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  • Question about large Expression Maps in Cubase


    I'm just getting started with Cubase, and I have a question about how people generally organize their Expression Maps. The Expression Maps are easy to use when they contain a relatively small number of articulations, as in the case of the maps provided by VSL, but when I try to build custom maps containing a large number of articulations, the articulation lane quickly fills up the screen of the Key Editor. After a certain number of articulations, the list no longer displays properly (if only the articulation lane allowed me to scroll down...). 

    If possible, I would like to create large Expression Maps for VSL instruments containing several matrices in VI Pro, each with many articulations. Does anyone have any tips or strategies as to how to organize a large number (50+) of articulations in Cubase?



  • Well a few weeks later...
    but I'm also interested in knowing how others are setting up their articulations.

    I've got my template loaded (a custom matrix) and I always have to resize my expression map articulations list to see the names of the articulations (which then blocks the visibility of the notes...)

    One way would be to make 2 separate expression maps for each instrument, and thus also two different midi tracks. For instance one for all shorter notes and one for all longer notes, however, I do not prefer this approach as I like to have all articulations in one lane. Scrollable expression maps would be great, or something with colours that makes it '3D' haha.

    Anyone else with ideas for the existing expression map of how to organise better?


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    Well another few weeks later...

    I've already posted how I tried to organize the large variety of available patches. You find my posting about my initial thoughts of a "vsl-universal" Expressionmap here

    Keep in mind, that even if you have a score for large Orchestra, with large string-sections there still might be passages, where there are only parts of your strings or only soloists playing. Therefore it is nice to have the complete variety available. There is no Expressionmap, that could cover all those patches, thats why I kept the expressionmap just for the different articulation "prototyps" you could find in a score.

    In order to have the oportunity to copy passages from one track to another I kept this expressionmap "Vsl-universal" what means leading to the same/similar articulationtypes for (nearly) all instruments, while I controled with midi-CC's the varieties I organized inside my presets and their matrices

    Since I own (like you ?) nearly all available from vsl It was definitly alot work to build the presets and it also was very helpful to have good powerfull hardware (the largest i7, very much Ram, Samples on SSD's),but once prepared it was great fun to work with even with the largest orchestral projects possible.

    I hope that helped



  • I don't want to use multiple expression maps for the same instrument. I will attempt to use the drop-down menu instead of the expression maps lane. Have to go by ear on this I guess rather than visually seeing what I am doing. It's a shame that the Expression Map lanes was not made for many expressions. Boo Steinberg.

  • My Solution is not at all to use "multiple expression maps" and not at all "multiple expression maps for the same instrument".

    You can use Expressionmap part in the Control-line on the upper side of the Cubasescreen a bit like a "dropdown menu" but still it is not reasonable to list there all articulations VSL offers. This is in any case simply much to much!

    Thats why I left the expression maps only decide a class of articulations and chose the different possible variants of a staccato or legato via controlling the VI-Matrices from Midi-CC's this way you simply multiply the amount of reachable articulations without having endless expresssion-map-lists no one can reasonably handle in any way.

    The "mistake" of Steinberg was that they believed the amount of different articulation which appears in the notation of a piece would be the same as the amount the Instrumentalist knows. They simply didn't thought about what VSL demonstrates very well that there are a lot of muscally reasonable different way to play the same notated articulation.

    But ...aslong as the  VSL-Superpackage-Users dont have the majority in the World of Cubase-Users I dont se any other solution than to blow up the expression map via CC controlled Variants inside VI.

  • Steinberg did not test it with VSL products it would seem. A workaround could be multiple tracks of expression maps for a single instrument track. Maybe this is what you are trying to tell me.  Put them in a folder with the note track to keep them all together. This is what I will do. I would like to make up and down articulations separate expressions rather than using another controller lane for the A/B switch. It was a mistake of Steinberg to think of it as something that only relates to music notation. You could use this on any synthesizer for many different purposes. 

  • This "Workaround" does not sound really easy. 

    You are right Synths are not at all that compatible to notationsofteware.

    But they are based on the idea to modulate the sound.

    Meanwhile I dont want to modulate Orchestralsamples and prefer original samples for each different variant.

    But it would be great to have a similar way to chose the right samples in the same way one modulate sounds in a synthy.

    this is the way I tried to combine CC's and Experssion maps to avoid endless lists of patches.

  • I should have thought about that before I typed. You can not have articulations without notes. I just complained to Steinberg specifically about the lanes getting too small and the need for a fixed lane size with scroll bar. If everyone complains there is a better chance they will fix it. I filled out a support claim. It does not seem like a difficult thing for a professional software engineer to fix but I kow nothing about that.

  • Luckily, by chance, I have dual monitors with one above the other. This allows me to stretch the articulation map twice as high and hopefully get in all the articulations I want to. Having all my articulations freely available helps in  my creative flow. You don't want to have to stop and edit your map while composing. That is a different mindset.

  • If you work with the full available VSL-Sampleset,

    • I fear even two Screen will not be long enough.
    • and you have to prepare seperate Maps and Presets working with thoses Maps for all Instruments,
    • and you have to keep in mind for each Instruments where you may find which articulation
    • and you cannot copy and paste anything from one instrument to the other without loosing all articulation setting you have done

    To me this still seems a bit tedious. That is the reason why I decided to use expression maps to define inside my Instrument-Preset just which certain Matrix would be for one of the general articulation classes only how you will find them likewise in notation similar for the most instruments.

    The fine tweaking decision for a certain variant-Patch of a articulationclass I left to my CC-Settings for the columns and rows of my VI-Prest-Matrices.

    So I have to prepare only once Presets with matrices for all general articulationclasses for all instruments which all can be handled by the same "universal" VSL-Expressionmap. Inside those articulation matrices of each instrument I can load as much or little variants are available for a certain kind of instrument

    • deciding with one CC for the column how many instruments should play ( for instance: solo, different dimension combinations, chamberstrings, orchestral, appasionatastrings)
    • deciding with another CC for the rows which of the different available variants (for instance of the different available Legatos) I want to have.

  • Finished the violin map. I didn't use all articulations. I used about 75 including separate slots for A/B switching on those patches which use it. Can see them all when I stretch it up to the second monitor. Would be impossible otherwise. It's not ideal because you can't see many notes (also they are far away) but you hear them and see the position. Ideally, I would like a scroll bar put in.  It's just nice having one track per instrument. That is the way it ought to be in my mind.

  • I fear to me it would be

    a) way to tedious to search all 75 Articulations you chose for your map each time I need an Articulation

    b) 75 is on the other hand really at least "to few" compared with the 300 Violin Patches I keep available in my Presets (combining expression maps with CC control of its Variants in the VI matrices)

    At least in my way the expression map helps me to avoid searching throu many articulations I really dont need (for instance when I need an Staccato I dont want to see all legatos or dynamics etc.)

  • It is as easy as can be. I don't have to load any patches or matrixes in the middle of composing. I do not have to leave Cubase. The matrix presets in VSL are designed for performing, not for recording. I can't ever remember which keys to press in the crazy XY grid. Not intuitive! Much rather it be all linear and listed by name, not those cryptic abreviations in the matrix. The matrix looks and feels as if it is made by and for software engineers only. I just like the pure samples. Crossfades sound fake to me and I like to have total control. Doing it by speed or velocity isn't what I want at all. 

  • You are right, the VI are nearly as powerful as complicated to handle the more you want to use the full musical potential of all available patches. It definitly seems reasonabel for me that VSL-Developpers would think more about an easy and intuitive Handling of the vast variety of samples available.

    For me at least It is much easier to search and apply the right Patch I need for a certain note by deciding which Qualities it should have than by reading again and again tons of articulations (let it be 75 or 300 for the Violins - and you have to do this for each orchestral Instrument) to find the right one.

    To me it at least it would be a great help, if the VI software would react on the musical demands (= which qualitiy should the right patch have) more than on Matrices, grids, CC-Definition, Keys etc.

    And since we can have with SSD's and large RAM all patches loaded which are available it is the pure annoyance either to reduce the amount of Variants in a instrument-track of the amount of displayable Articulations on my screen as well as is to me really tedious to search for each single note again and again all patches/articulations I have loaded.

    I think if you really ever tried to programm a whole orchestral score this way, you will know what I am talking about.

  • When you can see all of the patches (of one instrument) at once, listed in a linear way by name not short abbreviation, it isn't very difficult to find the patch you want or to experiemt with different articulations in the list.

  • I open the Pro Player and watch the matrix. Important is a memorable structure.
    Even more important is an intuitive structure of the interface for selecting the artikulations. The Expression Map is only a tool for the adaption of that interface to the matrix. So at least i don't need an artikulation list. Or am i wrong?

    My question:
    Where can i read something about String-Artikulation-Notation?
    We have so many similar artikulations, and you have to give different names or symbols for each seperate artikulation. I find no rule for writing something or not. If you switch very fast, the words needs more space than the music.

    I think legato should be written as a bow from the first to the last note of the phrase. How to do that?

    Symbols for XFades from vib to no vib? Strange things to notate. Do you have ideas?

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    This is imho exactly the Problem:

    • Wikipdia lists 12 Articulationmarks at all (including the fermata) and for all instruments.
    • If you own the complete available VSL-Orchestra, you can have up to hunderts of different patches just for one instrumenttrack (with different reasonable combinations of dimensionstring I do have moe than 300 patches loaded just for the violintrack and it is for nearly each other instrument more or less the same: to few articulation cannot cover to much available patches).

    Imho expressionmaps are definitly not ready to handle this amount of articulationpatches

    It is this vast amount of available variety wich is as powerful as complex to handle.

    I think the most intuitive way to handle would be to search the right patch by combining the demanded qualities. In parts you can programm something like this already now with VIPro matrices. But it is still quite tedious.

    It would be great if the VSL-Developpers would began to think about this problem and make it more intuitive to work with their really great and impressive variety of orchestral samples..

  • More than a year later... I agree that Expression Maps in Cubase become unmanageable when trying to control VSL.

    IMHO progress can only be made on Steinberg's part. I can't think of concrete changes to apply to the way VSL organizes its samples, but I've made tons of very practical suggestions to Steinberg over the years, with no visible feedback.

    If you're using VIP in VEP, as many do, then you basically have a hugely configurable multitrack sample player. You still control it from Cubase, and Cubase is way behind on this. Among the things that can easily be added:

    • The ability to rename Controller Lanes: "CC111 (Control 111)" doesn't mean anything, I don't even see why the parenthesis are there.
    • The ability to add vertical colored shading to CC lanes per Expression Map, or snap CC data to several fixed & named values. An articulation could thus be named "Legato" with a CC lane called "Technique" with vertical divisions in it, clearly showing "Legato", "Portamento", "Glissando" etc.
    • Or, have each Articulation behave like a drop-down menu, so you could have e.g. the "Legato" articulation with a drop-down arrow and select a sub-technique there.

    There a many other suggestions. Nobody listens. They apparently prefer doing things like Chord Assistant. What can you do.

    The greatest thing that could happen is if VSL took its experience and built a proper sequencer (with Kontakt and general plugin compatibility, needless to say). From my experience with VSL products — and I don't work for them — the interface, stability and ease of use would be a class apart (sorry, a bit off topic on that last bit...)

  • Hello community.

    For what it is worth,

    I do all the VSL programming with Cubase expression maps, and I do like to have all the articulations handy.  I spent much time in building my own VI presets and in organizing the expression maps as efficiently as possible, with this very problem in mind (too many articulation slots fill the screen).  So I made use of the 4 levels of intrication in the user defined articulations.  Still in progress, but it works quite well.  Here is my map for all dimension strings, and the screenprint of the Cubase lane showing it.



  • Thanks a lot for sharing, Stéphane. This is interesting. I've never went into the "groups" aspect of Expression Maps, and apparently it's easy to create a X/Y table using two articulations (I just tried it in Cubase). I'm not sure I understand what you're using Articulation 3 for, though. Aren't two articulations covering the 2 dimension of a VSL matrix already. Or is it just for naming and clarity? [EDIT] In other words, is there another reason for putting the OS/Forced 1-4 in Articulation 3 other than having a neat separation in the Key Editor?