Transposing In the Key Editor

I hope someone can point me in the correct direction. I want to transpose a section in the key editor by major scale note rather than by semitones. For example in the key of D major:
D E F# G A B C# D
I want to transpose it up two notes, not two semitones, to get this:
F# G A B C# D E F#
I am finding that no matter what settings I have in the Transpose Setup one or more of the notes are off after the transpose.

Any ideas if there are settings that will allow for this type of transposition?


I don’t think there actually is an automatic solution to what you are wanting, unfortunately.
You are trying to make a harmony one third up on that diatonic D major scale, right? So, in fact Cubase is doing its best with the tools it has…
If you take the block and transpose it up a major third (4 semitones), it will be correct for the D, the G and the A, but the E, F#, B and C# only require 3 semitones, and, unfortunately, when using “transpose to scale”, Cubase seems to be “rounding up” rather than down. I’ve just noticed that it does a slightly better job (using the same rules) if transposing 3 semitones rather than 4 (only the A gets wrongly transposed to B instead of C#).
Console yourself that at least you only have to manually correct certain notes (but that they are all in the scale, at least :wink: )

I think Vic’s right, unfortunately. I’ve just been having a play with Transpose and MIDI Modifier but no dice even with the scale set to Major - you get repeating notes: rounding up, as Vic describes it.

I think this is a big omission, I’ve lost count how many times I’ve cursed the inability to push things up and down on scale to write a harmony line. To me, at any rate, it’s such a basic musical function that I can’t understand why it isn’t implemented - or that more people aren’t asking for it.

It has come up before, though, I’m sure and at the back of my mind I’m wondering if someone found a way round it and I just can’t remember where I saw it. Too late tonight to take a look - I’ve been cheering on Chelsea - but will take a look around and see if I find anything.

Edit: 1 Aug 2015
Read on by all means but it now works (there was a bug). This thread was revived and so you can ship straight there for the resolution:

Just had a brainwave. This gets close. In the Key Editor make a D major scale, open the Transpose panel and set:

Semitones = 4
Scale Correction: ON
Current: D Major
New: F# Phrygian (see * below)
Click the [>] button next to Semitones

Unfortunately you end up with a double-E but it may be possible to refine this - Cubase has several Scale options to choose from - but not at this time of night!

(*) Pick the target scale (mode) that equates to the no of steps. Modes, in case you would like reminding, begin on each step of the major scale and use the same notes (
Ionian (I), Dorian (II), Phrygian (III), Lydian (IV), Mixolydian (V), Aeolian (VI), Locrian (VII).

Hmmm. If I start with Dmaj:
D E F# G A B C# D
and transpose it up two notes, (not two semitones), I get:
F# G# A# B C# D# F F#
I do not get F# G A B C# D E F#

To me, this is correct. You are in the key of Dmaj, and you transpose all notes up two whole tones, now you have all notes in the key of F#maj. Key words there are all notes . You are moving all notes upward by the same amount. If all notes did not go up the same amount, ie if D E F# G A B C# D resulted in F# G A B C# D E F#, that would be wrong.

Why what is not implemented? Cubase reading your mind, and kowing which notes to pitch up or down, and how much? Or are you looking for Cubase to be coded to have options so that you can take any scale, or any group of notes, and turn those into scale, or any group of notes? Don’t see how that would be possible, seeing as though the possibilities are near endless.

Hey - can’t you do something with the score editor, along the lines of Crotch’s second post? Like, pick a to/from key, which may not move notes laterally across the board, but may instead move them in different intervals, depending on your selection?

Perhaps things weren’t explained as crystal clear as they might have been but this not the issue, as I understand it. This isn’t about transposition between keys, which is the situation you’re describing. What we’re trying to do is create a parallel line in the same key, in this case a third up in order to create a very common kind of harmony. The thirds vary between major and minor and herein lies the problem. The scale that you end up with is in effect a new mode in a new key. It’s rather an odd way of looking at it but it ought to produce the required results.

While we’re on the subject, though, running two keys [Edit: in the same mode] in parallel thirds is a great effect, very unsettling, and well-demonstrated in William Walton’s sole remaining contribution to the Battle of Britain soundtrack, Battle in the Air (“Is everything up?” “Everything.” “Reserves?” “None”…) towards the end of the film. It is particularly noticeable when the violins come in diving up and down, make the hair stand up and the shivers run up the spine. A wonderful and deeply disturbing piece of music, which is was it was intended to be.

I may yet be eating my words about whether it is implemented or not but not the ones about why it isn’t simpler to use, without arcane theoretical knowledge.

Anyway, back to the OP…

Ah, I think I understand now.

So, with the current behavior, if you have an ascending 8-note scale, and then move those notes up (as one ex.) three semitones to create thirds, notes 3, 6 and 7 will be a 1/2 step flat, and out of key. Well, that’s because all of the notes are moving upwards the equivalent amount. Which, as I alluded to earlier, is correct; if the notes did not move the equivalent amount, that would be wrong, as you could never properly transpose anything from one key to the next.

The fix here, would be for SB to implement user-chosen algos. You want correct minor thirds - you select choice a from the drop-down menu. You want correct something else - you select choice b from the drop-down menu. And so on. Personally, I cant see SB implementing this, but you never know…

Back to the score ed - as I asked before, isn’t there a way to do this there?

Dang it - Not the answer I had hoped for, but many thanks none the less.
I’m afraid my memory of the old greek scale modes is a little rusty, but I sure got a kick out of your idea Crotchety. :smiley:
I agree that this seems to be an unfortunate oversight in Cubase. I will send a scolding to Steinberg in hopes that they will add this function in future releases.


Actually, I’m wondering if there’s not a wee bugette hereabouts. That Phrygian dodge should have worked - or at least surely shouldn’t have produced a double note. But before you go to SB, Peter, consider that it might well be implemented and we have not yet found the right combination of scales to pull the job off. There are a veritable plethora to choose from in the Scale drop-down, although with a bit of knowledge we should be able to avoid random stabs in the dark - or at least try the sensible ones first.

A simpler “transpose on scale” switch would be good but we ain’t got one so by all means ask SB for one and tell them I said so too. And Vic too, probably. Where the the hell is he when you need him, anyway…

As for modes, I find them very useful but the cricket is about to start and I haven’t got time to explain right now, this sentence being an afterthought.

Jeff, I’m not convinced that we’re totally on the same page here. “Correct” is only correct when it does what you want it to do, otherwise it’s just plain wrong. I don’t want to get into a semantic debate about it but let’s just say that whatever the basic transpose does, it doesn’t do what we want, whatever words we use. User-algos I don’t think are the answer here: these are very specific requirements that follow predefined rules, namely the scale/mode that we are moving from and trying to stick to. Neither can I see score helping much as that is just the same MIDI presented differently but if you can find a quick and easy way of doing it like that, please share. It’s not an area I’m familiar with.

Essentially it works as if you highlighted all the notes and hit the up arrow 5 times.
What you have done is change the mode (in the key of D) and not the key.
Having not looked up “modes” yet :blush: in the manual I can only think that you could ask if there is anyone that has a pointer or has programmed the Logical Editor to perform “mode (or modal)moves”.
Could be fairly hard to program as there could be many permutations of mode and key and unless the programmers (usually) see the logic straight away or a volume of users that require this is significantly large then you could wait a while for this to happen.
I’ll try and remember to look at this and see if there’s a quick trick to doing this type of move but if there’s not much for YOU to do in this line then I find that working out a methodology to perform it now and again saves me years of asking programmers to build it for me. :slight_smile:

Yes, I know. And once you have read up on modes ( :wink: ) you will appreciate that this is exactly what we are trying to do. I shall attempt to explain…

Let’s take a melody in C major as it uses all the white notes and is easier to see what going on. Let that melody be C-D-E-F-G-F-E-D-C. We now want to write a simple harmony to that, two notes up, namely: E-F-G-A-B-A-G-F-E. (If you have access to a keyboard it is easy to try this for yourself, even if you can’t play one, as it’s up and down again with your fingers two notes apart. It’s banal but effective and consequently widespread.)

The step pattern in the second series of notes is not the same as in the first, i.e these are different modes. A quick look at the Wiki page ( will tell you that going up and down the white notes starting from C is called the Ionian Mode and from E, the Phrygian. This is why I tried it this way in the method I wrote out a few posts ago. I wasn’t expecting to have to redefine the target key as E but that’s what Cubase needed me to do, so so be it. It nearly worked but a note gets doubled for some reason I haven’t yet fathomed but hopefully will once I have some time (i.e. once the cricket’s finished).

Hope that clarifies things. I don’t think we need to bother the dev team, I think it’s there and we just need to find it. “It” being the right combination of settings. And then bother the devs for some presets! :wink:

Right, I’m off for a beer or several :smiley:

A result! I fiddled around with this for ages and finally decided that Ionian-Phrygian with the appropriate key shift was the only logical way of doing what the OP (and me on several occasions) was trying to do - shift a melody up a third on scale. The only trouble was that it results in a duplicated note so that C-D-E-F-G-A-B-C ends up as E-F-G-A-B-D-D-E (the OP uses an example in D to F#).

I contacted Support and have now received this answer:

This is a bug and thanks to you it is now in the bug tracking system. Thank you very much. Unfortunately there will be no response by the departments that process this.

I notice it’s not in the BugBase yet but don’t know whether this is supposed to be a definitive list or not.

Anyway, there’s your answer: it’s a bug and the way described here is as close as you’re gonna get.

That’s great news! (thanks for pursuing this issue :wink: )

The bug tracking system is an internal Steinberg tool, and much much bigger than the online bugbase, but also containing the bugs in there. [I don’t work there, just read this some time ago]

Unfortunate that I had to pursue it and quite vigourously or we’d still be none the wiser. I reported it a month ago and all went “Stille Nacht”… Still, thanks are due to the front line support team for chasing it up on request.

I’m not in front of Cubase to try this, but (IIRC) can’t the score editor be used to do what you want? - What happens if you make a selection and then drag it up two notes on the staff? Does that work?

I don’t use the score editor but at a guess, as it’s midi-based, no it wouldn’t, although you’re welcome to try. Don’t forget, we’re talking about on-scale transposing, not key-shifting. Thanks for the contribution, though.

It isn’t “intelligent” when simply dragging multiple notes (although, if you drag one note at a time, you can constrain it to being “in key”), and of course, if using the other transpose options, it behaves the same as in the other editors (complete with what-we-now-know-to-be the bug :wink: )

Well for counterpoint writing it can neccessary to get a octave below a melodyline ( random notes …no scale ) as example.
Also a third or a fifth ?, it seems to be difficult to perform this in Cubase ? as i read this thread.

The octave will be no problem as it follows the same step pattern (although not quite sure what you mean by random notes…). However, you are right to raise the issue for the fifth. I’ve never tried, nor for any other interval and it is probably high time someone did. Well, I was wondering what to do before the football…

:exclamation: Again, it’s worth reminding readers we are talking about on-scale transposition, which creates a new step pattern (or mode); not key-shift, which keeps the same.