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electronic MUSICIAN

Cakewalk Sonar

By Craig Anderton | April 2, 2007


Step 1Step 2 Step 3Step 4Step 5Step 6Step 7Objective: Use Sonar’s MIDI processing to help you create a part.

Background: When you get into a creative rut, sometimes it’s best to just leave things to chance and see what happens. Although Sonar doesn’t have algorithmic composition tools per se, you can fake it with MIDI processing.


1. Insert a virtual instrument.

2. In the MIDI track driving the instrument, use the pencil tool and just draw in a bunch of notes as if you were a third-grader doing fingerpainting. It’s probably best to loop the section you just drew (e.g., a few measures)

3. Right-click in the MIDI track’s FX bin, and insert the Transpose effect. Similarly, insert the Quantize effect as well.

4. Use the Quantize effect’s parameters to quantize the notes you drew in so that they create a rhythm.

5. In the Transpose effect, click on Constrain to Scale.

6. Under Transpose Method, choose Key/Scale. In the To: section, choose a scale from the lower drop-down menu. The notes you drew will be constrained to this scale.

7. On the MIDI track, remove, add, and generally mess around with the notes until you hear something you like. When you do, stop playback, select the track or notes, and go Process > Apply MIDI Effects. This fixes the notes in place according to what’s specified in the Quantize and Transpose effects.



• In step 2, don’t go too nuts with drawing notes — less is more. You can always add notes in step 7 if there aren’t enough.

• In step 6, you have the option to transpose the notes to a different key using the first drop-down menu under “To.”

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