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We were thrilled when Cubase 5 introduced VariAudio, which allows tracks to be analysed and re-pitched ala Melodyne. As cool as it is, it can be fiddly to use and, like most tools of this sort, works best when the original tracks are smooth and artifact-free.
Cubase 7 brings a long-awaited update to VariAudio 2.0 with improved note-detection and more. It still likes a clean, smooth signal, but once you've given a track the VariAudio treatment, you can do plenty with it, including creating the dreaded Auto-Tune effect or harmonising (or reharmonising) your vocals.
Most importantly, it integrates seamlessly with Cubase 7's new Chord Track. Cubase can now detect the harmonic structure of your project from existing MIDI data and create a chord track with all of your chord progressions in place. Alternatively, you can enter your chords manually. A built-in Chord Assistant can offer up suggestions for new chords based on those you’ve already used.
With a Chord Track in play, you can instruct MIDI or VariAudio tracks to follow the progression and create new harmonies based on what's already there. This is sophisticated stuff and we’re pleased to report that it works reasonably well, even with audio tracks. Even if the VariAudio tracks don’t always sound quite right when pushed to extremes, at the very least it'll still be useful for creating guide tracks or unusual effects.
With the right source material and careful attention to settings, the combination of VariAudio 2.0 and the Chord Track has the potential to become an arranger's best friend.