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  • Workflow pain... automation to ease suffering?


    First off, I bought my first VSL product a few months back (Solo Strings) -- and it truly has been mind-blowingly fun for me. Kudos! I love it.

    Also, apologies if this topic has already been raised. I searched the forums and didn't really find anything.

    My problem is this: I used to write experimental electronic music, and because I wasn't modeling anything "real" I could pretty much just focus on writing music. Sound manipulation was just about automating some filters and such. Minimal "articulations", in VSL-speak.

    Now, with VSL, I'm finding that for every hour I write music, I'm spending and additional three hours (at least) working on all the articulations. I mean, of course this is awesome, because it's testimony to how much power VSL truly provides.

    But I feel I'm getting burned out. Not to mention my wrists are writhing in repetitive strain articulation pain.

    As a solution, I've been thinking about how I could improve workflow with automation.

    For instance, as a simple example, let's say I've got a 1x2 matrix with a legato patch on top, and a portamento patch on the bottom. Both have multiple velocity layers. If I want to play a loud legato easing into a soft portamento, currently I'd need to either program or play a keyswitch as well as ride the velocity fader.

    What I want is automation, like a macro: "Create loud legato to soft portamento". I invoke this automation and all the keyswitches and velocity settings are generated for me, and added to the score. Yes I'd likely have to manually tweak them later, but this start would still be helpful.

    Ok so here are my questions for you guys...

    1. Anyone already doing something like this? If so, how?

    2. I'm working in Cubase 4.5 Essential. Perhaps other tools would be more suitable?

    3. How do you not get burned out by the infinite power of articulations? I think I'm OCD, so I can go all weekend on a single violin melody! :)

    Looking forward to getting to know everyone here,


  • Hi Chris,

    Perhaps this can help:

    I'm using a Rollermouse Pro myself, which I can warmly recommend.



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    welcome chris,

    it may be worth looking into VST expression maps (cubase 5) which for the DVD strings you can find in user area - needful things


    and remember: only a CRAY can run an endless loop in just three seconds.
  • I have to chime in because I've also wondered the same thing.

    1- From what I've seen, I guess most people here use templates, usually huge templates with most used articulations. They also try to keep the keyswitches constant throughout the instruments, so that 1 keyswitch always takes to you to the Legato articulations. Once they're done with a track they ask VI to "learn" the needed articulations to save RAM, and move on. Correct me if I'm wrong guys.

    2- Cubase has "Logical Editor", but I still cannot wrap my head around it (and I come from a programming background!). It is supposed to help automate a lot of tasks. However, for the example you mentioned, I don't think there is a simpler way of doing things. You have to tell VI to first lower the volume and then change into a portamento articulation. What do you want to automate in this case?

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    Hey cool, thanks for the ideas.

    I'll definitely take a closer look at the rollermouse. I currently have the contourdesign evoluent mouse, which helps alot.

    Also, the expression maps available for Cubase 5 will undoubtedly inspire me to upgrade.

    @kage49 said:

    However, for the example you mentioned, I don't think there is a simpler way of doing things. You have to tell VI to first lower the volume and then change into a portamento articulation. What do you want to automate in this case?

    Well, I guess for my example there's no need for automation.

    But, there are times I'm working with all of the following variables: key switches, velocity fades, cell cross-fades, attacks, pitch bends, and main volume. That's *six* dimensions that define a single timbre at a single moment in time. Six dimensional space! My carpal tunnels flame just thinking about this.

    So in essence I'd like to automate the transitions between these six-dimensional timbres.

    Hopefully I'm not sinking in philosophical mumbo-jumbo. Someone please show me simplicity if it exists!

    To expand on my previous example, let's say I've got a 1x2 matrix with a legato patch / ponticello patch combo on top, and a portamento patch / tasto patch on the bottom. All have the above-mentioned dimensions.

    If I want to play a loud legato with increasing ponticello, easing into a soft portamento with decreasing tasto, currently I'd need to program the keyswitch, ride the velocity fader, ride the cell xfade fader, ride the attack fader, and tweak the pitchbend wheel. I know that I can do this one after another in layers, but it's impossible to get the real picture if not in realtime.

    I'd like to create a simple automation (macro?): "Insert loud legato (ponticello fade in) transition to soft portamento (tasto fade out). Pitch bend variations. Master instrument volume decrease".

    I could invoke this function, and all the above events would be generated in the score. I could tweak afterward for further customization.

    It seems something like this would greatly ease workflow.

    Also, I know I could copy/paste, but it becomes difficult in different project files (at least it is with Cubase). It'd be difficult to have a "library" of six dimensional transitions.

    Thoughts? Does something like this exist?


  • So after much research, it seems Reaper provides a few interesting "roll your own" automation tools:

    1) ReaScript (Python or Perl): [url][/url]
    2) JS plugin engine (C-like): [url][/url]
    3) Reaper Extensions SDK (C++): [url][/url]

    Clearly this stuff offers a ton of possibility. but I have yet to find any decent documentation (though the Reaper forums look alive).

    cm: I checked out the Cubase 5 VST expression maps, but they pretty much just cover key switches? In the example videos I didn't see any mention of CC faders.

    As complex as VSL is, it's so hard for me to believe these kinds of tools don't already exist! Before I start coding I just want to make triple sure you all haven't already come up with something.

    Automate transitions between six-dimensional timbres (hmm maybe Stephen Hawking could help!)