Q. How to record audio in "musical mode"?

There’s a Preference for new tracks to be in Musical Mode (i.e., follow Tempo), but it seems that recording audio, even on tracks in Musical Mode, the recorded audio itself is NOT in musical mode! I’m having to open the Pool and manually click on the Musical Mode checkbox, which seems very odd. Perhaps there’s a secret handshake I’m not aware of? This behavior seems very weird and un-useful; why would a track be in Musical Mode, yet the audio clips on it not be? Maybe there’s some reason, e.g., you only care about the Start position of audio clips, not the playing of said clips. But it certainly doesn’t seem like that should be the default behavior. Furthermore, I do not see any Preference option to do what I want and expect: that Musical Mode tracks record their clips in Musical Mode, too. Is that so hard?

Honestly, I’ve never, ever had use for non-musical mode audio clips. I’m sure there is some, but in any case, it would seem like Musical Mode would be the default everywhere, so that Tempo changes are reflected. Non-musical mode should be the exception, not the rule. Or maybe I’m missing some information, as to why non-Musical mode is preferred? That the button on Tracks in Project lights up in yellow if you have selected Musical Mode for that track, like that’s the anomaly, seems weird to me. Aren’t most people, regardless of genre, writing and recording music with a Bars/Beats structure? Is there any need for non-Musical mode, other than timing FX etc for film? I could see why Nuendo might default to non-Musical mode, as it’s used more for film production & post, but afaik, most Cubase users are producing music.

First Tracks can’t be set to Musical Mode, but they can be set to Musical Timebase. This naming similarity causes lots of confusion and there are many threads here on that topic. Here’s one.

https://www.steinberg.net/forums/viewtopic.php?f=250&t=135724

If you are not changing the tempo from what it was when you recorded then it doesn’t really matter if Musical Mode is set or not.

Yes it would be nice if the default could be set one way or the other. A Preference for that has been requested. Who knows what Cubase 11 might bring…

You don’t need to open the Pool to set the Audio to Musical Mode. Just select it in the Project Window and change it on the Info Line. That said changing it in the Pool also gives you an opportunity to double-check the file’s tempo setting and correct it if it is wrong, as is often the case (I think this might be caused by loop recording).

Thanks, Raino. I do hope there is a Preference for this soon, and perhaps a sorting-out of these confusions, in general.

I’ve just started using some of Cubase’s powerful songwriting & arranging tools, e.g., Arranger Track, Chord Track, Chord Pads, Transpose Track, etc. and I was struck how easy it is to rearrange, change chords, change pitch - even of recorded audio. And yet, arguably the most basic feature in this category, tempo change, is “broken” in that it does not work as expected and even when you know about it, it’s a PITA to go manually changing the clips you want to follow tempo changes to be Musical Mode.

Again, why the heck is that not the default for a music production app like Cubase? Perhaps it’s because that was implemented long ago, and the newer features like Transpose Track et al were implemented later and did it the “right” way? Ironically, those features are enabled by default and can cause someone surprise when they encounter them for the first time: mid-project you happen to notice the project root key is not the key that your song is in, so you change it - and are panicked when all your audio now plays back at a seemingly “random” pitch! (Ask me how I know!)

In short, I really would like to see a preference for Musical Mode - and IMHO that should be the default. I mean, c’mon, it should be at least as easy to change the tempo and have the reasonable thing happen as it is to change the pitch and have the reasonable (and magic, frankly) thing happen.

The only reason I can think of for having it off by default is if the Cubase audio engine is somehow not smart enough to not process audio that is already at the correct tempo (and pitch). But I doubt that’s the case.

I will say that if you haven’t discovered all the goodness in the Arranger, Chord, Transpose, etc. features, you might wanna, esp. if you’re a songwriter / arranger. I had briefly considered switching from Cubase to UAD Luna or even Reaper, but I’ve gained significant productivity with these “new” Cubase features, so I guess I’m here to stay for another 20 years or so…

– jdm

Well Cubase did exist long before tempo changing was practical, and Musical Mode existed. I’m guessing they left if off by default because that is how it would have been on all the existing content - and not messing up the current environment is a typical goal when releasing new versions. But who knows, and it should have had an Preference setting from the start.

While it would be great to be able to change the default - if you go to the Pool, select all the audio and enable Musical Mode it takes like less than 5 seconds. So it really isn’t all that horrible to deal with. I’m sure I’ve spent substantially more time typing in this thread than I ever will changing audio to Musical Mode.

I wonder if the PLE can set the Mode state. If so you could probably make it into a keystroke.

EDIT

Far as I can tell, the PLE cannot set Musical Mode nor is there even a Key Command.

Right. I spent decades as a software engineer, and can’t help seeing things that should be “fixed” or done a more straight-forward way. It’s perfectly natural and understandable for large, complex software to have all kinds of bits and bobs like this sticking out here and there, and it takes very real time, energy, and $$ to redo them. And the very real reality is that writing software creates bugs, which further cost to fix.

Net-net, Cubase is a marvelous piece of kit, and I’ve been hooked on it since the '90s (in part because it ran on both Windows and Mac, which was once important). That said, reworking these “little things” to effect a better, more understandable user-experience not only solidifies your base of existing customers, but makes it easier to attract - and keep - new users to the platform, too, adding to that all-important upgrade revenue stream.

It’s a balancing act between improving the product and adding whizzy new features, for sure.

– jdm