Arrangement / Organization Tips?

Howdy folks! To give some quick background, I’ve been writing music – mostly electronic – since the early/mid 90s, starting with the trackers of yore (FastTracker, etc). I graduated to FruityLoops (now FL Studio) and Reason in the early 00s, but moved to Nuendo shortly after, as I started writing more live-based music and began playing drums in an indie pop/rock band.

I became quite comfortable with Nuendo from a recording/engineering standpoint, and even a sequencing standpoint for embellishments, string sections, etc. I ended up taking a bit of a hiatus from writing music because of work, but I’ve come full circle and have started up another 100% electronic project again. Being so familiar with Nuendo previously, I decided to purchase Cubase 5 as my primary DAW for writing.

However, I’m having a bit of trouble with keeping my arrangements organized, even with folders, which keeps killing my inspiration. Because this is a 100% electronic project, I’ve got a LOT of tracks (sometimes I do all my beats with audio), and when it comes time to start turning those little ideas into fully arranged pieces, it quickly becomes a nightmare.

Trying to copy/paste hundreds of snippets of audio and midi across multiple tracks often ends in mistakes, and I quickly lose visual tracking of which piece/section is which. With pattern-based editors, it was always a breeze to copy/paste a section, make some edits (add or remove), play it, and move on, but when my sessions become untold blocks of edits everywhere it’s a bit stifling and I end up spending more time finding pieces I accidentally moved, deleted, etc.

I’ve gotten very good at organizing my tracks using folders and busses from the start of a project, so that area is clean, but I really need some tips with keeping things tidy and organized in very visible BLOCKS when arranging, so I can quickly shift parts around, or duplicate and modify without screwing up the song.

I’m sure many of you have great workflows and I’d love to hear how you handle songwriting / arranging in Cubase.

Thanks all!

You probably already do this but: colour your parts so you recognise which go together.

Yeah I’ve been doing that since Nuendo, which definitely helps!

I’ve spent the entire evening just digging into the manual and seeing how some of the standard tools I’ve never bothered to learn might help me, and am discovering that Event Parts might be exactly what I’ve been looking for. I’m weird and obsessive-compulsive and don’t like bouncing/mixing things down until it’s all done (I like to go back and made small edits) and Event Parts allow me to do that. I can now make a complex beat / resampled bassline, turn it into an event part and I’ve got a nice beautiful BLOCK I can treat like a repeatable pattern.

I’m still curious to hear others workflows for writing! Recording/mixing flat tracks is in the bag for me, but having very complicated compositions with many tracks/instruments is a different animal.