VST Expressions and VST 3.5

Hi All,

Ok. Finally VST Expressions looks like it could be a paradigm shifting technology for composers working to deadlines and needing control of beasts like Vienna Symphonic Library etc.

If Steinberg could make one final push with this, I think it will be a DP, Logic and PT killer, at least for those who use MIDI extensively. That push may mean a collaboration with the folks at Vienna Symphonic Library, and the key point is this:

VST 3.5 apparently now allows Nuendo/Cubase to query a plugin and receive all its patch (or at least key switch) information back. Allowing an automatic Expression map to be generated. The subtle but important thing here is that, rather than users being restricted to the pre-made maps and patches that work (or having to face hours and hours of Map programming) the user can now freely create VSL patches and get Expression Maps automatically.

This allows VSL users to work within the philosophy originally dreamt up by VSL - that the user is in command of customising patches all the time. And this is a big thing!

Personally I have tried, in an effort to tame VSL, various control methods, none of which have worked 100%. From programme changes (now defunct in VST 3) to key switches (that don’t properly chase unless you sustain them with manual editing or create separate tracks for patch assignments) and my final idea, CC control messages in MIDI automation lanes. This last I had high hopes for, until I learnt that Nuendo/Cubase does not chase these well, and it’s bugged it would seem when in cycle mode. I spent much time developing Logical Transformer presets to adapt CC Data into digestible form for VSL. It was working - but bugged. Sadly.

VST Expressions 2 has a couple of quirks that also need ironing out. I am personally still discovering these, but one is that, at the end of a MIDI part, the expression map spits out a reset to the VSTi. It would be great to be able to change this.

Sooo, my point is, VST Expressions is by no means dead in the water. Well done SB for continuing to develop it. It’s so nearly there but just needs a final push. SB: please help VSL to go VST 3.5. And maybe Native Instruments (Kontakt) and others will follow suit. This would open things up for LA Scoring Strings for example, to name but just one.

MIDI is a terribly old protocol. It’s really creaking at its foundations when faced with behemoths like VSL. But changing the MIDI protocol will never happen. VST Expression almost cracks the problem. Some lateral thinking is still to be done (EG could Polyphonic Pressure data not be used as a way to tunnel note specific information down that MIDI pipe?)

Thanks for reading


1 person like it.

Well said
I share your thoughts on this 100%
The time to sit down and script a set of expression maps to various libraries - well, guess what, I don’t have it…
If there is a slight possibility to auto create expression maps according to the key switch of a loaded patch, wow that would make a difference! I have ended up using EWQLSO Play simply because I found an expression map for it.

I would rather use the kontakt version which runs much more efficient, but I don’t have time to make a map for it. That goes for a bunch of other libraries too.

BTW I have noticed the reset on part end which in heavy projects can lead to wrong key switch.


Another Glitch:

When you create a fresh MIDI track, all ready with fingers to be creative, and try and select a sound from the Expression Map… ah, you can’t because there is no MIDI part on the track yet.

Quite a show stopper that one. Seems like a variant of the reset on part end problem.

So another feature request would be - allow the selection of an “expression slot” (ie sound) on a track basis, PRIOR to recording any MIDI. Obviously any Expression events in the MIDI tracks would then take over, and hopefully “latch” or better still, be “chased” until the next Expression event, even if that event is in a part that follows empty space on the track.


All you other VST Expressions users - don’t be shy - let’s hear your thoughts too! Even if it fell flat on it’s face on day one for you (a general pattern it seems), any thoughts would be welcome.

If you’re really against the idea of VST Expression Maps overall, please back up your feelings with an alternate suggestion if you have one!


I know I look like a lone voice here - but mark my words this is the way forwards…

Another Glitch for the record:

If you have a MIDI part with an indicative VST Expression event, and then split this part in two, and then mute the first part, sound slots are “reset” to default again. Obviously a workflow killer. But eeeeasy to fix no doubt once SB has the will (and wisdom in my opinion - this feature could really blow others out the water).

I will keep hammering this one. I probably should head over to the Cubase forum too.


PS remember Cubase VST32 anyone? Remember nested menus for MIDI port/channel combos? We have yet to better that method. VST Expressions will catch up and overtake…

Is it not possible for SB to create a “Plug-In” or Standalone App that can “scan” a Sample Library (VSL, EWQL etc) and create expression maps automatically? Are these VSTs totally inaccessible from reading Sample info from it for Expression map creation?