how to set up midi for string composition

I could do with some help in how to set up midi for string composition
ie 5-6 instruments

I have CB Elements 9 + steinberg symphony installed

My working method up to now has been to record the theme and then add the orchestration layers by hand but this is very limited.

Ideally I’d like to work with all the different instruments in one part
This seems to be happening in the wonderful tutorial from JUNKIEXL
Composing for strings Pt1 at for instance 22m 30secs

Can anyone give me a recipe for configuring any of this or point me to a tutorial or two that shows how to set it up?

W10 i7

He hasn’t got all the instruments in one part…I think that would be a nightmare. He’s just selected them all before opening the key edit window so that he can see and edit them all at the same time (which can indeed be very useful).

Create your tracks and parts, select them all (Ctrl_shift) then open the Key Edit window and you’ll be able to edit one at a time/switch between the instruments whilst they are all in view.

Many thanks for this. It sounds like exactly what I was missing. I’ll try it.

What also helps make life easier and speeds up your workflow is to create templates of groups of instruments like string quartet, orchestra, small and large, brass, wood, copper, perc, etc with efx and all. When you need them you can add them quickly with a few mouseclicks without braking your creative flow.

Getting there, this is all in place.
A few further questions. 1. how do I set up different articulations for the instruments, pizzicato legato etc? key switches? 2. is there a selection sequence for making a audio mixdown from these midi parts?
3. what are the ‘slots’ down the left side of the orchestra instrument interface for?

BTW I have read the manuals thoroughly but as so often they describe what can be done not how to do it!

W10 i7

  1. I don’t use HALion Symphonic Orchestra, I mainly use NI Kontakt libraries but they both use key switches. The best way to set them up is to use ‘expression maps’, but I see you use Cubase Elements and these are only supported by the Pro version. However you can still write them in as midi notes in your key editor. It will change to the desire mode (pizzicato, legato, ect.) just the same. it’s just a little more inconvenient than using expression maps.

  2. You can use file >> export >> audio mixdown to write a selection or all of your tracks to a WAV file (or other formats) as a completed mx. To write separate tracks to a separate audio track you can use ‘render in place’. And further process these if desired.

  3. These are slots where you can predefine your instruments patches. Slot 1 / midi channel 1 / basses. Slot 2 / midi channel 2 / cello’s. Slot 3 / midi channel 3 / viola 's etc. You can save them as presets in HSO and load them when you need them. Or you can just fire up separate instances of HSO (but that could result in more cpu usage). It all depends on how you want to work and how you want to build up a project.

That’s exactly also my main issue with the Cubase manuals! It’s an enumeration of menu items with a short description but far from explaining on how to do things. Fortunately they have some great video’s on YouTube and there’s more by companies like ASK video and Groove3 that go into more detail but they cost money.

This has all been very helpful but I still can’t see how to use the Expressions and Expression controller menus in the Orchestra front page (in CB Elements 9)

I guess the Expressions options relate to key switches but they don’t appear to have any effect and the controller menu doesn’t make any sense at all. Any clarification on this would be welcome.

More specifically, in a test piece I have written using Ensemble strings long phrases surge in an unacceptable way, how can I avoid this crescendo?

Lastly, the manual speaks highly of the Xfade mode ‘a program type related to expression control’ especially crescendo control, is this implemented/usable in Elements 9?

As I said earlier, getting there, but clearly there is still a long way to go

Key switches are just notes like any other, usually in the lower octave below the lowest note (E1) a double bass can reach. The keys that are implemented represent a playing mode. So if pizzicato is mapped to F and you press this note all notes you play now are extremely short until you press another key switch. For instance G mapped to marcato. This will be a bit longer but more aggressive. There is also a expression controller (midi cc 11) and that is mainly used to control the volume in a more subtle way than midi cc 7.

First you must make sure you have the correct key switch. Probably ‘legato’ is what you want here. And then you can control this behavior further with the modulation wheel (midi cc 1). So when you play the note softly you start with a lower modulation setting and let the note swell by turning it up. Fully up(value 127) is loud and aggressive, totally down (value 0) is almost muted. This way you can accomplish a fairly natural feeling in creating crescendo/decrescendo’s.

Lastly, the manual speaks highly of the Xfade mode ‘a program type related to expression control’ especially crescendo control, is this implemented/usable in Elements 9?

As I said earlier, getting there, but clearly there is still a long way to go[/quote]

No worries, you’ll get there. I takes time and effort to get your direction. Hope this helps?

I appreciate your time with this conversation I will explore the key switches which seem simpler than I thought.

How to implement what appears in the Expression drop down menu and ‘xfade’ remains obscure.

I understand that xfade means that modulation of a single note may involve moving/crossfading between as many as four stereo layers but I can’t find any pointers to which instruments this does or does not apply to, or whether, as I suspect, they are not available under Elements 9. Any thoughts on that?

On a quite different topic, I have installed Elements 9 as a way of developing material when I am away from Cube 8.5 Pro which is quite often. Is there anything I need to look out for in transferring .cpr work from CB Elements9 to Cubase 8.5?

Xfade as you describe it is something totally different than using key switches. Seeing you also use C8.5 Pro…take a look in the manual and look for ‘expression maps’. For some more clarification take a look at this video and there’s lots more on the subject on You Tube:

From Elements to Pro you’ll have no issues but vice versa you must be careful not to use ‘important’ functionality for the project that Elements doesn’t provide. One would be ‘Expression Maps’! Hard to say exactly what of course. You could take a look at the comparison map to look a the differences. And of course the manual also reminds you with ‘Pro Only’.