You can do this a number of ways.
If the plugin/instrument itself supports Program, Key-switches, or some other internal method for changing articulations. I.E. HALion Sonic SE, that ships with Cubase, provides a General MIDI mode (in the options tab). You could send General MIDI Program Changes to bounce around between arco, pizzicato, and tremolo for ensemble strings.
By channel bouncing from a single track provided the corresponding plugin is multi-channel.
To do this, you’d set your track MIDI Channel to ANY, and designate each note to the MIDI channel desired.
Example: In a multi-channel plugin like HALion Sonic 3 SE, load different articulations across the 16 instrument slots in an instance.
- Arco 1 (smooth/legato)
- Down Bow (Accented Attack 1)
- Up Bow (Accented Attack 2)
At this point, you’d simply change the MIDI channel for notes/passages to the corresponding instrument slot for the plugin.
- Again, by spreading your articulations out over multiple lanes or tracks. Personally, I find this to be the best way to do it if it’s a very complicated and expressive mock-up! Especially if you are mixing and matching sounds from a variety of plugins, or using plugins that are not multi-timberal/channel, or don’t have any sort of built in method for triggering different articulations.
Use folders to keep things more organized. The ability to open/close those folders can help clear up screen real estate when you require a more condensed project overview.
Also understand that with the Key Editor, you can work on multiple tracks at once (select several of them before opening the editor). With a little practice you should be able to master pulling the track you want to draw/edit notes in into the foreground as needed; thusly, having a somewhat seamless view of complete passages despite notes being contained in several different tracks.
- If you want to build a ‘super-instrument’ that combines sounds from many different plugins into a single ‘super plugin’ have a look at something like Bidule. I.E. Get one bow style from an East-West plugin, another bow style from a Garritan Plugin, another from HALion, and so forth. Bidule would allow you to host other plugins in a single instance and build methods to reroute events to plugins (Key switches, Program Changes, CC Events, etc).
If you have Cubase Pro, have a look at the Score and Key Editors. These can take advantage of Expression Maps, which allow you to provide ‘interpretive’ instructions to score markings that will do things like: Trigger a Key Switch, a Program Change, or a Channel Bounce.
With the score editor…personally, I just use very basic sounds and don’t try to do anything too fancy if I’m in the mood to throw in a quick ‘sketch’ using traditional notation. The expression map system is good enough to set up a quick and dirty compositional workflow. For many types of projects, where the bottom line is generating scores/parts and collaborating over them, this is good enough and I don’t have to worry too much about high quality playback!
Later, I’ll clone the staves/tracks and spread everything out over many tracks (give each articulation his own track) when it comes time to get out the ‘fancy orchestral plugins with a million and seven articulations and styles’. With everything spread out I’ll mute those initial ‘score’ tracks; then, go to work on the fine details of making the piece ‘sound’ good…get it mixed the way I want, etc.
No kidding! I often have sets of tracks for individual ‘phrases’ in a piece! I.E. A set of articulations for an ‘aggressive passage’, another set-up for a more lyrical passage, and something totally different after a key-change (might have more or less air in the bow throughout an entire passage) and so on! This can be exceptionally difficult to achieve if you’re trying to accomplish it with same ‘bog set-up’, from the same plugin instance, through a single effect chain, over a single track/channel.
Why spread it out over many tracks? Personally, I’ve learned over the years that it just works better than trying to bother with key-switches, program changes, and so forth! You’ll be doing a LOT with CC data to make the sounds expressive. You’ll also find situations where having a large pallet of pre-shaped articulations is much easier to work with than sending a key-switch and a fresh set of ADSR (and more) settings in real time!
In short, if you can just jump to a new track and only deal with 2 controller lanes, VS having to continuously send up to 8 CC events with almost every phrase (or even every note)…which would you rather deal with?
It’ll vary from project to project of course. It’ll depend on your libraries and how they work…but at the end of the day, I really do suggest spreading things out over lots of tracks as you get to know your plugins/libraries. It makes it a little easier to try different sounds from different plugins without having to do a lot of intensive ‘rework’! You can also get more precision over how it’s all MIXED DOWN.
Example: Maybe you’ve got a Marcato passage, and you find that the sound that you’ve chosen is ‘almost’ perfect, but has a bit too much air on the bow. If it’s on a separate track, you could easily throw an EQ or a Notch Filter in the VST effect lane and pull those frequencies down a bit, maybe boost some other frequencies, push it a little further back in the mix, or whatever you want!
Now, contrast that with using a key-switch, or a program change to the same plugin on the same track/channel. To do the same thing, you might end up having to send DOZENS of CC messages, or VST automation changes to get the same effect…then when you go back to a different articulation, send another dozen events to get it back like it was before, and so on!
I keep repeating it…
If you’re going to be attempting a high quality mock-up…
Don’t be afraid to use LOTS OF TRACKS, with lots of instrument plugins!
Spread stuff out!
You’ll thank yourself in the long run
It REALLY is much less work, and you’ll end up with higher quality mixes simply spreading things out over many tracks than you will trying to fight mess like automated preset changes (which also would need to be initialized or customized for your piece anyway to not sound blocky/band in a box/lame).
If you’re just trying to do a simple sketch of a piece…keep it Simple and throw the notes on staves in the Score Editor. Don’t worry too much about the ‘sound’ until you’re done composing the piece. Mute the sound on your original ‘score’ staves/track, clone it off to new ‘mock-up’ tracks, and use LOTS OF THEM to perfect your sound/mix