The annual question... Who is using Cubase Expression Maps

jononotbono

Luke Johnson
So, this seems to crop up every year, so I thought I'd just get this started rather than waiting for it to happen...

Who is using Cubase Expression Maps with their sample libraries? Who prefers separate tracks per articulations?

What are your favorite things about each way? What are the downsides to using Expression Maps?

Maybe well trodden ground but through experience and time, new approaches and techniques usually get developed and what may have been something not typically accepted as a good way of working, sometimes does!

I'm kind of interested in reducing track count in a template but I have my reservations about Expression Maps. So, convince me...
:)

Jono
 
OP
jononotbono

jononotbono

Luke Johnson
Off the top of my head...

Not being able to instantly see which art is currently selected when looking at the project window.

Not being able to layer arts and have separate control over each layered art

Balancing the arts across a whole template

The sheer time it takes to set this up properly
 

Guy Rowland

Senior Member
I've tried three times - with really good forum help right here - to get on with Expression Maps. And three times I've failed. I hate them. Unintuitive doesn't begin to cover it. And not just in the set up, in use. I distinctly recall being unable just to drag a staccato articulation and make it spiccato. It's just awful, over-engineered and clumsy.

All I really want is a partitioned area of the key editor exempt from transposition, with articulation labels. As it is, I standardise all my basic articulations among instruments, and it works pretty well.
 
OP
jononotbono

jononotbono

Luke Johnson
Yeah, I just really want to love Expression Maps but every time I have set them up, I quickly go back to disliking them immensely.

Maybe I'll ask again next year :laugh:
 

Dewdman42

Senior Member
So just to understand, you’re saying that in cubase you’d rather use nothing then use then because they don’t do everything you wish they did? And I don’t disagree they could be improved, but aside from the setup hassles, seems like it still is better then nothing.

i haven’t spent much time with cubase yet but experience is with logicpro but I am wanting to get more into cubase and will for sure try to make use of expression maps as well as I can. Logicpro’s articulation System is also imperfect but better then nothing
 

ed buller

Senior Member
I use to swear by em....I have a fancy touchscreen Too !...But now I have every articulation on it's own track. Yup Template is massive......But I never hear the wrong articulation playing !!!

best

ed
 

Dewdman42

Senior Member
So is the problem that Cubase has bugs in that area of the product or that expression maps are unintuitive and complicated to understand and setup such that the results don’t make sense?
 

Guy Rowland

Senior Member
So is the problem that Cubase has bugs in that area of the product or that expression maps are unintuitive and complicated to understand and setup such that the results don’t make sense?
The latter is a pretty good summary. I really would cope with the clumsy set up - just - if the results were worth it, but they so aren't.
 

Dewdman42

Senior Member
Can you be more specific?

I’m asking this not to be disagreeable but just to get more clarity from those who have worked with it. How does it fall short in the final result?
 

Jdiggity1

Senior Member
Moderator
I use them, but not exclusively. It really depends on the library and what works best with it. Or if it's a commonly used library or not.
Most commonly, I have my tracks broken up into playing styles, with an expression map for each.
So I'll have a 'Longs' track, a 'shorts' track, a 'legato' track, and an 'FX' track. Apart from the legato track, each one will have its own expression map.
I find it especially handy for libraries like Hollywood Strings or CSS that have several different lengths or styles of short notes. Makes it much easier to add some variation and realism in ostinatos or patterns using shorts. Make these 3 notes spiccato, these 2 notes spicatissimo, these ones marcato.

MIDI Editor - VLA Shorts A.jpg

You can apply the same logic to FX or runs. You probably won't need to stack minor runs and major runs together right? Well with expression maps you only need one Runs/FX track, and choose which run or effect you want with the EM. Much cleaner than have 12 different tracks just to cover all the variations.

Another reason I use them, is that every instrument track you have active will add to the file size and save times, so if I already have my 'main' libraries set up as separate tracks per articulation, I might set up my 'supplemental' libraries as a single track with an expression map (if it doesn't already have its own keyswitch), just to save space and feel like I'm being more efficient.

If I find myself wanting to 'stack' or 'layer' articulations from a track i have set up with an expression map, I just duplicate the track. Boom. Layer away.

Edit: Added another screenshot of a bassoon track. Can just be helpful sometimes to see the whole performance in one view.
 

Attachments

rgames

Collapsing the Wavefunction
The two biggest workflow enhancements for me over the last decade are Expression Maps and SSDs.

I think the value of ExpMaps will depend on you background - I find that people who come from a traditional music background favor them because it makes MIDI more like traditional notation and it's easy to keep everything for one instrument group on one track.

When you look at a score the pizz and arco aren't on separate lines. They're on one line with a note on which technique is active so you can see the harmonic structure independent of the playing technique. ExpMaps let you do that in MIDI without having to remember which keyswitch goes with which artic. My template has 30 artics for some instruments, all on one track. There's no way I'd remember which keyswitch goes with which technique across all libraries.

And here's the other benefit: when set up correctly they work across libraries. So if I have a viola line with legato, staccato and trill and I drag it to a clarinet, guess what? It correctly plays legato, staccato and trill.

They are clunky to setup sometimes but once you do they last a long time. I'm still using ExpMaps from 5-7 years ago. [EDIT: I just checked and my oldest expression maps still in use are from 2010.]

rgames
 

tack

Damned Dirty Ape
As the author of an articulation management system for a different DAW, I'm always interested in these threads, and to see the frustrations users experience with their own DAWs.

One thing that perplexes me about the Cubase implementation is the UI. I just don't understand how it scales when you have a library with dozens of articulations. It seems like the interface is just dominated by articulation rows.

Which of these UI approaches do you prefer?



or

 

Jdiggity1

Senior Member
Moderator
One thing that perplexes me about the Cubase implementation is the UI. I just don't understand how it scales when you have a library with dozens of articulations. It seems like the interface is just dominated by articulation rows.
Yeah the UI is another reason I split into performance style tracks (longs, shorts, fx, etc.).
But also, what many people don't realise is that you can change and view the articulations without even having the articulation lane open.
You can select the notes you wish to change and assign it an articulation from the articulation drop-down menu that appears in the Info tab at the top.

1578860603351.png
 

givemenoughrope

Senior Member
In a dramatic twist...

I’m basically using jdog’s approach but WITH tack’s fancy and incredible kontakt multiscript.

Except for Expression Maps (which may or may not be worse, better, equal to tack’s art management in that other daw, no idea) and the new audio alignment feature in C10 (forget the name) I would gladly jump over to that other daw and give it. a go. Life’s short. Why not...
 
OP
jononotbono

jononotbono

Luke Johnson
Another reason I use them, is that every instrument track you have active will add to the file size and save times, so if I already have my 'main' libraries set up as separate tracks per articulation, I might set up my 'supplemental' libraries as a single track with an expression map (if it doesn't already have its own keyswitch), just to save space and feel like I'm being more efficient.

If I find myself wanting to 'stack' or 'layer' articulations from a track i have set up with an expression map, I just duplicate the track. Boom. Layer away.
Yes, duplicating instrument tracks for layering is very easy and attractive. However, this all goes to shit when using VEPro. It's why in VEPro I actually have duplicates of, for example, Spitfire Performance Legatos (so there are 2 of each).

The whole thing with save times increasing with Instrument track only templates seriously grinds my gears and most people that go on and on about disabled Instrument track templates, never talk about the save times. I once had 55 sec save times. Definitely not for me as much as I love the idea on paper.
 

Jdiggity1

Senior Member
Moderator
Yes, duplicating instrument tracks for layering is very easy and attractive. However, this all goes to shit when using VEPro. It's why in VEPro I actually have duplicates of, for example, Spitfire Performance Legatos (so there are 2 of each).

The whole thing with save times increasing with Instrument track only templates seriously grinds my gears and most people that go on and on about disabled Instrument track templates, never talk about the save times. I once had 55 sec save times. Definitely not for me as much as I love the idea on paper.
Oh. You use VEP.

You'll come to your senses eventually...

(kidding!!!!)
 

Dewdman42

Senior Member
Could any of these frustrations be solved by routing the output of a Cubase midi track through some kind of midi processing plugin for the sake of channelizing, or layering, or doing more sophisticated keyswitching then what Expression maps can do on their own?
 

Jimmy Hellfire

Senior Member
I've always used expression maps and have just recently learned new things about them I previously never understood. I have now created even more complex and extensive maps and it was totally worth it. It's all cleaner and more compact than before while covering even more articulations and variations of stuff I can choose from freely.

I would never want to work without them. The feature is not perfect and does need an overhaul, but even in it's current state it's invaluable, and I truly believe that if someone says they're not worth it, they probably never really understood the concept.
 

Dewdman42

Senior Member
Yes, duplicating instrument tracks for layering is very easy and attractive. However, this all goes to shit when using VEPro. It's why in VEPro I actually have duplicates of, for example, Spitfire Performance Legatos (so there are 2 of each).
I don't understand the problem with VePro here