Creating a Melody in Cubase 6 Using Your Voice

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This article is part of the My Musical Mouth series which shows you how to make a whole piece of music in Cubase 6 using just your mouth and a microphone – so no technical or instrumental ability is required.  A full set of tutorials are available to our customers by emailing a request to education@dvmusic.com. This article is an overview of what is covered in part three – creating a melody line in Cubase 6 using your voice.

Other articles in this series:

Intro: My Musical Mouth – How to write music using your voice with Cubase 6

Part One: Creating a beat in Cubase 6 using your voice

Part Two: Creating a Bass Line in Cubase 6 using your voice

Part Four: Creating a Synth Line in Cubase 6 using your voice

Part Five: Creating a morphing pad in Cubase 6 using your voice

Why?

As with the previous parts, if you’re a hopeless keyboard player, like me, then this technique makes the creative process far easier. It will let you concentrate on writing the music you want to write rather than concentrating on playing the keyboard. This technique will result in making the music you intended to write, rather than the results of your playing ability and a lot of mousework. After all, what could be easier than just singing into a microphone out of tune?

The Technique

In this part, Part Three, I use Vari-Audio to export just a single, finished, midi part for my melody and so a lot more time is spent in Vari-Audio using its editing functions than in the previous part.

To start with, I sing my melody into Cubase whilst listening in loop mode to the beat and bass-line I have already created. I sing a number of takes to en sure I have a good one – as this will make life far easier. I have the lanes, record mode and audio input set-up as I did in the previous articles. You can see this below:

I double-click on my best effort to load it up in the Sample Editor and click on the Vari-Audio tab button and then the Pitch & Warp button. Cubase 6 then analyses the audio and creates pitch segments which look a bit like midi notes. It’s very colourful, but aside from that it’s not a pretty sight. Coloured blocks reflect different pitches (semi-tones) and there is a picture of a keyboard running down the left-hand side of the screen to show me which note the segments are on (or should be on; or are closest to). Ideally, there should be segment present for each note I have sung, which starts at the beginning of the note and finished at the end of the note. None of this rings true for me; I have a lot of notes in completely the wrong place and only a few notes on the correct semi-tone; I do not have a full complement of segments relating to each of my sung notes; and they do not start at the beginning of the note or end at the end! If you are lucky enough to be able to sing, then you might be able to skip to the end and simply click the Extract MIDI button (the last option on the Vari-Audio tab menu). If you’re as bad as me, then you are probably looking at something like the picture below and have a bit of work to do:

I discussed the reasons for the missing segments in Part Two, but in brief, when there isn’t enough tonal information for Vari-Audio to know what pitch it is, it doesn’t recognise it as a note (segment). It is also difficult for Vari-Audio to detect when a new note has been sung as I am using the same sound with my mouth at the same pitch and if there isn’t a period of silence then it can’t determine whether it is one continued note or two different notes. Finally, my uneven vocal pitch warbles in some places so much that it thinks I’m singing a different note (when I’m actually just running out of breath).

In the zoomed in picture below you can see how some segments include two vocal notes that need to be cut in two, some need to be pasted together and some are missing:

I switch to Segments mode by clicking the Segments arrow button. This allows me to edit the segments by stretching them, gluing them and cutting them (in Vari-Audio, stretching the boxes actually time stretches the audio which I don’t need to do). To glue a segment you hold down [alt]whilst hovering over a segment and then click; to cut a segment you hover over the bottom it until a black line appears and the mouse pointer changes to a pair of scissors; to stretch a segment you just click on the beginning or end of it and drag. In the picture below, you can see how I have edited the segment that we were looking at in the picture above:

I then tidy the rest of the audio part and click the Extract Midi button. Cubase creates a new midi part with the volume information translated into note velocity and using the note length and pitches I have just been editing in Vari-Audio. You can see the tidied Vari-Audio information in the Sample Editor and the midi part it has created open in the Key Editor in the picture below:

That is it. I now have a melody part in midi that I can use to trigger any sound I like within Cubase.

In the full tutorial, I go on to look at finding the perfect sound and how to use instruments and midi tracks effectively in Cubase.

Full Tutorials

The full tutorials are a step-by-step guide for beginners and are available on request for customers of DV247 and Music Village. If you are a customer of ours then feel free to email me a request education@dvmusic.com with your name and post code or account number to get a copy of the full tutorials which will walk you through every step – even if you are a beginner. If you don’t have Cubase 6 then give me a call on 01708 771983 to buy a copy and get the full tutorials. There is special pricing available for schools and students.

You can hear the piece of music I created whilst writing the project by clicking the play button below. The entire piece was created without and midi keyboard or controller using just the instruments and effects included in Cubase 6:

MyMusicalMouth by DVMusicTunes

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About Author

Starting out as an IT student, Robin inadvertently found his way into the music scene in the mid 90’s when a friend asked for help getting a copy of Cubase for Window’s 3.1 to work. The blooming dance scene of the mid 90’s sparked a passion in DJing and production and he held many residencies at clubs around the country in the late 90’s. Since becoming too old to stay up all night partying, Robin has devoted his skills to teaching others DJing and Music Production and most recently to giving sound advice on how to get started in the world of making music and running our educational sales department. Email him on robinheyworth@digitalvillage.co.uk if you have anything you can contribute to our educational news section.

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