Stuck composing midi/Halion music

Cubase AI 10 Ver 10.0.20 Build 187 21/03/2019

I’ve flirted with several other DAW’s previously, but having recently bought a Steinberg interface, am now giving the Cubase program it came with, a go; as it appears pretty popular. I’m at the beginner stage with it and badly need help.

Ok, so without using any physical instruments, controllers or gizmos, other than my computer keyboard and mouse, I want to create some midi music in Cubase using ethereal instruments provided through Halion. I click the Cubase Icon on my desktop to open the Cubase program. I’m then confronted by the Steinberg Hub. I bypass everything and go straight to the bottom right of the page. I check, making sure there’s a dot in the radial circle against ‘Prompt for project location,’ and follow up by clicking on the bar below ‘create empty…’ next I select an empty file, previously created, for the project to be store in. Cubase opens; displaying four zones, three of which are named: Left, lower and right. The un-named top zone is split into two parts, labelled A and B, in the picture below.

The next step is to select the Cubase menu item ‘Project:’ third left, in the topmost menu bar. From the ensuing dropdown menu, I select ‘Add Track,’ then from the next flyout menu, select ‘Instrument.’ The ‘add instrument track,’ box appears.

I click add track. The Halion SE3 window appears and I make my selection (Bass) and close the window. Back in the Cubase project window I see that Halion sonic (albeit SE 1, rather than 3?) is established in Part A of the top zone and also the left ‘Inspector,’ zone. However, part B (above) remains empty, the same, apart from there now being two horizontal lines running through it, instead of just one. The bottom zone is also empty, apart from the shown message; there’s no piano roll or facility to input midi notes.

If, on the other hand, I import a midi file, there’s action in both part B and the bottom zone. (can’t upload picture here; limit already reched)

However, the program only outputs piano sound instead of bass, whereas, when selecting the instrument in Halion, the piano keyboard at the bottom of the page, output bass.

My questions are: is there something I have, or haven’t done, am I looking in the wrong places, or is there a problem with the program?

Any help on this will be gratefully appreciated, and you’ll have a buddy for as long as we both have left.

Hi and welcome to the forum.

Right after you add the new Instrument Track, select the draw (pencil) tool and draw a MIDI Part on the Track in the Project Window (what you are calling B). Think of this a container that holds the MIDI Notes that will play. The Lower Zone has several possible uses, one is to display a MIDI Editor (by default the Key editor) for whatever MIDI Part(s) are selected in the Project Window. You may need to close & reopen the Lower Zone for the Editor to show after selecting the Part. You should probably click in the Project Window (to set the focus to it) and hit the “g” keyboard shortcut a bunch of times - this will zoom out your Project timeline. Right now you are zoomed in so that only part of the first bar is visible.

All DAWS are complicated beasts with sometimes steep learning curves, especially when starting out. I highly recommend that you carve out some time to watch the beginner videos on Steinberg’s YouTube Channel. I’m also a big fan of Groove Three’s videos and there are a bunch of others floating around of varying quality. Don’t necessarily pass on videos for older versions of Cubase as the basic stuff hasn’t change very much over the years (although folks have greatly improved their ability to make videos over time).

And if you are a “I never look at manuals” kind of guy, you will likely spend more time being frustrated than you should. Learning a DAW is more like learning a musical instrument than learning say Excel.

Good Luck.