Cubase composing tools

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Ambientdave
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Cubase composing tools

Post by Ambientdave » Sat Sep 14, 2019 4:58 pm

Hi :)
So I am not a proficient keyboard player or a musician,by a long way off ( wish I could afford lessons,oh well)

Although I tend to play by ear while I am producing my music and good at putting sounds together. I have a lot of great libraries that contain instruments like piano,organs etc, and would really like them to sound good in my tracks :mrgreen:

Now I have been using Cubase Pro 10 ,on and off for a little over a year now. Due to work and other commitments outside music

And I was wondering the other day.What tools are there available to help us non keyboardists? As an example to keep me playing in scale .
naturally I am aware of things like Chord Pads and Circle of Fifths,but as yet to use them :oops:

Is there a lot more tools ,I haven't discovered yet?

Any advice or help would be much appreciated :)
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Re: Cubase composing tools

Post by raino » Sat Sep 14, 2019 8:52 pm

I find one of the most useful basic features is the ability in the Key Ed to color the note events based on the Chord Track and not the default Velocity. Then if you have Chord and Scale Events on the Chord Track the Notes in the Key Ed will be color coded - in both Chord and Scale; in Chord not Scale; in Scale not Chord; not in Scale or Chord.
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Re: Cubase composing tools

Post by Stephen57 » Sun Sep 15, 2019 12:47 am

Greetings,

+ 1 for Rodger's suggestion.

You might want to try the "Live Transform" function. With it on and a Chord Track in place, you can just bang out a rhythm and let the Live Transform adjust the notes. While it doesn't always give useful results, it is often helpful for "drafting" an idea and sometimes the unexpected results are interesting.

The Chord Track and Chord Pads are probably two of the strongest tools in Cubase and, once you get to know them, they are interesting and fun to use. With Chord Pads the user may just click with the mouse and the chords are recorded. Much more to all of this, but just mess around with it and you'll soon get the hang of it.

Good luck :-)
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Re: Cubase composing tools

Post by Ambientdave » Sun Sep 15, 2019 12:52 am

Thanks a lot for the suggestions :)
Will take a look and investigation further
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Re: Cubase composing tools

Post by raino » Sun Sep 15, 2019 1:53 am

Once you have a populated Chord Track you can use Live Transform to force any note you play on a keyboard to fit the chords and/or scales. Instant keyboard chops upgrade
rodger

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Re: Cubase composing tools

Post by skijumptoes » Sun Sep 15, 2019 2:00 am

Also you can use midi loops and drop them into a VST instrument track and use chord track to sculpt them into tune based on your chord progressions, so basically the loops are the performance/vibe and chord track dictate tune.

You can also use midi loops/arp patterns built into chord pads, or add them in using midi inserts (such as apache).

Using chord track you can also easily create harmonies and/or bass parts.

There’s much to love about Cubase’s composition tools, even the media bay with built in drum loops is a very quick way of building the vibe of a song as your starting block.

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Re: Cubase composing tools

Post by Ambientdave » Sun Sep 15, 2019 8:14 am

skijumptoes wrote:
Sun Sep 15, 2019 2:00 am
Also you can use midi loops and drop them into a VST instrument track and use chord track to sculpt them into tune based on your chord progressions, so basically the loops are the performance/vibe and chord track dictate tune.

You can also use midi loops/arp patterns built into chord pads, or add them in using midi inserts (such as apache).

Using chord track you can also easily create harmonies and/or bass parts.

There’s much to love about Cubase’s composition tools, even the media bay with built in drum loops is a very quick way of building the vibe of a song as your starting block.
Thanks a lot skijumptoes,thats very handy to know :)

Of course is still a lot to learn for me , in Cubase for sure
I'm not that experienced as yet. But really enjoying using Cubase. I will make more effort and learn more about the composition tools
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Re: Cubase composing tools

Post by Ambientdave » Sun Sep 15, 2019 8:17 am

Stephen57 wrote:
Sun Sep 15, 2019 12:47 am
Greetings,

+ 1 for Rodger's suggestion.

You might want to try the "Live Transform" function. With it on and a Chord Track in place, you can just bang out a rhythm and let the Live Transform adjust the notes. While it doesn't always give useful results, it is often helpful for "drafting" an idea and sometimes the unexpected results are interesting.

The Chord Track and Chord Pads are probably two of the strongest tools in Cubase and, once you get to know them, they are interesting and fun to use. With Chord Pads the user may just click with the mouse and the chords are recorded. Much more to all of this, but just mess around with it and you'll soon get the hang of it.

Good luck :-)
Woah!! "Live Transform" now, thats a really cool feature I didn't know about thanks a lot :)
Windows 10 Pro, with Intel i5 340GHz, 16GB RAM, 1TB SSD,500GB HDD,external 1TB HDD,

Audio interface, Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 2nd gen,monitoring through Beyerdynamic DT250 headphones.
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Midi controllers: Akai MPK249 and M Audio Oxygen 25,
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Re: Cubase composing tools

Post by Ambientdave » Sun Sep 15, 2019 8:18 am

raino wrote:
Sun Sep 15, 2019 1:53 am
Once you have a populated Chord Track you can use Live Transform to force any note you play on a keyboard to fit the chords and/or scales. Instant keyboard chops upgrade
Thanks a lot Rodger,really helpful :)
Windows 10 Pro, with Intel i5 340GHz, 16GB RAM, 1TB SSD,500GB HDD,external 1TB HDD,

Audio interface, Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 2nd gen,monitoring through Beyerdynamic DT250 headphones.
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Midi controllers: Akai MPK249 and M Audio Oxygen 25,
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Re: Cubase composing tools

Post by Ambientdave » Sun Sep 15, 2019 11:03 pm

Hi Everyone :)

So today I had a play with the chord pads,and used Omnisphere 2.6,it has a great pipe organ.Happy to say it sounds awesome :D
Got more practice to do such as exporting the audio file to my desktop,but thats for later
Thanks again everyone for your help :)
Windows 10 Pro, with Intel i5 340GHz, 16GB RAM, 1TB SSD,500GB HDD,external 1TB HDD,

Audio interface, Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 2nd gen,monitoring through Beyerdynamic DT250 headphones.
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Re: Cubase composing tools

Post by Stephen57 » Tue Sep 17, 2019 12:23 am

Ambientdave wrote:
Sun Sep 15, 2019 11:03 pm
Hi Everyone :)

So today I had a play with the chord pads,and used Omnisphere 2.6,it has a great pipe organ.Happy to say it sounds awesome :D
Got more practice to do such as exporting the audio file to my desktop,but thats for later
Thanks again everyone for your help :)
I love that instrument.

I'm glad things are going well. There's one more thing you have to try when you have time.

Project > Chord Track > Map to Chord Track

To get an idea of what this does

... create project with a basic chord track. Now, record a midi track and literally just bang on the keys in some rhythm. Don't make it too dense. I call it "movie mode," like when you see someone in a film playing it looks convincing.

Now, after recording some gibberish (yes, use wrong notes and so on, don't even try to play anything "right"), select the track (quantize the hell out of it if you want to first) then use the above.

Cubase offers a few suggestions, use "auto" to start. Sometimes you get an error message, ignore it. Execute the function and the data on the track is conformed to the chord track! This sometimes yields very musical results, or, almost good enough. From there, some hand editing you often find you have a good part going.
Last edited by Stephen57 on Fri Sep 20, 2019 8:38 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Cubase composing tools

Post by skijumptoes » Tue Sep 17, 2019 12:39 am

Stephen57 wrote:
Tue Sep 17, 2019 12:23 am
This sometimes yields very musical results, or, almost good enough.
Almost good enough? there's a simple fix to that too - just lower your expectations before hitting the process button. haha.
I'd love to hear some music made using this technique, it sounds like the phenomena where you see human faces in the clouds lol.

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Re: Cubase composing tools

Post by raino » Tue Sep 17, 2019 1:21 am

skijumptoes wrote:
Tue Sep 17, 2019 12:39 am
Stephen57 wrote:
Tue Sep 17, 2019 12:23 am
This sometimes yields very musical results, or, almost good enough.
Almost good enough? there's a simple fix to that too - just lower your expectations before hitting the process button. haha.
I'd love to hear some music made using this technique, it sounds like the phenomena where you see human faces in the clouds lol.
This assumes one's expectations aren't already as low as they can go. :roll:
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Re: Cubase composing tools

Post by Stephen57 » Tue Sep 17, 2019 2:02 am

raino wrote:
Tue Sep 17, 2019 1:21 am
skijumptoes wrote:
Tue Sep 17, 2019 12:39 am
Stephen57 wrote:
Tue Sep 17, 2019 12:23 am
This sometimes yields very musical results, or, almost good enough.
Almost good enough? there's a simple fix to that too - just lower your expectations before hitting the process button. haha.
I'd love to hear some music made using this technique, it sounds like the phenomena where you see human faces in the clouds lol.
This assumes one's expectations aren't already as low as they can go. :roll:
Hilarious. :lol:

I wish the harmonic tools were stronger. For example "Live Transform" should produce fewer omitted and repeated notes. Rather than leaving out the note or repeating the same note, it should look for the next closest note in the scale and play/record that. Anyway, I have gotten some good sounds with Mapping to the chord track.

Take care.
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Help with Cubase:
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Re: Cubase composing tools

Post by peakae » Tue Sep 17, 2019 5:58 am

That technique works great for free jazz ;-) (no it doesn’t, too few blue notes)

It has helped me come up with a melody line, where I had a rough idea about the rhythm.
Closing my eyes and pretending to be a piano player helped.
I used the best parts to get the inspiration for a melody, and then learned to play that properly.
But afterwards I must admit, I felt a bit dirty.
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Re: Cubase composing tools

Post by Ambientdave » Tue Sep 17, 2019 7:35 am

Stephen57 wrote:
Tue Sep 17, 2019 12:23 am
Ambientdave wrote:
Sun Sep 15, 2019 11:03 pm
Hi Everyone :)

So today I had a play with the chord pads,and used Omnisphere 2.6,it has a great pipe organ.Happy to say it sounds awesome :D
Got more practice to do such as exporting the audio file to my desktop,but thats for later
Thanks again everyone for your help :)
I love that instrument.

I'm glad things are going well. There's one more thing you have to try when you have time.

Project > Chord Track > Map to Chord Track

To get an idea of what this does

... create project with a basic chord track. Now, record a midi track and literally just bang on the keys in some rhythm. Don't make it too dense. I call it "move mode," like when you see someone in a film playing it looks convincing.

Now, after recording some gibberish (yes, use wrong notes and so on, don't even try to play anything "right"), select the track (quantize the hell out of it if you want to first) then use the above.

Thanks a lot awesome idea,will give that at try :D

Cubase offers a few suggestions, use "auto" to start. Sometimes you get an error message, ignore it. Execute the function and the data on the track is conformed to the chord track! This sometimes yields very musical results, or, almost good enough. From there, some hand editing you often find you have a good part going.
Windows 10 Pro, with Intel i5 340GHz, 16GB RAM, 1TB SSD,500GB HDD,external 1TB HDD,

Audio interface, Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 2nd gen,monitoring through Beyerdynamic DT250 headphones.
Microphone: Rodes NT1A
Midi controllers: Akai MPK249 and M Audio Oxygen 25,
Software: Cubase Pro 10 (latest version),various sound libraries and plugins

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Re: Cubase composing tools

Post by Ambientdave » Tue Sep 17, 2019 8:28 am

Hi Everyone

Thanks a lot for your thoughts and advice so far .

This morning,I was fiddling with the Chord Track, and found the Chord Assistant while entering the crosses,by double left mouse clicking!! I didn't realise that I could access this from the chord track ,ha,ha :oops:

Having everything in one place is so handy, along with the circle of fifths and the proximity.Really like the complexity filter too,that's going to be really useful to help me find chords that are suitable.
I shall use all the tools available to help me sound much better and of course learn how chords and scales fit together which is awesome :D

Through Cubase videos and such I can see how powerful the Chord track is.
I was wondering ,how to play the scales and chords with my midi keyboard to stop me playing out of scale? Going to work on that later on.
Windows 10 Pro, with Intel i5 340GHz, 16GB RAM, 1TB SSD,500GB HDD,external 1TB HDD,

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Re: Cubase composing tools

Post by Ambientdave » Wed Sep 18, 2019 12:39 pm

Hi :)
I am getting on quite well with the Chord track so far. But Sorry for asking more questions

Now I have the Follow Chord track set to Chords and Scales and noticed the text of the chords in my instrument track don't reflect the actual text of the chords in the chord track ,when I edit them
Is it supposed to stay the same ? Thinking of if I have to revert to the same chord,of course I could do another track version

Thanks again for your help,its really appreciated :)
Windows 10 Pro, with Intel i5 340GHz, 16GB RAM, 1TB SSD,500GB HDD,external 1TB HDD,

Audio interface, Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 2nd gen,monitoring through Beyerdynamic DT250 headphones.
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Midi controllers: Akai MPK249 and M Audio Oxygen 25,
Software: Cubase Pro 10 (latest version),various sound libraries and plugins

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Re: Cubase composing tools

Post by Stephen57 » Wed Sep 18, 2019 10:39 pm

Ambientdave wrote:
Wed Sep 18, 2019 12:39 pm
Hi :)
I am getting on quite well with the Chord track so far. But Sorry for asking more questions

Now I have the Follow Chord track set to Chords and Scales and noticed the text of the chords in my instrument track don't reflect the actual text of the chords in the chord track ,when I edit them
Is it supposed to stay the same ? Thinking of if I have to revert to the same chord,of course I could do another track version

Thanks again for your help,its really appreciated :)
I'm not exactly following. Things to look at, random order. It's all about the Inspectors.

There's "adaptive voicing" on or off.

There's "Style Players" -- this is nice, try the various styles and you'll hear how they work.

There's "custom scales" on or off. You can Play a G major with a G Blues Scale and so on and on... more things than I've tried after several years with Cubase. See Chord Track > Custom Scales. Click the Chord on the Chord Track and you get the box to select the scale. ...

Chord voicing can be set in many ways, one of the easiest is from the drop down list on the Info Line. If you set a voicing on the Info Line, then drag that to a MIDI track, the selected voicing is used. There are Logical Editor presets that will Add 9th to chords and so on, as well. ...

There's Transpose Track -- a whole subject, but very cool, easy to use. it has some minor "issues" that have workarounds.

With Transpose Track tou can easily modulate songs to help vocalists or to compose parts or use in other creative ways, polychords, etc. very flexible system. Tracks can "Follow" or be "Independent" of the Transpose Track, usually to prevent drums from going all to hell if transposed. But it can be used in many ways.

Chord Tracks have Track Versions -- use one version of the chords, create a new version, compare. Create One version to play part of the song with Sound A, then another to play with Sound B.

Chord Pad Patterns: Play a simple Two Measure Piano Part, Quantize, Map to Chord Track and when it sounds good, drag that to the box in the Chord Pad Editor. The pattern is used on the chords. That's "Patterns" mode. I don't use this often, but any midi file can get dropped there. it is cool.

The Style of the Text for Chord Track has some choices (limited) in Preferences, can't remember exactly where right now...

Hope some of this helps. This are some of Cubase's strongest features, hence, they are complex and do take time to work out. Enjoy it. :-)
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DAW: Cubase Pro 10 (Main), Cubase Pro 9.5 (Backup); PC: HP Z230, i5 CPU quad-core 3.5 Ghz, 16 Gigs RAM; OS: Win 7 Pro 64-bit; Audio Converters, Scarlett 2I4, Zoom UCR-8; USB MIDI Controller, Akai Advance 49. VST-Is: Spectrasonics Omnisphere 2.5, Stylus RMX; Air Music: Hybrid, Transfuser 2, Vacuum Pro, Velvet, Xpand2; Novation: Bass Station; Sonovox Grand Piano; Rack: Proteus 2000, Korg 03R/W, Yamaha TG 33. Monitoring with KRK Rokit 8/G3, Tannoy PBM 6.5 II, Mics. Scheops, Sennheiser, Rode, Lectrosonics RF, etc.

Help with Cubase:
Documentation: https://steinberg.help/
Location/file paths of presets in Cubase and Nuendo: https://helpcenter.steinberg.de/hc/en-u ... nd-Nuendo-
Preferences: https://helpcenter.steinberg.de/hc/en-u ... and-Nuendo

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Re: Cubase composing tools

Post by Ambientdave » Wed Sep 18, 2019 11:20 pm

Thanks a lot Stephen57.thats really helpful :)

My apologies for not explaining too well
Here is what I have so far
I have my chord track with a selection of chords.I record the chosen chords onto my instrument track (whihc is of course midi) and then decide to change the chords.
What I am finding is that, although I am able to change the chords,without issues in the chord track .The actual name of these is not changing in the instrument track.
Maybe it something of a quirk going on,or I am missing something,not sure
I also have discovered the delight of the chord track,event colours, in the key editor today. So now I am able to see what notes are not in scale or the right chord. When I play and record notes direct from my midi keyboard
That's going to make my life much easier :)

Thanks again for your help,its really appreciated. And of course really enjoying this discovery and learning stuff :D
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Re: Cubase composing tools

Post by raino » Thu Sep 19, 2019 12:24 am

One potential gottcha with the Chord Track is that it can be picky about the timing.

For example suppose you have two Chord Events a G on bar 1 and a C on bar 2 - both snapped to the bar line. Then you open a MIDI Part where those chords are played - a block G for most of bar 1 & C for most of bar 2. But when you change the editor to color notes based on the Chord Track it shows the C note in the 2nd chord as not being part of the chord.

A C Note is not part of a C Chord?????!!!!!!!????????? What madness rules here???

But if you examine the C Note you'll find that it really starts a few ticks before the start of the bar. So Cubase looks at the C Note and quite correctly determines it is not part of the G Chord in effect at the time the Note starts so it gets color coded as not part of the Chord.

However there is a setting in the Inspector for the Chord Track called Mapping Offset (in Ticks) which you can set to a negative value to snag the early notes

I assume things like Live Transform behave similarly.
rodger

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Re: Cubase composing tools

Post by Ambientdave » Thu Sep 19, 2019 10:56 am

raino wrote:
Thu Sep 19, 2019 12:24 am
One potential gottcha with the Chord Track is that it can be picky about the timing.

For example suppose you have two Chord Events a G on bar 1 and a C on bar 2 - both snapped to the bar line. Then you open a MIDI Part where those chords are played - a block G for most of bar 1 & C for most of bar 2. But when you change the editor to color notes based on the Chord Track it shows the C note in the 2nd chord as not being part of the chord.

A C Note is not part of a C Chord?????!!!!!!!????????? What madness rules here???

But if you examine the C Note you'll find that it really starts a few ticks before the start of the bar. So Cubase looks at the C Note and quite correctly determines it is not part of the G Chord in effect at the time the Note starts so it gets color coded as not part of the Chord.

However there is a setting in the Inspector for the Chord Track called Mapping Offset (in Ticks) which you can set to a negative value to snag the early notes

I assume things like Live Transform behave similarly.
Now thats weird!! :mrgreen:
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AP
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Re: Cubase composing tools

Post by AP » Thu Sep 19, 2019 4:49 pm

You really need to invest in a plugin like captain chords:
https://mixedinkey.com/captain-plugins/ ... patibility

There’s other plugins like strum acoustic which will let you drag and drop the midi loops in any DAW.

Once the chord progressions are on a track you’ll be able to create a chord track and assign the chords to the chord pads.

Although the tools in cubase are good, they fall short. For example they implemented the chord track and pads for years but they only included a few presets when there are an unlimited amount of chord progressions. They should include a chord progression plugin in Cubase.

Even if you’re a good synth / keyboard player you’ll run out of ideas and that’s when chord progression plugins come in handy with thousands/ unlimited progressions. You should actually consider Cubase as a recording studio and have many other tools for songwriting like iPad, iPhone and other applications running beside cubase.
Cubase Pro 10.20. Latest 15" MacBook Pro i7, SSD, 16 GB Ram, OS 10.14 UR28M, CMC.

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Re: Cubase composing tools

Post by Ambientdave » Thu Sep 19, 2019 7:24 pm

AP wrote:
Thu Sep 19, 2019 4:49 pm
You really need to invest in a plugin like captain chords:
https://mixedinkey.com/captain-plugins/ ... patibility

There’s other plugins like strum acoustic which will let you drag and drop the midi loops in any DAW.

Once the chord progressions are on a track you’ll be able to create a chord track and assign the chords to the chord pads.

Although the tools in cubase are good, they fall short. For example they implemented the chord track and pads for years but they only included a few presets when there are an unlimited amount of chord progressions. They should include a chord progression plugin in Cubase.

Even if you’re a good synth / keyboard player you’ll run out of ideas and that’s when chord progression plugins come in handy with thousands/ unlimited progressions. You should actually consider Cubase as a recording studio and have many other tools for songwriting like iPad, iPhone and other applications running beside cubase.
Thanks AP,for now Im very happy to learn what I have got already.I have EZ Keys ,but also I have a couple of other plugins that can help me with chord ideas too :)
No doubt Steinberg will add more features and tools to Cubase 10 in the near future.

What I want to do, is keep things simple.As I don't want to be bogged down with technical stuff. Focus more on getting used to producing music within Cubase, learning Cubase in general and getting to know all l the tools and libraries I have already
As I mentioned this is a hobby,so my spare time will be learning,making music etc. :) And having fun after all this what its all about.
Windows 10 Pro, with Intel i5 340GHz, 16GB RAM, 1TB SSD,500GB HDD,external 1TB HDD,

Audio interface, Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 2nd gen,monitoring through Beyerdynamic DT250 headphones.
Microphone: Rodes NT1A
Midi controllers: Akai MPK249 and M Audio Oxygen 25,
Software: Cubase Pro 10 (latest version),various sound libraries and plugins

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Stephen57
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Re: Cubase composing tools

Post by Stephen57 » Fri Sep 20, 2019 8:48 pm

raino wrote:
Thu Sep 19, 2019 12:24 am
One potential gottcha with the Chord Track is that it can be picky about the timing.

For example suppose you have two Chord Events a G on bar 1 and a C on bar 2 - both snapped to the bar line. Then you open a MIDI Part where those chords are played - a block G for most of bar 1 & C for most of bar 2. But when you change the editor to color notes based on the Chord Track it shows the C note in the 2nd chord as not being part of the chord.

A C Note is not part of a C Chord?????!!!!!!!????????? What madness rules here???

But if you examine the C Note you'll find that it really starts a few ticks before the start of the bar. So Cubase looks at the C Note and quite correctly determines it is not part of the G Chord in effect at the time the Note starts so it gets color coded as not part of the Chord.

However there is a setting in the Inspector for the Chord Track called Mapping Offset (in Ticks) which you can set to a negative value to snag the early notes

I assume things like Live Transform behave similarly.
I never noticed that. I may have run into it and just worked past it. "Oh, that's strange, let me try X, OK that worked, move on." I'll have to go look at that. It sounds like it might be a bug?


The Enharmonics in Cubase bother me. I'd really like flat keys implemented. I still see oddly named notes showing up in places if I zoom in to that level. Mostly I've adapted to the system as it is. It does work but it could be much better. Anyway, that's going off topic a bit.

Thanks for the heads up on this.
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