Note Overlays!


I hope they are coming to Dorico, too. I know the implementation can’t simply be a porting from Cubase, but I guess that something can be shared. Or, maybe Cubase just came first with something already boiling in the Dorico’s cave…

Then, maybe we will also have CC overlays?


Probably not something that could be shared. For different teams/architectures only distinct subsystems like the audio engine are generally done that way.

Anyhow by overlays I’m inferring you mean Play mode information, such as velocity/CC? Honestly I’m a fan of keeping that out. To me, using a programming analogy, MIDI is the “compiled” version of music. It’s just for the computers use, though unfortunately we still have to muck with it to get a believable performance. Last thing I want to do is dirty up my beautiful score with assembly code :slight_smile:

I have a three monitor system, which AFAIK from watching ‘creative cribs’ is common among composers. One is for writing, one for play and one for engraving. This makes it trivial to futz with the MIDI while writing if needed.

For those (like me) who have never used Cubase, what’s a “note overlay?”

See the Note Score Editor Features video on the New In Cubase 11 page.

Don’t know about Cubase yet, but in Logic it’s showing the note velocity in the score, via a horizontal bar per note. Or you can show it via note colorization, black being low velocity and red being high. Don’t think they support CC which would be more useful.

Like I say I’d prefer not muddying up the score editor with this.

Thanks Leo - that guy really gets on my nerves though for some reason :smiley:

In my experience working with MIDI first and trying to extract a score is a MASSIVE PITA. This was a huge issue with me for years and finally gave it up. It’s the wrong direction, like those programs that try to reverse engineer C++ from assembly. You want to write in a high level language and derive a low level language, which you ideally don’t have to touch. I honestly don’t know how these film composer can stand writing all that MIDI without seeing a score. It would be like going back to the days of writing assembly for me (I ended up scoring on paper and then banging the MIDI out). Problem is the only easy way to reverse engineer a score from MIDI is by quantization which sounds like garbage.

Dorico already has this. We can write in the beautiful high level language of the score, and Dorico can intelligently create some MIDI for us. It’s not perfect (yet), but it goes a long way already in handling the drudge work of MIDI creation. So the path which they’ve correctly taken is that Dorico has some basic MIDI editing capabilities, and Cubase some basic scoring capabilities, and in the future the ability to push from one to the other. That’s enough, if you want note overlays that should be a Cubase only feature as far as I’m concerned.

OK. Well, now I know, that’s a few more brain neurons wasted storing random bits of useless information :slight_smile:

Rob, be thankful you apparently don’t have to produce good MIDI for a living.

If you get the impression from this that I hate MIDI it’s true. MIDI is for machines, I know how to control machines, but I am not a machine. Ergo, I should have to read MIDI :smiley:

I wouldn’t like the note overlay to replace the Play mode. I find there is use for both.

  • Play mode is where you do fine editing on the MIDI events, while keeping under control written notes and dynamics.

  • Overlays in Write mode are the quick, integrated editing tools to shape your notes’ expression. Do you want a note to ring for a bit longer? Invoke the overlay, and adjust it, without switching to the Play mode.


Note overlays sound like how Notion does it.

You can do that already. Just type a number in the Properties panel in Write mode.

Any idea what the units are in the Playback Offset? I found I needed very large numbers to test the difference audibly.

480 ticks per quarter/crotchet IIRC.

Thank you.

This could be very natural if designed well, and also doesn’t need to be an overlay, would work fine in the properties panel or as a popover. What I would like to see is the ability to craft everything about the note I’m interested in crafting. For example, see the humanization controls proposed here:

Would be nice to see the notation in context, bust open the properties panel/popover/overlay, set the CC curves, playback techniques, humanization, etc. and be done. Now I’m sculpting playback in Write mode very naturally instead of being forced to leave a notation context and deal with the piano roll. To RedtideMusic’s point, however, this implementation shouldn’t crowd the primary purpose of Write mode (writing), the interface should be subtle like other playback controls in Write mode (voice selection, playback offsets).

You could even go so far as to deal with phrase expression, also discussed in the humanization thread linked above, by selecting a range of notes and exposing shared properties like CC lanes. Now I can select a musical phrase, far more meaningful in a notation context, and adjust the CCs across the phrase… done, no need to completely change gears and kiss the score goodbye just to dial in arcs and swells. This type of expressive editing seems completely appropriate and natural in a score context, just keep it tucked away until desired.

Every time I think I’ve scoped out the feature set, Dorico coughs up something new and interesting. So there’s a playback only option in Properties just for note duration and start point? That potentially changes my workflow …

The way I’m thinking of this is that Write mode of for the Composer in me, so all the notations there are meant to be permanent. I can switch VI’s and Expression maps and the score stays the same. Play mode is for the Conductor in me, and the exported MIDI in Cubase is for the performer. The idea is I can hand off Cubase to an assistant to finesse the humanizing, as that will mainly be for massaging the particular characteristics of the VI. But my intentions in Dorico Play are sacrosanct as those are my canonical intentions on how it should roughly sound.

So I’m trying to find a balance between Composer/Write mode and Conductor/Play, what’s the purpose exactly of putting a note duration into Preferences, when you can edit the note in Play mode? I think I like it but am not following the intention or reasoning here.

It’s worth looking at this Steinberg video demonstrating the “note-overlay” capabilities of the newly enhanced Score Editor in Cubase. This might actually make me want to use Cubase more because you can do so much in the Score Editor that previously had to be done in the Key Editor (piano roll).

I haven’t upgraded Cubase since 9.5, largely because it’s improvements have been more geared towards EDM. Now I’ll consider version 11.

To establish a default, a baseline for further edits.

This is what the OP is referring to.

Exactly, I missed this on first read, but yes, exactly this, would be very nice to address the full intention behind overlays, which isn’t limited to note length but rather includes all expression parameters.

Just looking at Guy Michelmore’s review of the new Cubase 11 and saw another huge thing for orchestral composers/arrangers. Finally we get bezier-type curves for CC’s in the Editor, along with much easier copy/paste capability for controller lanes. Oh my, these were much hoped-for. These three features, Score Editor improvements, bezier curves for CC’s, and easier replication of CC lanes will make me look hard at version 11 when the demo comes out. Or maybe I won’t be able to wait.

start watching at about the 6:20 mark.

Edited to add:

Just noticed on the Cubase 11 forum that there is another wonderful new feature, presets for CC lane diplays in the Key (Piano Roll) Editor. So if you routinely need certain sets of controller lanes, you can easily call up any of them.

There should be a demo available in December.

All things that will be wonderful to have in Dorico!