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Cubase: MIDI Logical Editor

Steinberg Cubase: Tips & Tricks By John Walden
Published September 2023

The Extract Kick Drum (C1) to New Track preset.The Extract Kick Drum (C1) to New Track preset.

When it comes to MIDI editing, Cubase’s MIDI Logical Editor can do magic!

If I had to identify options for a ‘most underutilised features in Cubase’ list, prime candidates would be the Project Logical Editor (found only in the Pro version) and the MIDI Logical Editor (found in the Pro and Artist versions). Both are incredibly powerful editing tools but, because they use Boolean logic (commands can be chained together to make ‘true or false’ decisions, which determine the eventual editing outcome), they can also seem somewhat intimidating. It’d be a great shame if you let that put you off, though, because both are incredibly useful and have the potential to streamline lots of repetitive editing tasks. Fortunately, Steinberg include some excellent presets for them in Cubase, and unpicking an example or two provides a fairly gentle entry into these powerful tools. In this column, I’ll do just that for the MIDI Logical Editor, which is, as its name suggests, a tool for doing things to your MIDI data.

Double Your Kick

Let’s start with a preset that’s easy to understand, yet turns a very common MIDI editing task into something close to a single click: Extract Kick Drum (C1) to New Track. Layering multiple sounds is common practice with MIDI‑based drums so, for this example, let’s assume we have created a MIDI clip that triggers our main drum virtual instrument (VI), and we want to double the kick performance with a second VI.

The first screen shows the content of the preset (the preset system is accessed at the very top of the UI). The upper panel (Event Target Filters) lets you specify criteria to define what MIDI events are selected for editing. In this case, there are two criteria used. The first simply states that the Filter Target ‘type’ is ‘equal’ to a MIDI ‘note’, meaning that all MIDI notes (and nothing else) are potential targets for selection. However, the second line refines that selection by specifying that the note’s pitch must be equal to C1 (that’s the default MIDI note used for the kick drum, though you can change this if desired). The entry in the Bool column (on the right of the UI) is worth paying attention to. In this case, it is set to ‘And’ (as opposed to ‘Or’). This means that the MIDI Logical Editor will only select items that meet both the first and second criteria. For this preset, that means it will only select MIDI notes whose pitch is equal to C1.

In this preset, the GUI’s lower panel (Event Transform Actions) is empty. I’ll cover this section below but for now note that, with no entries here, the selected MIDI data (notes with a pitch of C1) will not be altered in any way. However, at the very bottom of the GUI, Extract To Track has been specified — so when we hit the Apply button, all the selected C1 notes will be copied from our main drum MIDI clip into a new MIDI clip and placed on a new track. Hey presto! We can now assign this track to an additional kick drum sound, to layer perfectly with our original.

While this is an editing task that you could perform manually, that requires a number of steps. Using the MIDI Logical Editor preset is faster — and faster still if you assign this preset to a key command (the Key Commands window has sections covering both the MIDI and Project Logical Editors). For presets you use regularly, the task then becomes a single click, whether for one selected MIDI clip or several.

Add A Bass Note To Chords

Now we’re familiar with the MIDI Logical Editor concepts, our second example preset, Add Sub Bass To Chords, can be explained fairly easily. With a suitable MIDI clip selected, the Filter Target criteria in the preset will search through the clip to find notes. If it finds a time position where at least two notes are playing (a simple definition for a chord), it will select the lowest note in each chord.

The Add Sub Bass to Chords preset.The Add Sub Bass to Chords preset.

The Transform Action panel is also used here, and has two entries. The first subtracts 12 from Value 1 (in this context, Value 1 is note pitch), while the second subtracts 20 from Value 2 (note velocity). Also notice that the specified action is ‘Insert’. So, when we click Apply, this preset selects the lowest note in every chord in the clip, lowers its pitch by an octave, reduces its velocity value by 20, and then ‘inserts’ those transformed versions of the notes into the clip, leaving the original notes intact. So your clip now contains a lower (octave down) bass note for all the identified chords. Ta‑da! A simple way to beef up any MIDI part containing chords.

Incidentally, the most common of these (sometimes rather cryptic!) labels (Value 1, Value 2, etc) are explained within the Operation Manual PDF, should you need a reference.

The 10% to Downbeat 4_4 preset (at the top), with the MIDI before (middle) and after (at the bottom) the preset has been applied.The 10% to Downbeat 4_4 preset (at the top), with the MIDI before (middle) and after (at the bottom) the preset has been applied.

Beat Accenting

Our final preset example demonstrates something a little more sophisticated: the ‘note accenting’ preset, called +10% to Downbeat 4_4. As in the previous examples, the Target Filter is looking for MIDI notes and, for the notes selected, Value 2 (note velocity) is transformed by multiplying it by 1.1. However, it’s the additional Target Filter criteria that make this interesting. These all consider the position of the note within the bar, and each defines a position range around the main four beats of the bar (this is done using PPQ values; Pulses Per Quarter note, which is MIDI’s unit of timing).

Notice that the Bool term used for these Position filters is ‘Or’. This means that, to be selected for editing, the MIDI item must both be a note ‘And’ (the Bool term used in the first criteria) an event which sits within the first Position timing range, ‘Or’ in the second position timing range, ‘Or’ the third... and so on. Notice also that the last Position criteria is there to catch notes at the very end of the bar; that is, notes played ‘early’ at the start of the next bar.

The screenshot shows what this preset does to the MIDI velocity data for a simple MIDI clip created using the Arpache SX MIDI plug‑in. In the original pattern, every note has the same velocity but, after the preset has been applied (actually, I applied it five times to make the changes more obvious), notes falling on or very close to the beats are emphasised, giving the performance a stronger rhythmic character. You could easily apply this preset to any MIDI clip (for example, MIDI drums), and similar presets are available that emphasise different beat combinations. You can drag within the position displays if you want to adjust the range specified in these criteria. If you like this one, then do check out the Crescendo In Cycle range preset — that’s also brilliant.

Want to create some semi‑random changes to your MIDI parts? The Event Counter parameter provides one possibility when added to a suitable preset.Want to create some semi‑random changes to your MIDI parts? The Event Counter parameter provides one possibility when added to a suitable preset.


For your MIDI Logical Editor homework, I’ll leave you to ponder one final screenshot that shows one of my own DIY presets. As the preset title suggests, for the selected MIDI clip(s), the first Filter Target criteria is looking for MIDI notes. However, in the second criteria, for the Last Event type (the MIDI notes), only Every Other Event will be selected and, in fact, by then using the Event Counter (Parameter 1) set to 7 (Parameter 2), only every seventh note within the sequence ends up selected.

Repeated applications to something like the steady arpeggio pattern shown earlier will break up the regularity of the notes in an almost random fashion, so can create useful variety.

We could then apply a number of different Transformation Actions to process the selected note but, in this case, I’ve simply chosen to Delete them. Having deleted every seventh note in the original MIDI clip, if we apply the preset a second time, the selected (and then deleted) notes fall in different places. Repeated applications to something like the steady arpeggio pattern shown earlier will break up the regularity of the notes in an almost random fashion, so can create useful variety. You can increase this sense of randomness by creating a second preset that uses a different value (Parameter 2) for the Event Counter. If you create key commands for each preset, they’re then easy to execute on the fly — and, if you don’t like the results, just execute Undo until you get back where you started. Of course, if doesn’t just have to be Delete; you could apply Transform Actions to change the pitch, velocity or even the position (which can be an interesting way to add variations to the timing/feel) of the selected notes.

The Power Of Logic

This short introduction won’t make anyone a MIDI Logical Editor ninja overnight, but it does shows how gentle exploration and editing some of the supplied presets can take you towards understanding what’s going on under the hood. Hopefully, it also shows you that the MIDI Logical Editor needn’t seem so intimidating — and reveals some of the potential of this powerful Cubase feature!

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