Musical time + linear time: a question

As an experiment, I created a midi track that contains a simple melody, and switched that track’s inspector setting from ‘musical’ time to non-musical time.

I then copied that midi event to a second midi track, but kept that track’s setting as “musical”.

I then created a tempo track with wildly divergent tempi, and saw that the second midi track played back in accord with that tempo track.

I was then able to playback both midi tracks, with the first playing back at the original tempo while the second played back according to the new tempo track (a very cheap way of creating ‘micro-polymeter’! :wink:)

However, I then noticed that re-toggling either (or both) of those midi tracks – to/from ‘musical’ to ‘non-musical’ time – had no effect: each track remained committed to its original time setting.

Am I doing something incorrectly? Shouldn’t re-toggling re-assign the time mode of a midi track?

Thanks for any help you can offer!

If I understand the question, yes – but from the state it’s in when it’s switched back. This isn’t a ‘non-destructive’ function, so to speak. Does that make sense?


Wow, thank-you Steve! There’s no way I would have understood that without your help!

Just to make sure I understand:

Meaning that once I change the time in (e.g., in your example) track 2, re-toggling from musical to linear time will NOT destroy those changes that have just been made to track 2’s tempi?

If you happen to know of any Cubase Help pages that discuss this feature, I’d really love to see them.

Thanks again!

Conceptually, track time domain isn’t an editing feature, It’s a static state that can be changed, for various purposes. The way you’re using it, for example.

There’s not much else in the manual about it.

@raino put together some info: How Musical Mode and Linear/Musical Timebase Interact

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Thanks again, Steve!

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I’ve been experimenting with creating multiple tracks of the same melody, with each new track having its own tempo track. So far, the only way I’ve figured out has been to freeze each new midi track, which of course preserves the effects of its own tempo track, and allows me to create a new tempo track for the next new midi track.

Of course, if I then unfreeze one of those midi tracks, its melody immediately follows the current tempo track – its unique tempo track is lost.

I thought that I could simply undo (ctrl-z) the unfreezing move, but - alas - it seems that this is not possible. Is there a way of reversing an ‘unfreeze’ command, after the fact?


This is not possible. There’s only one tempo track in the daw. If you want a track to not follow changes in tempo leave it set to Linear time base, and it will take the same amount of time to play the passage regardless of the tempo.

You’re going to have to follow and use the existing functionality and jargon of the program.

Conceptually, start back from the definition of Musical and Linear time base and work from there.

Thanks, Steve.

However, I am able to – in effect – have more than one tempo track going, if I ‘freeze’ a track that is on musical time and was created with a unique tempo track, and go on to create a new tempo track for a new midi track – and then play everything – the original ‘linear’ track, the now frozen midi track (that was on musical time with its own tempo track), and the newest midi track (that is now responding to whatever the current tempo track is.

But I realize, now, that unfreezing a track means losing its original tempo track info.

Right. But if you continue to adopt this foreign concept you’re going to be running around in circles. The Tempo Track is the Tempo Track.

Maybe you should experiment with Track Versions on the Tempo Track.

Thanks for this tip, Steve – I will look into it.

Thanks again!

Hmm . . . not sure I understand: if you mean to use the Track Versions feature, I don’t see any way of saving unique tempo tracks for each version. Did you mean something different?

Track Versions of the Tempo Track, is what I referred to.

Thanks – I didn’t realize the tempo track can also have Track Versions!

However, I still don’t see how this might enable multiple - i.e., simultaneous - tempo tracks, for different midi tracks – as you said, the tempo track is the tempo track. What am I missing?

You are trying to use a tool for a different purpose. You can’t have more than 1 tempo at any given moment in Cubase. If you want to create “polyrhythm” you have to measure it against the “main” tempo. If you want to have a 3:2 “resonance” let’s use an orbital term here, you can time stretch the second part so that it has 1,5 times the length of the “main” track.

You CAN keep doing what you’re doing, which is:

  • Have identical MIDI data on 2 tracks.
  • Turn 1 to linear time base, so that changing the tempo does NOT affect it.
  • Change tempo. You have different “tempos” going on. (Not really, but you can put it like that if you want)
  • Turn the second track to linear time, (so that none of the tracks are affected)
  • Change tempo back to original.
  • Turn track 1 to musical time base.
  • Duplicate it, and start a second batch.

…But I don’t know if this is intuitive. You can just stretch the MIDI part with the 3rd mode of the selection tool and achieve the same result.

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Thanks, ggmanestraki. No – I’m going for an almost ‘heterophony’ effect, which would be very fluid, and involve many unpredictable tempo changes (both gradual and sudden). To write this as polymeter would be a huge task. (I’ve done a lot of polymetric music in the past, using Cubase, and – if my memory serves me – I had figured out the various ways of handling it in Cubase.)

I think I’ve been doing something very similar – if not identical – to the procedure you kindly describe, and it’s (to me) very simple.

Not sure I understand: what is the 3rd mode of the selection tool? (I’m using an old version of Cubase). Do you mean the Time Warp tool?

I appreciate your (and Steve’s) help!

Hm, does the free warp tool work on MIDI? Haven’t tried yet. That would be the easiest yet.

To me, if scoring is not a prerequisite (e.g. track 1 MUST see quarter notes at 96 tempo, track 2 MUST see quarter notes at 144 tempo, they play together at whatever measure each staff has and they meet up every X measures), stretching is the easy way out, IF you want to re-use the exact same material.

I don’t doubt you can keep working like you do. We’re just saying that you need to keep a very keen eye on the Time Base buttons and the tempo track at all times with this method. Personally I would find that exhausting. But we’re different people!

Thanks, ggmanestraki. I’ll look into the object selection tool’s time-stretch capabilities very soon!

Yes, I think I recently applied Time Warp to VST midi tracks . (I apologize for my vagueness – I’ve been away from Cubase for a long time, and have been learning more, and experimenting more, very recently, but – until I have the time to make notes of what I’ve been discovering – it’s a little bit of a blur at times).

This is just my hunch (I haven’t tried the Time Warp feature for what I’m after in this particular thread), but it seems to me that the Time Warp approach and my “change-the-tempo-track, and then freeze the midi track” are probably, at bottom, the same thing.

So far – I’ve just begun to experiment with it – I haven’t experienced too much confusion concerning the various time base buttons, and I’m very used to using the tempo track to create detailed rubato, so I find manually manipulating the tempo track very direct and intuitive.

Thanks again!

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I think you were very close with your initial approach of freezing the Track. Except instead of using Freeze use Render In Place & make sure the resulting Audio Files are NOT set to Musical Mode.

Thanks, Raino!
When I read about Render in Place, earlier today, I thought it might work well – but I’m still on Cubase 7.5 (I’m on a Windows 7 machine - not much point in trying to upgrade), which, as far as I know, doesn’t have Render in Place. But thanks for this heads-up.

. . . however – tho’ it will be more work – I could do the precursor to Render in Place by exporting the track to audio, yes?

Yup, that’ll work fine.