copying regions does not alter the audio file in any way, nor does it create new audio files (only recording, and the Export, Bounce and Reverse operations create new audio files).

Selecting regions

Pointing at a region and single-clicking it with the Grab tool selects that region. Multiple regions can be selected at the same time:

  • Ctrl-left-click adds individual regions to the selection.
  • Shift-left-click adds consecutive regions to the selection, Ardour considers all regions of the same track to the right from the currently selected track as consecutive regions.

Selection of multiple regions is always temporary and is not preserved once you click elsewhere or press Esc. To make such a selection permanent, create a group of regions in one of the following ways:

  • Press Ctrl+G
  • Use Region > Group Selected Regions in the main menu
  • Use Selected Regions > Group Selected Regions in the right-click menu.

To break a group of regions back into individual regions, do one of the following things:

  • Press Shift+Ctrl+G
  • Use Region > Ungroup Selected Regions in the main menu
  • Use Selected Regions > Ungroup Selected Regions in the right-click menu.

Region Operations

Selecting a region with a single-click makes it possible to perform various operations on it. These operations are mostly accessible from the main Region menu on top or from the right-click menu.

Some operations like editing fade in/out are accessible with just the mouse pointer.