Creating Cut Up Editing Techniques in Cubase or any DAW

Cut and paste editing is a pretty broad subject, simply because the possibilities are almost limitless. So with this in mind, we'll just concentrate on a workflow...  

Cut and paste editing is a pretty broad subject, because the possibilities are almost limitless. With that in mind, we'll concentrate on a workflow that creates a pattern in Cubaseusing cut and paste.

There are many ways to skin a cat and slice a beat; this is just one of them. It should be useful to those of you who are relatively new to this style of editing.

Step 1 - Identify and Copy Your Part

The first step here is to decide on the audio part you want to slice and dice and immediately copy it. This creates a back up of your working audio and it means that if you are unhappy with any of your work you can roll back without any issues.

The original part with a drum loop

The original part with a drum loop.

I tend to move my copy well out of the way so that I have room to work and it doesn't get accidentally sliced in the cut and paste hurricane that's about to occur.

The part is copied ready for editing

The part is copied, ready for editing.

The original loop and drum part:

Step 2 - Slicey, Slicey

Now that we have a 'safe' part we can cut up, it's time to get the scissors tool out. Of course we're using Cubase 6, but it really doesn't matter which DAW you use, they all should have a basic audio cutting tool similar to the one I have here.

The cutting tool is selected

The scissors tool is selected.

Now, time to make the first cuts. I tend to start cutting at obvious transient events. In uniform grooves or loops this may end up being 8th- or 16th-note subdivisions but in more organic, less dynamic files you may find you gravitate towards more random patterns. 

As long as you have the key sections of the sound, your cuts can be as individual as you are!

The basic cuts are made

The basic cuts are made.

Step 3 - Making Your Groove

Now add a new track below the sliced audio. This will be the track that we use to make our new groove. Mute the original track and start to drag key sections down onto our new blank track.

Try dragging duplicate sections, copying parts and re-ordering them. You can also reverse parts, automate fades and perform further cuts to make parts even shorter. I also sometimes like to time stretch certain sections to fill any gaps.

The new groove takes shape

The new groove is taking shape.

If you perform this section of the task while the rest of your track is playing you might feel more inspired. If you find it sounds a little hectic, try cutting it back to just drums and bass.

Extra parts and automation are added

Extra parts and automation are added.

Of course this is the part that needs a finely-tuned ear and a small dose of good taste but more importantly, plenty of experience. So I can't stress enough how important practice is here. If this is something you want to truly master, hit it hard everyday.

The new cut up sequence:

Step 4 - Adding Effects and Finishing Up

Once you have a pattern you are happy with you can start to mix it with your project. Often this process will involve further automation and some dynamics processing. In this case I have kept things pretty simple and opted for a bit of cool filtered delay to open things up a bit.

Finally some filtered delay is introduced

Finally, some filtered delay is introduced.

Hopefully this will help you get your head around at least one way of creating this sort of edit. In the future I'll write some more advanced tutorials on the same subject for the more experienced editor!

And here's our final edit:

Check out these new tutorials at to get deeper into the wonderful world of Cubase 6 and take a look at the new Cubase 6 102: Exploring the Fundamentals tutorial.

Mo has been a professional in the music industry for around 15 years. He has released material with the world's leading record labels and also produces music for TV and Film. Mo is also a prolific writer and is a regular contributor to magazines such as Music Tech, Future Music and EQ magazine. There isn't a piece of music software tha... Read More


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