[RESOLVED] Question For Experienced MIDI Composers

Help! I have been searching high and low for a solution to this quandary…

Suppose I have a song consisting of a variation of established chord progressions and my client wants to experiment with different rhythmic variations throughout the song using these chord progressions. Typically, I have taken the painstaking method of writing my MIDI Parts throughout a song to include a given rhythm. For simple arrangements with mostly repeating parts this is totally doable. But, for more complex compositions and progressions, this is inefficient - especially when your client decides the rhythm is no longer what they want!

I have looked into audio inserts that add gates, filters, stutters, etc… but this does not give the same resut as editing the MIDI Part to be “played” with a given rhythm. I also explored using “Groove Quantize” as certain resources pointed to that as a possible solution… but that was unsuccessful as well.

Is there a way to utilize some sort of MIDI Insert that would act similarly to an arpeggiator (Arpache SX) in the way that it alters the actual percieved MIDI data, but will allow me to affect only the rhythm of a given MIDI track?

Please oh please??!

Something like the Quantizer in MIDI Inserts, that allows you to adjust Strength, Swing, etc. Is that what you have in mind?

EDIT: Not sure if that’s the same as Groove Quantize, but that’s the best thing that I know of to edit rhythm without note data. Without doing so manually of course.

BTW, I’m no experienced MIDI Composer. :wink: just wanted to clear that up.

Thanks for your response, but maybe this example will help make clear what I’m trying to do.

Take, say, a 2 bar phrase where each chord is held for 2 beats - ii, V, I, VI

Now you want to change to a clave rhythm using the same chord progression. Normally you would either edit the MIDI data or re-perform the part. Simple.

Now imagine working on a song with several chord progressions, modulations, etc… with several variations throughout. Lots of work, right!

I am hoping there is a trick or insert or some way of doing it other than having to edit the Part data or re-perform just to change the rhythm.

In dealing with phrases, perhaps something like this may help better than what cubase currently offers…?

I do not have it or use it myself, but have considered a purchase in the past. There is the logical editor in Cubase, but I’m not sure thats right for your needs…

Good luck.!


Thank you Bob! This product seems to serve the purpose I am seeking!

It seems like a bit of a pain to get it setup, but it should do what I need for now.

Boy, wouldn’t it be easier just to have some type of MIDI insert do something like this?

Anyone else?

Have you looked at Rapidcomposer by musicdevelopments?


I think it might be the sort of thing you’re after. It can be used from within cubase on a pc I think…


The Catany looks like arpeggioator only. You can use arpeggiator of Cubase too. Or try to use Step esigner.

Rapid Composer is very interesting! But it doesn’t work on Mac well for me. :-/

Rapid Composer is very interesting! But it doesn’t work on Mac well for me. :-/

That’s a shame. I got a bit excited about their new OSX version but haven’t given it a try yet.
Probably great on Windows though :neutral_face:

You might consider downloading the demo copy of FL Studio, and give the piano roll there a try to see if it suits your needs. I’ve used it rather excessively before I switched to Cubase a while ago, and it does have all of those features, and can do quantitizing, grooves/arps/chords/progressions/strums/pretty much everything either parameterized or even based upon existing midi patterns - that’s really one of the (very few) areas where it clearly beats Cubase, in my humble opinion.

I like the suggestion in the OP really. If Steinberg could add some sort of ‘extra note’ in the key editor where you could draw in a rhytm that all notes below follow. I often work with synth stabs so that would be great for experimenting with rhytms.

Using ghost copies or linked copies or whatever they’re called these days you can change all parts at once, but they have to be identical.

I always find that mostly it’s quicker to actually play the part in and if you don’t know how to do that then sometimes it’s easier to learn to play basically than to learn the foibles of the internal DAW tools.
It’s very tempting to use them because they’re there but in reality if they get in the way more than actually playing then play it in and lose the “tool”.
The only way I could see them working on a bread & butter basis is to write in a chord set like the II V VI I the OP gave and take time to create a set of rhythm presets in any relevant tool.
I’ll have a new look and see if I can remember what I forgot long ago. Probably find everything’s completely diferent.

PS: Aside from drums I’m a very mediocre player on anything else.

Just to clear up any confusion: I’m not looking for a tool to play the chord progressions. I just need something to impose different RHYTHMS over chords I have ALREADY played in a MIDI performance. I would assume it’s possible considering tools like Arpache exist.


That’s what I understood, and I’m recommending trying FL Studio not as a full-blown DAW or replacement, but as a cheap MIDI editor tool which does pretty all of what you asked for in your previous posts.

If the feature-set of FL is not worth the hassle of either using ReWire to call it from Cubase or export/import/export/import a MIDI track between those two tools, it’s likely not a solution for you.

This sounds familiar but just recently I hit on a way of applying grooves on the fly with minimal input from me. This is what I did:

  • Programmed in a basic pattern (on a regular grid).
  • Opened the Quantise Control Panel (the small arrow next to the Quantise selector).
  • Tick AutoApply at the bottom. This applies changes as they happen.

There are various other options you can select. Hope this helps (and apologies if I’ve missed the point!).

NB: I’ve just discovered, in checking this out, that I’ve lost a preset I never saved, so don’t forget to do that…

PS: I’ve also found Beat Designer useful. Only just started to check it out but take a look, it might be what you want.

Mmh, maybe a combination of beatdesigner and chorder could work? :confused:

Now, you might have to do a trawl through the forum but someone somewhere set up the drum track (drum maps?) for something like this a few months ago.
I’ll have a quick search but the search function in this forum is patchy at best.

Nah! To do with chord building, not timing, sorry. :blush:

Just wanted to chime in and suggest, the friendliest possible way, that looking for easy answers in these kinds of scenarios often doesn’t work, particularly in film scoring! You may find a solution to this specific issue bbut then the director will throw another curve ball that can’t be possibly fixed with a plugin. Scene:

“It’s too fast!”

Oh ok, I’ll slow it down. What do you think?

“It’s still too fast!”

Ok, maybe there are just two many notes/runs happening. I’ll tone those down.

“It’s too fast!”

Guess what he meant? He was hearing the fact that the piece had harmony changing every two beats, and he wanted it changed every four beats, but couldn’t articulate that any other way other than “It’s too fast.”

Anyhoo. That said, it’d be cool to have a plugin that does what you’re suggesting!

I think what you want is to “transform” MIDI events already recorded on a track and have that be what gets output. And you want the thing that does these transformations to be more sophisticated than the small handful of real-time MIDI insert modules in Cubase.

Easy, as the VST “signal path” also supports MIDI data. There’s a way to wire this up.

  1. Get a plugin like NI Reaktor, or Plogue’s Bidule, that has very extensive MIDI transformation programming capability. But be forewarned, it’s not for the faint of heart. Fortunately there are some pre-made patches in the NI User Library that may get you started (check first, though).

  2. Create the following setup in Cubase: MIDI track -> Reaktor sitting in the VST Rack -> another MIDI track -> another VSTi (that makes your actual sound) in the VST Rack

So, MIDI track where you record or visually edit your base chord structures (could even be from a live MIDI source), outputs to the input of a Reaktor instance sitting in the VST Instruments Rack. That Reaktor instance (being feed your chord events and magically processing it per your programming) then outputs to the input of another MIDI track, which finally outputs to the input of your actual sound-making synth (synth also needs to sit in the VST Rack).

I’m doing this exact thing right now and it works great.

But the MIDI modules in Reaktor are super low-level and hardcore – a visual programming environment. It’s like building a circuit. But, there’s really nothing that could not be done, in theory.

You may find a better (simpler) drop-in replacement for my Reaktor suggestion. Anything that supports MIDI and the VST spec should allow this (though, most VST instruments focus on audio and would not help you in this MIDI-centric chain).

Good luck.

Just a suggestion - Make a new part, or select an existing part that contains the next rhythm that you want to use. Select from top menu MIDI-> Advanced quantize-> Part to groove .
Select the parts that you want to apply the rhythm to
From MIDI menu select quantize set up. You should see the name of the part used for the groove in the text box in the centre of the panel.
Move the top 3 sliders for position, velocity and length to 100%
Change the max move selector as required and set iterative quantize to 100%
Press apply quantize button.
You may need to remove or add notes before quantizing if your new rhythm has a different quantity of notes. These could be some short notes in roughly the right place. The quantize should change the length/position and velocity of the new notes
Hope this helps

Well I have certainly found this thread very interesting.

One of little gems I found was this:


A free arpeggiator. Nice.

But with a bit of experimenting in Arpache I have found that you might not need to look elsewhere.

Forgive me if this doesn’t address what you want to happen but if you put an Arpache midi plugin on your midi/instrument track and drag on to the ‘MIDI Seq.’ box a part you’ve created which is a single rhythmic pattern then if you set the settings to something like the picture I will try to upload then it basically imposes your pattern on whatever chords you now play or record on that track.

… (trying to upload attachment now…)…
Screen shot 2012-04-27 at 09.08.42.png