Creating Expression Maps for CSS (and CSB/CSSS/CS2)

Akarin

pragsound.com
Hey all. I've written a long and detailed explanation on how to build Cubase Expression Maps that work with CSS. Due to the way CSS (and all the Cinematic Studio Series instruments) is built, having a proper way to control it via Expression Maps is not straightforward. You can find it here:


The technique shown here should work for FL Studio (with BRSO Articulate), Reaper (with Reaticulate) and Logic (using Articulation Sets) although I haven't tried.
 

emasters

Active Member
This is a well written tutorial on building expression maps - clearly geared toward CSS, but applicable with other products, as well. Thanks Nico, for taking the time to prepare and share this. Did you post or do you intend to post, the three finished expression maps (Standard, Basses, Full Ensemble)? Clearly, one would need to create the Kontakt Multi's as you detail.
 
OP
Akarin

Akarin

pragsound.com
This is a well written tutorial on building expression maps - clearly geared toward CSS, but applicable with other products, as well. Thanks Nico, for taking the time to prepare and share this. Did you post or do you intend to post, the three finished expression maps (Standard, Basses, Full Ensemble)? Clearly, one would need to create the Kontakt Multi's as you detail.
Thanks! I will post them altogether with the saved multis when I can make sure that posting multis doesn't infringe on copyright :) I'm a big fan of Alex Wallbank, I wouldn't like to piss him off!
 
OP
Akarin

Akarin

pragsound.com
Good tip. But what about con sord?
Ha! You picked this up... so here goes:

Using con sordino would double the number of articulations in the CC lane (30), that's hardly nice to look at. Because I tend to not switch between cs and no cs mid phrase, I actually use two tracks. One with, one without. But you can definitely do it by enhancing the multis shown in the post.

As an aside, I'm not a big fan of CSS con sordino (which is a simulation most likely using low pass filters and whatnot). If I write for cs, I tend to use another lib.
 

Ihnoc

Active Member
This is a better expression map introduction than many I have read. Some questions:
  1. Why do you load a separate legato patch? Is it like the shorts; you want different microphone sends?
  2. You don't use the MIDI Keyswitch CC. I have found the only actual key I have to use is the legato (A#0 I think) along with CC58. Is there some reason you don't like it?
You could add that putting Con Sordino in one of the other articulation columns would allow you to switch between both.

I would also show that many of the articulations used in CSS exist as articulations already in Cubase, like Marcato, if you know the notation already so you don't have to type in the text.

Finally, about direction vs attribute, I would suggest looking at the score editor with your maps. One of the reasons I have staccato as an attribute is that it is notated that way and Cubase's stock staccato articulation maps correctly to the note if it is an attribute. It might be cool to show that, as well as reasons to use attributes (which work better for specific notes like staccato or trills) and directions (which work better for passages like legato or con sordino.)
 
OP
Akarin

Akarin

pragsound.com
This is a better expression map introduction than many I have read. Some questions:
  1. Why do you load a separate legato patch? Is it like the shorts; you want different microphone sends?
  2. You don't use the MIDI Keyswitch CC. I have found the only actual key I have to use is the legato (A#0 I think) along with CC58. Is there some reason you don't like it?
You could add that putting Con Sordino in one of the other articulation columns would allow you to switch between both.

I would also show that many of the articulations used in CSS exist as articulations already in Cubase, like Marcato, if you know the notation already so you don't have to type in the text.

Finally, about direction vs attribute, I would suggest looking at the score editor with your maps. One of the reasons I have staccato as an attribute is that it is notated that way and Cubase's stock staccato articulation maps correctly to the note if it is an attribute. It might be cool to show that, as well as reasons to use attributes (which work better for specific notes like staccato or trills) and directions (which work better for passages like legato or con sordino.)
Thanks!

Alright... To your questions:

1. I load a separate legato patch in order to not need to send 2 messages to switch between legato and no legato. It's just for convenience, really.
2. I don't use the CC for switching between articulations because this has a major drawback when used in conjunction with Expression Maps: Cubase can't retrigger a CC message mid-phrase. So, if you pause your playhead in the middle of an event, edit a note and then hit play again, the default articulation is used instead of the one you want. It makes a confusing audio mess! Maybe, one day Steinberg will fix that but I wouldn't hold my breath, it has been like this since forever.

You mention multiple articulation columns... the truth is that I could never get it to work properly. Sometimes it triggers, sometimes it doesn't. Couldn't figure out if this is a Cubase issue or an error on my side. Steinberg support kept silent on this issue and I could never receive a proper answer from them.

As for the notation thing... yep, you are perfectly right and the way you describe is the intended way to work with Expression Maps... ...but see, I don't read sheet music :-D In my Expression Maps, I use a mix of directions and attributes. Usually, I use the attributes for the one off articulations like Bartok snaps and directions when I want something applied to a whole phrase. It makes it very readable for me and easy to work with. I'm aware that it is not always the correct way if the final intent is to produce sheet music. And because of my OCD, I prefer to have one way of writing the articulations: 100% text or 100% notation... ...and I don't read notation!
 
OP
Akarin

Akarin

pragsound.com
What sort of price are you looking to sell it for?
This is still to be defined and discussed with my partner. It will depend a lot on how many total hours went into making it, the expected support needed, and so on. But I definitely want to make it accessible to most. I'd rather sell a ton at $10 than one at $200 :)
 
This is still to be defined and discussed with my partner. It will depend a lot on how many total hours went into making it, the expected support needed, and so on. But I definitely want to make it accessible to most. I'd rather sell a ton at $10 than one at $200 :)
Yes this is always a better approach that I wish more people would adopt :D
 
OP
Akarin

Akarin

pragsound.com
Sounds good. Also will you cover the volume balance between instruments and instrument groups like Strings and Brass?
Oh yes. In details. That was one of the most difficult thing for me to learn when I started and to find resources on it was not easy. I've dedicated many lessons on that topic, showing different methods.
 
Oh yes. In details. That was one of the most difficult thing for me to learn when I started and to find resources on it was not easy. I've dedicated many lessons on that topic, showing different methods.
That's awesome! I still have not found much on this topic, so it would be great to see your approach on it.
 

Scamper

Sample Hooter
Great post. Wouldn't this be a lot easier for CSB, since you can trigger pretty much everything with just velocity based keyswitches?

I'm not using expression maps so far since I mostly play the notes live with keyswitches, but it should be possible to trigger the expression map articulations that way too, right? I probably need to look more into it. Why do you generally use expression maps over other methods?
 
OP
Akarin

Akarin

pragsound.com
Great post. Wouldn't this be a lot easier for CSB, since you can trigger pretty much everything with just velocity based keyswitches?

I'm not using expression maps so far since I mostly play the notes live with keyswitches, but it should be possible to trigger the expression map articulations that way too, right? I probably need to look more into it. Why do you generally use expression maps over other methods?
I'm using velocity based keyswitches to trigger the different short articulations, yes.

I use Expression Maps over one track per articulation because it is much easier to edit and to read a phrase. I use Expression Maps over keyswitches because it's much, much easier to read and to edit as well: without the con sordino, we already have 15 articulations in CSS... it's a little bit hard to remember what is what when all you see are C0 or F0 at a velocity of 80 :) I am not a performer, I input the notes using step recording or by playing them at a slow tempo using only one articulation (usually sustain) before editing the part to set the correct articulations in the phrase.
 

Scamper

Sample Hooter
I'm using velocity based keyswitches to trigger the different short articulations, yes.

I use Expression Maps over one track per articulation because it is much easier to edit and to read a phrase...
Right, in Brass you can also trigger the sustains with and without legato using the keyswitch, so you wouldn't need to split that up.

The only thing now that bugs me about keyswitches is that articulations can be messed up, if you jump around the project and start to play in the middle of some line. I guess that's fixed using the expression maps?