Working with Cubase’s Logical Editors
The dry logic of Cubase’s Logical Editors can seem at odds with the creative process of composition but you shouldn’t overlook their usefulness.
For those of a certain age, the word ‘logic’ is irrevocably tied up in images of Spock making judgement calls on the advisability of Captain Kirk’s latest harebrained scheme for getting any given episode of Star Trek’s extras killed. In the real word, however, logic is simply a question of yes or no, true or false. The sum 4 + 3 = 7 can be viewed as a statement of logic to which the answer is ‘true’. Similarly, the logical answer to 4 + 3 = 10 would be ‘false’. Cubase isn’t given to passing judgement on the advisability of your actions, which is why its Project and MIDI Logical Editors leverage this purer, mathematical form of logic.
Cubase’s pair of Logical Editors might seem arcane at first but they are much simpler than they appear. They feature a filter section with which you create one or more logical statements that, taken together, define the project or MIDI events you wish to process using the editor. For example, in the Project Logical Editor, you could select all audio parts that have a certain name, occur after a certain time position, or are contained in a given folder track. Similarly, when working with the MIDI Logical Editor, you can filter MIDI events based on pretty much any MIDI parameter: message type, note number, channel, velocity, timing, and the rest.
Below the filter section is the actions list, where you can define operations to apply to the events singled out by the filter section. Whether or not these actions come into play depends on the setting of the editor’s current mode. For example, in Transform mode, the actions will be applied to any events or objects that match the filter, whereas in Delete mode, any events or objects selected by the filter are simply deleted, and the actions list is ignored.
Take your time
There are many scenarios in which the Logical Editors can prove useful and save time. The Project Logical Editor can take care of many otherwise laborious tasks, such as recolouring individual clips in the timeline, disabling all EQs, inserts and/or sends on certain tracks, and selecting all parts that come after a given position in your song.
The MIDI Logical Editor might be even more useful, as it can filter and work on every parameter within a MIDI message. Typical uses include transposing specific notes and hits within drum parts in order to change the drum sounds being triggered, extracting notes and hits from drum parts and placing them onto new tracks, modifying note velocities based on bar position to accentuate the first beat of every bar, and compressing or expanding the dynamic range of a part by manipulating note velocity.
It helps to have a thorough knowledge of how MIDI messages are constructed, and in particular an understanding of what each parameter of a MIDI message represents. For example, in a MIDI Note message, the first parameter of the message represents the note number. But in a MIDI CC message, the first parameter represents the controller number. However, when working in the Logical Editor, both of these parameters are referred to simply as Parameter 1. You should perhaps hunt out and bookmark web pages to use as references when you need to remind yourself of a particular message type’s structure.
The Logical Editor’s filter section allows you to stack up more than one condition. When you do this, you have to decide whether each condition is combined using an ‘and’ or an ‘or’ operator, which is shown in the filter’s bool field. With an ‘and’ operator, all filter conditions have to be satisfied in order for an event to be selected. With an ‘or’ operator, the event will be selected if either filter condition is satisfied.
Want to select all G3 notes that have velocities above 100? Just combine a note filter with a velocity filter using an ‘and’ operator. Conversely, if you want to select all G3 notes as well as all notes that have a velocity of more than 100, use the same pair of filters but combine them using an ‘or’ operator.
Combining filters can become even more complex by including bracketed sections. In essence, these create sub-filters in the logic by grouping together different logical conditions. Sub-conditions are evaluated first and their results then combined with the results of the other conditions and sub-conditions. It can all get a bit mathematical but you can’t doubt the logic.
Let’s look at this in action, starting with a simple task for the Project Logical Editor.
Using the logical editors in Cubase: step-by-step
1.Create a new project and add an audio track. Look in your library for a loop that has two variations, then lay these out so that each occurrence of the first variation is followed by three occurrences of the second.
2. All of the audio parts take the same colour as the track itself. To make the variations stand out, recolour the parts. Go to the Project menu and select Project Logical Editor.
3. To ensure you’re working with a clean slate, click the preset drop-down at the top of the Project Logical Editor window and select Init. Click + to create a new filter.
4. Click the new filter entry’s Filter Target field and select Name. Click the Condition field and select Equal, then enter the name of the first variation into the Parameter 1 field (this filter will select all parts that match that name).
5. Add an action by clicking the + button below the lower section of the Editor’s panel. Set the new action’s Action Target to Set Color. Click the action’s Parameter 1 field and select a new colour from the colour chooser.
6. Click the Function drop-down at the bottom of the editor panel and select Transform. Click Apply. All parts of the specified name will be recoloured.
LOGICAL PRESETS Both Logical Editors allow you to save the filters and actions you create as presets, then reload them later or execute them directly from Cubase’s Project and MIDI menus. Exploring Cubase’s presets is a great way to learn more about the editors.
7. Create a new project and set-up for an imaginary drum recording session by creating mono audio tracks for kick, snare, hi-hat and high and low toms, along with a stereo track for overheads. Name the tracks, giving each the suffix ‘Kit:’.
8. Open the Project Logical Editor and use the – buttons to clear any existing filters and actions. Add a new filter targeted at Name. Click the Condition field and select Contains. Enter the naming suffix ‘Kit:’ into the Parameter 1 field.
9. Add an action targeted at Track Operation. Select EQ Bypass from the Operation field. Set Parameter 1 to Toggle. Add similar actions for Inserts Bypass and Sends Bypass. Hit Apply to toggle EQ, Inserts and Sends bypass state for just the Kit: tracks.
10. Let’s move onto the MIDI Logical Editor. Create another new project and add your preferred drum instrument. Create a new drum pattern or import one to the new instrument’s track (you’ll find suitable patterns in Cubase’s media browser).
11. Click the Drum Map drop-down in the track inspector and select Create Drum Map From Instrument (load or create a drum map manually if your chosen drum instrument doesn’t support this). Double-click the drum pattern to open it in the Drum Editor.
12. Select the downbeat kick drum hit on every bar. Open the MIDI Logical Editor from Cubase’s MIDI menu. Clear any existing filters or actions. Add a new filter targeted at Type, with a condition of Equal and parameter 1 of Note.
TRANSFORMER The Transformer MIDI plug-in, which can be added to a MIDI track’s MIDI Insert slots, is essentially a live MIDI Logical Editor, operating on the track’s MIDI output. It works in much the same way as the regular MIDI Logical Editor but is non-destructive.
13. Add a filter targeted at Value 1. Set the condition field to Equal. Under parameter 1, enter the note name of your pattern’s kick drum (typically C1). Set the first filter’s bool column to ‘and’ so that notes must match both filters.
14. Downbeats could fall anywhere from just before to just after the actual beat, so you need to allow for this. Add a new filter targeted at Position with a condition of Inside Bar Range. Set parameters 1 and 2 to 0 and 32, respectively.
15. Add another filter similar to the one you’ve just added but using values 1,887 and 1,920 for parameters 1 and 2 (these numbers are in ticks relative to the start of the bar). You can also set ranges by dragging in the field that shows a grid.
16. Set the first Position filter’s bool field to ‘or’, then click that filter’s opening bracket column and select the single bracket. Add a matching closing bracket to the second Position filter. Set the Function to Select and hit Apply. Downbeat kicks should now be selected.
17. You can now modify the kick hits selected by the filter. Add an action to the Logical Editor and set its target to Value 2 (velocity). Set the operation field to fixed value and parameter 1 to 120.
18. Change the function mode to Transform and click Apply. Now, all downbeat kicks should have a velocity value of 120. Play around with the operations to see the way each works. Keep using Logical Editors. They get easier with practise.
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