An observation about orchestration in Cubase

This is an observation, not a moan. Cubase is currently the best DAW to do orchestration work in my view, because it has note expression, expression maps and a decent score editor. I am not quibbling with that.

What I want ot say is that IMO the whole orchestration methodology of creating templates is not working - no matter what DAW it is.

I have spent a good few weeks making templates for various orchestras, using expression maps, setting up mixers etc, but I have decided that this is NOT the way to go.

My reasons?

Well firstly most serious orchestrators have a number of orchestras, not to mention orchestral instruments that run in Samplers like Kontakt. If you are working on a piece its rare to find that you stick with one orchestra. If you set up a template, well how may instruments are included that are just redundant? And how many instruments are not there that will eventually be required?
The templates that I carefully set up, cause a lot of RAM usage around 6 gig for a full orchestra. I have decided this is not the thing to do and have gone back to loading instruments individually.

As far as i am aware, you cant audition individual instruments in Media bay (?) there is the issue of whether they are Play instruments, Kontakt, or VSL etc. But this is what you need to do! We need to be able to compare our instruments easily, then select the favoured instrument and load it without enormous set up issues or unecessary RAM demands.

This is the goal!

What is required is some way to Audition and load a single instrument easily - even from a mutli (no I mean multi, mutli is my dog). Some way to audition and choose say any oboe or violin from any package. its a tall order I know, but this is what is really needed, without having to create massive templates.

Its all currently too much struggle and it interferes with the creativity process

Just thought i would make the point to SB.


Is any of what you are trying to achieve available via HALion 4?

I’ve not tried much with templates but presets are handy with the downside of using the rack that outputs must be manually assigned. If that alone could be incorporated into some kind of preset I think that would save major time outlay.

Having said that yes, there is no mediabay audition of Kontakt instruments unfortunately (don’t know about HALion).

Of course even with VST presets you have the inevitable load/unload of newly required or “redundant” instruments, as well as having to create or remove outputs not only from the instrument itself but also the rack as well.

This is all supposed to happen with the DAW in stop mode, further wasting more time.

Fortunately many great strides have been made in the project page dealing with project structure and management but the rack seriously needs looking at, as well as potentially lanes notwithstanding having a better (new) way of working with multi-timbral instruments as single “tracks” or entities within a project so maybe now I am moaning :slight_smile:

Im a newschool newbie orchestration hobbiest, never felt the need to make templates cause yes there are lots of play, kontakt, halion 4 stuff im using.everyproject dif instruments(articulations) almost, fastest way is indidually open them and get inspired like that, too bad after some time my cpu runs full with i5 8 gb ram so ill have to bounce and that really stops my creativity cause its time consuming.Near future im hoping to turn to the 64 bit, hope that helps with cpu problem, are you orchestration maniacs all on 64 bit already?All instruments run smoothly?cheeros

Maybe a way of tagging a sound as being a string, wooodwind, brass, trumpet, oboe etc - wouild be a part solution, if there was some way of getting this into Media Bay?
Or maybe have some kind of ‘sample’ run or scale, for audiutioning a instrument - saved as a wav and easily accessible?

Isn’t it still more consistent than a real orchestra? You don’t know who’s going to come through that door and what they sound like. And there’s another fifty following!
This is still in it’s infancy considering the master composers had to do it in their heads for two hundred years.
Could always be improved aand what you suggest would indeed be handy, but “workflow”? I’d tend to leave that one out.
Some smartrrrs like me just thinks “Aye luxury… in my day we ad to compose while workin in t mine being whipped by slavedrivers apprentice for 18 hours a day” :mrgreen: “And no bluddy Cubase! We ad to carve music wi chisel on t coal” :mrgreen:

Of course your right in a sense Conman, but what I am talknig about here is improvements (not moaning about what we have got cos its amazing).
When computers first began, people used to build applications that mimicked the pen and paper forms they used, but although this to a limited extent is a solution, there are many things that a PC can do that a piece of paper cannot do - like cascade events. What I mean is that we used to have track sheets, hardware mixers scores and piano roles, and Cubase began by emulating these things, now we have sequencers and Cubase is probably the best IMO, but there is still room to think out of the box to imagine what could be…
OK so we have the jokes about asking Cubase to make the coffee, but beyond that, there ARE ways of improving the workflow for orchestrators. I can think of lots of things. We could have ‘enhanced notation’ which although based on notation, in a certain view a staff could contain other attribute symbols apart from the traditional - perhaps articulation names for example. In the key editor it would sometimes be useful to be able to see the staff instead of the controller lanes. A lot of work still needs ot be done to make the user experience more intuitive.

thats why I am posting about these things - to help SB develop what is already an excellent product.

Wouldn’t it be great if we could audition and then select any instrument (KOntakt of EWQL too) at the click of a mouse?

Sorry, nothing meant about moaning. I just see the ironies of traditional working and computer aided “time-saving”. Just a few humourous notes sounded in my head.
Being unused to orchestrating every day the feature you suggest is probably more handy for me, in fact, for the few times I do it. You can probably do in 5 minutes what it takes me an hour to do collecting the appropriate sounds, auditioning and discarding.

I’m sure there are quite a few, mostly undocumented, shorthand methods of writing music that could be implemented via macros. Maybe they’re already possible. If I get time I’ll look at the macros again and see if anything looks usable.

Someone has had the bright idea to use the drum editor for chord entry in another thread but I think that’s another aspect than what you’re discussing.

Wouldn’t it be great if we could audition and then select any instrument (KOntakt of EWQL too) at the click of a mouse?

That does seem a natural way to develop.

No need for sorrries com=nman we are just discussing thats all :slight_smile:


I think the only way you will potentially be able to audition sounds easily is by converting them to HALion format for general usage, and then revert back to the original format(s) as needed unless there is some encryption that might prevent that from taking place.

In case its not clear, I ma not trying to solve these problems now - rather I ma talking about what would be the next step in the evolution of C6 maybe even C8.

When I was last converting files from Halion (in H3), it was a messy business.

I am not clear about how this could be achieved - maybe in VST4 the option to include a wave form sample for each instrument, maybe some kind of definable MIDI file in Media Bay that accesses the samples. Whatever way, and it is possible, its a genuine need to be able to hear all samples of all orchestral instruments in a comparative way, its the future.

Would creating templates containing favourite “orchestras” not be feasible? I understand you’d have different scenarios each day but you could set up the core of a couple or three commonly used ensembles to use as a starting base.
I know there’s already a template but am not sure what it contains or if it’s useful and the stock templates can throw out some “things unknown!” messages if your computer doesn’t contain FX or instruments used in the stock templates.

For every instrument I currently set up there is an expression map (importable in VST3 only) to set up, there is the VSt multi set up, there is the instrument in the mutli to set up, there is the channel set up and there is the mixer set up - this excludes fx and reverb. Its a lot of setting up - too much for auditioning a sound quickly.

Yes you can use a Template (If you like working that way there is no harm) but my movie like stuff has a habit of going anywhere, I might strike up Omnisphere, or Absynth, or use the Tam Tam from Kontakt VSL (recommended).

A template is like a one size fits all thing, there is redundancy, you can set up a template so that all the samples are unloaded in the multi (If you have a day to spare) but I am suspicious about the load just a unloaded multi put on the machine. Then there is percussion. I never know what I am going to need (or where it is sometimes!) - so to make a template with ALL the percussion - well maybe not.

Ever tried to find the right snare across several applications?

We seem to have a plethora of different ‘browsers’, one for omnisphere, another for Stylus, one for PLay, one for Halion, another fror KOntakt, then there is Media Bay too.

My view is that its the Sequencer’s job to host the directory of sounds, and Cubase does a pretty good job of things, its a very capable browser - Media Bay. It doesnt cover all the bases though. Thyere is room for improvement here.

We are still spread across so many browsers in so many different locations.


Some kind of industry standard tag like Oboe=DG407 Tam Tam’s 407B (or whatever) plus a catagory index - a cross platform index stabndard, where any ‘spooky’ sound has a spooky tag; preinstalled - all set up for us.
With such a system Cubase could 'host libraries from the different browser set ups. If you wanted only the omnishpere sounds then you could select Omnisphere from a drop down list in Media Bay. When youctrl + click on a sound then you get a message "do you want to load this sound? With the accompanying parameter choices.

Here is an idea!

If every developer was to supply a basic mapping of its sampled sounds in Halion Sonic SE format, then Halion Sonic could be employed to integrate and play the sounds in Media Bay. This file could be supplied in some kind of basic keyzone mapping - the equivalent of a txt file - no bells and whistles.
This way ALL sounds that are supplied this file (and this sort of thing is straight foward to map in Halion 4) will be auditionable in Media Bay.

It already exists as part of the MIDI specification but you would know this already and of course it’s not entirely appropriate to use sample dumps just to listen and it probably would be time-consuming as well.

MediaBay is a great idea and is my go to place to find anything not immediately apparent but the problem lies in the proprietary nature of sample libraries generally. For example would it be wise for NI to allow media-bay to read the .nks format or .nkm or even .nki just to hear and subsequently load an instrument, bank or archive?

Probably not since it would then negate the file management facilities of those plugins that use it.

A good product that went to the wayside of course was Kore, but in saying that I am quite confident in saying that the program modules used in HALion, ie VST 3.5 would be freely available for other manufacturers so it’s one of those situations like drag & drop from VST 2.4 plugins.

You make some good points Ganglia - I am just trying to think my way out of the current box.

I ma talknig of a developer of say Kontakt supplying a Halion Sonic file extension set of sounds mapped out for auditioning.
No need fro Cubase to read NKS.

Yes certian sounds would be tricky.

Synths would not be easy - except stock sounds

Never used Kore

You could leave the current Play/kontakt/halion browser alone - if people are happy with that they can use it. However the simple suppluying of a halion format auditioning file would mean that the sounds could appear in some standard way in Cubase’s Media Bay (assuming the technology for Haklion SOnic could be lent to the browser - behaind the screen.

Thanks for the objections the stone that files away the knife sharpens the blade :slight_smile:

If you’re doing heavy orchestration, you should really look into Veinna Ensemble Pro, or something similar. You actually DO want the whole thing loaded, if you have the RAM for it. The problem is that when you store it as plugs within Cubase, you have to load and reload with every song. Now…Win7’s caching has improved this dramatically, but, still…

You load your VEP template with your “full orchestra”…and a Cubase MIDI template with all the midi tracks mapped to VEP.

Come to think of it…that should be a feature of Cubase 6.5/7—letting you select a “global instrument rack” that will load on boot and not unload/reload with every song.

That said…the other solution is SSD. I’m about to invest in a PCIE SSD solution for my VSL stuff. They have now enabled you to load 1/10th of the sample data into RAM if it’s on an SSD, which in turn is say 10 times faster at loading to RAM…the two together means you have HUGE “every articulation” instruments loading in seconds.

I really don’t do heavy orchestration. I do strings for pop tunes. But, I have felt the pain enough since moving to 64bit that I’m going to go the route of the SSD, and committing more to VSL.

But, if you’re really going to be doing HUGE full orchestrations…and your collection of samples is prohibitively large (for SSD), look into VEP.

I mean, this isn’t really a Cubase problem. There’s no other sequencer that does that any better.

Hi Popmann
I have some VSL but like many of us its to price prohibitive to have it all, and I cant think you really meant loading it all into RAM.
I like Halion for its note expresssion capability, but its pretty cut down in terms of fancy articulations like col legno. It also does not have some very basic instruments like a harp even. EWQLSO is also part of my set up and probably better across the board than anything else I have. I also have GPO an old version and am thinking about getting the Garrititans world instruments and Big Band too.
This sort of collection of libraries is pretty typical these days the issue is how to harness it all, there is no point having a sample if you dont know what it sounds like, or where it is. On the other side if you have not got the right sound then this is also a show stopper.

My view is we need to access sounds by type, by name and anally 0! no, I mean arually :wink: .

I went through all my omnisphere presets the other day and categorised them, for a new project I am embarking on - it took me three days! and this is only one instrument! Can I remember any of the sounds? - well I suppose about ten of them.
Spectrasonics merge their Trillian library browser with Omni, but they have a different browser for Stylus, then there are all the other libraries for GPO Play Kontakt Halion Halion Sonic etc etc - my head hurts when I think about it!
Some people will be happy with this multibrowser type approach, but I vote for a universal library browser ALL handled by the Sequencer - one learning curve and all your sounds in one place, categorised and serachable by the excellent Media Bay features.
This is going to be an increasing issue for all of us

But, you don’t have your basic orchestration set of sounds? Neither here nor there, I guess…you want to be able to sample third party libraries in the media bay.

I, on the flip side, have never found any good use for the entire media bay concept.

I was suggesting you load all the sounds you typically need. Most of the big ones disk stream, so you’re lading the buffers into ram. But, yes…load what you need into vep (or similar) and leave it there with the cubase template just pointing to it.

The thing about the Ssd…was about Vsl’s optimization that loads 1/10th of the ram it needs on a magnetic drive…thus the drive is many times faster AND it loads 1/10th the amount, which should make opening it all inside cubase project to project less painful.