Struggling to make a start

I’ve downloaded the trial version after using Cubase for some time and I am struggling to make a start. I play with a covers band (or three) and I wanted to explore sharing song info and using a drum track for some songs, and perhaps a backing track or two. Like many bands we mainly work off cheat sheets and want the flexibility to vamp in some songs - imagine the drummer has set off on Pretty Woman and the guitarist drops their pick, the drummer can sit there and the audience are happy for a while, or we might use it as the band name check somewhere in the middle.

One band has a keyboard player who uses an older Roland Midi enabled keyboard that would have a new lease of life with virtual instruments, but at the moment, the main thing is to do voice and transposition changes.

Another band doesn’t have a drummer, but a few songs would benefit from a drum track.

Chord sheets and sync’d lyrics could be a big help especially with vocalists who are under the impression that if they aren’t singing there is a problem - being able to clearly flag solos would help a lot.

Some songs simply need a count in to help us set tempos.

So I have a couple of scenarios, I tried to set up and fell at the first hurdle of trying to configure a song.

As I understand Cubase, I thought I’d import a project - I eventually stumbled on the VST Live Export that had appeared. First problem - the project had a global Transpose set which VST Live doesn’t support. That led me down a rabbit hole of trying to find out how to transpose in VST Live - I think the answer is that tracks don’t support it and layers don’t work with tracks? Obviously the fix is to resolve it in Cubase.

Secondly, I thought I could use a Beats track to do a simple introduction click track - but as far as I can tell, the Beats module is outputting its patterns based on a beat not a bar - and if it was based on a bar, you really want the cymbals to allow for 8ths for most basic patterns, so it is back to using a midi drum track which should be easy to knock up. So link a track to Groove Agent - no drum editor option and no sound as Groove Agent doesn’t seem to have the drum libraries with it. Had a look at an imported track, and there doesn’t seem to be any way to edit it. A layer perhaps? But a layer with Groove Agent still can’t see the Groove Agent drum kits. Vanilla install after vanilla install on a Windows PC.

So I’ve got nowhere.

Surely doing the easy stuff ought to be easy?

Even building up parts seems hard. I would happily use the arranger in Cubase and that didn’t take long to pick up, indeed I originally thought of using Cubase as my simple solution, but there is no linear representation of the parts and there is no way to directly enter a number of bars. It seems to me that the obvious way to set up parts is to think in terms of bars, or alternatively events (I could see myself setting up a skeleton set of parts where they only contained program changes for instruments and triggering them off a foot switch without being too worried about a complete song set up.

It might be nice to have an example set list of some very simple set ups - a click introduction; some program changes operated by trigger (e.g. imagine a Katana bass amp where the bass wants to be boosted for the bass solo and the guitarist has different sections and the keyboard player switches between piano and synth pads); a drum track with loops (say Pretty Woman with extended starts and that middle talky bit where you are never convinced the singer is going to hit the cues); a simple chord sheet with lyrics (can you not import the complete text then insert markers?) so even lyric entry is awkward.

Have I missed something or is it very hard to do simple things?

Edit: Ah, and I and several of my band mates have Android phones. If I wanted a tablet for better visibility my first consideration would be one of the many cheap ones around like from Amazon, not an iPad, so I can’t get started on the lyric and chord display.

Both are wrong. MIDI tracks have a transpose item, open the Inspector. As that works pretty much exactly like with Cubase, it seems strange that you didn’t discover this.
Then, Layers can have MIDI tracks as Input, the easiest way to do that is to press the “R” (Record) button in a Layer, and it will offer creating a MIDI track. If you already have a MIDI track, create a Layer and route the tracks’ output to that Layer (again, via the Inspector). Note that Layers also have a transpose function, and there is even a “Global Layer Transpose” in Edit/Preferences.

Correct, it is just an “extended Metronome” and does not attempt to be anything else.

It should, looks like an installation issue. Check the Steinberg Download Assistant.

There is no drum Editor, but there is a MIDI editor (just double-click the track event), and a MIDI List editor (select event, and check menu “Edit/MIDI List Editor”).
The sequencer in VST Live is supposed to be a backing track player, not meant to replace Cubase, so it just features simple editing for quick corrections. If you want to do more elaborated tasks, you should want to use Cubase, and export to VST Live.

Parts are foremost for switching sounds. Layers, Stacks, Modules and some other areas are Part based. Parts also have Triggers for automatic changes when transport is running - simply click the trigger item while transport is running at the time you want the change to happen.
You can also import Cubase Arranger Tracks and use it to create Songs, check the import dialog.

Considering triggers, you can do that; a Part followed by one with a trigger time lasts as many bars as it takes from play position (i.e., start of the Part, as happens when you click the play item on a Trigger Part) to the next Part.

You may want to check the tutorial videos. There is also an example project that can be downloaded via said Steinberg Download Assistant. Other than that, just add a few Songs and a few Parts to each Song…

You can do that with Layers. When a Part gets activated (selected manually, by a trigger, or by an action as programmed in “Devices/Actions and Shortcuts”), it fires Program Change and Bank Select (and any other controller set in “Layer/Layer Controller Map”) when programmed to do so.

You can use Cycle on/off (also programmable via “Actions”) for now. We will add Part loops and more later.

Lyrics are bound to the timeline. If you want free text, use the Notes module. It also featurs “Time Anchors” to have it scroll to the marker when transport gets there.

It looks like you did miss a few things, but VST Live may have concepts different from your expectations here and there. If you think things can be improved, we are listening carefully as you can see following this forum, thanks!

Transpose - the point is that I happened on a project where I had recorded some of the backing and realised I needed to transpose to fit my voice, so I used the Global transpose to transpose recorded audio. I obviously made the drum independent. As I said, not a big deal, it needs the tracks bouncing and the transpose track removed, but Live did not detect the transposed audio. Probably something that needs a warning on export rather than more features in Live.

Groove Agent is fine in Cubase Pro:

In Live I get this:

I looked at say Brickwall Limiter as an insert, and I see the same missing presets, so I am guessing that Live hasn’t properly picked up whatever unknown peculiarity I have in my install (I have a C drive and D drive and I would offhand not know what to check to help you identify what non-standard install (through the download manager) I have managed to do back in the days of Cubase 9 or 10 that has caught out Live). Other products from other suppliers are fine. Let me know what to tell you and I’ll report back. Obviously, I have done numerous upgrades without problem with Cubase.

I think that what I am surprised at with parts is that I want a quick entry way of drafting an outline. After watching a tutorial I realised that it was linked to the play position, but that was not intuitive, I would really like to just type in 12 for 12 bars - especially if you consider looping - say I want a 2 bar vamp to start with, the time line is never going to reflect the actual bar, but I am going to construct parts. If it is going to be timeline based, why is there not a Part track where I can just quickly draw the parts (the arranger is really quick to work with in Cubase) - I really found that creating a part, setting an end point over there then clicking the end point indicator back there so odd I think I have missed the right way to set up parts.

With regards to lyrics, imagine I want to automate chord sheets for the band and our 100 song set list. That’s a lot of text to enter pop up by pop up. The way I imagine it is that you could paste the text into the text view, and then click on the text and drag it to the point it is needed, the following text goes with it. Then you drag the next phrase to the right point and so on. Clearly at initiating the drag, it splits the text.

Similarly, I’ve got 100 chord tracks to enter. I was surprised there seems to be no keyboard entry - it should be easy to move around the chord track editor with the arrow keys and press the chord name. I can live with the modifiers being on a mouse click, but the mouse entry is laborious.

Anyway, thanks for your feedback. I guess I am not the target audience perhaps, but imagine that your audience is an unskilled covers band player who just wants to start off plugging his chord sheets in, make sure that they have the right settings on their Line6 Spider V, the right settings on their Boss Katana, and for the keyboard player, then they set off at the right tempo with a few stick clicks count in, the lead singer wants a scrolling lyric sheet roughly in the right place, and the depping rhythm guitarist needs something to bluff from. Have a sit down and think how you would breeze through setting that up - before we get onto backing tracks.

Transpose: VST Live does not support realtime time stretch or pitch shift yet. All transpose actions are related to MIDI.

The setlist is a “Part track”, just move around Parts. There are also shortcuts and remote options in “Devices/Actions and Shortcuts”.
As for chords, you may want to check the VST Viewer (for PDF files), or just paste text into the “Notes” module if you don’t want the timeline bound Chords and Lyrics modules.

Doing that all the time, but no time to elaborate on this now. Pls check video tutorials and manual. Also, for your band members there is the Vst Live Mods for iPad too…have a look around.

As for the Groove Agent presets, that is a different issue and we’ll get back to that later.

Having been pointed to VST Viewer which sounds like it is going to solve 80% of my quick and dirty setup requirements, I’ve just had a hiccup on that install.

I installed it, and then I have come to use it, having found it under modules, selecting the VST Viewer triggers the activation manager. The activation manager doesn’t see the Viewer as a product in any window. I am assuming this is an issue with the trial version activation???

Anyway, I think I am beaten. I came to this thinking I could quickly knock up a drum track with the ability to control parts for vamping, a cheat sheet and a few program changes. After a day or so, I cannot set up a song with intro, verse and chorus as I could do in Cubase in a few minutes with a dirty 8th note cymbal, snare on 2 & 4 and a kick drum with a couple of fills drum track (and I don’t normally use the arranger). I mean I can create a song part list with those names in but I can’t do what I expect to do with them. The bits I wanted on top of Cubase was a manageable set list, to open a song with some MIDI commands being emitted to set up kit, perhaps a voice change int the middle and the ability to share the performance instructions in some way.

I’ve ended up confused.


I guess you have installed the “VST Viewer” directly from the (Steinberg Download Assistant (SDA) application? You also need to register a license to the Steinberg Activation Manager (SAM). Please visit the VST Live website . And click the “GET VST VIEWER” button. Login with your Steinberg ID credentials and a free VST Viewer license will automatically be added to your account. Then VST Viewer will run as a Module with VST Live.

No. The Trial version has no restrictions.

See you,

That did the trick - a little hidden generation of a licence code that wasn’t obvious. I would say that I did something quite reasonable!