Import Sibelius Midi into Cubase

Hello, I have a bunch of Sibelius files that I’ve exported as musicXml and midi, and would like to import one of those types of files (which should I use?) into Cubase in order to do some Midi CC editing. Each file has the same 9 instruments/tracks - 5 to be played back by Garritan (Aria) and 4 to be played back by LASS (Kontakt).

In Cubase Pro 9, I"m thinking I’d want to create some sort of template first (with 9 Instrument tracks) and then import the midi into that template for each file. That way, I’d only have to set up the 9 Insrument tracks once with their correct VST playback sounds. How would I go about doing something like that?


MusicXML data will contain more information about your scoring. Some symbols, etc.

To make a template, just create an empty project, add your Instrument Tracks, and then Save it as Template. Templates are standard projects, just stored in a dedicated folder.

Then I would recommend to change the Preferences MIDI > Import, to import the MIDI File to the MIDI Tracks (not Instrument Tracks). Then you can just change the routing of your imported MIDI Tracks to the Instrument track. You don’t have to move the MIDI Parts to the tracks. If you decide to move the MIDI Parts to the Instrument Tracks, hold down Ctrl/Cmd modifier to make sure the MIDI Part stays on the same Start time as the original, and you don’t move it by mistake.

For me,

If my intent is to make a better sounding mock-up and ‘scoring’ is not important inside CuBase, I’ll use MIDI. This way the performance data (grooves, dynamics, etc.) will come into CuBase exactly as Sibelius played them at the time I did the export. Since I use instrument plugins other than Sounds for Sibelius 7 (stuff I can load and use in ALL of my DAWs), I’ll make it a point to save my plugin setups in the plugins (I.E. Save a preset in HALion 6, Kontakt Player, or ARIA Player, whatever…) in Sibelius before exporting it as a MIDI file.

Now when I bring the MIDI file into CuBase, I can quickly and easily route the tracks to identical instrument setups to what I was using in Sibelius (using the presets I made before I left Sibelius). Now I’m at the same starting place I left off from in Sibelius…including my tempo changes and such. I can go about making changes and enhancements in Cubase from here.

So…if you’re just doing playback work, and a fancy score isn’t part of the CuBase objective MIDI might be more convenient. If for some reason you need all of the scoring information in CuBase too, then go for XML (Or you could even do both, and keep the XML import in a different ‘muted’ folder).

MIDI exports from Sibelius are duplicates of the complete Sibelius ‘performance’. This can include all the ‘interpretations’ that Sibelius does while ‘playing back’ a score. I.E. Legato pedals, key-switches, tempo changes, special groove applications, and the list goes on.

XML exports have no ‘interpretation data’ concerning actual play-back. That is more about getting all of the visual scoring information into the file. While you can build interpretations for the various symbols and markings in an imported ‘score’ using ‘expressionmaps’, Cubase doesn’t always match those up for you automatically at the time you do the ‘import’. I.E. I often have to ‘replace’ the imported hair-pin dymamics markings with new versions from inside CuBase before the expression maps start working. In some cases I can build things in an expression map that will attempt to translate things in the import (I.E. I can fudge terraced dynamics by having CuBase terrace CC7 anytime it comes across p, f, mf, etc.), but it’s kind of a round about process…

Thanks all for the great info!

Brian, I think your workflow is what I’m interested in. Since I was using external VST plugins in Sibelius (GPO and LASS) with sound sets, I was able to save off the Aria/Kontakt presets and open them in Cubase and route the imported Midi tracks to them, so that works fine.

My main goal in Cubase is to create a more “human” like performance, e.g. make 16th note runs less robotic. What tricks do you use loosen the strict quanitization that comes from Sib? Do you use Iterative Quanitize, or some Randomization of start times/velocity in Midi Modifiers, or the Logical editor?

First thing I usually do is convert all of the CC lanes into note expression containers. This way the all that expressive stuff binds to the notes and will quantize with them more or less in a ‘relative’ manner. Cubase fortunately has plenty of tools to go back and forth between keeping expressive data contained with each note, or free flowing on CC lanes as needed.

Next, I play with the humanization stuff in the track inspector. Some of that stuff can work in real time, somewhat random, and never ‘exactly the same twice’. You can allow weights and such to how much humanization occurs. Examples are humanizing the note on and note off events by a given percentage.

Next thing I do is spin off anything that was using a group ensemble patch and build sections from individual solo instruments. I’ll still usually keep the ensemble patches in the mix, but at lower volumes depending on if I want more punch and clarity in articulations, or a more lush and loose feel.

From there, if I need more I start working with individual tracks. MIDI Logic editors are among my favorite tools here…they just allow me to move alot of stuff in a more batch-like way. I.E. Find any note close to beat three from measures 12 - 16 and lower velocity 11%. I.E. Scale the CC1 events for that crescendo down by 5. Sometimes to do these sorts of edits I’ll need to convert my VST3 note expression stuff back out to CC lanes until I’m done.

On grooves, in general I find that Sibelius does a pretty good job of laying those before I export them (I.E. If I wanted a heavy swing, or a strong first beat in 2/2, or whatever). When it doesn’t quite get it right, it’s usually just a matter of mixing up the tempos a bit, and smoothing out velocities or volume CCs with the MIDI Logic Editor. In some cases with odd complex meters I might find it easier to just turn off the grid snap and set the groove manually note by note (again, having the expression stuff bound to the notes as VST3 expression events help when shifting stuff around in time).

If push comes to shove, you can even record your own grooves as a MIDI track and quantize to those…it just takes a little practice.

By this point it should already be sounding much more musical…so make your final touches to each solo player in your built up ‘sections’ to make them more like a real musician would do (micro tonal pitch changes [or portamento effects], vibrato/tremolo, dynamics, extra articulations, overtones and harmonics, etc.). Sometimes I’ll literally listen to a particular musician who’s style I want to try mimic a bit. If you listen closely you can pick up subtle things players do that can sometimes be mimicked a bit in sampled or synthesized instruments.

Towards the end I’ll consider adding ‘nosie’ (As in what it sounds like when an open mic just sits in an empty venue). Room and or crowd noise, instruments clattering and clanking, those sorts of touches. Effect chains, how things are panned out, and room simulation all come into play here as well.