Microtonal Piano Roll

Hello, I’m a Nuendo user but I guess this feature request is better suited to Cubase.

Microtonal electronic music producer Sevish explained very well the issues with the traditional keyboard layout, and how piano rolls in DAWs could be improved, so I’d just give you a link to his post: Why DAW developers should design a better piano roll - Sevish

Further informations can be found on the wiki dedicated to microtonal tunings: DAWs - Xenharmonic Wiki

Microtonal music is unexplored territory, so people who try it may sometimes use the new pitches a bit randomly and as a result it could not sound very good. I think a better piano roll could help musicians a lot to clear up confusion about the tunings they use, and the world would get more and better microtonal music. Would be cool if Cubase and Nuendo accompanied this journey!

Here are some stuff in microtonal tunings:
Brendan Byrnes - Sunspots - 27 EDO
Sevish - Everyone - Just Intonation
Sevish & benyamind - Ancient Love - 17 EDO
FASTFAST - Phantom Galaxy NGC 628- 22 EDO
Colourblind (Live) - Hear Between The Lines feat. Subhraag Singh - 31 EDO
Sprite Fright - 31 EDO (made in Dorico!)

Thanks for reading

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This is super interesting, of course, I love the music of Ben Johnston, who imo, proved that cadences exist outside the 12 tone system, and I have played music of other microtonal composers like John Eaton, and also play Maqam based music, which is microtonal.

But the problem is that midi is still based on 12-tones, so it would not be enough for Steinberg to create a configurable grid, there would have to be a standardized set of messages, and virtual instruments to receive them.

Well, there are. Cubase and Dorico provide a proprietary way to do this, which in Dorico uses accidentals and pitch info in notation, and sends tuning info per note like the Cubase Microtuner insert sends, and Cubase uses the er, Microtuner insert – if the receiving instrument can understand.

Dorico has an implementation using accidentals, analogous to written sheet music, and the user can create their own tuning systems.

Reapers solution is strictly graphical, I presume. Bb and A# would actually play the same midi note in the synth or sampler, absent tuning info.


Retuning virtual instruments is possible with specific tuning files that contain microtonal tuning data. Here is a list of instrument plugins with microtonal support: List of microtonal software plugins - Xenharmonic Wiki

These files can be generated with softwares like Scala or Scale Workshop.

In fact, Cubase doesn’t need to change the way it sends MIDI data to virtual instruments. The points for suggested improvement are only visual. Allowing the musician to custom the pattern of white and black keys and its number of notes, to specify which of the 128 MIDI notes is the starting point where the pattern repeats above and below, and maybe allowing more than 2 colours (black and white) for the keys. It could also be useful if the musician could give a name to each note of the pattern.

I understand your points, and am not saying anything against the idea – I think it would be fantastic. Personally I would set my expectations low for all you describe to be implemented in the near future, meaning over the next 5 years.

But that’s just my opinion, of course.