Cubase Tips: Rapid Arrangement | Will Edwards | Skillshare

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

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Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

10 Lessons (37m)
    • 1. Introduction

    • 2. Efficient Workflow Tips

    • 3. Building Using Events

    • 4. Customizing Your Arrangements

    • 5. Creating Multiple Chains

    • 6. Arrangement Automation

    • 7. Arranging Chord Tracks

    • 8. Performing Arrangements

    • 9. Flattening - Your Final Steps

    • 10. Wrap-Up & Project

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About This Class

If you'd like to have more flexibility when working (and re-working) your music productions, this course about Cubase's Arranger Track will dramatically improve your workflow. The arranger track is a paradigm-shifting approach to composing music.  This tool allows you to create song sections (verse, chorus, drop, breakdown, etc.) and then plug them all together into a final production.  Plus, you can easily create an unlimited number of different final productions - to try out ideas as you go!

The implications of Cubase's arranger track are massive.  As producers, we often have musical ideas that we want to use and reuse.  The old workflow meant copying and pasting... until now.  In the real world, the arranger track makes it MUCH easier to:

  1. Position transition fx
  2. Reuse chord progressions
  3. Reuse automation
  4. Write and manage multi-part MIDI harmonies

If you're a fan of Ableton Live's session view and scenes for live performance, then you should check out the Arranger Track.  You can even use arranger track to perform live (exactly like Ableton Scenes).  You can even bind them to keyboard commands and trigger your multitrack Cubase arrangement remotely on stage.

Not sure what the perfect arrangement of you track would be?  How many choruses should we have?  What will this bridge sound like in different keys?  With the Arranger Track, you simply build your section and "Flatten" out as many projects as your heart desires.  This is a powerful ally in the search for the perfect arrangement!

Meet Your Teacher

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Will Edwards

Artist. Creative Problem Solver. Musician


I am a full-time professional musician who has broad teaching experience with guitar & bass students in rock, blues, jazz and many other genres. I perform live on bass, guitar and keyboards.  In addition, I perform live electronic music improvisation.  I've devoted over 26 years to my own well-rounded musical education, focusing on a mastery of all aspects of modern music - from music theory to ear training; from live performance to composition and practice routines.

I specialize in bridging the gap between music and technology, focusing on using modern tools to demonstrate all aspects of music.  I compose and perform with Ableton and Push 2 and I have experience with Cubase, ProTools and Logic.  I'm extremely comfortable using web-based to... See full profile

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1. Introduction: Hi, my name is Will and thanks so much. We are talking in this section about the Cubase arranger track, which is tool I've been using for years. It's something that I started using in my private studio when I was running a commercial operation back with Cubase version five. And the arranger track has very, very unique features because it allows us to start thinking about our music in a non-linear way. We can think about verses and choruses in more creative ways without having to necessarily handle the technical requirements and making sure that we're always maintaining our arrangement during every step of the production cycle, we're going to talk about the arranger editor, how you can create multiple arrangements and even create multiple project files from the same arrangement elements. So thanks so much for joining me in this course and let's get started. 2. Efficient Workflow Tips: Let's get started by talking about what the arrangement track is all about and why you'd want to use it. Okay, So essentially the arranger track is a way for us to compartmentalize parts of our track or are some things like versus intrudes, outros, bridges. And then we can work on those parts independently of their location within the track. And later on, when we've actually composed and finished each of those parts, we can then independently decide what order those parts come in so we can create an intro and averse. Now, for example, a verse and a chorus in like a standard pop song is going to repeat many times, at least the music will. And it's nice to just work on one verse. And then when you create your arrangement, you have the verse, chorus, verse, chorus, bridge, verse chorus format, but you only have one verse and one chorus in your arrangement. If you make changes to it, then it takes effect for all your verses in all your courses, right? So it's a really, really powerful tool. And the implications for cross into a lot of different professional music-making contexts. Whether you're working in film and TV, and you want to try out different cadences in an arrangement. Or maybe even try out making arrangements for a specific time links, 20, thirty-seconds, you'll see how we can do that. But that's essentially what the range of track does. And there are a couple of tips I have in terms of my workflow. The first is up here in the project menu. There is a menu item called divide checklist. And I'd like to enable that. It creates this kind of frozen track up here that will stay there. Even as I scroll through my project, I'm going to right-click there and I am going to create an arranger track, right? So this is what that looks like in your menu at a range of track. And there I have it. Now you can only have one arranger track, her project, but that's all you need you can. It's such a flexible tool. There's really no reason to have more than one arranger track if you're using it correctly. The other thing I like to do is have this info bar enabled. Now up at the top you can see where it says no objects selected. That's just because I have nothing in my project right now. If I were to create an arranger event and have it selected, you can see now in the upper left-hand corner, I've got this information and I find that handy, especially to know about the length of my arranger events. See as I change this goes, says two bars up here. So I like to have that now for all my demos, I'm going to be dealing with one bar just to keep the demos fast. You can also rename the events up here in the info bar. That's much easier if you have the info bar enabled him in a call that intro, right? And then let me just zoom out. Now if you do not have the interlobar there in the upper right-hand corner. I'm using base 10.5 pro. In the upper right-hand corner, there's a little button that says setup window layout. And you want to click on that and make sure that info line is checked. And then you will see the info line up the top. So using the divided track lists, using the info bar, those are kinda requirements as far as I'm concerned. For a good workflow, they are not at all necessary to use the Arrange attract just tips that I offer you for how I like to work with it. So in the next lesson, we are going to look at creating and naming arranger events. 3. Building Using Events: So I had this arranger event that I called intro. I can create as many arranger events as I want. I like to use hotkeys. I'm hitting eight to get the pencil tool. And I'm going to draw in a few more things here, right? I'm going to draw these. And then I'm going to hit my number one a few times just to make sure I have the normal objects selection tool. I'm going to rename this altro. And then I'm going to name this part. Let's see verse. And name this part chorus. I'm going to name this part chorus Alt M and name this bridge. So this would be some arrangement events that would match like a sort of singer-songwriter or rock band, pop song kind of structure. But if you were doing some kind of electronic music, you might have intro outro, break down, Drop sections like that, but you can label them whatever you want and they can be any length. I'm keeping them down to just one measure bar. Because I want the demonstrations that I do for you to be more rapid, easier to follow. I don't want to make you sit through 16 bar bridge just to see that the arrangement tracks, which is sections correctly. But you can change in your own real-world projects. You can create these arranger events to be any length that you want. So as we created and name these, we'll see over in the left-hand inspector that there's this arranger events list now, alright, and everything has been assigned a color. So what's going on there is this just kind of a list that I can see my arranger events and I can actually edit by dragging this up here. I can start to create an arrangement. You can do that. But I am not going to do that right now. I'd rather use the arrange your editor, which we are going to cover in the next lesson. That's where we would actually decide which part is playing when. But I wanted to make sure you understood the dynamics of creating your arrangement parts. And I also wanted to make a point that it's a really valuable strategic advantage to start your track by thinking about what are the parts in my song or my track. How long are those parts? And roughly, you know, what are the constituent building blocks for my track, it'll help make your whole production cycle more productive and probably more efficient. So that's another advantage of using the arranger track. Let's head into the next lesson and we'll talk about the arranger editor. 4. Customizing Your Arrangements: So in the last lesson, we created these six arrangement events. And, uh, now we are going to open up the arrangement editor and start putting together our first arrangements. So There's the open arranger editor here in the inspector. As long as obviously you have the arranger track selected. But there's also an open arranger editor here in the track itself. Both of these are going to do exactly the same thing, so it doesn't matter which one you open. But let's go take a look at this arranger editor window. What is this all about? So this is basically what you see in the Inspector. It's just a little richer of an interface, so I prefer to work in it. In the upper left-hand corner we have stop and play. This is going to basically activate or deactivate our arrangement. From playing. We have some navigation previous chain step Next change step first, repeat, current, repeat last, repeat. This. Activate arranger mode, which generally you want to just have on all the time. Here's a drop-down list right now it's on the comprises one arranger chain. And arranger chain is basically an arrangement of these arranger events. And you can create multiple over here using create new chain. So now I've got three different chains, right? You can create new chain, you can duplicate the current chain, which might be handy if you add a convoluted arrangement, you just wanted to create a copy of it and try something without actually compromising your original. That might be nice. And then you can remove a chain as well. Now, I just have the two. Okay, and then you've got your flattened button and you've got this, which opens up a more expansive set of flattening options. So I'll go over the flattening later on because that's kind of the last step that we're going to take. But here I want to make sure you understand how to how to build an arrangement, right? So if we choose our arrangement, and I can either drag this in, I can say, okay, I want traverse, or you can just double-click on it and it adds, it kind of appends it to the list. If I wanted the chorus to play twice, I can just click it again. And there we go. I now have two courses. And you'll see that it's telling me the duration of that heart in, and this is in seconds and the song time. So right now my song is eight seconds, so the duration is telling you the song time per part. Song Time is a cumulative eating the link. So you can actually use this if you wanted to make a queue, for example, for video game, music production or movie or film, TV and film, that kind of thing. And, you know, you need a 5 second Q. A 30-second. Q. A three-minute. Q. Whatever, you can use this to measure out your arrangement and make some creative decisions about which sections and to include and maybe repeat or exclude in order to hit a target song times. That's kinda nice. Now if you switch to another arrangement, then you get a blank slate. And in this one, I'm going to have Intro to versus the chorus Alt and head straight to the outro, right? So now I have two different arrangements and, um, uh, built the order you understand about section repeats. And now if we actually go ahead and we play this, you'll see that as we start off with an intro, goes through the verse, and now it's going to skip forward to the altro like that, right? So we did an intro, we did two Vs and now JR, I can try this. First arrange a chain. And now we're going to see that this goes intro, straight into verse. And then it's going to repeat the course. So chorus and then repeat the course, and we're done. So I can work on the music for what is included in an intro, a verse or a chorus. And then my arrangement will play anything in my project window that is playing music or as part of that section. So it's a great way to compartmentalize your production approach, your composition strategy. And then you can produce unlimited numbers of arrangements if you like. Alright, so in the next lesson we want to talk about arranger chains a bit more and look at what some of the implications of that are and how maybe we can use them creatively. 5. Creating Multiple Chains: So we have talked about how I like to set up the project, how arrange, the arranger, editor kinda works and the fundamentals of a ranger chains. But let's look at the arranger chains a little more closely. So let's say that this first arranger chain, obviously a range of chain one is not really what I want. So I'm going to call this moody version. And then I'm gonna go here and I'm going to click this button says Rename current chain. And I'm going to call this quick version. So now I've been able to give them names that remind me a little bit about what that arrangement was all about. I could create a new arranger chain. I'm going to call this comprehensive. And I'm going to have everything in there. Right? So this is my longer version, moody and quick and my comprehensive version. So I can create as many changes as I want and I can rename them to give them names that remind me what they're all about. One reason I might want to duplicate this is I might take, okay, I really like my moody version. I'm going to duplicate it. I'm going to recall or call it moody version two. So now I have moody version quick version comprehensive and moody version two. And here, I don't actually want to have two choruses, I want to just have one. And then I can listen to how that sounds. And come back here, I'm playing movie version ones can go intro to the verse, skip straight to the course and we're done. Okay, and I can listen to that arrangement decide, yeah, you know, I did like that better. I'm going to go back and get rid of Moody version. So now I just have moody version two. So that can be a nice way to do it. But using the ability to create, Rename, duplicate, and delete the arranger chains is definitely something that you want to think about strategically. How can you use it to improve your workflow? Now, flattening is the last option over here on the right-hand side. And I'm going to talk about that at the end because that is the last step 1 would take. So we still have some other things that we want to cover before we get into that. But flattening up here is very, very important. It just doesn't make a lot of sense to cover it now, because it's the very last thing that you'd want to do when you're working with arrangement tracks. So let's move forward into the next lesson. We're going to talk about using automation in our arrange of track and see how that works out. 6. Arrangement Automation: So we have covered quite a lot here about how the arranger editor works and such. Now, if I go ahead and I create, let's say, I am going to create an instrument track. And I'm going to use my addictive keys here. I'm gonna go ahead and add that track. Alright, and I'm going to find something in my media bay. I'm going to look up some kinda piano thing. Let's go through and look that up. Look up kinda committee loop. And sometimes it takes a little while to bring it up. Let me go ahead and just bring that in here. Okay, so, alright, so I've got my addictive keys here and I'm going to go ahead and expand this to open up my automation. And I'm just going to basically turn on read. And I'm going to do a little volume automation here, right? I'm going to turn off my my track and then go here and play it and I can hear the volume going down. Alright, so any automation that I create is actually going to take effect when I flatten this out. So for example, if I turn my arrangement track on and I play, Let's see which arrangements are we going to use? I'm going to go ahead and create a new arrangement just to test this out. So this is going to be automation test. And in automation test, I kinda wanna make this funky. So I'm going to start with a chorus. And then I am going to skip back to a verse, and then a skip back to the interests section, right? So it's going to be kind of in reverse amateur. I've got this renamed automation test. So I've got it enabled. Let's listen to this and hear how the automation works. Getting louder, quieter. So it's actually affecting the automation is one of the things that you're going to hear for any arranger event. And later on when we flatten this out, you're going to see it actually creates the automation track that also sort of fills it in for you throughout your entire arrangement, which is pretty awesome. So to take it one step further, since we often want to use a range of tracks for rapid music production. In the next lesson, I'm going to enhance this demonstration by looking at using a chord track and seeing that the court jack also is something that you arrange your track honors when when you are building an arrangement. So that's coming up in the next lesson. 7. Arranging Chord Tracks: So we've seen that the range of track honors automation. Now I'm going to create a new chord track. Alright, so that's right down here in my context menu. I'm going to bring that up here. And I am going to just go ahead and hit my eight, number eight, right in some chords here. And I'm gonna do this for each of the six sections. And I'm just going to, this is not a lesson about how to use the CTE track that cover that elsewhere. But I'm just going to create some basic chords here. So C, G, and then we will do, let's see, a minor followed by D minor, followed by G7, and then back to one. All right? Okay, generated change. This first G to an F, but it's not really important. This isn't really about composition. Alright? And then I am going to run my cord tract into addictive keys. I'm going to hit my number seven key or grab mute from the menu to just mute that. And I'm also going to turn off my automation read. Let's listen to this. All right. Now the reason that it just skipped right ahead was because I do have my arrangement track enabled. So I'm going to turn that off and we're going to hear the chord track play through. All right, now if I want to create an arrangement, going to open up my arranger editor, and I'm going to create a new arrangement. I'm going to call it corn check demo. And I want to try and basically play these out of order just for the purposes of this demonstration. So I'm going to start with a course Alt, followed by a bridge section. Just going to play the D minor seven chord is D minor rather followed by the G7. And then I wanted to go back to the intro. So it's pretty simple arrangement, but it is going to be skipping around and you're going to hear that it actually plays those chords. So the chord track, just like the automation, is something that the arrange of track is going to take into consideration. Let's listen to that. D minor. There we go. Alright, so that's how you can use a chord track with this between cord tracks and automation. And knowing that any of the Midea or audio loops, anything like that that you put in to your project. That the arranger track is going to literally treat that. And it's going to treat that literally. It's going to know that anything in your project that comes under this chorus event, for example, will be performed and executed it whenever the course arranger event is executed in one of your arrangement chains. Okay, so now in the next lesson, we want to just touch on a couple more features that are related to your more creative arrangement techniques. 8. Performing Arrangements: So when you are looking at your arranged or track over here on the left-hand side, you'll see this little drop-down says jump mode. Well, what's that all about? So if we go ahead and we choose one beat, for example. Now I can manually play these things back. And what you're going to see is that the arranger events, as I click on them, as I click on these sort of play icons on the left-hand side here. What you're going to see is because I have, oops, let me get this into focus here. Because I have my jump mode set to one beat. Cubase is going to assume that when I click on play, that it's going to switch on the next beat. And I might wanna do this in a context where I'm using the arrangement live. Let's say that I'm onstage and I have some different sections arranged that we are using his backing tracks with a live band or chorus or something. And I want to switch to the course section or the verse section. Instrumentation, backing track. I can do that and I can decide, I can do that live. Instead of flattening out this project into something for production and exporting, I can actually use the arrange of view asks almost like a live instrument. Somewhat like scenes maybe in Ableton Live. So I can go ahead and decide which one I want to play by just hitting that Play button. It's just going to repeat. Now if I switch to the next one, It's going to now wait to get to the end and move to the branch, right? Whereas if I change this to one beat, now it's going to change on the next beat. So it's basically jump mode has to do with how quickly do you want your live arrangement to switch between parts and you can decide that you want to be controlled. Generally, I would either have this set to one beat or maybe one bar, probably actually one bar or the end. Because in the Ranger, I'm almost always, I've decided, I've designed my verse or chorus or a bridge or whatever to be a specific link on purpose. I know I want it to play to the end, but you can change that down there with the jump mode. So that's really handy for live performance where you want to use this arranger tracks sort of in a creative way. One more thing that I want to point out is that you can go into your key commands. Okay, so I'm gonna go up here into Cubase, and I am going to find under edit my key commands sub-menu right here. Alright, I'm gonna open that up. This is how you can manipulate and customize hotkeys. And I'm going to go to, let's see, current arranger chain in the arranger events. So up here, I'm going to say, okay, trigger arranger event one, I could assign a hotkey to that, trigger arranger event to next previous like that. In this way, I could use hotkeys to make it so that, you know, the intros in my arrangers are always going to fire when I hit my number 1 key on my keyboard. So instead of having to come over here into the left-hand inspector and hit play. I can actually have that dialed into a hotkey command, so that's can be kinda handy. All right, In the next lesson, we are going to start talking about how to flatten this out and see how we can even create multiple projects. 9. Flattening - Your Final Steps: At this point, we have built out a good demo project here, and we're going to flatten one of our arrangements. So let's go ahead and do that. We're going to open up our arrangement, editor, arranger, editor rather. And I'm going to choose my arrangement. Let's say I'm going to choose automation test, okay? Now up here in the upper corner of my menu, I have this flattened button, and I also have this button with a little triangle on it, flattened with options and preferences. So I am going to go ahead and hit that and explain some of the options that I have. So current chain would be the one that I have chosen. I could also do other options, but here I'm just going to leave this on current chain, whichever one I have selected, then destination. Do I want to load it up in a new project? You might want to do this if you wanted to say create. I'm an original Cubase project within a range of track in it. And the range of Track Create, get it contains all of these different parts and phrases. And it's sort of almost like your phrase, the library. And you want to, you don't ever want to disrupt that library by flattening it out. You just want to always return to it, create an arrangement from it, and flatten it out into a new project. So selecting new project allows you to do that. And there are some options here as far as how the project gets named. Okay, So we'll just use chain name here. And if you would just select current project, then it would flatten it out in this project, more or less overriding what you see in your project. In the options area here, keep a ranger track. That's generally pretty helpful just so that I can remember when I'm looking at my project. Well, I can have some historical perspective on on what the sections that I set up. The arranger track isn't there. It's just one last piece of information that may be the weeks or months or even years down the road. You have a hard time tracking down how that arrangement came to be. At a glance, which part is a chorus, which part is a bridge, that sort of thing. But renaming ranger events can be really handy to make sure that as the arranger events get loaded in to your new project after you flatten that they are named appropriately. When you leave the rename arranger events checked, one thing is gonna do is it's going to append numbers to the arranger events for him. Under that you have make real event copies. And basically, the idea here is instead of using shared shared events, shared copies of events which curious is capable of doing. It's going to actually create real event copies, meaning static. So for example, if you made an edit to one that wouldn't necessarily edit all the other shared ones. So if that's something you'd want to decide on your own, on your own workflow, whether or not you want to have static real event copies or allow it to use shared shared copies under that don't split events. That has to do with Midea really more than anything. And whether or not midi notes that were maybe the midi notes beginning or ending falls outside the boundaries of an event. The, the arranger event, how you want it to handle that, you want to split those events, split those notes or not, that could affect the way playback sounds. And then under that, opened new projects, after you've flattened, then load them in, kind of activate them. I've chosen my automation test as a chain, current chain, creating a new project with the chain name. And I'm gonna go ahead and hit flatten down here. Do you want to activate the project? So it's created a new project. And now we can see it has created our arrangement in a brand new project. So that's our old project behind there. And then this one here is the arrangement actually flattened out so I can see chorus 1, verse 1, intro one. They're numbered. If I add played the another course after the intro, that would be labeled reverse too, so that the arrangement be very easy for me to kind of visually understand what I'm looking at down the road. And then it's created these Midea parts. It has put the appropriate chord track parts in there. And we can also see that the automation has actually been cut and pasted based on the arrangement events. So flattening is incredibly powerful. I can just go ahead save that project. And now I have both my original and my new automation test project arrangement all done. So that's basically it for the arrangement track. We can use it to create a ranger events. We activate the different array, the arranger tract for playback. We build a song order. We can build different arrangements, and then we can flatten it out and it'll include anything, even things like automation and CTE tracks. In the next and final lesson in this section, I'm going to suggest a project that you can undertake to just consolidate what you've learned about the arranger track and make sure that you are able to function with it independently. So that's coming up next. 10. Wrap-Up & Project: So we've discussed a lot and hopefully by now you can see just how powerful this arrangement tract can actually be. I have a suggestion for a project. What I'm going to suggest is that you start by creating a new project. Create a simple arrangement just like I have here, but try to make it somewhat real-world rain. And then create a couple of alternate, alternate arrangements. Put in some actual audio clips. You could use the media Bay to drag in some loops are audio loops, that sort of thing. Builds a little project. And then create multiple arrangements. Have the flattened function, split those out to different projects, and just see how it all works. You know, get your own experience of it. Get your hands on the arrangement track, and make sure you understand how how do you activate and deactivate it. How do you builds the order of arrangement events within arrangement chain? What's the difference between an event and our arrangement chain? These are sort of questions you want to be able to answer off the top of your head. What about those flattening options? Get familiar with those, steady up and understand exactly what you can and can't do. Maybe even try out the creative arrangement tools using this jump mode in the inspector. Maybe even set up the hotkey is that we had discussed for applying the jump mode so that you could experiment with playing this live, right? Experiment with all those features, try to apply them in a real-world situation, even if it's just not necessarily attract that you actually intend to produce and share with others, but just a context for you to try out the feature set and kinda prove the concepts to yourself. If you have any questions along the way, of course, reach out to me. I am always willing to help and I am happy to answer questions as well. You can always post in a discussion or message me directly. So thank you so much for joining me in this course. I wish you the best of luck, and please keep in touch.