Hi, this is Curtis from Musistic and today I’ll be showing you how to use the Step Input feature in Pro Tools.

In the early days of MIDI sequencing step recording was the only way to sequence MIDI data before real-time MIDI recording became available. This method treats MIDI information in a way closer to data entry instead of a performance. It allows for very intricate and precise sequencing that can go well beyond the skill of the performer.

We start by creating an instrument track and placing an instrument plugin in the first insert slot. Select or create your desired instrument patch.

Open the step input window by going to the Event menu, it is placed under this hierarchy:

Event > Event Operations > Step Input..

This brings up the Step Input window. Check the “Enable” check box and select the desired destination track to designate the track for step input recording.

Place your cursor on the timeline and click your desired timeline insertion point. Press a note on your MIDI keyboard and the note will be placed at that point on the timeline and the timeline insertion point will be moved to just after the note. Chords can be inserted by playing more than one note simultaneously. Continue doing this until your note sequence is complete.

There are multiple controls within the Step Input window.

From top to bottom:

  • Step Increment dictates how much space a note will take up, ranging from a whole note (semibreve) to a 1/64th note (hemidemisemiquaver), including dotted values.
  • Tuplets enable you to perform irregular note groupings such as triplets or quintuplets. This lets you determine how many notes you want to fit within a certain amount of notes from the step increment control.
  • Note length determines how long a note is as a percentage of the step increment value.

There are 2 velocity modes:

  1. Use Input Velocity assigns the input velocity of the keyboard from the keyboard to the inserted note.
  2. Set Velocity To allows you to manually input the desired velocity of the note upon insertion.

Enable Numeric Keypad Shortcuts allows people with a numeric keypad to efficiently control step input options directly from their numeric keypad. A chart of the assigned controls is available in the Pro Tools Reference Guide.

Undo Step erases the previously entered note and places the timeline insertion point back to where it was before the note was inserted.

Next Step moves the timeline insertion point forward based on the Step Increment value. This can be used to create rests and pauses.

Redo Step re-inserts a note that was previously erased by the Undo Step command.

Underneath each of the Step commands is a control that says . Clicking these controls allow you to assign a MIDI controller function to trigger each button. Once each of your controller’s control is assigned press the Enter button to commit the changes.

Happy data entry and sequencing!

Xpand 2 preset: Polysynths > 08 Techno Stadium