VSTi continues to play all notes played via MIDI, but not Keyboard

Cubase Pro 12

I’m new to Cubase, and am seeing something that I don’t understand, and I don’t know if it is an issue with the plugin, the MIDI I imported, or a setting I can’t find. I’m hoping someone might have some insight.

I created a MIDI part for a string instrument in Cakewalk (latest version) using one of their built-in instruments (SI-String Section). I wanted to use it in a Cubase project using the same Cakewalk instrument, so I exported the MIDI from cakewalk (tried both Type 0 and 1) and imported them into Cubase, and it loaded OK and looks the same as it did in CW.

I added an instrument track in Cubase for the SI-String Section instrument and it came up. I connected the MIDI track’s output to it and let it play. When it started, it sounded like a growing chord that continued to play even after I stopped the play head. The only way to end it was to delete the instrument and re-add it to the instrument track.

What I believe is happening is that the instrument continues to play every note that is played in the MIDI track, ignoring the Note Off command, almost like Sustain is held, but I did not use it while recording, and if I create a CC64 control lane in Cubase Editor and set it initially to 0, it changes nothing. Watching the plugin keyboard, I can see the correct notes being played and released, nothing is being “held down” longer than it should be. I first thought it was the plug-in, being Cakewalk’s, but when I use their other instruments on the same MIDI track, such as SI-Bass Guitar and SI-Electric Piano, they work fine. Each note ends as it should, and the sound stops when not playing. So I don’t believe there is some phantom Sustain in the MIDI, and may nothing wrong with the MIDI at all. It’s not the Reverb or Release of the instrument, as I’ve tried setting those to 0. No change. There are only Notes listed in the List Editor in Cubase, no other controls, like Sustain. The plugin has no settings that I can find that would change this behavior, and I’m using the default program like I did back in Cakewalk.

I don’t know what could be causing this for just this instrument. I’ve have other instruments I can use that all work as expected, but this was my first try at creating MIDI in Cubase, and I really want to understand what I going on here. Maybe it is just this particular instrument in Cubase that’s broken, or maybe I’m missing something. Any advice or suggestions would be appreciated. Oh, and I can PLAY the instrument in Cubase directly with my MIDI keyboard and it works perfectly, as expected. I can even record MIDI to the instrument track while doing so. However, when I play back that same MIDI, it holds the notes. Very weird.

I have no idea atm what causes this, but here’s a tip that is useful with hanging MIDI notes: in the MIDI menu, “reset” will send MIDI off events on all channels. There is also a preference “reset on stop” to do that automatically when stopping playback.
Also, instead of routing the output of the MIDI channel to an instrument track, you can just move the MIDI parts to that track (hold “STRG/CMD” to have the parts to the original position).

@fese, thanks for the suggestion. I did try that option as well, just create an instrument track and copy/move the MIDI events to that track. It works, but same behavior as every other option. I’m convinced that what is happening is the equivalent (and perhaps that itself) of the sustain pedal remaining down (although there is no indication of that in the MIDI itself). I would blame the plug-in outright if the other CW plug-ins behaved the same way, but they don’t.

Also, thanks for the MIDI > Reset reminder. I did recall reading about a “reset” when I was going through the manual, but couldn’t find it again. And I did just confirm that using the MIDI > Reset does in fact stop the run-on notes after I stop playing.

Is there a way to monitor the MIDI on/off signals being read by a track? Perhaps I could find a clue there, like, perhaps a sustain is being seen, or the note offs are not happening.

EDIT: OK, never mind. I found one. MIDI Inserts in the Inspector for the the Inst Track has MIDI Monitor, which worked perfectly. When I play live, I see note on/off events, but when I play back my MIDI, I see only Note On events, NO Note Off events ever. Perhaps my MIDI is malformed?!? But this happens even when I record new MIDI directly in Cubase on that same track, so… What I need to find out is where this MIDI Monitor is looking. Is it between the MIDI data and the CW Plugin, or after the plugin? IOW, is Cubase sending only Note Ons to the plugin, or is the plugin ignoring them (which is the ‘output’ the Monitor is seeing)?

EDIT #2: Well, interestingly, the same thing occurs when I use the OTHER CW instruments that play correctly - only Note On events. Pressing the Sustain Pedal does not show up on the Monitor (even though I’m looking at “Notes and Sustain Pedal” events. This is whether playing live or playback with sustain. Sustain does work with the plugins in Live Play, in that notes are held, and the Monitor lists the Sustain event. But the notes are held like they are with the Strings plugin. Maybe it’s just the way the strings plugin is designed as a “long” articulation, although the same MIDI works perfectly with my Abbey Road Studio One strings.

EDIT #3: Just loaded this MIDI file into Reaper and it played this Cakewalk Strings instrument perfectly, so it is definitely something going on in Cubase Pro and NOT with the plug-in. Grrr…

I can’t help with the rest but for this bit I can give you the explanation.
Quite a few MIDI devices (Cubase, hardware synths, etc.) don’t send MIDI Off messages but MIDI On with a velocity value of 0 (zero) instead. This started at some point in the 1980’s and should be supported by all “modern” (build after 1990) machines and soft synths.
Cubase changes every Note Off into a Note On with velocity = 0. A small part of me believes it had a setting where the user could chose to work with Note Off, but I guess that is also a thing of the last century.

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Yikes! That seems to be something that could cause all sorts of compatibility problems. Is that even standard MIDI?

Thanks for the insight. At the moment, I’m about 8 days into my 60-day free trial of Cubase Pro 12 and so far I’ve found two pretty significant things I can’t do that I can easily do elsewhere, and I’m finding the workflow to be rather clunky, confusing, and downright frustrating compared to my other DAWs (and I’ve read all 1400 pages of the manual). That’s not encouraging. It seems to be a matter of building better on top of decades of now-outdated ways of doing things (like MIDI tracks), then that’s true for any long-term, successful application. It does do a LOT that my other DAWs can’t do (or do as well) though, which is why choosing one is so difficult.

Nah, we’re making music like this for 30 years. It is ok.

You mention “Instrument Track” and “MIDI Track” like it is the same thing. Please note that these are two different track types in Cubase.

Use the menu item MIDI → Reset.

And… if you want to see if there is any controller data in a part, open that part in the List Editor (MIDI → Open List Editor). There you can use filter to show you only controller events.

Yeah, I mentioned that in my posts above, some in the EDITs, like the List Editor and MIDI Monitor in Cubase. I do know that MIDI and Instrument tracks in Cubase are distinct (which added to my original confusion), but I tried it using a MIDI track routed to an instrument in the Rack, or an instrument track to where I had copied the MIDI event. Sorry, long thread.

Someone pointed out MIDI > Reset earlier.

So, if Cubase is sending MIDI Note On commands with Volume 0, shouldn’t I be seeing them in the MIDI Monitor. I’m only seeing the Note On ONCE in the Monitor upon Playback, but see both On and Off when I’m playing live. Does Cubase only high-jack the Off on playback?

I can even add a sustain Off command in the MIDI event at the beginning, which doesn’t help. So, it truly appears to be the lack of Note Off for this particular plug-in. Maybe I could use a MIDI Transform to transform any Note On V=0 to Note Off! :wink:

You could ask the maker of the plug-in whether it does not understand Note On vel=0 as a Note Off.
Also feel free to send me your project file (.cpr) via PM and please mark the track and part in question. I don’t have the synth that you are using but could look if I find anything else suspicious in there.

I appreciate the offer. Before I trouble you further, I’ve logged a call to Steinberg support about it and am waiting for a response. Will let you know here if I learn anything new. I have also, as you suggested, contacted Cakewalk support asking them about the plug-in in question. Cheers.