MIDI effects can be considered similar to an audio effect, but the difference is that MIDI effects work on the MIDI data that you’ve provided and not the audio that is being produced.
This means that you can
manually make minute changes to the MIDI data and even change the notes to suit
In this tutorial I'll show you how to use this technique to to add interest to music sound.
Insert or Send
Just like audio effects, you have the option to add effects on the MIDI track via Inserts or by Sends. This selection depends upon use. Activate it using the right-click context menu on the Inspector.
If you select the effect via the Inserts option, you will be getting the audio output after the data has been processed by the effect. For example, if you’ve added the Arpache effect on the Insert of a MIDI track, the MIDI data will be processed by Arpache and then the output from Arpache will be available to you as the output.
This is useful if you don’t need the original MIDI data and only need the processed data. You can also add this data to another effect processor.
The Sends option can be used when you need both the processed and the unprocessed data. It means that you can route the MIDI data to the output and to the effect.
When you select a MIDI track and then go to the MIDI Inserts section in the Inspector, there are four slots for inserting effects as Inserts. Other than this, there are also functions that will help you to manage and edit efficiently. They include:
- Preset Management Button: Allows you to create, remove and to rename presets. You can create a preset by adding a set of effects on the Inserts and then using the Save Preset option to create a preset. This will be useful for the next time that you need to use the same set of effects. You also have the option to use the presets created by Cubase itself by using the From Track Preset option
- Bypass: This will disable all the effects that you have applied on the track. This is very useful for comparing the MIDI track with the effects and without the effects to see how things are working out. When this is activated, the bypass switch turns yellow
- Inserts tab: This will be in blue color if there are any active Inserts on the track. It will be useful if you have a lot of tracks and want to find the ones with effects on them. You can also use the Mixer window to find them
- Effect Selection: These are the slots which will help you to pick a suitable effect on the MIDI track. Click on any empty slot and then select one of the many effects offered by Cubase. If you want to remove any effect, click on it and then select No Effect
- Power On: This will allow you to activate individual effects. You can use this to temporarily disable an effect to see its impact on the track. It is always better to completely remove an effect if you feel like it is not going to be used again. This will help you to reduce the load on the system and also to make the workspace a little less cluttered
- Effect Editor: This will show up the effect’s edit window if it has it. Some effects such as the Density, MIDI Control etc., will have their edit window inside the Effect Selection slot itself. If you feel like you need the effect edit controls in a separate window, click on the edit button with the Alt key pressed. But effects such as Arpache 5, Chorder etc., will have a separate window enabling you to control the effect parameters
The Sends option in the Inspector can be activate by selecting MIDI sends option in the right-click context menu of the Inspector. It also has similar controls as that of the Inserts option such as the Bypass button, Sends tab, Effect selection slots, Power On and the Effect Editor. These are the extra options that Sends option has:
- Pre/Post Selection: If this button is activated, it will allow the Sends to process the MIDI data before it reaches the MIDI Inserts and MIDI Modifiers
- MIDI Send Destination: You can select the MIDI output that the effect will be sent to
- MIDI Send Channel: This allows you to select the MIDI channel that the processed signal is sent to
You can use the Alt button to display the Edit sections of effects in a separate window.
How to Apply a MIDI Effect
Now that you understand what each of the settings does, you can add an effect to a MIDI track.
Select the MIDI track that you want to add the effect to and go to its Inspector. Select the MIDI Inserts option. You can also use the Extended Mixer Window to do the same.
Click on any slot in the Inserts section and select any effect from the drop-down menu. The effect will be automatically switched on and the effect editor will appear right below the slot or in a separate window.
Adjust the settings of the effect according to your liking. The effect is ready to help you create some awesome music.
There are many websites such as midi-plugins.de that help you to install MIDI plugins to a DAW.
You can manage all the MIDI plugins using the MIDI Plugins tab in the Plugin Information option. You can select the Plugin Information through the Devices menu. It allows you to update the plugins, to see the vendor information and to see the number of instances that the plugin is used in the project.
MIDI effects help you in creating wonderful arpeggios and for helping you add interesting effects to the MIDI data. These effects can inspire you to make better music and to help you overcome writer’s block.
Next time you are stuck on creating music, load up a MIDI track and play with the effects. I can guarantee you that you get some inspiration to create some music.