Seeking tips/guidance for composing and scoring

Hi, I hope it is ok for me to post this here.
I’ll try to make it simple:
I’ve been composing and scoring through the years but never had a DAW.
When I finally started using Cubase I’d import the midi files I scored.
After a year I started getting good VST libraries and ended up composing more and more directly on Cubase because the VSTs are inspiring.
But I have a problem with that.
These pieces made with the VSTs are drafts and they aren’t scorable: completely off-beat etc so I can’t simply import it to Dorico for instance and I can’t really see what I was doing.
I have no musical education background at all and I can’t work with the metronome, been playing for too long without and never used it.
So for a score I manually reassigned every note on Cubase so it fits and may be exported to Dorico but the process took a lot of time.
I thought maybe I should always score with Dorico or another software (I don’t read music too…been actually using guitar pro to score because it has a virtual keyboard you may use to input notes)
I hope I managed to make it clear and would really appreciate some tips.
I’m sure that’s an issue that many people might have.
when I compose I don’t just play chords arpeggios or whatever so it is very difficult to remember or to listen and simply be like “I see I was doing a C chord and that…” therefore it is important for me to have it scored.

Hi Bik,

Thanks for sharing your difficulties. As a teacher of music in a high school I see this situation every now and then. The trained musician inside of me wonders how anyone who wants to compose doesn’t work at even basic theory to get the tools, so to speak. But then I hear their ideas and I can see what they want and we work together to get the desired result.

However, in all scenarios using a daw, the metronome is your friend. It is the signal to get you in sync with the daw. Like it or not we all have to fit in to what the daw says are the boundaries (in our case, beats, metre etc.) especially as we want to see a score. Mind you, a score is still only a representation of what we composers actually hear. How it is interpreted by others is the key. That is why there are conventions which the daw draws upon.

What I’m saying is that you need to use the metronome as a guide to your composing on the daw. Work with it. You can change the tempo at any time so don’t worry about that. Get your music down but get it as accurate to the beat as possible. And, if that means learning more about the theory, well you actually have a strong reason to do so. Don’t get confused, just make it happen.

I’d be happy to assist if you want to share your music.

All the best


Thank you for your kind response, it helped me clarify some things regarding composing/scoring!

So for a start I should systematically keep it “as accurate as possible” in the daw in order to have a “neat” score if I export that. The metronome puts pressure on me with its beep/click, but with practice maybe it’ll be fine.
And from there on I may make it work. Systematically scoring a piece could help too but I didn’t always have the time for that.

Your message gave me an idea when dealing with pieces I don’t really know what’s going on:
even if it’s messy, improvised, not exactly on bar, I can still export it to a score editor (or use a virtual keyboard to play the midi file) and understand the core of the piece and what makes it “interesting”, and with that in mind write it anew by simply scoring it.
If it’s scored, readable, that would help me improve some parts!

I felt a little bit overwhelmed by what I’ve been doing recently and couldn’t really think for myself so thank you so much for popping in!

I’ll try to see how it goes clarifying these drafts, and may some issue still remain I would gratefully accept your offer and share music with you for some advice!

I’m sorry once more if my speech isn’t 100% clear.


Practice. Yes, practice is the key. You will improve your music, too, when you feel more comfortable with the tools.


You don’t necessarily need to use a metronome as a timekeeper. You can use any drum/percussion loop or pattern for timekeeping and they typically will have more of a ‘feel’ to them than a metronome click.

Read up in the Cubase Docs on the following topics. Quantize - features to shift notes to a grid position. Groove - features to customise the time grid to a pattern or beat track. MIDI Logical editor - Short script like commands that can hone in on specific note characteristics and move notes that meet those conditions. Also.explore the Key MIDI editor, as it offers features to group and slide notes about that might save time with a bit of practice. Finally, experiment with time correction and real.time track inserts in the track inspector…quite a few features exist that can help quantize as you play and record in real time…in some cases the inserts can be frozen and forced to work post recording.

Yeah, that’s what I had in mind Raino : )

Thanks Brian, it seems I have been missing some important features…
I downloaded the user manual and copied your post to make sure I go through all of them!

Thank you for your help everyone!
It is way more precious than you may imagine : )