How to align a midi project to an existing audio file?

I’d like to use an existing audio file as the basis for my midi grid in Cubase. In other words, I need to align the whole midi grid to the existing audio. The audio file is an entire tune with drums, bass, guitars and vocal. I’ve been consulting the manual and getting nowhere. Thanks.

Was the existing audio file recorded with a click track? Does it have a consistent tempo?

In this particular case (the piece is rhythmical), I’d use the TimeWarp Tool.
First, temporarily set all your tracks to Linear Timebase (clock icon in stead of quarter-note icon in each track’s Inspector).
Then, on your most regular rhythm track, use the TimeWarp Tool to drag Cubase’s Grid lines to correspond with the beats you are hearing (probably, once every bar should be sufficient here).
But do read up on the TimeWarp Tool, and also the function “Merge Tempo from Tapping” (which is, IMHO, a better method if the music isn’t very rhythmical… it’s a bit like being the “conductor” :wink: )

You could also try Project->Tempo Detection… First select the audio clip. But I must say that I’ve never had it work entirely across a whole song, so I usually end up going down the TimeWarp route because it’s quicker and more accurate for me.


Hi Gonga

I do this quite often. Insert the audio file into a blank project. make sure the track is in "Linear "mode not musical mode. Start the track and tap along to it to create a midi timing track. When you have finished this you can go back and edit any taps that might have been out of time. Highlight this track,then us the MID>Functions> merge tempo from tapping function, it’ll ask a couple of questions here which you’ll figure out I’m sure. Once this is done you have to Turn On The Tempo Track! this fooled me for a while as I didn’t spot it when I first attempted it, then everything should be aligned. Hope this helps.

Best Regards


Yes, it had a consistent tempo.

Thanks everybody, I’ll try these suggestions.

Aloha guys and very kool and ‘right on’ suggestions.

@Dave. Very nice/clear approach.
Should be a sticky somewhere.


This is a “sticky” in the manual…

This is a “sticky” in the manual…[/quote]

A page reference would be nice ?

I am a cover to cover manual guy. Alway have been.

And of course I know this info is in the manual but the printed page has limitations.
Especially when it come to music creation.

The first words Dave stated:

I do this quite often

Some folk have a ‘knack’ (I call them good teachers) for laying out words
in a way that way many humans can perceive. In this case musicians.

IMHO Dave’s post achieves this goal and even tho’ I know how to do this process,
still I thank him for his contribution to the topic/question.

Yep, feel free to post it for others, after you simply typed “Merge tempo from tapping” in your pdf reader´s search function, as vic_france had also mentioned above.

OK. I’ve read the manual on the time warp/click tempo situation.
I added a live rendition of a score I’m re-realizing to adapt to another use. Yes, I guess I’m re-tracking an existing performance… Of course I wanted to preserve the “conducted” tempo of the live rendition.
After a painstaking session of sliding points to the musical tempi of the live track, all my MIDI tracks that existed already (and not with the musical base, but with the time base icon) have slid all over the place and are no longer in synch with anything…

Can anyone help?
Pagliacci - Intermezzo MIDI Input (36.7 KB)

:exclamation: If all your tracks were set to Linear Timebase, that really shouldn’t have happened. Did you switch them to Linear Timebase before starting to manipulate the tempo?

After you built the new tempo track , did you turn it active (which is what it should be), or is it “off” and reading a static value throughout (120 BPM, e.g.)?

The tempo track is active (not fixed) but all my precious pre-composed MIDI tracks are all over the place. Is it standard practice to always build your conductor tempo track first, then score the MIDI or audio? I was under the impression anything that was scored to a regular beat before the time warp, would follow the time warpage…

It looks like I’ve got to re-score all these notes over again? :frowning: I thought maybe quantizing would be prudent, but anything as complex as an 1/8th triplet gets all messed up. And I’m not talking in “Score”. This is in the MIDI Key Editor.

I’m sure I’m missing something… I just wanted to say I included a zip that has a cpr in it, as an example.

Ok, is this what your situation was - did you have only MIDI tracks composed to a fixed tempo, and you want those tracks to flow to another tempo map of your choosing?

If that’s the case, I think you want to let them change as the tempo map changes, by having then in Musical Time Base as you adjust the tempo track.

If your situation is different, apologies for misunderstanding, but afaik, no matter what the specific situation, it definitely can be done!

Describe again, from the beginning, exactly what you did (I’m afraid that your uploaded .cpr doesn’t really tell me anything. Is that english horn actually playing correctly, even though it doesn’t line up with Cubase’s bars?)
You said you were “sliding points”… what was the source data? MIDI or audio?
In any case, so long as all the tracks are in linear timebase, changing the tempo will not affect what you actually hear, even if you somehow manage to get it to line up all wrong with Cubase’s grid.

[EDIT] Wait a minute!.. I have just noticed, in your cpr, that you had the Timewarp tool set to “Warp Grid (musical events follow)”. That is the wrong option in this case :wink:.
Do you still have a backup version of the project, before you started to modify the tempo?

TY I will proceed from here with this insight.