Orchestral Articulations: separate tracks vs key switches

Hello Great Composers,

I mostly use key switches to switch between different artics when I record strings, or any other orch. instrument. Others use separate instances tracks of the same instrument where each instance assigned to each artic but I believe this will increase the amount of tracks which in turn consumes more memory. Key switches are mainly beneficial in live performance but they are also beneficial on saving memory consumption in the studio.

What would be your approach?
 

Wenlone

New Member
I am a Cubase Pro user. I use expression maps for everything. I cant find my way with separate tracks or key switches. Sometimes setting up expression maps might be time consuming but i think its the best way to manage articulations.
 

Rob

Senior Member
Cubase expression maps user here as well... some libraries use keyswitches, others cc values or velocity. The advantage with expr. maps is I can have one map for different libs, assigning notes, velocity or controllers to the same lane (articulation)
 

josejherring

Senior Member
Cubase expression maps user here as well... some libraries use keyswitches, others cc values or velocity. The advantage with expr. maps is I can have one map for different libs, assigning notes, velocity or controllers to the same lane (articulation)
Never used them but I think I'll give expression maps at shot. It will need to be on a gradient. I can perhaps start with my older libraries and then expand into the newer more complicated libraries.

I hate using keyswitches and I hate using separate tracks as well. I've heard horror stories about maps but I'm willing to dive in and give them a shot.

Any pitfalls to avoid?
 

RonV

New Member
Expression maps seem to work well in Cubase and I try to use the direction-type maps from Babylonwaves. Similar to keyswitches, you have to watch timing to make sure that the expression map is read first by MIDI. I've not done it, but I understand that some may use separate tracks for shorts and longs so that they can apply different amounts of reverb to each.
 
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HarmonyCore

Member
Expression maps seem to work well in Cubase and I try to use the direction-type maps from Babylonwaves. Similar to keyswitches, you have to watch timing to make sure that the expression map is read first by MIDI. I've not done it, but I understand that some may use separate tracks for shorts and longs so that they can apply different amounts of reverb to each.
Yes, this is another benefit of tracks separation is that each track has its own channel in the mixer so you can apply effects on each artic.
 
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HarmonyCore

Member
I am a Cubase Pro user. I use expression maps for everything. I cant find my way with separate tracks or key switches. Sometimes setting up expression maps might be time consuming but i think its the best way to manage articulations.
Never used exp. maps before but I watched a Logic Pro tutorial and there was a tool mentioned in the video from company called "Babylon Waves". I loved that tool as it dedicates track lanes for each artic. so you can use the pencil to apply which artic. is applied on which bar. I am a Cubase 10 user as well. Not sure if this tool is supported in Cubase though.

EDIT: The tool is called "Art Conductor"
 

chocobitz825

Senior Member
As a Studio One user, without expression maps, I use a few options depending on the type of project. I think Keyswitches are good, but what I normally do is write the music out, and then create another midi track and trigger the keyswitches on the second midi track. That way if I ever want to transpose the whole thing, I can do so without accidentally moving the keyswitches as well.

I use separate tracks for different articulations at times when creatively, it makes sense and I want more control over the levels and sound. Not sure about other DAWS, but in studio one, its easy to copy midi notes in one track and transfer them to another track for making separate articulation tracks after its written.
 

josejherring

Senior Member
Expression maps seem to work well in Cubase and I try to use the direction-type maps from Babylonwaves. Similar to keyswitches, you have to watch timing to make sure that the expression map is read first by MIDI. I've not done it, but I understand that some may use separate tracks for shorts and longs so that they can apply different amounts of reverb to each.
I've heard this too and it makes sense for more hybrid type cues were you're alternating the root and the minor 3rd for 10 minutes :). But, for that I might just use special patches.

For me I've longed for an easier way to use multiple articulations in one line without having to split it up or use extensive keyswitches. If this works I could probably get my template down to a more manageable track count.
 
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HarmonyCore

Member
As a Studio One user, without expression maps, I use a few options depending on the type of project. I think Keyswitches are good, but what I normally do is write the music out, and then create another midi track and trigger the keyswitches on the second midi track. That way if I ever want to transpose the whole thing, I can do so without accidentally moving the keyswitches as well.

I use separate tracks for different articulations at times when creatively, it makes sense and I want more control over the levels and sound. Not sure about other DAWS, but in studio one, its easy to copy midi notes in one track and transfer them to another track for making separate articulation tracks after its written.
Good point here, thx. :)
 
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HarmonyCore

Member
Just checked the price of Art Conductor and I think it's a little bit expensive for just an expression maps tool. It costs 59 euros. Do you think it's worth it or should I take the manual DIYs route of creating maps?
 

JJP

I put dots and lines on paper.
Just checked the price of Art Conductor and I think it's a little bit expensive for just an expression maps tool. It costs 59 euros. Do you think it's worth it or should I take the manual DIYs route of creating maps?
That depends on how big your template is and how much your time is worth. Many professionals would say 59 euros is well worth the time it saves. An amateur who isn't facing deadlines and doesn't earn their living from this may see it as an unnecessary expense.
 

Dewdman42

Senior Member
Just checked the price of Art Conductor and I think it's a little bit expensive for just an expression maps tool. It costs 59 euros. Do you think it's worth it or should I take the manual DIYs route of creating maps?
BabylonWaves is not really a separate tool. Its just a big collection of pre-configured articulation Sets for LogicPro (or Expression Maps for cubase). Think of it more like a preset collection that works with the features already built into LogicPro and Cubase. If you use the sample libraries they currently support, it may save you some time in setting up your own articulation sets (or expression maps in cubase), so long as you like the workflow they have adopted, which attempts to use the same input key switches across all products for a consistent work flow.
 

Dewdman42

Senior Member
I think you will find people here are using all manner of approaches all over the board with no consensus about the best way to work. There are numerous challenges and I think just about everyone is making due with the tools which to date, are better then nothing...but also still lacking in some ways IMHO. so your method may depend on your specific needs, how you deal with some of those product deficiencies or complications, etc.. This is a big and deep topic and there has been a lot of discussion here over several years, so I suggest some searching and reading and experimentation and you will come to a method that works for you for now, but I feel this is an area where DAW's are currently evolving. slowly.
 

Rob

Senior Member
Never used exp. maps before but I watched a Logic Pro tutorial and there was a tool mentioned in the video from company called "Babylon Waves". I loved that tool as it dedicates track lanes for each artic. so you can use the pencil to apply which artic. is applied on which bar. I am a Cubase 10 user as well. Not sure if this tool is supported in Cubase though.

EDIT: The tool is called "Art Conductor"
what you're descring is exactly what Cubase expression maps do... no need for extra tools. In the key editor, under the piano roll you can see as many lanes as you have articulations in your map, and assign them with the pencil wherever you want.
 

josejherring

Senior Member
Ah, chalk using expression maps up to another brilliant idea I had several years ago that I fully tried out then abandoned. But, I remember now. The problem I had was that I couldn't figure out how to get the triggered keyswitch to happen before the note event. I think I figured out that I could use a separate track then use the offset to slide the separate track 100ms forward so that it would trigger before the midi note event. But...then I decided that was the same pain in the ass as just using a separate track for keyswitches.

Though I'm willing to try it again. I think it might actually be a little better than the Keyswitches now that I look back on it.
 

babylonwaves

Senior Member
Just checked the price of Art Conductor and I think it's a little bit expensive for just an expression maps tool. It costs 59 euros. Do you think it's worth it or should I take the manual DIYs route of creating maps?
Absolutely. If you have time, or you want to educate yourself, you probably can setup expression maps yourself. Some are a bit tricky (e.g. the cinematic studio series) but of course it's totally possible to DIY maps.
Here's the thing: Art Conductor is about consistency. Consistent key switches for the main arts, consistent IDs so you can move regions from one instrument to another and a lot of your programming keeps working. Consistent naming etc. I use special software to get this done, it's totally tedious to do this manually and you'd need a lot of focus on top. Some others here pointed out that they use Art Conductor as a starting point and then tailor the maps to their personal requirements. That's a pretty good idea as well.

HTH

BTW if you use Attributes in cubase, you don't need to offset anything. With attributes you can also assign an articulation to an individual note in a chord, which is great when you do mockups and you want to introduce some live and "randomness". for instance, in an staccato ostinato you can replace some notes with spiccatos or marcatos and it instantly sounds more lively.
 
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KEM

Senior Member
It really depends, I was always a "separate midi track per articulation" kind of guy but when I bought JXL Brass it opened up my mind to what I could do with keyswitches, there are times where I love having separate tracks, and most of the time that's what I'm using, but I think when it comes to brass keyswitches are the better option.