Using Single MIDI Track with Multiple MIDI Channels? Best practices?

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Using Single MIDI Track with Multiple MIDI Channels? Best practices?

Post by Stephen57 » Mon Sep 16, 2019 9:02 pm

Greetings,

Question for which there may no 'right answer' per se and I know I'm not asking this in the most concise way so please bear with him.

I use what I call the "traditional style" in MIDI, multitimbral instruments have each MIDI Patch/instrument on its own MIDI Track. However, Cubase allows us to use multiple MIDI channels on a single MIDI track.

Is workflow in Cubase more efficient if we place multiple MIDI Channel parts on a single MIDI Track? I'm sure there's pros and cons to this, times when this is best, other times not, etc.

When we open outputs for the parts in the multitimbral instrument the result is a MIDI Fader and the Audio Output fader. Having the MIDI fader is useful, other times it just feels like "fader clutter." I use visibility agents to remove MIDI faders and mostly mix with the audio outputs. So this part seem is fine.

Maybe the most concise way to ask this is: What's the best, or some good ways, best practices, in using multiple MIDI Channels on a Single MIDI Track?

I wonder if I missing some smart workflow by not using a single MIDI track containing data for Multiple MIDI Channels.

Thank you for any recommendations or thoughts on this. :)
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Re: Using Single MIDI Track with Multiple MIDI Channels? Best practices?

Post by raino » Mon Sep 16, 2019 11:46 pm

For the most part I tend to avoid multiple MIDI Channels in the same MIDI Part. But in some situations like horn parts depending on the specific VSTi(s) involved I might use multiple Channels within a single MIDI Part. I'm certainly not an expert on doing this as I'd estimate this occurs in less than 5% of the Parts.

Sill here's some tips I've found.

As is often the case the ability to color notes in the Key Ed is super useful, in this situation color by MIDI Channel Number.

Use the Track Inspector to change default MIDI Channel on the fly. When set to "All" any notes entered will be on Channel 1. But if you set it to a specific MIDI Channel the notes will be on that Channel. So you can change it as you write the lines for each part and when done set it back to "All"

The Logical Editor is your friend. I've built LE Presets (often joined in Macros) to re-assign MIDI Channels based on the note position in the chord so the soprano line is on Channel 1 and the bass Channel 4. This lets you write all on one Channel and then dividing up between the Channels later. Other useful LE tasks are selection based on Channel # and toggling the mute state for Notes on a specific Channel. This lets you "solo" individual lines or hear what just the tenor and alto lines sound like together.
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Re: Using Single MIDI Track with Multiple MIDI Channels? Best practices?

Post by Stephen57 » Tue Sep 17, 2019 7:33 pm

raino wrote:
Mon Sep 16, 2019 11:46 pm


Sill here's some tips I've found.
Thanks for those suggestions. Exactly what I was looking for. I'll have to look at the LE for this. :-)
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Re: Using Single MIDI Track with Multiple MIDI Channels? Best practices?

Post by skijumptoes » Tue Sep 17, 2019 9:13 pm

The only time i'd put multi channels in the same track is if using modern workstation synths like the Montage/MODX whereby they no longer have traditional patches but scenes which can occupy any number of MIDI channels, to be honest they're a bit awkward to manage and not as logical as traditional 'per midi channel' multi-timbral devices and i'm still undecided on whether i like how the modern workstation is developing - i think the new Roland Fantom may be the same concept also.

I think do what works naturally for you, as you can seperate the tracks by MIDI channel very easily at a later date anyway. MIDI's very flexible once you've got it on the timeline and Cubase is strong in feature set.

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Re: Using Single MIDI Track with Multiple MIDI Channels? Best practices?

Post by Stephen57 » Tue Sep 17, 2019 11:20 pm

skijumptoes wrote:
Tue Sep 17, 2019 9:13 pm
The only time i'd put multi channels in the same track is if using modern workstation synths like the Montage/MODX whereby they no longer have traditional patches but scenes which can occupy any number of MIDI channels, to be honest they're a bit awkward to manage and not as logical as traditional 'per midi channel' multi-timbral devices and i'm still undecided on whether i like how the modern workstation is developing - i think the new Roland Fantom may be the same concept also.

I think do what works naturally for you, as you can seperate the tracks by MIDI channel very easily at a later date anyway. MIDI's very flexible once you've got it on the timeline and Cubase is strong in feature set.

Very interesting comments.

I'll have a look at Montage/MODX, but the "scenes' concept is clear enough. Interesting. I see how it might be awkward.

Good points about the MIDI tracks, thank you. You're right. The traditional way is fine and Cubase does have all the many ways to split, extract, copy and so on. I like working with MIDI in Cubase but still have much to learn and use more. I get the job done, but sometimes think there are better ways of doing things and there often are. I've overlooked functions and misunderstood things and not used features enough to realize it's better to ask than not. We get into a workflow which works, but it may be not as good possible.

I agree. The dialogue between users and developers of new DAW and VST offerings should move in positive directions with the user's needs leading the way. We have to keep telling them what we want and need or they'll go off and do crazy things we don't really need or want or understand. Or things that don't work. Hypes and ripoffs.

Thanks for your thoughts, very helpful. :-)
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Re: Using Single MIDI Track with Multiple MIDI Channels? Best practices?

Post by skijumptoes » Wed Sep 18, 2019 12:10 am

Stephen57 wrote:
Tue Sep 17, 2019 11:20 pm
Good points about the MIDI tracks, thank you. You're right. The traditional way is fine and Cubase does have all the many ways to split, extract, copy and so on. I like working with MIDI in Cubase but still have much to learn and use more. I get the job done, but sometimes think there are better ways of doing things and there often are. I've overlooked functions and misunderstood things and not used features enough to realize it's better to ask than not. We get into a workflow which works, but it may be not as good possible.
While there are better ways, there's always a trade off somewhere.

There's other considerations too, like if your MIDI hardware only has a stereo out and you've got 6 MIDI tracks sequenced in. Once it's time to mix down to audio you want an easy way of solo'ing each track by MIDI channel to get the audio into Cubase. That's not an issue if you're using a multi-out keyboard/module OR you just want to mix the whole 6 tracks as one audio file of course - depends how you work.

The other benefits of seperate tracks is being able select the tracks in cubase and your MIDI hardware only responds to that channel (ensuring MIDI local off on your kb of course), i really like having a 16 channel performance setup on my workstation and flicking through chans 1-16 by cursor up/down on my keyboard (or mapped controls on my workstation). I can even select Channel 10 (Drums) and play in using my Roland V Drums no matter what channel it's sending on. So that's a few reasons why i prefer to have seperate tracks per device, per MIDI channel.

And it's so simple to drop them into a folder so you can hide/expand when needed.

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Re: Using Single MIDI Track with Multiple MIDI Channels? Best practices?

Post by raino » Wed Sep 18, 2019 1:13 am

Really the only time I ever use multiple channels within a MIDI Part is for writing SATB style lines and only because it is easy to access the different lines all together. But even then it can be a problem if the VSTi is using an Expression Map because the articulations are channel specific. So if I need to do that I'll use several MIDI Tracks routed to an Instrument Track (almost never use Rack Instruments anymore). Then each voice/channel has its own Part which can be edited all together like if they were all in one Part. But then each Part can also be edited separately making it easier to edit articulations.
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Re: Using Single MIDI Track with Multiple MIDI Channels? Best practices?

Post by Stephen57 » Wed Sep 18, 2019 4:14 am

raino wrote:
Wed Sep 18, 2019 1:13 am
Really the only time I ever use multiple channels within a MIDI Part is for writing SATB style lines and only because it is easy to access the different lines all together. But even then it can be a problem if the VSTi is using an Expression Map because the articulations are channel specific. So if I need to do that I'll use several MIDI Tracks routed to an Instrument Track (almost never use Rack Instruments anymore). Then each voice/channel has its own Part which can be edited all together like if they were all in one Part. But then each Part can also be edited separately making it easier to edit articulations.
Right. That's very good, Rodger. Thank you for sharing that insight. I use similar workflow. I don't use the Rack as a rule. Even on multitimbral instruments I use the an Instrument Track and then open up MIDI Tracks and Audio Outputs as needed for the parts. Those all often go into a Folder to keep things in one place.

I was working on a project that had a set of similar voices and wanted to consolidate to one fader. Voices ABCD on MIDI Channels !-4 all on a single MIDI Track and hence controlled by the one fader. I realized I'd not really explored working like this in Cubase. I think I understand it better now. but there's a few things I'm still not clear on. I see I'm able to just change MIDI channels on the Info Line and the notes change color to reflect the channel.

Questions:

1. On Recording, if I record on Channel 1, stop, Change MIDI Track to channel to 2, punch-in Record, on the same MIDI Track, is the channel of the recorded data changed? Then, on playback, the MIDI Track is set to All and the voices change as the part plays? Do I have that right?

I did make this work but I don't feel I really knew what I was doing?

2. I'm not clear on this. Is it possible to change the channel of MIDI notes on a single MIDI Track after they are recorded?

If I record notes on MIDI Channel 1, is it possible to change their assignment to Channel 2? For this particular project that would be a good way to do it. That's how this whole damn thing started! LOL, I know I can just use another MIDI track, but this is Cubase and we like to make life difficult. No, there are practical reasons for handling this part this way -- saves time, organized, concise. Do more with less... etc.

3. I looked at the Logical Editor and Project Editor but didn't see any function to set a note's MIDI channel on a MIDI Track. I'll look again.

4. If I select notes in the Key Editor and then just change the channel on the info line, does that change the MIDI channel of the selected notes? If not, boo hoo. I didn't try this and just thought of it now.

Thanks for all your help. I know I asked a bunch of questions, but it's really all "one question" per the topic.

Best to you,
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Re: Using Single MIDI Track with Multiple MIDI Channels? Best practices?

Post by raino » Wed Sep 18, 2019 11:03 pm

Stephen57 wrote:
Wed Sep 18, 2019 4:14 am

Questions:

1. On Recording, if I record on Channel 1, stop, Change MIDI Track to channel to 2, punch-in Record, on the same MIDI Track, is the channel of the recorded data changed? Then, on playback, the MIDI Track is set to All and the voices change as the part plays? Do I have that right?

I did make this work but I don't feel I really knew what I was doing?
Yeah, pretty sure that works that way (without actually checking). But alternatively you could leave the Track set to ALL and change the channel number on your keyboard controller. ALL will record whatever channels it gets at its input.

2. I'm not clear on this. Is it possible to change the channel of MIDI notes on a single MIDI Track after they are recorded?

If I record notes on MIDI Channel 1, is it possible to change their assignment to Channel 2? For this particular project that would be a good way to do it. That's how this whole damn thing started! LOL, I know I can just use another MIDI track, but this is Cubase and we like to make life difficult. No, there are practical reasons for handling this part this way -- saves time, organized, concise. Do more with less... etc.

3. I looked at the Logical Editor and Project Editor but didn't see any function to set a note's MIDI channel on a MIDI Track. I'll look again.

4. If I select notes in the Key Editor and then just change the channel on the info line, does that change the MIDI channel of the selected notes? If not, boo hoo. I didn't try this and just thought of it now.
In the Key Editor if you want to change all the notes (or it's easy to select only the notes you want to change) select them and change the value on the info line. If the notes you want to change are mixed together with ones you don't then you might want to fire up the Logical Editor. I'm not at my DAW right now but when I get there (all of 40 feet) I'll post some pics of LE presets useful for this stuff.
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Re: Using Single MIDI Track with Multiple MIDI Channels? Best practices?

Post by Stephen57 » Thu Sep 19, 2019 11:56 pm

raino wrote:
Wed Sep 18, 2019 11:03 pm
Stephen57 wrote:
Wed Sep 18, 2019 4:14 am

Questions:

...
In the Key Editor if you want to change all the notes (or it's easy to select only the notes you want to change) select them and change the value on the info line. If the notes you want to change are mixed together with ones you don't then you might want to fire up the Logical Editor. I'm not at my DAW right now but when I get there (all of 40 feet) I'll post some pics of LE presets useful for this stuff.
The dim bulb is getting brighter.

Copping to this right off. Since working in Cubase I've changed my MIDI thinking. In the old way, I'd have simply changed the map on the MIDI 8 Port Router and transmitted on the needed MIDI channel to the selected MIDI Track. Duh! :-) :oops: Anway, this has me envisioning a possible feature request where routing would be more like it was with MAPs, which is actually much like what is used in DANTE network routing, etc. ...for another post. I don't use a lot of physical controllers anymore and don't miss -- 22 midi cables, 44 audio lines, 9 AC lines, etc. .. So, yes got it. D'OH! Thank you for reminding to just change the controller. :oops:

The select and Info Line change seems to work. Cubase's MIDI handling is good but they really don't explain it well enough in the OM.

I need to understand more about how Assign Voices to Notes works. I haven't made use it enough. I typically don't write SATB parts, but I'm wondering? May we assign ranges of selected notes to a voice? That might be useful. Anyway... that's for another post.

Screen shot suggestions on the Logical editors are always welcome. I think based on what you've said here I do understand better. Next time I'm with time for it, I'll work on it. One or two good Macros and I'll be all set. :-)

I'm glad I ran into this "problem." It's been very helpful and provided a good solution, a good workflow. I like the Keep it Simple method. Having the parts on a single track really is a cool part of how Cubase works. Other DAWS and Sequences didn't do this. As I recall, a MIDI track, if not set to Omni, was single channel only per track (per port). I never needed more than the 128 midi channels the 8-port router provided.

Thank you! :-)
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Re: Using Single MIDI Track with Multiple MIDI Channels? Best practices?

Post by raino » Fri Sep 20, 2019 10:30 pm

Here's some LE Preset examples I've found useful for multi channel editing

This just selects all the notes on MIDI Channel 2. I have 4 variations of it for channels 1-4.
Select Ch2.JPG
(48.06 KiB) Not downloaded yet

This flips it around and sets the selected notes to MIDI Channel 4. Again there are 4 variations.
set sel note to ch4.JPG
(50.98 KiB) Not downloaded yet

This assigns MIDI Channel number based on the note's position in the chord. Cubase counts position from the bottom up (starting with 0 for the lowest note). I have 3 variations of this for channels 2-4 (didn't need channel 1 as that's how they start off). I've strung these together in a Maco so I can take a 4 note chord and quickly divy it up SATB with a keystroke.

Limitations: It expects a 4 note chord. If the chord is only 3 notes they will be on channels 2-4 but not 1. Also if a chord has a note in it that is sustained from a previous note Cubase will only count its position in the chord it begins in but not in the chord it extends into. These situations are usually pretty easy to clean up afterwards if the notes are colored by channel.
2nd lowest note in chord ch3.JPG
(57.21 KiB) Not downloaded yet
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Re: Using Single MIDI Track with Multiple MIDI Channels? Best practices?

Post by raino » Sat Sep 21, 2019 1:36 am

This one will select all the notes not in the Scale or Chord.
Select notes not in current scale or chord.JPG
(51.59 KiB) Not downloaded yet

This one duplicates the selected notes 4 half-steps higher, or a major 3rd. Most likely you'd like a harmony line that is not exclusively a major 3rd, but this (and similar) presets are a good starting point for further edits.
Dup note +4 half steps.JPG
(48.44 KiB) Not downloaded yet
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Re: Using Single MIDI Track with Multiple MIDI Channels? Best practices?

Post by Stephen57 » Tue Sep 24, 2019 7:15 pm

These are great!

I wasn't finding or didn't understand the Scale and Chord property functions. There's so many ways to arrive at the same place so I under utilize the Logical Editors. I need to integrate them more since at times I end up doing more work than I have to.

I really appreciate the time you took to create the images and post them. Very helpful.

Thank you! :-)
-------------------------------------------------------
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Re: Using Single MIDI Track with Multiple MIDI Channels? Best practices?

Post by raino » Tue Sep 24, 2019 8:52 pm

Stephen57 wrote:
Tue Sep 24, 2019 7:15 pm
I wasn't finding or didn't understand the Scale and Chord property functions. There's so many ways to arrive at the same place so I under utilize the Logical Editors. I need to integrate them more since at times I end up doing more work than I have to.
For me at times I find it difficult to integrate new "tools" into my workflow because in the moment it ends up being quicker/easier to do it the old way rather than taking an extra moment for the new thing (what keystroke did I assign to that...?) - even though in the long run the new way will be faster.

If you are a Metagrider making buttons for LE-presets is a great combo.
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Re: Using Single MIDI Track with Multiple MIDI Channels? Best practices?

Post by Stephen57 » Tue Sep 24, 2019 9:52 pm

raino wrote:
Tue Sep 24, 2019 8:52 pm
Stephen57 wrote:
Tue Sep 24, 2019 7:15 pm
I wasn't finding or didn't understand the Scale and Chord property functions. There's so many ways to arrive at the same place so I under utilize the Logical Editors. I need to integrate them more since at times I end up doing more work than I have to.
For me at times I find it difficult to integrate new "tools" into my workflow because in the moment it ends up being quicker/easier to do it the old way rather than taking an extra moment for the new thing (what keystroke did I assign to that...?) - even though in the long run the new way will be faster.

If you are a Metagrider making buttons for LE-presets is a great combo.
I have it and have to going with it. I'm still not using it for the exact reason you mention. I'll have to get serious about it and spend time setting it up and learning it better. These examples you posted, however, are very helpful. Even if metragrid has presets for them or similar, seeing your examples and explanations in the threads and some others has helped tremendously.

I'm fully able to record multiple MIDI channels on a single MIDI track and now understand how to set notes on a single MIDI Track to various channels. It really is a nice way to handle some parts in some instances. :-)
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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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