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Cubase 3.0 (part 7)

A post by David Mellor
Thursday January 01, 2004
Cubase’s Interactive Phrase Synthesiser, or IPS as I shall abbreviate it, works is a similar way. You start off with a musical phrase as an input, which you will have already recorded into Cubase, then the software will allow you to process this in a large variety of interesting ways...
Cubase 3.0 (part 7)

Interactive Phrase Synthesis

Let’s start with the most complex of Cubase’s features. A quick look at Figure 1 will show you what I mean. Now if you’re thinking that you’ll never understand all that, then let me assure you that you will, in less than an hour if you know the basics of Cubase already. First we need to know what the Interactive Phrase Synthesiser does. If we know what we can expect then explaining how to get some significant results should be reasonably easy.

I remember a long long time ago reviewing a certain sequencer in Sound on Sound. It wasn’t a conventional sequencer that manipulates notes and other MIDI data. It took that basic level of sequencing as its first step and went beyond that to create sequences of sequences. The results could be a little unpredictable but it was certainly an interesting improvisational tool. Cubase’s Interactive Phrase Synthesiser, or IPS as I shall abbreviate it, works is a similar way. You start off with a musical phrase as an input, which you will have already recorded into Cubase, then the software will allow you to process this in a large variety of interesting ways, and also play the processed phrase by pressing single keys on the keyboard. It’s difficult to describe the results but let me put it like this, if you have a certain amount of ability at improvising on the keyboard, and nearly everybody has, then the IPS will amplify that ability. If you use improvisation as a means of generating musical ideas, then you will end up with ten times as many ideas mostly that you would never have thought of unassisted. You have to put in some programming input as well as musical input but used imaginatively the IPS could take your music to a level above what you might have achieved without it.

Let’s break down the IPS into small parts so that it’s easier to understand. There are four sections which you will be able to pick out fairly easily:

  • Phrase Input, Interpreter, MIDI Input
  • Dynamics, Pitch, Rhythm
  • Output
  • Modulators

Overall, the layout isn’t bad but I suspect that it will eventually be refined so that you can get a better picture of what the system is doing. I wonder whether a toolbox and graphic display would have been better?

Considering the Input and Interpreter first, the basic raw material will be a phrase that you have created in Cubase and copied to the IPS. It may be a complete Part or a selection of notes from an editor. The other type of input is MIDI input, which will be the notes you play on the keyboard while the IPS is running. One simple possibility might be to have a single key press play the phrase as it stands in its entirety. Whatever clever IPS techniques are used, the phrase and MIDI input have to be interpreted which means that the pattern of notes in the phrase is mapped onto the notes you play on the keyboard in one way or another. One example might be that notes are played only when they are present in the phrase and the combination of notes you are currently holding on the keyboard, in whatever rhythmic pattern that the phrase has. An alternative would be that only the notes you play sound, but in the rhythm of the phrase. This can produce interesting results and we have hardly started yet.

A post by David Mellor
Thursday January 01, 2004 ARCHIVE
David Mellor has been creating music and recording in professional and home studios for more than 30 years. This website is all about learning how to improve and have more fun with music and recording. If you enjoy creating music and recording it, then you're definitely in the right place :-)
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