Recording MIDI with Qtractor

With sound tested and JACK running, I launched Qtractor and maximized its window.

My first step was to create and save the Qtractor session (even though I hadn’t recorded anything yet). From the File menu I selected Save As…, which displayed the Session window. I set Name to twinkle1 and appended /twinkle1 to the Directory path.

SessionI clicked OK, and then clicked OK again to create the new directory. I entered twinkle1 as the File name and clicked Save.

Save As

Recording a MIDI Track

From the Track menu, I selected Add Track…, which opened the Track window. I set Name to Bass and Type to MIDI. I left Channel at its default of 1 (that’s what my controller keyboard was set to).

TrackI clicked OK to close the Track window. (I could have first used the Plugins tab to select an instrument but I chose to use an alternative method.)

I opened the Mixer window using View > Windows > Mixer (it also has a toolbar button and a keyboard shortcut of F9). I “docked” the Mixer window by dragging it to the lower right corner of the screen and then dragging the top border of the Messages pane to be even with the top of the Mixer window.

Docked MixerIn the Mixer window I right-clicked the square area immediately beneath the track name Bass (the manual refers to this area as the “plugin inset”). I selected Add Plugin…, which opened the Plugins window. I checked the Activate checkbox in the lower left corner. I entered why in the search box and set the Plugin type drop-down menu to DSSI. The list then displayed WhySynth.PluginI selected WhySynth and clicked OK to close the Plugins window. WhySynth’s user interface then displayed. I selected program number 15, SpaceBass.WhySynthI closed the WhySynth window. (To re-open it, double-click the WhySynth plugin button in the plugin inset area of the Mixer).

On the Bass track in the Mixer I clicked the little R (Record) button. (My first thought was that I’d also need to click the monitor button but that doesn’t appear to be the case.)

Armed Mixer Channel

I then enabled MIDI input. It appears that this has to be done once for each new Session (project) and can’t be done until the first MIDI track has been added.

From the Track menu I selected Inputs, which displayed the Connections window. On the MIDI tab, I connected MIDI as follows: In the Readable Clients/Output Ports list (on the left) I selected my MIDI interface device. I then dragged that entry to the Qtractor entry in the Writeable Clients/Input Ports list (on the right) and released the mouse button. The window then displayed the selected output as connected to the selected input.

ConnectionsI closed the Connections window.

Qtractor has metronome options but they’re not enabled by default. For this session I didn’t use a metronome so my timing was a bit ragged (and didn’t line up with the bar lines).

I clicked the Record button in the transport (in the toolbar section). I then pressed the space bar to start recording (alternatively, I could have clicked the Play button in the transport).

I played a bass line for the first four bars of “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” (I’ll bet you didn’t see that coming). When done recording, I pressed space bar again. I then saved my valuable recording (from now on I won’t be mentioning when I save).

First Track RecordedI pressed the Backspace key to rewind to the beginning but in this context I could have used either the Backward or Rewind transport buttons. I then played the track and was surprised that it kept playing past the end. I went to the Transport menu and unchecked Continue Past End (there’s also a toolbar button to toggle that option).

The track was acceptable, so I turned off recording and monitoring for the Bass track.

Finishing Up

I created two more MIDI tracks, using the names Melody and Strings, respectively. Although they defaulted to MIDI channels 2 and 3, respectively, I didn’t have to change the channel on my MIDI controller keyboard. I used a separate instance of WhySynth for each of the additional tracks, using program numbers 40 (Bristol Mini 0) for Melody and 0 (String Thingy) for Strings.

With three tracks created, I mixed the project. Unfortunately, Qtractor doesn’t have a “render” feature for converting the mixed session to audio. Learning to render a project will be my next task.

2 thoughts on “Recording MIDI with Qtractor

  1. Hi, nice tuto 🙂
    I think a simple way to “render” on Qtractor is to record the output of the MIDI tracks on a new Audio track (making the appropriate connections).
    It has worked fine to me (with some sporadic issue if you forgot to mute the audio track in order to avoid an “infinite loop” 😉
    Best regards!

  2. Pingback: Getting Started with Qtractor | Making Music with Free Software

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