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Song Editor

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The Song Editor displays the structure of the song.
Song Editor default1.0.0.png

  • The left side of the window displays the instrument and beat/bassline tracks.
  • The right side of the window displays the actual content -The note-blocks, or segments of each track at each bar in the project.

Working with Segments

Anatomy of a track:

Each track has content in the form of segments or elements, often you will hear other users using the term 'blocks'.
Instrument pattern Song Editor1.0.0.png For Instrument Tracks, the display is a miniature piano roll.
Double-clicking on it will open the Piano Roll Editor window where you can add, delete, or modify individual notes.

Sample track pattern1.0.0.png For Sample Tracks, the display is a miniature waveform of the sample.
Double-clicking on it will open a File-Open dialog where you can choose a new sample for that element.
LMMS cant edit recorded sounds, nor can LMMS record sound!

BeatBassline pattern1.0.0.png For Beat/Bassline Tracks, the display is simply a coloured block/segment showing that the beat/bassline is active.
Double-clicking on it will open the Beat + Bassline Editor window where you can add, delete, or modify individual notes in the beat.

  • To create new segments, left-click in the track activity area within the bar where you want the segment to start. For instrument and sample tracks, this creates a blank area where you can put notes or samples. For beat/bassline tracks, this creates 1 (or more) bars filled with that particular Beat+Bassline as configured.
  • To move a segment, drag it by clicking and holding the segment. As it's dragged, the segment will snap to the start of any bar, but you can free drag (with a 1/64th resolution) by holding down the Ctrl key after you begin dragging (Ctrl+drag before you begin dragging initiates the "copy" procedure).
  • To copy a segment, hold the Ctrl key down before you begin dragging and then drag the copy to its new location. You can also right-click on the segment, select copy, left-click to create an empty segment where you want the copy to go, right-click and select paste. You can't copy segments of one track type to tracks of a different type. To copy again, the control key has to be released and re-pressed before the next drag operation.
  • To delete a segment, click it using the middle mouse button or right-click on it and select delete. Double-clicking on a block open the piano-roll or Beat&bass editor, so you can edit the segments contents.

Song Editor Toolbar

Song Editor toolbar1.0.0.png
The Song Editor window has a toolbar that allows you to control playback of the song, add new tracks, choose edit tools, customise the method of playback, and control the general view of the song.
Lets go through all the tools.

Editing Tools

Draw Mode Tool

Despite their different content, the ways of working with segments are mostly similar.
Edit draw1.0.0.png Most of the work in the Song-Editor is done using the Draw Mode tool.

  • left-click in an empty bar to add a segment
  • middle-click on a block to delete it
  • Ctrl+middle-click is a mute/unmute toggle for that block
  • right-click on a segment to get a context menu
  • left-drag on a segment to move it (block will snap to bar boundaries)
  • Ctrl key after left-drag begins on a segment to move it freely (won't snap to bar boundaries)
  • Ctrl key before left-drag begins on a segment to copy it
  • When you hover your mouse over the right end of a Beat&bass-segment, the mouse cursor becomes a double-headed arrow so you can drag the end of the Beat&bass-segment to make it extend over more or fewer bars - Only Beat&bass-segments can be dragged to a new length!
    • left-drag = the segment extension/retraction snaps to bar boundaries
    • Ctrl+left-drag = the segment extension/retraction is free (does not snap to bar boundaries)

Edit Mode Tool

Edit select.png The Edit Mode tool - also known as the selection tool - allows you to drag a rectangular selection box that selects multiple segments. You can then handle the selection as a group.
Selected segments change their color to distinct them from un-selected segments

  • Ctrl+left-click on any segment you want to remove from the selection group, add one non-selected to the group
  • Drag horizontally on any selected segment to move the selection group:
    • Left-drag = movement where segments snap to bar boundaries
    • Alt+left-drag = free movement (segments don't snap to bar boundaries)
  • Click on any empty bar to clear the selection from the selected segments

Marked blocks can not only be moved, but can be copied (ctrl+c) and inserted (ctrl+v) at the play-head position, anywhere in your project.
You can also delete (DEL) marked blocks.
It is recommended that you use the magnification settings, to find the magnification, that gives you the best view of your project. Since 1.2, LMMS has a 12,5% magnification, that allows you to see 350 bars of your project!

Changing structure in a project

Sometimes whole portions of a project is either needed to be removed, or you need space to insert new segments.
This is where you use INSERT and DELETE
Fist you move the play-head to the position where you want the change.
Expanding the project
Shift+Insert-key inserts a new, empty bar to the right of the playhead's current position into all the tracks.
You will essentially push everything up-wards, and hence have a longer project, as the result!

Condensing the project
Shift+Delete-key moves all one bar to the left of the playhead's current position
You will essentially pull everything down-wards, and hence have a shorter project as the result!
Both methods are powerful tools for making big changes in your project.


The scroll bars at the right and bottom of the window allow you to move the editors view around, but you can also scroll with your mouse-wheel!
Use mouse-wheel to scroll vertically.
Use Shift+mouse-wheel to scroll horizontally.
And you can scale the view:
Use Ctrl+mouse-wheel to scale the project horizontally.

Playback Controls

Play.png The Play button starts playback at the current playhead position. The keyboard spacebar has the similar functionality, depending on the settings for play-head-behaviour of the Return Mode button. (see below).

Pause.png During playback, a Pause button icon represent the Play button icon. If pressed, It will pause playback and leave the playhead at its current position.

Stop.png The Stop button (or keyboard spacebar) stops playback, and returns the playhead to the location defined by the Return Mode button (see below).

The Return Mode button is a 3-position toggle-button that controls where the playhead moves when you halt playback using the Stop button, or press space. There are 3 modes:

  • Back to zero.png Back to Zero (default): the playhead returns to the beginning of the song (bar #1).
  • Back to start.png Back to start : the playhead returns to the position where this playback started.
  • Keep stop position.pngContinue : the playhead remains where it was stopped (i.e. it doesn't move).

Autoscroll on.png The Auto-scroll button is on by default. During playback, the view in the Song-Editor window will automatically scroll horizontally to display the current playhead position. As the playhead moves past the right edge of the window, the window will scroll horizontally so the playhead continues at the left edge. In the performance settings, the option "smooth scrolling" can be enabled. With Auto-scroll off, the playhead continue moving also when out of view.


Loop points on.png Loops in LMMS are default understood as 1+n Bars!
It is the logic of a sequencer that determine that loops are the same as whole bars!
The Loop-points button is off by default. When turned on, the loop will appear as a bright green balk along the timeline.

A loop from 3. to 11. bar

You can set the loop-point left and right as follows:
When you click on the time-bar for setting right-loop-point use right-mouse Only
When you click on the time-bar for setting left-loop-point use right-mouse + SH
So setting loop-points will default snap to the bar-deviders. You can control that.

Setting loop-points freely.
If you hold AltGr, then you can set your loop exactly as you want!- You can even drag them up and down!
For right loop-point AltGr+right-mouse
For left loop-point AltGr+SH+right-mouse
During Song-Editor playback, the playhead will loop continuously between the start and end loop-points.
This is useful for testing a particular section of your piece, but it only exists in playback mode.
It is not a way to repeat a section any certain number of times within your composition! -You'll have to use copy/paste for that.

Adding Tracks

There is no button for adding a new instrument track. You add a new instrument track by dragging the desired plugin or preset from the Side Bar to an empty area in the Song-Editor. Next, click on the instrument track's name to show/hide the Instrument Editor window for that plugin. This window is where you can make changes to the sound of the instrument.

Add bb track.png To add a new Beat/Bassline track, click the Add beat/bassline button. Right-click on the beat/bassline track's name to name it.

Add sample track.png To add a new sample track, click the Add sample-track button.

A new sample-track, with no sample inserted

To insert a sound-clip, You double click on the empty Sample-track, and browse for your file, in the Open audio file dialogue.

Zoom Control

Zoomsection1.0.0.png This is the Zoom control. You can zoom in to show fewer bars or zoom out to show more bars in the window. There are several ways to zoom:

  • hover your mouse over the Zoom number, and roll your mouse scroll wheel up/down to zoom in/out
  • hover your mouse anywhere else in the Song-Editor window, and Ctrl+mouse-scroll-wheel up/down to zoom in/out
  • left-click on the Zoom number to zoom in by 1 level; right-click on the Zoom number to zoom out by 1 level
  • use the Zoom drop-down arrow and select a zoom level

Changing track height: Anywhere in a track, use Shift+drag to change the height of a track. You can only make it taller than the default height, not shorter.


Song editor automation track1.0.0.png The left side of the track, the Track-Button, contains dials and controls that allow you to work with the track as a whole.

Track op grip.png The stippled area at the left end of the Track-Button is the Grip Handle. In Draw mode, use it to drag a whole track up or down in the stacking order. The track order has no effect on the sounds produced, it just helps you keep things organized. Ctrl+drag on the grip handle makes a clone of the track that you can place either in:

  • the bottom of the song-editor
  • Beat&Bass-editor,
  • an other opened project, if you have enough RAM for two instances of LMMS.

You use considerable less RAM if you only copy-drag, and do not play any of the projects!

Trackop.png The Track Tools icon has a tooltip that says "Actions for this track." Click it to see a menu with options:

  • Clone this track makes an exact copy of the track (instrument settings and segments) and pastes it next in the track list.
  • Remove this track deletes the track and all segments
  • Clear track. removes all segments, but preserves the instrument or preset

Mute unmute solo1.0.0.png The Mute/unmute toggle looks like a green LED light that you turn on and off by clicking on it. Use it to turn off the sounds from this track temporarily. For example, you may want to hear the track of an accompanying instrument without hearing the lead instrument. As all knobs, led's and faders in LMMS these can be automated. The Solo/unsolo toggle is the second light, the one to the right. It is a red LED light that you turn on and off by clicking on it. Use it to turn off temporarily all the other tracks except this track, or add some other tracks to the playback, simply by un-muting any track of your own choice. That way you can have one solo-track plus any number of selected tracks playing together alone. When you want to have all tracks active again, you simply un-solo the solo-track. That will un-mute all tracks in your song-editor.

The rest of the Track Settings Bar displays the sound source information. This varies somewhat between instrument tracks, sample tracks and beat/bassline tracks.

Song editor instrument track1.0.0.png
Instrument Tracks have:

  • a volume and a pan control (automatable),
  • a button that displays the instrument's preset name:
    • left-click opens the Instrument Editor
    • right-click opens a dialog to rename the track

The Activity light is a rectangular vertical bar, located far right on the instrument track-button, which lights up whenever the instrument plays a note. You can also click it to preview the sound of the instrument.

Song editor sample track1.0.0.png
Sample Tracks have:

  • a volume control (automatable)
  • a button that displays the track name:
    • left-click opens the Effects Chain editor where you can choose effects to add
    • right-click opens a context-menu. We will look at these features shortly.

Song editor beatbassline1.0.0.png
Beat/Bassline Tracks have:

  • a button that displays the track name:
    • left-click opens the connectedBeat+Bassline Editor, if it's not already open
    • right-click opens a context-menu.

Track Context Menu

The track context menu appears when you right-click on a segment in the track. The options available vary by the type of track:

Instrument Track Context Menu

InstrumentSegmentContext1 2 1.png
  • Open in piano-roll opens this pattern in the Piano Roll Editor.
  • Delete deletes this segment.
  • Cut removes this segment and places it in clipboard.
  • Copy makes a copy of this segment and place it in the clipboard.
  • Paste pastes the contents of the clipboard into this segment, overwriting its previous contents. The segment name is copied and pasted with the contents of the segment which helps you see the original source of this segment (see "Change name" below).
  • Mute/Unmute allows you to turn off the sound of the clicked-on segment. It does not affect the volume of the other segments in the track.
  • Clear all notes allows you to erase the contents of this segment without deleting the segment itself.
  • Reset name resets the segment name to the track name.
  • Change name allows you to change a segment's name. Individual Segments within a track can have individual names. By default, the segment name is the same as the track name.
  • Add steps and Remove Steps allow you to add or remove the number of steps in a bar. This is the same option as in the Beat + Bassline Editor.

Automation Track Context Menu

AutomationSegmentContext1 2 1.png

The actions of each option are essentially the same as those for the instrument track above, except that this segment of cause are opened in automation editor.
In addition there are 4 other options:

  • Set/Clear Record This record function will allow you to capture live movement of the connected controller, as the playhead passes over the segment. Observe that if the playhead is allowed to pass over the segment a second time, the captured movement are overwritten!
  • Flip Vertically. This option allow you to flip the automation graph, over a vertical centre.
  • Flip Horizontally. This option allow you to flip the automation graph, over a horizontal centre.

Below these 3 options, you can see a list over the controllers that are connected to the automation-track.

Beat/Bassline Track Context Menu

Beatbassline track context menu1.0.0.png

The actions of each option are essentially the same as those for the instrument track above, but there are two additions:

  • Change color allows you to change the color of the segments in the BB track. This helps you to distinguish the function or content of the tracks by their color, and helps you to quickly know which bassline you are dealing with in a complex rhythm sections. You can use the Edit Mode Tool aka Selection Tool to select a group of Beat + Bassline segments and color them all at once.
  • Reset color to default with this option you can remove customized color, and reset the color to the default color

Reusing and copying tracks

Sometimes you may like to use notes you have in another project. You cant use the notes in other projects just as a reference, but! You can copy these notes from one project to another! Lets say we have a nice arpeggio, and we like to reuse that with a tiny change, in a new project.
Method 1
If you have decent hardware, with 'lots' (2+ gb) of ram, you can have two LMMS running simultaneous side by side. Point to the track with the existing arpeggio. On the track-button we have a nobbled bar leftmost in this picture: Song_editor_automation_track1.0.0.png

  • Hold Ctrl
  • point on the nobbled-bar
  • press and drag the whole track-button from the 'donor' project to the receiving-projects song-editor.

You now have copied all notes and the preset into the new project! -In our case we would have 'both' the arpeggio-notes, 'and' all the arpeggio-settings in the preset copied to the new project. If you create a project called something like .my-aprs.mmp, and build all the arps, you can think of, then you can use that project as a template for any project, and that way you have a arpeggio-library.

Method 2
This is not at all as potent, but can be used by anyone, despite lowend hw.

  • Open the piano-roll pattern in project 1
  • mark all (Ctrl+a)
  • Copy all (Ctrl+c)
  • Create a new project or open an existing project
  • Open a piano-roll in that project
  • insert the notes from the first project (Ctrl+v)

As you can see we only had one instance of LMMS open, and this is a very cpu and ram friendly way to copy between projects, but we only got notes from one note-block, with this simple method.


Howto: Putting the song together

Prev: Instrument Editor Up: Manual Next: Beat + Bassline Editor