Here’s a word not normally associated with music editing: histograms.

We’ve been waiting a long time for Bitwig Studio, once announced, to actually ship something. The latest video reveals a bit of what they’ve apparently been up to: they’ve been going a bit wild building an obsessive-compulsive MIDI editing suite.

Whatever happens with Bitwig, it seems that when it does ship, it could become the tool of choice for micro-edited techno.

Histogram editing is the cleverest, if oddest, feature here. It allows you to view a sort of spectrum of notes, transforming various notes’ parameters at once.

Other features seen in the video bring Bitwig closer to a conventional DAW than Ableton Live, introducing some features that many of us would badly like in Ableton, but which seem not to be possible with its architecture. That includes seamlessly toggling between editing clips and tracks (Live has a hard-line distinction between the two), and the ability to grab a set of notes and drag them to a new clip. These aren’t the sort of thing that would make you drop Live and switch tools, I think, but they could be welcome given some of Bitwig’s more unique modular and editing features.

You can also automate “micro-pitch” per note for advanced note editing, something that the likes of Cubase can accomplish.

Bitwig appears to be nearing a 1.0 demo version, and beta builds are already in more hands (though sign-ups still didn’t reach all who wanted them). It is nice to see that, after all these years, there may still be some new ideas in editing MIDI.

  • Phil

    There’s so much vapor here, I can’t see anything!

  • http://fzero.ca/ Fabio Neves

    I’m sure it will be a viable option when it’s released in 2032. Of course, we’ll have Live 19 and Logic Pro Z by then.

  • BEE DOUBLEU

    This could potentially be the DAW of all DAWs. I don’t mind that they’re taking their time with the release as long as the final product isn’t a piece of shit (which I doubt it’ll be).
    So far this looks like the first company in the workstation business that honestly wants to make everyone happy instead of just finding a loophole that will make a lot of money. Ironically making an *everything all at once* workstation will probably end up making a lot of money anyway sooooooo … yeah ….
    how bout that release

    • PaulDavisTheFirst

      making everyone happy with a DAW is a fool’s dream. you can’t do it. the goals of someone doing orchestral recording are totally different from someone making MIDI-driven techo which are totally different from someone making live recordings of a jazz ensemble which are totally different from the needs of a singer/songwriter on one instrument. even satisfying just *one* of the potential use cases is hard enough.

      why do you think that there is basically just one primary image manipulation program (Photoshop) and yet on the order of a dozen DAWs, any one of which is a good choice for *someone* … ?

    • Taylor

      Are there fundamental UI design choices that a DAW designer must make that would preclude certain types of workflows? Or is it more a matter of the cost of implementing many features?

    • PaulDavisTheFirst

      Both. Not to mention the strongly held opinions of different users on how things *should* work.

    • Taylor

      What are the most common strongly held opinions you’ve encountered?

    • PaulDavisTheFirst

      After 12 years of developing Ardour, the list would be rather long. But for example: how selection behaviour affects other aspects of the program (e.g. what does selecting a track actually mean) / what are the defaults for unlinked vs linked when copying objects / precisely how crossfades work / whether to offer Live-style clip triggering / how many operations should be required to start actively recording / is it better to pop up a new window for editing (e.g.) MIDI (i.e. a piano roll window) or to do everything in the same window whenever possible / are tearoffs a good thing / what should happen when you use material at the wrong sample rate (compare Digital Performer’s behaviour to many other DAWs) / do you need “real” AFL/PFL for solo or is solo-in-place sufficient / is it necessary to do destructive waveform edits (e.g. a “pencil tool”) / plugins or builtin tools for MIDI transformation (and many other things too)

      there are lots more.

    • Taylor

      Could most of those opinions be addressed with global settings? Or would that result in too complex of an app?

    • PaulDavisTheFirst

      everything can be addressed by adding more options. but you end up with a very intimidating app. of course the next step is then to add “expert level” meta-settings, which control which options are visible (and maybe even what the defaults are). some DAWs have done this.

      of course you also then add meta-debate about what options belong in what “expert level” choice … sigh.

      the result for any particular user group is worse, even though in theory, you’ve just made everyone able to potentially make things better for themselves.

      apple are spectacularly good at removing options-madness from their apps. many people love them for it … except the crowd that wants more options and thus more control.

      maybe i have this worse than the developers of, say, Logic or PT, because Ardour users frequently expect to be able to address myself and other developers directly with their ideas and issues. but i suspect it is broadly the same across the board.

    • BEE DOUBLEU

      @PaulDavisTheFirst:disqus my bad … sorry to ruffle your feathers with the “make everyone happy” statement. I often forget how hard people hang onto every word they read on the internet.

      Now rebutt this if you want, it is more than common knowledge that artists relying mostly on recorded audio find event (audio) editing and other shortcuts extremely helpful for fixing mistakes, punching in, recording faster etc. ….. Right?

      Someone relying heavily on MIDI (techno as you said) clearly needs powerful MIDI editing capabilities as well as sound design flexibility (for added originality).

      It seems like Bitwig is already ahead of the game as far as flexibility and creation goes. If they also made it the arranger just as powerful/customizable (i.e. shortcut customization, much like cubase and logic, pro tools), Bitwig would have the best of both worlds.

      Maybe to you ^ that is a “fool’s dream” but, in reality, it’s not impossible.

      Now on to the contradiction.

      You named a handful of irrelevant recording scenarios to try and prove your point:

      1. Orchestral Recording (Audio)
      2. Techno (MIDI, that in a lot of cases still bounced down to audio for glitch effects, depending on the artist)
      3. Jazz Ensemble (Audio)
      4. Singer Songwriter (Audio)

      Either of these scenarios can easily be achieved on any of the common DAWs right now. There is no workstation made specifically for any of those scenarios. Even FL does audio and MIDI now. Back in 1999 I would’ve agreed that every DAW had it’s own niche but, now everything is doing everything and nothing is impossible.

      Now,

      You then went on to name photoshop. Why? What does photoshop have to do with BitWig? You wouldn’t compare photoshop to a DAW because they are nowhere near related. Photoshop is an image manipulator a good audio comparison to Photoshop would be Kyma X. A software that is designed to make sounds, not sequence them.

      I sense that you feel a bit negative toward the idea of “having it all” but, well …….. I don’t ….. and I hope Bitwig totally incorporates shortcut customization like everyone else (except ableton) is starting to do.

    • PaulDavisTheFirst

      I don’t think you understood anything I wrote.

      If what you are saying is true, then the forums for each DAW wouldn’t still get regularly posts from people (especially people transitioning from some other DAW) who find that particular program hard (or even impossible to use).

      I didn’t say that you couldn’t handle any of the 4 scenarios with any existing DAW. You alluded to “making everyone happy”, which is quite different. Certainly, any DAW (at least one that does MIDI) can handle all 4 scenarios, and even the audio-only DAWs can handle anything but #2. But for one reason or another, everyone has their own particular gripe about how some particular feature is implemented or how the workflow for some particular operation happens. Bitwig isn’t going to change that – it will add one more DAW to the list to consider, and certainly from the demos, it will be quite a compelling choice for a particular subset of DAW users (I’m not sure that people recording jazz or orchestral stuff will find it quite so wonderful, but I could be wrong).

      Many people, including myself, don’t anticipate just how difficult the “arranger” part of a DAW is. When I first started developing Ardour, it was just a multitrack hard disk recorder and we figured that adding “an editor” was going to be simple. That was a decade ago. Getting the exact workflow right and getting all the features right for any DAWs editor/arranger is an enormous task that makes actually recording and playing back audio seem trivial by comparison.

      As for photoshop, you totally missed my point there too. An image manipulation program is related to a DAW in the sense that it is a large complex, costly-to-learn piece of software that allows users to manipulate data in ways that are only possible on a computer. I find it remarkable that for most people, there is only one “serious” program to do this for image data, yet many potential “serious” programs to use for audio data. Yes, Photoshop does involve non-linear editing, and has no timeline. But that doesn’t really change the comparison that I was making.

      I am not at all negative about “having it all” – I am just the lead developer of an open source DAW, and my experience with that process has convinced me that the goal “having it all” is not achievable in the way that you imagine it could be. It might be for you, but that is something quite different.

  • gLOW-x

    @BEE DOUBLEU Trouble is they take so much time to release 1.0 no one will care anymore.
    They better have released an half-featured version with no bugs to attract ppl, and fixed dates for future features updates than always pushing the release date of 1.0.
    No one understand why they still stack features instead of releasing 1.0 and stack after that.
    How many sells they already lost for months, even not for years, just because they are “perfectionists” and try to create the perfect DAW ?
    They simply lost two main points : you CAN’T please everyone and there is NO perfect DAW and never will be.

    I wish they realize this soon ;)

    • BEE DOUBLEU

      I don’t rush perfectionists. Mostly because perfectionists usually make great content.

      Again I apologize (to Paul and now You) for saying “make everyone happy”. I was attempting to describe the open-minded attitude that I’ve seen in Bitwig that I haven’t seen in any other DAW company.

      If the rest of the world forgets about Bitwig, then that means I’ll be the only one using this of the wall software…..and I’m okay with that

      But, lets be real for 2 seconds …. All it took was for Bitwig to post one new feature and look how much buzz has been generated. You really think they’re losing sells?….. They’ve already proven to be lightyears ahead as far as automation and creativity goes. If they also do customizable shortcuts for event editing, it’s gonna be game over.

  • Nemo Gauss

    GUI seems convoluted to me, I may be too used to the Live one…
    Anyway, we will see when it is out. Sometimes I feel I want something different to Live, but my heart says “audiomulch” and not “bitwig” :)

  • Shannon

    Micro pitch editing FTW!!! Pretty cool feature for electronic music!!

  • Derpatron9000

    Price and release data please, this has become the Half Life 3 of DAW.

  • VirtualMark

    This is looking awesome! I just wish they’d release it FFS!

  • Mafgar

    Happy to wait for this to come out. I think the claims that it is vaporware are a little silly and hasty.

  • michaelmatos

    This seems worth the wait. Lots of thought being given to refine our current vision of DAW’s. We live in a beautiful era of exponential musical riches.

  • Will

    Textmate 2 was eventually released so I have hope. That said, I’d switched to vim while waiting so I’ve never really used it. But it did ship!

  • shim

    i wish they would just stop being so damn german on this: SW is never going to be perfect guys. i am pumping the time’s “release it” (graffiti bridge ost- solid but shit movie..) in my mind every damn *time* we revisit this. a teaser is a teaser but a tease is just a tease.

    just release it already beeechez.

    http://www.guavaleaf.com/video/8228/The%20Time%20~%20Release%20It

    • griotspeak

      Everybody wants to find Graffiti Bridge.

  • Nick Suda

    You guys do realize that if they put it out today, your instant reaction would be, “Features X Y and Z don’t quite seem fully baked to me. Why didn’t they work on this a bit longer?”

    I don’t really see how actually releasing functional betas to a small group of requested testers and regularly presenting very specific itemizations of new features comes anywhere close to matching the definition of vaporware.

    • gLOW-x

      Because always stacking features in a never ending beta is just here to hide REAL public reactions, like the one you just wrote :D
      It smells vaporware because, like all vaporwares, some ppl will tell you they seen it (beta testers), but not the public (us, non beta testers).
      It is the definition of vaporware : never released publicly. Some ppl will tell you it exists, but i don’t care. Let me test it, or it doesn’t exist.
      So, for now and for years, it is still vaporware, teasing endlessly.
      A lot of things can happen until they release 1.0, bad or good…

  • WetBoy

    That histogram editing is similar to the the way you can manipulate midi in Temper

  • Random Chance

    So many buttons, so many small knobs, so much text. It reminds me of Blender: Very powerful but ultimately also very confused about its own identity. Let’s just hope that in Bitwig everything works the same way and that the developers don’t succumb to tacking on another window and another set of knobs and buttons just because they want to scratch an itch. That way lies madness. Imagine what the code now looks like with all those features that may or may not have been designed in from the start …

    • octavio

      HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!! BLENDER!!!!! XD!!!!

    • David

      Did you ever use Maya. Or 3D Studio Max. Or any other advanced 3D-Suite? I used all of them and I think Blender is maybe the one with the best and most consistent GUIs. Well you have to work your way in (if you wan’t to make good CG you SHOULD have to), but once you get the basic principle (how they use shortcuts, what basic shortcuts there are) it is much more consistent then comparable suites, and I worked with maya for years before switching to blender.

  • michael

    Here’s hoping Bitwig own a mouse with a middle mouse-button, in sharp contrast to Ableton.

  • Bitwig haters gonna hate

    He ??? Wasnt you a Bitwig hater ???

  • http://melodiefabriek.com/ Marco Raaphorst

    very interesting features. I would be interested if Bitwig can also sound dirty, kinda analog, warm and less electro sounding.

  • Jon

    SHUTUPANDTAKEMYMONEY!!!!!