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Cubase 3.0 (part 5)

The MIDI Mixer offers snapshot and automated control of seemingly as many MIDI parameters as your knowledge of MIDI extends to...


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Score Editing

I doubt whether anyone will use all of Cubase’s facilities and modules. The MIDI Mixer and Phrase Synthesiser obviously have much to offer. Briefly, the MIDI Mixer offers snapshot and automated control of seemingly as many MIDI parameters as your knowledge of MIDI extends to. The Phrase Synthesiser can take a recorded MIDI input and modify it in an immense variety of ways. But neither of these fall into the category of mainstream sequencing so I propose to leave them until another day. Score editing is a different matter however since many sequencer users are interested in putting their thoughts down on paper as well as on tape. (The other forms of Cubase editing are still available, although Grid Edit is now called List Edit). I recently spoke to Hans Zimmer, the composer of the music for Rainman and K2 and many other films, who showed me how he was using the Macintosh version of Cubase to record his scores, and also to generate a print out which he could pass on to his copyist to make neat musical parts for orchestral instruments. The score editing feature of Cubase has been extensively improved with features such as: “Full page overview and edit, drum notation, chord symbols, guitar tablature, enhanced printer support, improved accidentals and beams, extended text option, polyphonic voices per system”, to quote from Steinberg’s promotional material. Producing an acceptable printed score from a MIDI sequence is never going to be an easy or straightforward task, but it is important particularly now that electric and acoustic instruments are being used more and more alongside synthesised and sampled material.

Score editing has two different purposes, one is to edit your MIDI sequence, the other is to get a printed copy of your work. There are therefore two modes of operation, Edit mode and Page mode. In Edit mode, the object is to get as clear a display as possible so you can move notes around according to what you hope to be able to hear eventually. To this end there is a dialogue box which offers a number of flags: Auto Quantise, No Overlap, Syncopation, Auto Clef, Clean Lengths - all of which I found it better to set to On, - and No Part Name, No Beams, No Half 3lets which I found I didn’t need to bother with personally. The result is a score on screen that is almost always neat enough to play from without any manual tweaking whatsoever. And if you want to fix a bum note, just drag it with the mouse to its correct position. The only drawbacks to this are that the screen isn’t big enough to show all the music you might want it to - I would recommend editing just one part at a time - and the ST is too slow to update a whole screenful of notation quickly enough. Time to trade up to a TT perhaps?

Printing out a score properly involves a lot more fine tuning. Steinberg advise working on a copy of your music, so that whatever you recorded stays the way you meant it, yet the printed score is clear enough for a musician to play straight away without having too much difficulty with strange syncopations or densely black patches of notes. Figure 2 shows a section of raw print out from the score editor without any manual tweaking. I printed it on my Hewlett Packard HPIIP laser printer and as you can see the result is pretty good. You would have to consult a session musician for an opinion on whether it would be good enough, under all circumstances and all degrees of musical complexity, however.

By David Mellor Thursday January 1, 2004