Inserting and Working with Arranger Clips
Now that we have met the Browser Panel, we will put it to use as a source for clips.
While material from several of the Browser Panel tabs can be inserted as clips, we will demonstrate with something from the Clips tab.
To insert a clip on an Arranger track: click and drag the clip from the Browser Panel to the desired timeline position on the appropriate track.
Since we are dragging a note clip, it made the most sense to place it on a note track, but we could have dragged it to any track. As the concept of hybrid tracks may have indicated, Bitwig Studio is rather free with the idea of track types.
If you drag a note clip to an empty audio track, the track will be converted to an instrument track. If you drag a note to an occupied audio track, the track will be converted to a hybrid track. In both cases, the converse is true as well.
So inserting clips from the browser is as simple as dragging them into the Arranger Timeline.
To insert a clip on a brand new Arranger track: click and drag the clip from the Browser Panel to the desired timeline position between existing tracks.
This method of inserting clips will work from any Browser tab whose contents can be placed on tracks. And the same method will work when dragging appropriate files from your file manager application (i.e., File Explorer on Windows, Finder on Mac, etc.) directly onto the tracks.
Moving Clips and Snap Settings
To move a clip within the Arranger Timeline Panel: click and drag the clip with the mouse.
The result will be similar to when the clip was originally inserted from the Browser Panel. But also note that as you begin dragging the clip to move it, a status message appears in the window footer with several additional options. (This is shown in the image above; note that the order of options varies by platform, and your screen may not match the sequence in this image.)
Do look for status messages whenever you are clicking and dragging items in Bitwig Studio. This document will not necessarily cover all variations that are shown within the program.
The first option — that adding CTRL (ALT on Mac) while dragging a selection toggles between moving and copying — was mentioned in a previous chapter.
The second option is new and indicates that SHIFT temporarily inverts the snapping behavior, offering to
Disable it when it is currently enabled, and vice versa. To know the current setting, we should examine the bottom right corner of the Arranger Timeline Panel.
Most of these options live on the bottom right of any timeline editor. In the above image, the enabled icon to the right of
1/16 shows arrows coming from the left and right toward a center line (>|<, more or less). This toggle shows that snapping is currently enabled for this editor.
Whether and how clips conform to the beat grid is governed by the more detailed snap settings, which are found by clicking on the beat grid settings menu, which is that
1/16 that we saw above.
Found under the Snap To header, three independent options determine which elements clips will or will not snap to as you drag them across time. As each option only provides additional anchor points, the options have no effect on one other.
The Grid option causes clips to snap to the current beat grid.
The Grid Offset option uses the current beat grid resolution, but it thinks of a grid in relation to the clip's current start time. So if the clip does not start exactly on the beat grid, the amount that the clip is offset will be preserved when it is moved.
The Events option causes clips to snap to the start and end of other clips within the Arrangement Timeline.
If only one of these options is enabled, only that snapping rule applies. If multiple options are enabled, clips will momentarily snap into place for each and every rule that applies.
These settings will apply not just to moving clips, but to any other editing action in the panel. We will touch upon some of those actions in a moment, but one other option is worth mentioning here.
In the above image, note the automation follow button, to the left of the beat grid settings menu. Toggling this function determines whether automation is moved along with clips or not. So if you are moving clips around, be sure to check the status of this button.
Adjusting Clip Lengths
To demonstrate working with the Bitwig Studio's various tools in the Arranger Timeline Panel, we will start with the task of removing the second half of a clip.
To shorten an Arranger clip: mouse over the top right edge of the clip so that a half-bracket cursor appears. Then click and drag to the left.
Other ways to shorten an Arranger clip include:
With the Time Selection tool, click and drag over the time area that should be removed. Then clear the time by pressing DELETE or BACKSPACE.
With the Eraser tool, click and drag over the portion of the clip to be removed.
With the Knife tool, click the position where the clip should be separated. Once the clip is divided, select and delete — DELETE or BACKSPACE — the unwanted clip.
All of these methods achieve the same effect. And while it may seem like the second half of our clip is now gone forever, this is not the case. Bitwig Studio still remembers the full contents of our clip in case we need it back later.
To lengthen an Arranger clip: mouse over the top right edge of the clip so that a half-bracket cursor appears. Then click and drag to the right.
Bitwig Studio acts rather nondestructively, internally preserving data whenever practicable. But you can always ask the program to stop considering data that is not currently visible by using the consolidate function, which essentially solidifies a clip for various purposes.
To remove unseen data from a clip: right-click the clip and then choose from the context menu.
After consolidating the previous clip, extending it would now work differently.
To consolidate multiple clips: select all of the clips. Then right-click one of the clips and choose from the context menu.
For all of the above purposes, the consolidate function is also available by selecting CTRL+J ( CMD+J on Mac).→ or by pressing
Free Content Scaling
While the normal bracket options (shown above) allow for growing or contracting clips based on their underlying content, clips can also be freely scaled or stretched. And this concept is also the same for note and audio events as well.
To freely scale a clip: hold ALT and then click and drag from the left or right edge of the clip.
If the right edge is dragged, then the left edge of the clip will be the anchor for scaling, and vice versa.
To freely scale multiple clips: with multiple clips selected, hold ALT, and then click and drag from the left or right edge of the clip.
Note that when scaling from the edge of a clip, all selected clips are treated individually and are scaled in their original place.
To freely scale time: with a time selection made, hold ALT and then click and drag from the left or right boundary of the selection. This will stretch the entire time, shifting any clips that are not lined up with the time selection's start or end.
Using a time selection allows anything selected to be scaled, including automation and even partial clips or events.
Slicing and Quick Slice
As shown earlier in passing, the Knife tool can be used to slice clips. It can be used in the same fashion to slice notes and audio events. And for any of these types of objects, these is also a Quick Slice function, which allows making multiple cuts with one gesture when the Knife tool is selected.
To put successive cuts in a clip, audio event, or note: hold ALT, and then click at the position of the first cut and drag to the position of the last cut.
The current beat grid value (
1/4 notes, above) will set the distance between cuts and will snap the position of the first cut onto the beat grid. You may sometimes need to freely place (without snapping) the position of the first cut. That is also possible.
To put successive cuts in a clip, audio event, or note without snapping: hold SHIFT+ALT and click, to initiate Quick Slice mode without quantization. Then drag either to the right or left to insert successive cuts.
Sliding Arranger Clip Content
The content of one or multiple clips can also be shifted left and right from the Arranger Timeline Panel. Sliding content in this fashion preserves the boundaries of each clip, simply sliding the contained note or audio events (including any associated expressions) earlier or later in time.
To slide the content of a clip: mouse over the top half of the waveform. Then CTRL-click ( CMD+ALT -click on Mac) and drag horizontally.
You can optionally add the SHIFT key while dragging to toggle the snapping behavior.
Applying Fades and Crossfades to Audio
While most functions in this chapter are applicable to both note and audio clips, the options to fade in, fade out, and crossfade are only relevant to audio clips.
To create a fade in: mouse over the middle of the clip's left edge, at the top of the waveform display. Once a white triangle appears, click and drag the triangle toward the center of the clip. Release the mouse where you would like the fade to end.
Fade outs can be created in the same way by mousing over a clip's right edge.
Additionally, pre-fades can be created on audio clips. Pre-fades preserve your original clip start at full amplitude, fading in any earlier audio material before your original clip edit.
To create a pre-fade: mouse over the middle of the clip's left edge, at the top of the waveform display. Once a white triangle appears, click and drag the triangle to the left of the clip. Release the mouse where you would like the pre-fade to end.
Creating a crossfade requires audio clips that are overlapping and have material extending beyond their own boundaries.
To create a crossfade: mouse over the middle of the intersection of the clips, at the top of the waveform display. Once two white triangles appear, click the triangle where you would like the crossfade to boundary to be, and then drag across the clips' border. Release the mouse where you would like the boundary of the crossfade to be.
That is a bit of a mouthful so let's take a moment unpack the process.
If you click on a clip's edge and drag toward its center, you are creating a fade in or fade out for that single clip. So creating a crossfade requires clicking on one of the overlapping clips and then dragging the fade past its boundary and onto the other one.
If you start by clicking in clip 1 and then drag across to clip 2, the crossfade will begin where the boundary was and will end wherever you release the mouse. If you start by clicking in clip 2 and then drag across to clip 1, the crossfade will end where the boundary was and will end wherever you release the mouse.
To adjust the boundaries of any fade: mouse over the top portion of a fade so that its white triangle(s) appears, and then click and drag to move the fade's boundary relatively.
Note that for a crossfade, dragging an inner boundary will select both curves (shown as highlighted in white) and let you adjust them together. Dragging an outer boundary will let you adjust the closest fade by itself.
To adjust the slope of a fade: mouse over the fade's curve, and then click and drag the mouse up or down.
If may be difficult to get the curvature cursor to appear if your track height is small. If you are working a good amount with fades and their curves, you should make your track's height larger than the minimum by clicking and dragging the bottom of the track header.
Note again that with a crossfade, you can either mouse over both fade curves to manipulate them in tandem, or you can adjust each fade by itself.
To shift an entire crossfade: mouse over the bottom of the crossfade, and then click and drag backward or forward in time.
As clips are intended to be the smallest practical musical idea, you may want to loop clips.
To loop an Arranger clip: mouse over the bottom right edge of the clip so that a half-bracket cursor appears with a looping oval. Then click and drag to the right.
After you drag the clip beyond its full length, additional copies will be generated. The first copy starts with a dashed vertical line, marking the loop length being used. All subsequent repetitions of the loop are marked with dotted vertical lines. Once the clip is looping, you can do the same using any of the "bracket" tools, either at the end or beginning of the clip.
To adjust the loop length of an Arranger clip: mouse over the clip's first repeat marker (the dashed vertical line) so that an I-beam cursor appears with a looping oval. Then click and drag in either direction.
The length of the clip itself remains the same while the section of the clip that loops — and accordingly the number of repetitions — has changed.
Meta Clips and Group Tracks in the Arranger
When working with a group track, the contents of its enclosed tracks are summarized in the Arranger Timeline. When no clips within the group track are overlapping, these meta clips are essentially direct representatives of their contained clips.
When the enclosed track do have overlapping clips, affected meta clips adapt to show colorized summaries of the track contents.
Regardless of the display style, each meta clip acts as an alias of the clip (or clips) that they represent. As with any regular Arranger clip, meta clips can be moved by dragging and dropping, they can be cut or copied or pasted in the normal ways, they can be deleted, and they can even be split with the Knife tool. Taking any of these actions on meta clips directly affect the clips that they represent.
When working with group tracks, a project navigation menu appears at the top of the Arranger Timeline Panel within the Arrange View.
Clicking on this menu exposes a hierarchy of the current project, including the top level of the Arranger Timeline Panel displays.and all group tracks that are present. Selecting one of these group tracks changes the context which the
To the right of the project navigation menu, a "left turn" arrow has now appeared. Clicking this arrow navigates upward into the parent level of the current context. It is also worth noting that the context selected in the Arranger Timeline Panel is preserved if you switch to the Mixer Panel.
Finally, back in the Arranger Timeline Panel, you can toggle between viewing each group track's meta clips or a representation of the group track's master track.
To view the contents of the group track's internal master track: right-click on the group track's header, and then select from the context menu.
You can switch back to displaying the meta clips by calling up that same context menu and then selecting.
The Inspector Panel on Arranger Clips
While the Arranger Timeline is a convenient, graphical view for working with the length and loop settings of a clip, all of those mouse movements are really just triggering parameter changes in the Inspector Panel. By investigating these parameters (along with the associated functions available in the menu), we will get a clearer understanding of what is possible in Bitwig Studio in general and the Arranger in particular.
We will start by focusing the Inspector Panel on the same clip looping example we just finished.
For the time being, we are just paying attention to the parameters in the ARRANGER CLIP portion of the Inspector Panel. We have already seen the name and color options for tracks (see Track Names and Colors). The remaining sections offer additional parameters.
Signature sets the time signature of the selected clip. Along with an optional tick setting (see Display Section), this reflects how the clip is displayed for editing.
Time (Position) Section
These settings relate to the musical time or position of the selected clip:
Time sets the start of the clip in the Arranger Timeline. Adjusting this position will simply move the clip exactly as it exists, the same as clicking and dragging the entire clip in the Arranger.
Length sets the duration of the clip in the Arranger Timeline. Adjusting this duration will simply lengthen or shorten the clip, the same as using the bracket cursor to adjust the right edge of the clip.
Offset preserves the position and length of the clip, but shifts its internal content by the set amount. This is the same as using the bracket cursor to move the left edge of the clip forward in time.
Taking the previous image as an example, I could increase the Time from
2.2.1.00. The entire clip is now happening a quarter note later.
But if I wanted the clip to stay in time and simply skip the first beat it was playing, I would increase the Offset from
1.1.1.00(no offset) to
Note that the first beat is included in subsequent loops.
These settings relate to the looping of the selected clip:
Loop toggles whether or not the clip loops with the Arranger. When disabled, the clip will play only once. If the size of the clip is longer than its contents, the later portion of the clip will be empty.
If Loop is off, the other settings here are ignored.
Start is the looping equivalent of the Offset parameter, keeping the clip contents in their place but delaying the point at which each loop repetition starts.
Taking the same example from above, I could increase the Start from
1.1.1.00(no loop offset) to
1.2.1.00, causing each one-bar loop to end in the same place but start a quarter note late.
Length sets the duration of the clip that is being repeated. This is the same as using the I-beam cursor with a looping oval to graphically adjust the loop length.
As stated earlier, fade actions and parameters apply only to audio clips. So these twin sets of parameters represent controls for any Fade In and Fade Out applied to the selected audio clip. Taken from top to bottom:
The musical time value represents the length of the fade. If it is set to zero (
0.0.0.00), then no fade is applied regardless of the other settings.
The buttons allow toggling the fade's curvature type between a standard linear curve and an S-curve, respectively.
The level value sets the amplitude at the fade's midpoint, effectively shaping the fade's curve.
As shown earlier in the Arranger, crossfades are really comprised of two separate fades (a fade out from the first clip, and a fade in on the second). As such, their settings can be coordinated or handled completely independently.
Mute toggles whether or not the selected clip is disabled on playback. This is in contrast to the track mute button, which disables all contents of the track.
These settings relate to the groove of the selected clip:
Shuffle toggles whether or not the Global Groove parameters are applied to the clip. If Shuffle is off, the other setting here is ignored.
Accent sets the percent of the Global Groove's accent Amount that should be applied to this clip.
For example, if the Global Groove's accent Amount is set to
100%(the default setting) and the clip's Accent setting is at
30%, then the clip will apply an accent at 30% strength (30% of 100%).
Or if the Global Groove's accent Amount is set to
50%(the default setting) and the clip's Accent setting is at
50%,then the clip will apply an accent at 25% strength (50% of 50%).
Since this is a scaling function, either parameter being set to zero (
0%) results in no accent.
When "random" numbers are being generated, the seed shapes the sequence that follows. When that seed is randomly selected, so are the values produced. This is the default behavior for clips in Bitwig.
The die on the left is selected, reading out as
Random because a new seed is picked each time the clip begins playing. But if the same seed value is used each time, then playing the clip will produce the same series of numbers — and sounds .
To generate a Seed value for a clip: click on the right side of the Seed field (where
Random showed in the picture above).
The die is deselected, and a visualization of the current Seed value is shown. You can now play the clip and hear the pattern that this seed produces for any randomized elements. If you like the results, keep it; the same result will be produced when you trigger the clip again.
Alternatively, you could print these randomized elements by using the Consolidate). Or to choose what is made permanent and generate a new, longer clip, you could use the Launcher's function (see Expand, from the Clip Launcher).function (see
To generate a new Seed value for a clip: click on the right side of the Seed field again (where the current value is visualized in the last picture).
Different seed, different pattern on playback. You can also right-click on the right side of the field to copy the current seed value or paste in one from another clip.
And to return to randomized playback, simply click the die icon.
One technical detail. A defined Seed value makes the full sequence repeatable, including all additional loop cycles that follow. So the results are not identical for every loop, but rather the values picked for each loop are reproducible.
To borrow the idea of a die, if the clip's set Seed produces a
- 0. Welcome to Bitwig Studio
- 1. Bitwig Studio Concepts
- 2. Anatomy of the Bitwig Studio Window
- 3. The Arrange View and Tracks
- 4. Arranger Clips and the Browser Panel
- The Browser Panel
- Inserting and Working with Arranger Clips
- Playing Back the Arranger
- Recording Clips
- 5. The Clip Launcher
- 6. The Mix View
- 7. Introduction to Devices
- 8. Automation
- 9. Working with Audio Events
- 10. Working with Note Events
- 11. Operators, for Animating Musical Sequences
- 12. Going Between Notes and Audio
- 13. Working with Projects and Exporting
- 14. MIDI Controllers
- 15. Advanced Device Concepts
- 16. Welcome to The Grid
- 17. Working on a Tablet Computer
- 18. Device Descriptions
- 19. Credits