How to use chord track correctly?

I recently bought Cubase Elements and now trying to leverage Chord Track feature to compensate for my not so good music theory skills.

I inserted a chord track into one of my experimental projects (trying to duplicate an existing song for learning purposes and also to create a karaoke version of the song) and then inserted a new Halion synth pad track and set the chord track to control the synth track.
Then I switched to the chord pad. What’s confusing is that I have to click on the synth track to make the pads work. If I click on the chord track itself, I see this:

I imagined that the supposed workflow is that I create chords on the chord track and then the chord track pushes the notes to other tracks. But now it seems I have to enable recording to hear the chords on a track, which is somehow counterintuitive - I imagined that the record button is for recording from external sources - audio, midi keyboards etc., not for internal Cubase track wiring (especially considering that I had already set the chord track to control the synth pad track).

At first, Cubase generated chords with additional base notes but I wanted to start with basic triads, so with some fiddling around I found that I can switch to Basic Player mode.

Then I started dragging the chords to the chord track and fiddling with them and found a few issues. I must be doing something wrong.

  1. After dragging the C major chord to the chord track, it sounds in lower octave, not the same as when I click the C pad in the chord pads area. How do I set the octave of a chord?

  2. I drag a C major, then open its editor, then click on C inside it … and the notes get shifted around! It’s still the same C maj chord, but modified. How do I stop Cubase from doing that “automagically”? Is it the adaptive voicing feature? Then what is it adapting to?

  1. It seems, the chords generate only noteOn events and no noteOff - my synth pad continues the last chord forever. Is there any way to tell the chord track how long should the last chord be?

  2. How do I correctly slave all my other instruments to the chord track? For example, how to create a quick&dirty arrangement by telling the synth pad track to always follow the main notes of the chord, the base track to follow the bottom note of the chord and the lead track to follow the top note of the chord track?

Ok, at least I found answers to 3 and 4:

  1. I have to put an empty chord marked with X at the end to stop the last chord

  2. The tracks have setting to follow base or chord of the chord track, but the counterintuitive thing was that I have to have at least some notes in a track to enable following the chord track. Strange solution again - I want the chord track to generate all notes for me, so why should I have any notes on the track at all…

Still, the issues 1) and 2) are total deal breakers. Is there really no way for me to specify, in what octave and what inversion I want my chord to be in? Does Cubase always make assumptions for me without any way to override it?

Add Instrument Track for example halion se and load a piano

Add a Chord track and where you see use monitored, click and select halion se

In the tool box select the draw tool, select your quantize and draw

For selecting the chords you will have to switch back to object selection tool for some reason

For the octave issue you can copy the chords to a midi / instrument track for editing by selecting all chords + option/alt and drag the chords to the midi / instrument track…

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Yeah, the fact that I have to finally drag the chord to the instrument track from the chord track somewhat kills the idea of “quick&dirty” experiment. I imagined that I could just configure the chords in the chordpad to match my desired scale (ok, this works) and then drag them to the chord track and then audition them through the instrument (this works only partially - Cubase messes up the chords and they don’t sound the same as on the chord pad).

For this reason I guess I’ll have to abandon the chord pad altogether and play with chords directly in the MIDI key editor.

You only drag when the progression fits. You can ise the chord track till then to get what you want.

Or just hold Alt (PC version) while using the default arrow tool. Works better IMO.

Ya, it would be nice to have direct wiring to multiple tracks from Chord Track, but it’s not possible. Using the ‘Monitor’ feature to achieve this is not a decent solution, either.

Well, in my case I didn’t even have a progression - I just dragged the very first basic C chord from the pad to the chord track and Cubase suddenly decided that it should be inverted and moved octave down without any obvious reason and no means to prevent this behavior :smiley: