Let’s say I have two MIDI tracks on an external sequencer, the first that will send MIDI notes out via Cubase to a piano sound on an external tone generator using channel 1, and the second that will send MIDI notes out via Cubase to a string ensemble sound on the same external tone generator using channel 2. In this scenario, Cubase simply “echoes” the MIDI notes straight back out through some MIDI cabling to the mentioned tone generator. This “echoing” is achieved through the use of MIDI thru. The MIDI notes sent by the external sequencer thus trigger the corresponding pitch when echoed by Cubase using the corresponding channel on the tone generator. This works as expected. It’s pretty standard use of MIDI thru when switched on in the Cubase preferences. But things get confusing when I switch channels on the tone generator.
(The problem I have with MIDI thru… I’m not totally sure if it’s my fault and there’s an available workaround, or if it’s just the way Cubase is designed.)
If I select the string ensemble sound on the tone generator’s channel 2, and I send out MIDI notes from the sequencer’s channel 1, I would expect that nothing out of the ordinary would occur. I would expect that channel 1 on the tone generator would play back the notes sent from channel 1 on the sequencer, regardless of what MIDI channel I currently have “in focus” on my tone generator. This isn’t what happens though. The MIDI notes sent out from the external sequencer’s channel 1 will in fact trigger both the tone generator’s channels, 1 and 2, when echoed by Cubase and when the tone generator has channel 2 “selected”. So if I just want to send out notes for a piano, I end up hearing both a piano and string ensemble simultaneously simply because at that point in time, I’m editing the string ensemble.
It’s clear to me that the culprit is Cubase’s MIDI thru function. It seems that whenever I send a MIDI message from my sequencer to Cubase using any channel, Cubase will not retain the channel it was received on. It will just echo out the message with no channel at all associated with it, and therefore I end up triggering the tone generator’s “selected” channel. It’s odd that even given this logic, Cubase still manages to trigger the original, intended channel as well.
Could someone here please give me some insight into what exactly is going on here? Whether there’s any workarounds? Or whether I just have to live with this problem. I’ve tried messing around a bit setting up a “generic remote”, and this seems to have stopped the problem for the MIDI messages that I’ve tried it on. For example, MIDI CC 07 for channel volume. Having said that, I’m still incredibly curious as to why this is necessary, and what exactly is going on if my theory is incorrect.