Cubase composing tools

Hi :slight_smile:
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 :blush:

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

Any advice or help would be much appreciated :slight_smile:

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.


  • 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 :slight_smile:

Thanks a lot for the suggestions :slight_smile:
Will take a look and investigation further

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

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 :slight_smile:

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

Woah!! “Live Transform” now, thats a really cool feature I didn’t know about thanks a lot :slight_smile:

Thanks a lot Rodger,really helpful :slight_smile:

Hi Everyone :slight_smile:

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 :smiley:
Got more practice to do such as exporting the audio file to my desktop,but thats for later
Thanks again everyone for your help :slight_smile:

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.

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. :unamused:

Hilarious. :laughing:

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.

That technique works great for free jazz :wink: (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.

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 :blush:

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 :smiley:

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.

Hi :slight_smile:
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 :slight_smile:

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. :slight_smile:

Thanks a lot Stephen57.thats really helpful :slight_smile:

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 :slight_smile:

Thanks again for your help,its really appreciated. And of course really enjoying this discovery and learning stuff :smiley: