Okay, I figured this out. I didn’t understand that Note Learn works differently depending on whether it’s learned a single note or a chord. I didn’t see this explained in the manual so I’ll summarize here. Sorry in advance if this has been explained elsewhere.
When Note Learn is on and a chord is played in Live mode, everything works how I’d expect:
- In step mode, the root of the chord “+X” is shown in the learn UI.
- When a pad is tapped, the chord (as entered in live mode) is inserted in that column irrespective of which pad in the column was actually pressed.
Some nice details I'm glossing over:
When a cord is learned, the step mode’s viewport is adjusted so the root of the chord is the bottom row of the pads. But if your chord is an inversion with a note lower than the root, when you actually insert it the viewport jumps down to fit that lowest note instead… Pretty cool!
When Note Learn is on and a single note is played, however, tapping a pad in step mode does not always insert the learned note. It inserts the note for the pad you tapped, just as if Note Learn was off.
What the heck? So what’s the purpose of Note Learn when using single notes, then?
Well, what’s actually happening is the step mode is automatically setting the viewport so that the bottom row of pads is equal to the single Learned Note. So if we want to insert a “D” all we have to do is jump to Live, find our “D”, then jump back to step and tap the bottom row.
This is nice as it provides a way not just to enter the note we just played (it’s the the bottom row) but also to orient ourselves such that we can play other intervals without jumping around.
But (as @Luke mentioned) this “Adjust the bottom row of the viewport to be the learned note” behavior doesn’t work when a pScale is set.
When pScale is set, the step mode’s viewport becomes locked so that the bottom row of pads is always the root of the pScale. Forever and ever, amen. You can move the viewport up and down, but only by octaves because the pScale root has to be the bottom row.
But remember, shifting the viewport such that the bottom row equals the learned note is the only thing Note Learn does when a single note is learned. Since, in pScale mode, the bottom row of the viewport has to be the root of the pScale, it can’t be the learned note, and thus Note Learn doesn’t do anything when pScale is set and a single note is learned.
Chords can still be learned and inserted in pScale mode, just like normal. The only difference is the viewport won’t move to accommodate them.