Would "rhythm planes" be a useful new feature? (polymeters)

I often write different parts of a composition in different rhythmic meters, e.g., chords in four but the melody in three, and this means that some notes never fall on time grid lines because one time grid does not accommodate all notes. So, my idea is to introduce different “rhythm planes” analogous to the image planes used in Photoshop.

This feature would allow composers to assign different notes within a project to different planes (each with a different time grid) such that all notes would fall on (at least) one grid.

The feature should provide the option of showing just one plane at a time (say just the three-feel notes), several different planes, or all of them at once. And this would be done by simply checking tick boxes for the plane(s) that you want to see.

To keep things visually clear, you should be able to color code notes by plane (just as you can currently color code notes by velocity or grid match).

It would also be nice to have the option of assigning a different metronome pattern to each plane to aid the recording of parts in different rhythmic meters.

Would “rhythm planes” be useful to anyone else besides me?


I like the idea. Post it to the Feature Request thread, please.

Anyway, if you are using a triplets vs straight (4/4), you should find a match for both in one grid.

For example, chords are every 1/4, but melody is based on 1/8 Triplet. Then the 1/8 triplet fits both.

Another example, chords are every 1/4, but melody is based on 1/4 Triplet. Then again the 1/8 triplet fits both. You can always find a match in a very fine grid.

I don’t really understand what you are asking. Couldn’t you just set the grid/quantize to whatever you are working on and then change it when you start to work on the melody? Shouldn’t affect the chords that you have already done.

Also btw. it’s called poly rhythm and if for example on thing is playing 4/4 and another is playing 3/4 they will meat up every 12th beat.

I regularly work with polyrhythmic material. I like the concept, and it could be fun.

If you are wanting to see different colors then just use two (or more) different midi tracks that are colored differently and open them up at the same time and toggle between them while changing to the different quantization grids.

I believe the term is called ‘poly meter’. But yes I’ve heard that its often used by certain style musicians…
eg Frank Zappa.

Yes, the term is poly meter.

Then it would be cool also have an option of poly tempos. :wink:

I’m pretty sure, this Feature Request appears time to time again and again.

Adjusting the grid quantization is what I currently do. However in long, complex scores (where several different meters are used throughout the piece) it’s difficult to remember where I used dotted, triple, and straight time. Thus my idea is more about organization; by placing the different meter notes in different planes, you don’t have to hunt for them.

Another benefit would occur when recording parts in different meters (assuming it’s possible to assign different metronome meters/patterns to each plane). In this case you would select the plane with the meter that you want to record in, and you’d hear the meter-appropriate pattern as opposed to a compromise. I realize that you can change the pattern with the current metronome, but here again I think workflow would improve if you could just select the appropriate plane and record or make edits rather than continually switching.

Thanks, but if I were to use different midi tracks, as you suggest, I would not be able to audition the aggregate harmony (melody note + chord notes), which I do by ctrl-clicking on one of the notes within a vertical “chord stack”. I do this often when working out the harmony.

You are correct, Martin. However, using a fine grid as you suggest makes it difficult to tell which notes belong to which meter (especially without meter-specific color-coding). And this situation is exacerbated when using loose (human) timing because it further blurs the relation between note position and the grid.

I’m going to hold off posting it until it’s clear that this idea is useful/desirable/feasible.

Thanks for all the great feedback!

I’m sure it’s feasible though no idea how easy it would be to implement for the programmers but FWIW I’m another who’d certainly add a +1 if you put it into the Feature Requests & Suggestions Forum. Excellent idea.


Interesting idea, and huge marketing potential, Cubase could be marketed as the only 3D music DAW. :wink: I hope no one minds if I move this to Feature Requests.

No need to worry about whether it’s feasible, VST was not feasible in 1985. :wink:

Aside from the ability to see all the meters displayed simultaneously, it’s theoretically possible to accomplish some of this now, though the steps required are too complex to be practical.

For three meters. assuming the same tempo pulse for all:
Create a time sig track, create several Track Versions of it.

  • Vers. 1: 4/4
  • Vers. 2: 3/4
  • Vers. 3: 5/4

Start with 3 midi tracks in Musical timebase.

With sig track on version 1, compose something in 4/4 on midi track 1.

  • set the track to Linear timebase and
  • then switch sig track to vers 2

On the 2nd track compose something in 5/4

  • set the track to Linear timebase and
  • then switch sig track to vers 3

On the 3rd track compose something in 5/4

  • set the track to Linear timebase

Then you would set up macros and PLE presets to switch the sig versions and the time domains on the tracks in order to switch between them.

The sig track versions would keep their metronome patterns. Of course, simultaneous display of all three meters would not be possible. And since I did not actually try it out, there’s probably something else wrong with it. :open_mouth:

My point is just that Cubase isn’t too far from being able to actually do this.