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Exploring Cubase's Bundled MIDI Plug-ins | Audio Examples

Hear For Yourself By John Walden
Published March 2022

These audio examples accompany my Cubase workshop in SOS March 2022, in which I explore the potential of some of Cubase’s bundled MIDI plug-ins.

www.soundonsound.com/techniques/exploring-cubases-bundled-midi-plug-ins

Cubase 11 MIDI Plugins Audio Example 01.mp3

This audio example focuses on just the basic rhythmic options/controls available within the MIDI Echo plug-in. It uses a simple piano sound source (from the free LoFi Piano expansion pack for Halion Sonic SE) playing a single note, or pair of notes, at the start of each bar. All other notes are generated by MIDI Echo. The example is split into three sections as follows; (i) just the original note for reference, (ii) at 95bpm a number of bars of the single note performance but with adjustments being made to the Repeats, Beat Align and Delay parameters via automation, (iii) as for (ii) but at a tempo of 130bpm.

Cubase 11 MIDI Plugins Audio Example 02.mp3

This audio example follows the pattern of Audio Example 1 but, instead of a piano sound, uses two percussion tracks featuring a clap and stomp sound respectively. The same three sections are present here — unprocessed sound, examples at 95 bpm and examples at 130bpm. The two percussion sounds are each on their own track and with different MIDI echo settings used in each section of the sequence. As might be expected given the ‘plug-in generated’ rhythmic patterns, not all combinations work as a performance, but some are musically interesting and could easily form the basis of a new musical idea.

Cubase 11 MIDI Plugins Audio Example 03.mp3

This example returns to the piano sound used in Audio Example 1 and, again, uses just the MIDI Echo plug-in. The addition here is that positive/negative values of the Pitch Offset parameter are used, and this generates pitch changes from the root trigger note with each repeat. The resulting ‘melodies’ are somewhat atonal and have an unsettling feel. At a faster tempo you could also imagine some of them sat alongside scenes in a classic Tom & Jerry cartoon.

Cubase 11 MIDI Plugins Audio Example 04.mp3

This example adds the MIDI Modifier plug-in alongside the MIDI Echo. It takes the performances found in Audio Example 3 but sets the MIDI Echo’s Pitch Offset back to zero. However, in MIDI Modifier, the Scale correct feature is in use and some randomisation is applied to both velocity and pitch. This creates examples that are less musically uncomfortable (more melodic) as the scale correct feature ensure that the MIDI note pitches created by MIDI Modifier’s randomisation are all adjusted to lie within the chosen key/scale. Again, settings are automated at different stages to produce different outcomes and two tempos are used.

Cubase 11 MIDI Plugins Audio Example 05.mp3

This example is as for Audio Example 4 but adds positive/negative values of MIDI Echo’s Pitch Offset back into the process. This applies a pitch increment to each of MIDI Echo’s note repeats which, in turn, provides a different starting point for MIDI Modifier’s pitch randomisation setting (the two controls interact). The result is still includes pitch randomisation but the ‘melodies’ are biased in the pitch direction of the Pitch Offset setting. Again, settings are automated at different stages to produce different outcomes and two tempos are used. While the process doesn’t always result in musically useful output, it is easy to see the potential. In this case, the results remind me of some avant-garde piano score for an art-house style movie.

Cubase 11 MIDI Plugins Audio Example 06.mp3

This final example takes the principles used in Audio Example 5 combining MIDI Echo and MIDI Modifier and applies them to three different sounds — a hang drum, bass synth and a violin section playing staccato notes — to illustrate the potential in other musical contexts. In all cases, the original MIDI input is a single note at the start of each bar. All other notes are generated by the two MIDI plug-ins. With the hang drum, some mystical and gentle melodic phrases are generated (music to meditate by?). With the bass synth, while some combinations of settings perhaps work better than others, some interesting rhythmic/pitch ideas are generated. For the violin section, it’s easy to see the potential for creating ostinato parts that could form the starting point for a new musical composition.

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