I was wandering about this because I’d like to find ways to make my job easier. What really interests me is how you write all the expressions, dynamics, etc. I should mention that I’m talking specifically about the instruments of the symphonic orchestra. However, any other personal experience/opinion would probably be helpful.
So, I basically write all the music on Finale, where I can assign all that. I have no problem there because it uses Garritan Instruments for Finale, so they play anything I write. However, I do the mix on Cubase and I also use different sets of VSTs.
Most of the dynamics are usually performed differently, therefore I end up hearing things lower or louder than they were supposed to. And of course it’s not the dbs I worry about here, but the velocities. I might write a violin playing (the) piano ( ) and end up sounding mf. Also, when I write a phrase, I of course want some of the notes to be played leggato and some accented, or staccato, etc. Finale (kind of) does that when I place the proper symbol above a note. But when I use other VST instruments, I have to choose some instruments for, say, marcato and some others for leggato, which is pretty-much impossible to do because I need a track for each of the different articulations and also each track has to have only the notes it should play with the specific articulation. Instruments with keyswitches help with that but I can’t always find the instrument I like with a KS, or sometimes even if they have KS they don’t have the particular effect/articulation I want to use.
Now, I haven’t said anything about MIDI controllers, keyboards and such and the reason is I don’t have any! I understand it’s a necessity and I’m planning on getting something soon. Actually, I have a synth that I’m going to connect with my pc but it’s veeeery old, so no high hopes for that. But anyway, it would be helpful to learn exactly how this helps you, if it helps you and how you use it. Do you just open the sequencer and start palying things and add instruments in the process? And how do you deal with the issues mentioned above?
It would generally help to see how other people work. Also, if you’ve read something that is very foolish of me to do, or if there’s a very common, standard procceedure that I haven’t mentioned, please wake me up! I’d say I’m only starting to learn about all these things and even the smallest tip would be of great help.
Thanks for taking the tiime..!
I end up hearing things lower or louder than they were supposed to <
- your problem here is (correct me if i got you wrong), after you play your phrase, you end up hearing them low so you boost couple of dbs for the track to match the mix, however, in some parts this track becomes louder comparing to the rest of the tracks so you lower the volume and vice versa, well if this is exactly your problem i suggest the following:
1- after you write your MIDI notes and have them all done, render the track and import it into Cubase as Audio wav.
2- throw a “Compressor” found under Dynamics >> Compressor (you can use Cubase stock compressor it does the job very well). if you don’t know what compressor does, google it that wil make your life easier.
3- after compressing the track, use “Volume automation” (boost the lower parts, and lower the high parts) you may spend some time doing this, do it slow and listen carefully.
PS you may want to EQ your track before throwing the compressor.
Hope i helped, let me know if you want to know more about Mixing/Mastering in Cubase, Cheers
Hi, thank you fot the tip. However, this is not the problem in the particular situation. I use another program to write all the notes, where I can add dynamics, articulations, etc. When I’m done I export the MIDI file and import it in Cubase. But there I use VST instruments that play some things differently.
There are ways of fixing that, for example, I mess with the velocities of each Instrument track individually, but it takes a lot of time and it’s work that, theoretically, I have already done while I was writing the music.
But I do have another question about Cubase. It’s not about mixing/mastering, but you might know something! If I enter the key editor of an Instrument track and select a MIDI note, there are some parameters above, like veolocity. One of them is “channel”. Is there a way to change it so that it can play each note from a different channel of the VST plugin I’m using? Simply typing another channel won’t do it.
Hmm I’m not a cubase user, but I do a lot of scoring in protools. The channel option could refer to “midi” channel. Meaning that any patch loaded on your VST plugin can be triggered from any of the 16 midi channels you have available. For example you can create an instrument track with you VST on it, then create 5, or 7, or 10 additional midi tracks. Then you assign each midi track a channel that corresponds to the midi channel each VST patch is assigned too. It can really make instrument organization a lot easier, as well has help your system preserve processing power by avoiding running multiple VSTs.
JonBuice saidThanks a lot! It’s not exactly like this but I figured it out. It should help me with the “different articulations on the same track” problem. This is what I was talking about when I said that very simple stuff would probably help. You also reminded me about something I’d read in the manual a while back. Perhaps I should take another look there!
For example you can create an instrument track with you VST on it, then create 5, or 7, or 10 additional midi tracks.
You say you do a lot of scoring in protools. How do you do that? Do you use a MIDI keyboard?
Glad to help! Yeah a lot of people say they hate midi in pro tools, but I happen to think its great. I have a full stage piano that I use as a midi controller. You said you write out a lot of your music first and then import midi files? Thats seems pretty difficult, only on account that you never really know what you’ll get when you play midi files back on various VSTs/instruments. But whatever works for you right! Usually I just preload a lot of different instruments and articulations and just score on the fly, sometimes pausing to playing things out in my head before laying them down. Another thing, which I swear is the hardest part of scoring with samples, is getting the instruments to convey emotion. Volume swells and fades via automation is painstaking; sometimes I wish I could conduct with my hands and the music would just do what I want haha.
Hello. I first think verry well at how I want the song to sound, what instruments I will be using, sound setups etc, I try to organise something clearly in my mind. When I’m decided I beggin working at the song. I split that work into two sepparate sessions, I work on each session in different days, never on both of them in the same day. I dedicate the first session on recording the instruments, chosing the tone of the instruments, maybe play with different structures, modifying some parts of the song (when I beggin recording, most of the song structure is in my mind). I dedicate that session to composing, recording, having fun doing all that. In this session I’m in a certain mood, I enter the studio thinking at a state of mind, I concentrate on that. The second session is dedicated to mixing, and all the sound engineering. I arrange everything, see if something will need to be re-recorded, I arrange the sound of every instrument, the sound of the track overall, all there is to be done on the sound. I work in two sessions because I think that in each of them you are in a different state of mind. They require different kind of concentration. On the first session I’m an instrumentist, I record, I interpret the music, it’s a verry different mood and ambient. When I work on sound I have to focus on something totally diferent, each sound change on a track affects all the other tracks, pans, mixers, totally diferent kind of work. I cannot do the sound part while being in the recording mood and viceversa. Since I’ve been working like that, the sound quality of my songs improved. And about the part where you don’t hear the music right, you think something sound lower that it actually sound, I think that happens while working on the sound. After some time your hearing gets tired and begins to fail you, therefore it becomes innacurate. That’s one of the reasons I prefer working on the sound sepparately, so I can focus only on that. Even so, after maximum 3 hours of working on sound engineering, I must take a big break, for few hours, so that I rest my hearing. After maximum 3 hours my hearing begins failing. If I continue working when that happens, I will work for 5 more hours, but the next day when I listen to the work on the previous day, it sound like sshhht. And one other thing. First I take care of the tehnical problems that may occur, cables, learn to use VST-s correctly, (shopping that my wife asked me to do) solve all the issues, whatever they are, and after that I begin recording, working on the song. If I begin to record and a cable or something breaks down, and I loose half an hour finding the problem I might loose all the right ambient and mood to compose and interpret the recording because all my concentration was ruined with something that comes from a different universe from the one I’m in. So I first try to make the correct enviroment to work without any disturbance. That’s how I work, hope you find anything usefull. Cheers
JonBuice saidThat’s exactly one of my problems. However, writing the music first helps me keep track of the stracture and that’s very important. It’s also difficult for me to see MIDI notes because I’m used to seeing actual notes. But I do plan on getting some keyboard, because sometimes I need to do something simpler and faster. And I was actually thinking about a stage piano myslef, because I need it to study some basic piano-playing. Good to see it’s working out for you.
You said you write out a lot of your music first and then import midi files? Thats seems pretty difficult, only on account that you never really know what you’ll get when you play midi files back on various VSTs/instruments.
JonBuice saidAnd that’s my other problem! Seems like I’m not alone That’s why I’d like someone to tell me how they’re doing their work, so that I can see if there’s anything that could save me some time!
Another thing, which I swear is the hardest part of scoring with samples, is getting the instruments to convey emotion.
Hi Fernandestelecaster, thanks for the reply! Well, it seems your work is quite different. I mean, from what you said it seems like you record everything, or at least most of the stuff. You are correct though about the way you deal with each session. Even though I don’t record as many instruments as you do, it helps spending a day on composing, another on orchestrating, etc, etc. And you’re so damn right about the breaks.
After maximum 3 hours my hearing begins failing. If I continue working when that happens, I will work for 5 more hours, but the next day when I listen to the work on the previous day, it sound like sshhht.
Fernandestelecaster saidFortunatelly, I don’t have to deal with an issue like that! But I now know who to ask if I ever have to!
(shopping that my wife asked me to do)