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  • How To Get Started With Notation Program, Drawing Tablet?

    After 15 years with Cubase, I think I'm getting sick of MIDI keyboarding... especially WRT VSL and sample libs.

    I -think- I'd like to explore working directly with a notation program via a drawing tablet for data entry if that's possible. I've used drawing tablets for design work and if I could actually 'input' via tablet as quickly as I can use paper/pencil I'd be a happy guy...

    I've only ever used Cubase 'Score' in any serious way... I stuck with it because I do mostly mixing 'live' audio with  MIDI tracks and despite its obvious limitations it's very convenient to be able to work with the mix of audio/midi rather than constantly 'exporting and importing' MIDI from a notation program into a DAW as I see others do.

    Anyhoo, my question is: what are my options?

    Does Cubase Score or Finale or Sibelius support a drawing tablet? Is it faster to work with than a MIDI keyboard? Do they support nice pallettes of tools (hair pins, symbols, etc.) like a CAD program would?

    My main enduring frustration with the keyboard is that after I play and quantise or edit, you still have to do all the crap with tweaking controllers/keyswitches and the like and I am SICK of it.

    I'm thinkin' it's at least worth a try to try and skin the cat from the other direction---entering the notation and then working on the MIDI.



  • Using a wacom tablet (A5) for notation in Cubase 7.5 score here. It works well, but is not ideal, with a suitable zoom level, on a 24" monitor for the score.

    Earlier I had a set up with a novation remote: Using the many push buttons to select note type and step size (position) and a foot controller to enter or backspace or erase; did require painstaking midi assignment in theCubase  remote controller (and don't forget to export the remote control settings for later use).



  • I would think if you're used to using a midi keyboard for input you'd be better off continuing with that method of input. 

    I work directly with notation but use a midi keyboard and it's pretty fast (Finale).  But I suppose it's whatever you're used to.

  • No mater what input method you use, you still have to work with the keyswitches/CCs to get the playback you want.

    Dorico, Notion, Sibelius, StudioOne, Cubase, Staffpad VE Pro, Synchon, VI, Kontakt Win11 x64, 64GB RAM, Focusrite Scarlett 18i20, August Forster 190
  • JC

    Have a look on Notion4...

    For me after 25 years using DP and Finale, Notion is the best of both world...

    More it is working nicely with VSL .

    So ... hope to help


  • Thanks for the replies.

    I'll check out 'Notion'

    For some reason, I thought technology was more advanced. If you're familiar with CAD or illustration programs, the drawing tablet lets you draw as fast as a guy could do with charcoal. Faster, in fact.

    I guess I imagined there was some sort of interface with all the symbols in a pallette and somehow that would translate into MIDI and key switch stuff.

    My gripe with MIDI keyboards is the same rant I've had since I got VSL... you play a performance in 5 minutes and then spend the next HOUR dinking with keyswitches and controller junk. It's exhausting and soul-crushing to me spending all that time just to get it to 'render'. It's antithetical to what I think music should be -real time-.

    (Which is the same reason I dislike video effects programs like 'After Effects'... no matter how cool the results, the fact that everything requires so much FIDDLING to 'render' is a total drag.)

    I'm considering working with notation software simply to avoid the frustration of 'playing' and then not being able to -hear- it as I expect. That may or may not make sense, but that's really the deal. There are few things more disheartening to me than playing something nice on the keyboard, then hearing it back and realising how my entire afternoon is going to be spent 'tweaking'.,,, and then tweaking again because getting it to sound decent is just the first half of the battle. Then it needs to be redone entirely to get the notation back. Grrrrrrr.... :D

    I want samplers to work like that guy who did the programming for Garritan's 'Stradivarius'... where all the controllers and stuff could be manipulated in real time. OR I want a drawing program that let's me notate on a 'tablet' and magically translates all the hairpins and  > and whatnot into VSL keyswitches.

    In short, I either want to play... or pencil... and cut out all the junk in the middle. :D

  • OK, so assuming that your playing is good enough, there are two issues for you to deal with when playing live:

    1. Patch selection
    2. Timbre/volume

    If you set your matrices to works so that all patch changes are done via velocity and all timbre/volume changes re done by controller using the mid wheel, there is no reasons that you can't do everything live. For example you could have legato when playing at 0-60, staccato from 60-120 and then other things like pizz and trem could be somewhere up the top end and not playing in real time. Or, if you're good enough you could even switch those patches as well. [;)]


  • JC,
    I also have a CAD back ground on «Alias Design» for art work...
    I know about what kind of interface you'r dreaming, but it is not there yet...
    My feeling is that we are close to see such thing in Music domain !

    key-switches was my concern too !

    Notion is giving Matrices using VSL SE package.

    (I you do not work with SE, just use the Notion's Matrix and drop your VSL patches in the right cells and Save as your own thing)

You load a Oboe and you get a staff which is instantly connected with VI Pro load with the SE Oboe matrix. 
And Go, just wright music directly in score using Articulation, Dynamic and so...
The play back will manage every thing !

    I'm curently managing Ful Orchestra Score like this and its a dream !

    More if you use MIRx you get a perfect balanced set up.

    I really encourage you to explore...
You can get Notion for a very affordable price... its only $99.00 Yes ! and it worth !!!



    PS you might email me at : and also  find me on facebook (look for up side down head !)

  • With my wacom A5 tablet, I use the Cubase 7.5 expression maps for simple selection and entering articulation and dynamic symbols (with the key switches that go with them) in the score (I also thought a year ago that technology was much more advanced: it is, but it is not available to me)



  • Thanks for all the replies. There is much experimentation to be done. The problem has always been a variation on an engineering joke I heard years ago: "you can have it fast, cheap and good." Pick two. :D

    I've tweaked VSL enough to where I -can- record patch changes as needed and get 90% of a 'performance' in real time in Cubase. But then there is what I call 'the job'... then making that into usable notation. And I'm sick of that. It's just soul crushing. I've stopped work on LOTS of cool ideas because I simply lose interest.I keep imagining some guy in South Dakota building a palace out of tooth picks.

    I realise there is probably not enough 'market' to get sample libs that are more 'playable'... AND which then directly generate correct notation. Or which work with a tablet as well as say, Adobe Illustrator does. But one resolution this year I have: figure out how to do this with less frustration.



    PS TO VSL: Speaking of 'frustration', whatever happened to the new (frameless) website you've been working on forrrr....ehver? 2004 called... they want their web site back. :D

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    @Suntower said:

    [...] "you can have it fast, cheap and good." Pick two. 😄 [...]

    My favorite saying. 8-)

    /Dietz - Vienna Symphonic Library
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