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IDProjectCategoryView StatusLast Update
0008342ardourotherpublic2021-09-29 21:15
Reporterunfa Assigned To 
Status newResolutionopen 
PlatformArchOSLinuxOS Version(any)
Product Version6.2 
Summary0008342: Optimize Ardour's defaults for MIDI editing
DescriptionThere's two things I *always* have to change in a fresh Ardour installation before I can do any work with MIDI:

1. Preferences > "Sound MIDI notes as thy are being selected in the editor"
2. Session > Properties > "MIDI copies are independent"

Please - make these things enabled by default in a new Ardour installation. I don't see a reason to have them off.

1. Editing any MIDI when you can't hear what the notes you touch are is like doing graphic design with your monitor off. Ain't gonna work :D

2. Having all MIDI copies linked by default is in my opinion a trap for new users who make a beat, copy it a few times and then change one of the copies to make a drum fill, and they find that their beat is now all drum fills. The MIDI region linking seems like a nice feature on paper, but in practice it's always getting in my way, rather than help me with anything. I think that if it'd get some proper visual indication (a chainlink icon on linked MIDI region copies, highlighting linked copies when you select one of them etc.) and tools to quickly link/unlink selected regions - it could become very useful, but in the current state it's just a trap for someone who doesn't know there's a feature like that.

I'm proposing these changes as I'm writing a MIDI tutorial for Ardour and these are the two things I'm gonna tell everyone to change right away, I thought we could optimize a new user experience a bit by changing the defaults.

What do you think?

  Users sponsoring this issue
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2021-09-17 16:38: viktorsmari (US$ 25)
  Users sponsoring this issue (Total Sponsorship = US$ 25)


related to 0007842 new Visually discriminate MIDI regions that are linked copies to avoid user confusion 
related to 0007259 new Different color for linked and unlinked midi regions 
related to 0007107 acknowledged Make it easier to create unlinked MIDI region copies 
related to 0006083 new Visual indication that midi patterns are linked 



2020-07-29 19:30

reporter   ~0024853

Just my 5 cents.

No 1. This can get annoying in some situations. You can assign this to a keyboard shortcut and turn it on and off when needed. Window / Keyboard Shortcuts / Editor / Sound Selected Midi Notes.

No 2: I've been bitten by this a couple of times. Imho it would be better if regions were individual by default and you got to choose when copying regions if they are individual or not. You may want most of drum patterns to be instances of the same copy but not necessarily regions for other midi instruments. However I have learned to live with the current default, although I sometimes forget and find out later my edit was done on many regions and I need to redo the thing.


2020-07-30 06:06

administrator   ~0024854

I have no strong opinion about (1). Except when you select a lot of notes simultaneously this can lead to a loud, speaker-blasting noise. and should that happen our current excuse is that "you asked for it".

As for (2). Once regions are independent, they will irreversibly remain so. So this is a sane default.
Users who record live MIDI, don't usually copy regions, and users who make pattern based music or use drum-patterns do want copied to be linked (and only un-link on individual basis). It's not a feature on paper as you suggest, but essential for pattern based music. So this seems a sane default. There is already feature request to indicate linked copies in the tracker, but it's not trivial to implement.


2020-07-30 07:52

reporter   ~0024855

1. Maybe the amount of notes played at once could be limited with a preference and a low default setting could be used to prevent the earrape? I guess 6 notes at once should usually suffice even for complex chords.

2. My music is pretty much all pattern-based, but after trying to use linked duplicates as being on by default I've had to disable them due to lack of control and visual feedback.

I was unable to remember which regions are linked, and unlinking them requires a lot of menu-diving, unless the user sets a custom shortcut for himself.

So far I've encountered many new users asking about this, being confused, and so far no one I talked to seemed to be using this feature.

I've created a simple Mastodon poll to hopefully get some numbers:


2020-07-30 08:33

reporter   ~0024856

Just for the record: linked regions is a nice useful feature. When I'm writing a song recording in Ardour I start with a simple drum pattern that is repeating all through the song. I use linked regions here. When I've finalized the structure of the song and recorded in guitars, bass and vocals I start to tweak the drums here and there adding fills and changing drum patterns in some parts of the song. This is where I need to use unlinked regions. If I now want to make a change to the original drum pattern across the song it's easy as the change gets copied into every linked region.

I can also see unfa's use case and agree that the default is not optimal now. I think the preference is in wrong place, since it's a session preference and you need to change it every time you create a new session. The setting should perhaps be global, since a user probably may prefer not to use linked regions ever. Or maybe the options needs to be remembered by Ardour, so the user would not need to change it every time after creating a session.


2020-07-30 08:39

administrator   ~0024857

Last edited: 2020-07-30 08:48

> I've created a simple Mastodon poll to hopefully get some numbers:

Please don't. Ardour is not a democracy, nor design by committee.

Good arguments and constructive criticism are preferable, and those are, alas, usually only provided by a minority.


2020-07-30 08:45

administrator   ~0024858

To be clear: Preferences are only used for session independent settings (studio setup, hardware, system specifics, etc). Monitoring is part of the preferences (do you have a control room, or not).

(2) is intentionally **NOT** a preference but a session-property. You may have one session where you extensively use linked regions patterns and another where you don't.
You can however save default session props that are used for new sessions.


2020-07-30 08:51

reporter   ~0024859

"You can however save default session props that are used for new sessions".

I can't believe I have not noticed the big "Use these settings as default" button on the bottom of the Session Properties window in all these years of using Ardour. The button blends to the background quite effectively, maybe it should be of different color from the background to pop up a little:) Thanks for pointing this out, there is a Session Setting I've been changing every time after creating a new session and now I don't have to :)


2020-07-30 09:10

reporter   ~0024860

> Please don't. Ardour is not a democracy, nor design by committee.
Well, so far the poll seems to be pretty uniform. I guess that doesn't matter though.

> Good arguments and constructive criticism are preferable
Here you go:

I think without visual feedback and usability improvements linked duplicates are mighty confusing and are bound to cause data loss when a user forgets a duplicate is linked somewhere and overwrites something in his project only to find out minutes later when it's far gone.

This happened to me a few times - so I've learned to *always disable this feature and save my defaults right away*. Always. And I suspect almost everyone who uses MIDI in Ardour goes through the same experience at some point. As improving the feature is not an easy task, I think it'd benefit the grand majority of users to have linked duplicates off by default.
The feature is simply half-baked right now.


2020-07-30 10:04

administrator   ~0024861

Here's another idea: The first time setup dialog could offer a choice which defaults to use. The classical setup or some more unfa-like preferences.

Then again, I like your suggestion to tell users to actively disable these settings, when they want a workflow like you prefer. That raises awareness that linked regions exist and they have to acknowledge that be able to use linked pattern regions by actively opting out.


2020-07-30 10:25

reporter   ~0024862

x42: I think the first run wizard question could be a nice thing - it'd let users disable this easily if they know they don't want it, or (hopefully) put in their minds that there's something like this and when they experience problems, they may remember to seek some MIDI settings (however I think people mostly search for it in Preferences, not Session Properties - I know I wasn't able to find it at first).

Maybe an information where to find this setting to change it later would be a good idea.

I'll keep the warning about this in my tutorial - maybe I can also include a part about using the feature to help users decide if they want it on.
I don't want to force my workflow on people, though I'm obviously biased towards it.

I've got some feedback on YouTube (attached screenshot).
Screenshot_20200730_122100.png (70,534 bytes)   
Screenshot_20200730_122100.png (70,534 bytes)   


2020-07-31 12:49

reporter   ~0024874

I just want to add an idea to the conversation.

A user may want to make a global decision about linked and unlinked regions. But one may also want to duplicate both linked and unlinked regions in the same session.

Imho the global default is only one half of the discussion, region duplication is the other. One should be able to choose between duplicating linked or unliked regions also. Could it be possible to add the possibility to choose between these in the multi - duplicate window ? Imho a single region duplication could just follow the global setting.

Thoughts ?


2020-07-31 13:07

reporter   ~0024875

I think it'd be great to have an option to choose linked or non-linked duplicates individually, though I think without visual indication it's not going to be of much use.

More comments on YouTube under my post here:

The relevant ones so far:

> [ Iurie ] (Geonkick developer)
> 6 hours ago (edited)
> Linked for me creates only problem most of the time. It should be unlinked and an option to select and link if there is a need, copy as linked etc.

> [ DanVideo ]
> 1 day ago
> What is missing is a shortcut for copying clip linked/unlinked and a clear sign of what is linked and what is not.

> [ QuotePilgrim ]
> 22 hours ago (edited)
> You shouldn't be asking if people are using the feature, that's not going to answer your real question, which is if they think it should be enabled by default.
> The way you phrased your question, people who use the feature but don't think it should be enabled by default are forced to answer yes. If there are many such people, you'll come to the conclusion that the feature should be enabled by default, even though that wouldn't be the case.

> [ Tim Hawthorn ] (an Ardour beginner)
> 22 hours ago
> That threw me to start with and I'm still getting used to it. For the way I work I'd prefer it disabled by default.

> [ PastelComGini ]
> 20 hours ago
> It shouldn't be enabled by default.


2020-07-31 18:27

reporter   ~0024877

How about a check box in the duplicate dialogue? "Linked copies? [ ]" Maybe add a little chain icon to linked regions and it lists the links when you hover over it?


2021-08-10 09:37

viewer   ~0026099

When I'm writing a song recording in Ardour I start with a simple drum pattern that is repeating all through the song. I use linked regions here. When I've finalized the structure of the song and recorded in guitars, bass and vocals I start to tweak the drums here and there adding fills and changing drum patterns in some parts of the song. See here: ?


2021-08-18 21:41

reporter   ~0026115

My regions are linked.. I'd say 70-80% of the time. Ardour should be able to create (un)linked regions. 2 shortcut Ctrl+d -> linked, ctrl+xx ->unlinked. There should be a marker on the linked regions, like a small anchor..


2021-09-17 16:48

reporter   ~0026141

I agree with unfa's default recommendations.

I installed Ardour yesterday and I made a bass track with midi. Then I copied that track to a drum track and started editing the drums.
Moments later I found out I was editing both tracks at the same time, because the MIDI regions were linked.

As many have said here and on the forum, I believe that the default should be unlinked.

If you copy a region to a new track, you should be expecting a copy, not the same region.


2021-09-17 16:59

reporter   ~0026142

Sorry I published my previous note too soon and did not figure out how to edit the note.
I added a screenshot from Bitwig, showing how the cursor indicates if you are making a looped region.

Might be useful instead of copy pasting a region on the same track, when the goal is to use a linked region.


2021-09-29 21:15

reporter   ~0026171

I have no preferences for N.1. Personally I find it's fine as it is, even if I always enable it.

I got trapped for N.2. I didn't used linked copies for now.

Issue History

Date Modified Username Field Change
2020-07-29 17:05 unfa New Issue
2020-07-29 17:05 unfa Tag Attached: Midi
2020-07-29 19:30 mhartzel Note Added: 0024853
2020-07-30 06:06 x42 Note Added: 0024854
2020-07-30 07:52 unfa Note Added: 0024855
2020-07-30 08:33 mhartzel Note Added: 0024856
2020-07-30 08:39 x42 Note Added: 0024857
2020-07-30 08:45 x42 Note Added: 0024858
2020-07-30 08:48 x42 Note Edited: 0024857
2020-07-30 08:50 x42 Relationship added related to 0007842
2020-07-30 08:51 x42 Relationship added related to 0007259
2020-07-30 08:51 x42 Relationship added related to 0007107
2020-07-30 08:51 mhartzel Note Added: 0024859
2020-07-30 08:52 x42 Relationship added related to 0006083
2020-07-30 09:10 unfa Note Added: 0024860
2020-07-30 10:04 x42 Note Added: 0024861
2020-07-30 10:25 unfa File Added: Screenshot_20200730_122100.png
2020-07-30 10:25 unfa Note Added: 0024862
2020-07-31 12:49 mhartzel Note Added: 0024874
2020-07-31 13:07 unfa Note Added: 0024875
2020-07-31 18:27 adam Note Added: 0024877
2021-08-10 09:37 Madmardigan Note Added: 0026099
2021-08-18 21:41 Daniele1971 Note Added: 0026115
2021-09-17 16:38 viktorsmari Sponsorship Added viktorsmari: US$ 25
2021-09-17 16:38 viktorsmari Sponsorship Total 0 => 25
2021-09-17 16:48 viktorsmari File Added: 2021-09-17-184800_399x240_scrot.png
2021-09-17 16:48 viktorsmari Note Added: 0026141
2021-09-17 16:59 viktorsmari Note Added: 0026142
2021-09-29 21:15 xs Note Added: 0026171