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Rayko

Layering tracks

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Hello, I've been reading and watching a few videos that briefly explain some kind of layering with cross fading among layers to change how aggressive or strong the sound gets, particularly to add some dynamic expression for orchestral composition. So I've been looking around on how to accomplish this, different sampler tools and such. Most of the samplers I've found don't have a way to cross fade different layers, they can combine them though. I know there's kontakt, however it's a very costly tool for me, specially since I don't really produce anything important to justify that cost, I'm mostly an enthusiast in this field.

So I figured that maybe I could use the DAW to make this, but I'm unsure if it's even possible. I was imagining for example having 2 or more instances of the same VST, linked by 1 MIDI track (or have the same MIDI clip on all tracks), and then find out a way to control volume or other param simultaneously across these tracks to blend them at different intervals.

Found out about group controls, which kinda gets there by allowing to control multiples params with just one, but it's half way there. When moving from one track to another, the previous track should decrease instead of keep max value.

So a few questions, hopefully someone can point me into a direction to try some stuff out:

- Has anyone done something like that? I know it's kinda overkill, but the missing piece I have now is controlling the tracks, I know I can mess with the MIDI messages and filter out some stuff or set a specific velocity for each part, so that should work I think for the setup.
- Does anyone use a free sampler to achieve this? Maybe with some scripting? Most of the samplers I've managed to check has that particular feature missing, there aren't many free ones sadly.
- Is it possible to define custom control behaviours in the DAW? Maybe adding a behavoiur curve and set a min and max input value, like reading CC1 for example, and setting part one to react from 0 to 50, having the curve at value 25 as max  volume value for the part, and then offset this on the other parts.

As I said, I'm just an enthusiast, I know I'm just scratching the surface, but so far I can't find any way to accomplish this, either with the DAW or with a sampler tool I can put my hands on. I won't get mad if nobody replies :p I figured I could try ask the pros to at least ground this weird idea I'm trying to do. If not, I guess I'll keep searching for a way.

Thanks in advance!

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Well, I just apply automation to the AUDIO tracks I create from the midi data, by bouncing each midi track, and then applying the automation to the audio tracks.  There are fancier ways of doing things - but I find the above lets me easily control the relative sound levels to whatever combinations I wish.  Look in the documentation for ways of applying Automation to audio tracks, and I suggest also looking at YouTube for related videos - there are zillions of YouTube videos out there for Cakewalk and its Sonar predecessors, that will give you good info on how to do it.

As far as samplers, there is a free TX16WX sampler plugin - https://www.tx16wx.com/ 

Bob Bone

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Pursuant to Bob's suggestion, go here (PDF) and search "automation." There are many parameters that can be automated, not just volume/fades.

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The automatitions in this DAW are a bit wierd to what I was used to, kinda neat but a bit confusing at the same time. It's cool that the lanes can record changes from the VST interface, but it's a bit confusing to do it the other way around without having to draw the movements. But yes, I suppose that could an option, however I lose live performance that way, and can become quite tedious if there are more instances involved.

I've also been exploring TX16WX, it's a really good tool, a bit glitchy though, it crashed on me a few times, not sure if I got the latest version as I've seen different looks over the internet. I didn't found a way to bulk everything into it and blend it with a control, maybe I didn't go deep enough on it?

I'll check out the manual Larry linked, A possibility I just thought was using event filters to map 1 controller in different ranges, not sure how it would work yet until I actually try it, it probably does what it says and not what I would expect. To this end, are there other MIDI effects out there I could incorporate into the DAW? I don't think these would work like VSTs that I can put into MIDI tracks.

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I didn't know you wanted to work this in to a live performance. In that case Cakewalk automation is probably not the right way to go. Frankly, I don't what would be the right way. I'm not familiar with Ableton, but I hear it's geared more for live performance.

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The automation in cakewalk is working all fine. You can control virtual instruments in cakewalk live from an external controller just need to grasp a bit the way routing audio and midi is done here. You can for example make volume changes of two different instruments at once, for that you need to set midi input of both instrument tracks to the same midi controller but set a different midi channel (or different control change number) for each, AND enable echo (monitoring - the blue one on each track) ON BOTH instruments tracks. Now you can control both instruments volume from a hardware that can send on two midi channels (or two different cc#).

You can also do crossfades, for that either make a group of two volume faders (right click on the faders and add both to the same group) then choose group manager and set one of the faders to custom mode and reverse start/end values. Now change the volume of one fader (of the group) from external midi controller and the other fader will move in opposite direction. You can also midi-learn the faders.

Edited by chris.r

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4 minutes ago, chris.r said:

The automation in cakewalk is working all fine. You can control virtual instruments in cakewalk live from an external controller just need to grasp a bit the way routing audio and midi is done here. You can for example make volume changes of two different instruments at once, for that you need to set midi input of both instrument tracks to the same midi controller but set a different midi channel (or different control change number) for each, AND enable echo (monitoring - the blue one on each track) on both instruments tracks. Now you can control both instruments volume from a hardware that can send on two midi channels (or two different cc#).

You can also do crossfades, for that either make a group of two volume faders (right click on the faders and add both to the same group) then choose group manager and set one of the faders to custom mode and reverse start/end values. Now change the volume of one fader (of the group) from external midi controller and the other fader will move in opposite direction. You can also midi-learn the faders.

The weirdness on automatition for me is setting it up in reverse, say I want CC#24 to control filter cut off in a synth, I couldn't figure that one out yet, I can instead set a hardware control to output CC#24, assign it on the synth with its built in mapping, then set an automatition curve to record the parameter from the synth. A bit weird and neat (I can do changes on the synth interface and get those recorded), but anyway, I can get around that. However, my goal was to set just 1 control to change more than 1 track or synth param (volume for example), but at different ranges. I've set up groups for it, however crossfade can work for only 2 tracks as you said in reverse, which is useful, but falls a bit short if I start adding more tracks for this. With groups at best you get all track volumes to max, or to inf, which doesn't really work.

 

1 hour ago, Larry Jones said:

I didn't know you wanted to work this in to a live performance. In that case Cakewalk automation is probably not the right way to go. Frankly, I don't what would be the right way. I'm not familiar with Ableton, but I hear it's geared more for live performance.

I should probably have said that earlier, sorry about it. Checked the Ableton site, it seems it could be a solution, though a pricey one. I've recently been exploring MIDI message mapping and morph tools (MIDI effects basically), and only the full suite of Ableton seems to have some additional MIDI effects to do mapping, but I can't pay that price tag. Digging more into those MIDI effects, apparently those are OPT plugins, something called Open Plug-In Technology from Yamaha, something old and almost forgotten. There aren't many devs coding in that, can't find any third party plugins I could try out so far. Only a few threads commenting OPT is not having much support lately.

I could find VST effects that alter MIDI though, but the DAW uses them as audio effects, and inserting one into an audio track kills the audio. So the next thing I've been messing with is routing track to track, since you can set an audio effect as an instrument. I could only chain 1 track. A few threads on other forums suggests the DAW doesn't support MIDI routing from track to track, so I guess that won't be an option.

I feel like I'm entering a rabbit hole now. There are a few other VST effects I can try in the next days. So far my only option is to be able to set up to 2 articulations as different instruments (tracks) and use that grouping. It doesn't feel right to mess with the track's volume though, but I guess that can work to some extent.

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1 hour ago, Rayko said:

The weirdness on automatition for me is setting it up in reverse, say I want CC#24 to control filter cut off in a synth, I couldn't figure that one out yet, I can instead set a hardware control to output CC#24, assign it on the synth with its built in mapping, then set an automatition curve to record the parameter from the synth.

Not sure what you mean here, you should be able to do both, control the synth with cakewalk's automation when you playback the synth track, and also live from a hardware controller either directly over track's midi input or through ACT. Just remember to keep the input monitoring (echo) on, or simply give focus to the synth track for live use.

1 hour ago, Rayko said:

However, my goal was to set just 1 control to change more than 1 track or synth param (volume for example), but at different ranges. I've set up groups for it, however crossfade can work for only 2 tracks as you said in reverse, which is useful, but falls a bit short if I start adding more tracks for this. With groups at best you get all track volumes to max, or to inf, which doesn't really work.

To make 2 or more faders work in crossfade mode or "at different ranges", in Group Manager set them either to custom or RELATIVE mode and set their start/end values respectively. Can't see a reason why you couldn't group more than 2 tracks and set them to move freely according to how you program them, it should work without a hiccup.

Didn't try it but you can probably select few tracks then hold the ctrl key and add one track to the group. They should all be set to the group now.

Edited by chris.r

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