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St Peter’ School- Cubase Workshop

Creating an arrangement
Once you have found some loops that you want to use, you need to create an arrangement from them –
   ss      ece        c.
thi i a pi ofm usi There are l ofdi
                                  ots              form s’that a song can take,but the di
                                           fferent ‘                                              ow
                                                                                        agram s bel
will outline some of the most common ones. You can experiment to find out which one you like the
most, possibly a combination of the ideas below, possibly your own idea.

To duplicate a part in Cubase, select it and hit CTRL + D.

To repeat a part in Cubase, select it and hit CTRL + K then enter the number of repeats you want.

Remember if you want to duplicate or repeat multiple parts… .

                                                 ect                                   m
                                    … .you can sel parts on m ore than one track at a ti e,as seen
                                    here… ..

                                    … or j on the one track.

You can do either by clicking and dragging a box round them to select them.

It is often a good idea to colour your tracks or parts – you can colour parts you have selected with the

        box at the top right of the screen on the toolbar.

Types of arrangement
To create an arrangement, you will need different musical elements – some samples that change with
  m            se      ece         c l ust        ong                        c    ch sn’
ti e. O therw i your pi of m usi w ilj be a l repeat of the sam e m usi w hi i t very
interesting. You can make a good arrangement with just a few samples if you use them cleverly.

The dance “buid” arrangem ent

This takes a few elements (in the case of the example, 5)
and repeats them for the length of the song. Interest is
created by introduction of those elements over a period
                                            e sn’
of time (for instance, track 4 in the exam pl i t heard
until bar 9, and some other elements come and go over
time), and this example also features the now-traditional

St Peter’ School- Cubase Workshop

“breakdow n” – in this case this involves the pad sample (track 2) being absent, and also the drum
sample (track 1) being lower in volume. The song then builds up again to the climax at the end and a
sudden stop. From a small amount of material (5 samples) a whole piece has been created.

   ABA’arrangem ent (Ternary form)
An ‘

This is a far more traditional form of music, dating back
to early classical music. It consists of two different
sections, which can be signified by only a change of
sample (such as using a different drum beat), or perhaps
a totally different feel with all the samples changing. The
                                   on, ch
changed section is the “B” secti w hi then returns to
the original. In this way the song is interesting as you feel
as if you have been on a journey, from home (A) to a new
destination (B) and back home again (A).

Here we see a simple ABA form piece. The original theme (which is 4 bars long) is repeated until bar 17,
where a new section (B) is played, until bar 25 where the original theme (A) returns.

It is also possible to develop this into a new form where
another section will appear afterwards – ABAC form,
sometimes called Rondo. Here we can see the piece
above has been developed with a C section added.

This idea can be extended further, either with a form
such as ABACABA or ABACADAEA, etc – it is completely
up to you how you decide to structure your piece.

Editing samples

At the moment you have just been repeating samples, but you can do much, much more than this. You
can chop them up to allow you to play just a small part, to repeat sections or to change the order

                                                           ve ready used,or the sci
This is done with two tools – either the arrow toolthat you’ al                   ssors tool-

  rstl et’                           th                .
Fi y,l s see w hat you can do w i the arrow tool O nce you have sel                    e,       l
                                                                          ected a sam pl you w ilsee
that the bottom part of it turns black, and white squares appear in the bottom corners of the sample, as
well as blue triangles at the top corners, and a blue square half way along the top.

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You may remember the snap setting which we used to make sure that the samples will only move in bar

divisions – this button at the top of the screen -       - and the grid setting, here          along

with the current setting of the grid, which is set to bar, like this -                  .

       i          t                       t            s l                             ngs
N ow clck w here i says “Bar” and change i to beat. Thi w ilm ean that you can m ove thi a beat at a
time instead of a bar, and importantly change the length of a sample a beat at a time.

Next,click on the end w hi square ‘        e’
                                      handl on the sam pl e              t         ght. You’lsee the
                                                                and drag i to the ri        l
      e l                       t
sam pl w ilget shorter. The bi that you have ‘   covered up’w ilno l
                                                               l            ay,      t      t
                                                                    onger pl but i doesn’ get deleted
– you can bring it back at any time if you decide to.

You can do the same for the start of the sample, so you can make it start later. Try it now.

      ue handl have a di
The bl ‘       es’                      on
                           fferent functi – they control the volume of the sample. If you click and
drag the blue square handle in the middle downwards then it will make the sample quieter – you’lsee
the drawing of the waveform get shorter as you do this, like this:

Here we see the same sample three times, each time the blue handle has been dragged lower to make
the sample quieter.

The triangular-shaped handles at the beginning and end have a different function. They allow you to
make a fade-in or fade out on a sample – you just click and drag them into the sample to make a fade-in
or out, as seen below.

  th         m e       s t’     bl
W i these si pl tool i s possi e to m ake the sam pl m ore i
                                                    es               ng           op      m
                                                             nteresti and devel over ti e. But i  f
you want to make them sound really different then you may want to experiment with the scissor tool.
This allows you to cut a sam pl up,and then you can do a num ber of thi               snap’has been
                                                                       ngs. H ere the ‘

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set to                    and then the quantize setting has been set to                    . This means
that each bar is divided up into 8 sections. Now the sample has been cut up at each division – it used to
look like this:

                                                                 Here is the original drum beat. It is 2
                                                                 bars long, so it can be cut up into 8
                                                                 different sections, as shown next.

                                                                 … these have been num bered to m ake
                                                                 the next diagram easier to understand.
                                                                 The cutting can be done all in one go if
                                                                 you hold down the ALT key when you
                                                                 make the first cut – Cubase will slice
                                                                 the sample for you.

                                                                 Several of the samples have been
                                                                 moved around, to make the drum beat
                                                                 sound more interesting and to provide
                                                                 an odd rhythm at the end of the last

                                                                 Here the chopped-up loop has been
                                                                 developed with some repetitions of the
                                                                 second sample and sample 15 at the
                                                                 end – the quantize value was changed
                                                                 to 1/16 to allow these smaller samples
                                                                 to be used.

                                                                 You can also delete samples – this gives
                                                                 a very “choppy” feelas the m om entary
                                                                   l     s          is             n
                                                                 sience i unusual (t’ not heard i the
                                                                 ‘         d’
                                                                  realw orl )and grabs your attenti on.

                                                                 Here some of the samples (6,9,14) have
                                                                 been reversed – select them , then
                                                                 right-click and choose Process >
                                                                 Reverse. M ake sure you pi “N ew
                                                                       on”         l n
                                                                 Versi or you w ilrui som ethi elng se
                                                                      ve ready done! You can try other
                                                                 you’ al
                                                                 processes too… ..

St Peter’ School- Cubase Workshop

Adding MIDI
As well as providing audio recording and editing, Cubase also allows the recording of MIDI which is
musical information of notes being played. The music keyboards in front of you are attached to the
computer, and once you have set Cubase up, you will be able to play music on the keyboards and record

The first thing to do is to create a new track. Go to Project > Add Track > MIDI, and you should
see a new track appear. You should now have a new track called MIDI 01, and also if you have the
inspector enabled (at the left of the screen), there should be some details about it, such as the track
name, inputs and outputs, etc, as shown on the left of this screen shot. If the inspector isn't
enabled, then click the icon that looks like this one

The Inspector is very important as it allows you to alter the volume and panning of a track (more of this
later), and pick what you want to play the notes you have recorded.

The schoolPCs don’ have any synthesi   zers built into them, but Cubase allows you to run one as a
program inside Cubase (called a plug-in). To create one of these, go to Devices > VST Instruments, and a
new window will appear:

                                       i n         rst ack       i
                                     Clck i the fi bl area (t says “no i      nstrum ent”) and then pick VSC
                                    from the list that appears. This is the Virtual Sound Canvas that gives
                                    you a wide choice of sounds to play with.

                                  You should see a VSC window appear, looking like the one below. It is
                                  multi- timbral meaning it
                                  can play more than one
sound at a time – 16, in fact. They are listed in this
window, from channels 1-16. Most of the channels start
out as being a Piano sound, while channel 10 starts as a

Before you can play the VSC, you will need to send your
MIDI track to it. This is done in the inspector – you will see
an ‘n’and ‘           on n t, i
            out’secti i i lke thi one:s

You can then clck on the ‘         on       ck                  d         nd
                          out’secti and pi the VSC. You shoul now fi that w hatever you pl on    ay
                                                                                   f        t     ts
the MIDI keyboard will be heard as a piano sound. You can change this in the VSC – i you can’ see i
window, then you can click either of these buttons in the inspector -        or    - or you can click the
    button in the VST Instruments window (you can get to this by hitting F11).

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You will now find that if you click on the instrument name (Piano)
you will get a pop-up menu like this one to the right. There are
many sounds to choose from, and often variations on each one too
– spend some time picking a sound that you like.

Now you should be ready to play along with the samples you
already have. You can do this by pressing play and playing along on
      D                 t        f         t
the M I Ikeyboard. D on’ w orry i you don’ com e up w i th
        ng        c nstantl and don’ w orry i you don’ pl the
som ethi fantasti i        y,          t       f         t ay
keyboard – some of the best programmers and producers aren’    t
good keyboard players.

If you come up with something good, you will want to record it. To do that, you will need to make sure
you are well rehearsed and know what you want to play. If you are ready, m ake sure that ‘ precount’is
turned on on the transport bar -            s l                 ve            count-i so you can
                                        - thi w ilm ake Cubase gi you a 2 bar ‘     n’

prepare yourself. If this is on, then click record -       and once the precount is over, Cubase will start

  ayi                           ay ong th t.                 ve ni
pl ng your song and you can pl al w i i O nce you’ fi shed, hit stop -                    , and you should
see a part appear, looking something like the part to the left. You should see the notes you have played,
                                 represented as little lines inside the part. Go back to the beginning of
                                 the piece and press play to hear what you recorded.

                                    If you're not happy with the recording, then often the best thing to do
                                    is to delete it and start again – unless there is some unique part of it
                                    that you think you could never reproduce, the best thing to do is to
start again, as this will improve your keyboard skills quite quickly, and mean that in the future you can
sequence things with much more speed and accuracy. To delete a part, simply left-click it and then hit
'delete' on the computer keyboard. To record again, just repeat the steps above.

Adding a new Instrument
To add a new instrument, you can do so by creating another MIDI track (as shown above), and then
recording on that track too. You can do this up to 15 times for melodic instruments, making sure that
each one is using its own MIDI Channel, as shown in the inspector – each channel can only have one
sound on it at a time.

Adding Drums
Drums are an important part of many styles of music, so adding them is often needed. To do this, create
a MIDI track as shown above, but set it to MIDI channel 10 -             - this means that instead of
playing notes, the keyboard will play drum sounds. Learning what sounds are where will take some time
(experiment to find which sounds are where), but the basic parts of the drum kit are found on the left-

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hand end of the keyboard. Again, recording drums is just like recording any other sounds, although the
playing may be more complex.

Adding more notes to a part
If you have problems playing all of a drum track at once, then there are a number of ways to do it. The
first way is to record 'on top' of the first part you have recorded. Simply go back to the beginning of the
track, and then record again on the same track – the notes you've already played will be played back to
you, and you'll create a new part on top of the original one; Cubase will colour this a darker grey to show
you that there is more than one part in that location, and once you're happy with the second part you
have made, you can select the 'glue' from the toolbar at the top and glue the top part to the bottom –
you'll now see a part with both sets of notes in (see diagrams below). Once you're finished working with
the glue, you can return to the arrow tool, either by using the toolbar, or right-clicking on the white area
of the project window and selecting it from the pop-up menu.

                                    Here we see the initial part that has been recorded. Cubase is set to record
                                    from the start on the same track, and we see below.....

                                    .... that there is a new part, showing different notes in it, and it's in
                                    dark grey, which shows that there is another part below this one.
                                    Both still play, even though we can't see the original part below.
                                    However, we want them to be one part, so we select the glue from the
                                    toolbar above, and click the part, leading to.....
                                     .. nal              ch
                                    .. a fi part w hi has the notes from both “D rum s 1” and “D rum s
                                            t.                       ng                  l
                                    2” on i N ote that the renam i w as done m anualy to m ake these
                                    illustrations clear – normally the new part will take the name of the
                                    part that was on 'top' of the pile.

One of the most powerful reasons to use a computer for
creating music is that you can alter what you've played
after the event – you can change the sound that something
is played back on, and you can also alter the notes that
you've played. While detailed editing is beyond this
handout, some simple editing will save you hours of work.
To open the editor, double-click a part you have recorded.
This will open the 'key editor', which is like the paper roll
from a player piano.

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Here we see the key editor, with time running from left to right, and the notes going up the left-hand
side of the screen, from low to high. The notes of the part are represented as rectangles, and the
colours show how hard the note was hit. At the bottom there is a graph showing how hard the notes
were played as well – if this isn't present, then right-click on the editor area and select 'add new
controller lane'. It will give you an idea of how hard each note has been played.

Our editing is quite simple – much as we've seen in the project window, each note can be moved to a
new location, and again it is controlled using 'snap' – this will make the notes 'stick' to a grid, and we can
set the size of the grid. Listen to the part you've created, and work out the grid that it should fit to – if it
has only one note per beat (quarter notes/crotchets), then set the snap to ¼. If it has two notes per
beat (eighth notes/quavers) then set it to 1/8, etc. Once you have done this, you can move the notes to
the 'correct' location by clicking and dragging them – note that the position that you click on the note is
crucial – if you click at the beginning or end you drag the note out. If they are all fairly close and you
have set the snap setting correctly, then hit Q on the computer keyboard for 'quantize' – this will move
each note to the nearest 'correct' grid position; this may or may not work well depending firstly on if
you've chosen the correct snap setting, and secondly if you've played it accurately! It's not unusual to
have to correct some notes by hand, but quantizing can save a lot of manual work.

If there are any notes that you don't want, you can select them and hit delete. Once you're finished in
the editor, hit enter and you'll be back to the project window.

Volume and Panning
The last thing we'll cover here is setting volumes of parts – this is important as the balance between
instruments is totally under your control – you can do this by setting the volume using the slider in the
inspector, as seen on the next page.

                        Location                                                 Function
                                                           The volume fader – this is from 0 (off) to 127
                                                           (loudest) – click and drag to set this

                                                           The pan control – this allows the sound source
                                                           to be placed from left, through centre, to right.

Both these controls work per track – you have to select the correct track in the project window, not a
part. Getting the balance right between instruments can make a big difference to your composition and
how it is perceived by the examiner (and anyone else who listens to it), so take some time to get this


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