Staff and Lyrics Views

Last updated on 3/31/2016

Description of the Staff View

The Staff View shows you sequencer data as staff notation, and has basic interactive editing and printing capabilities. Cakewalk is not intended as a replacement for full-featured music publishing software. Although it does print notation, there are many nuances of notation that Cakewalk does not even try to address. Instead, we have sought to satisfy the request of many users for the ability to view, edit, and print their music as notes on a staff, not just in Piano Roll and Event List formats.

The Staff View can display up to 24 staves of standard notation. You can view up to 24 tracks in the Staff View, provided that each track uses only one staff.

How Accidentals Are Calculated

It is quite clear how to portray notes that are in the scale for the key signature. As long as you choose the correct key signature, they will be portrayed correctly. The issue here is how to portray a note that is not in the scale for the key signature. A lot of thought was put into this issue when the Staff View was being developed. The important thing to understand is that there is no guaranteed right way to resolve accidentals not in the scale. Ultimately that requires knowledge only the composer possesses, as far as what scale is being evoked. Also, maybe there's no real scale being evoked; for example chromatic scales are supposed to use sharps when acending and flats when descending.

Our goal here was to find the best general choice that Cakewalk can use, trying to be right in the majority of cases. Note that the ultimate reference in Cakewalk is the sequence itself, not the notation representation. We currently do not allow the user to tweak features like this in the Staff View representation of an individual note, and have them be memorized in the work file.

So how do we resolve a note not in the key signature? Our decision was made by studying many cases of Western music, and determining the nearest alternate key and scale evoked by that note, and any other characteristics which seemed to be driving the decision. We decided on the following as general preferences:

flat 2nd, flat 3rd, sharp 4th, sharp 5th, flat 7th

Cakewalk version supports enharmonic spellings. To change the spelling of a note, right-click the note, and modify the Pitch field in the Note Properties menu:

# = sharp

b = flat

x = double sharp

" = double flat

Recording with Multiple Tracks Selected

Cakewalk records to whatever track is selected in the current view. This can present a problem if the Staff View is the current view, and you have multiple tracks selected. You will notice that Cakewalk will record to the top track if the Staff View is the current view, no matter which track is selected in the Track View.

You have several options to solve this problem. You can select only the track you want to record to, or make a different view (ex. Track) the current view.

Another solution is to add the following line to the [Wincake] section of the CAKEWALK.INI file:


This will make Cakewalk record to whatever track is selected in the Track View, regardless of which track is selected in the current view.

Helpful Hints

Layout remembered with each file

The Staff View Layout (clef, split note, and Beam Rests) is remembered with each .WRK file.

Quantize a copy of the file

You can make a copy of a file for notation purposes only. This file can be quantized for more predictable results.

Adding the copyright () symbol

To add the copyright symbol, type Alt+0169 (using the numeric keypad).

The Staff View

Trim and Fill


This cuts off durations if they extend only a little way past the start of the next note.


This option rounds up durations to the next beat, or the next note, whichever comes first. This helps because human performances aren't usually perfectly legato - that is, there are gaps between notes - but you wouldn't want to see this notated with excruciating precision.

You may want to turn Trim and Fill off if you're entering notes using the mouse, because otherwise you may not see the exact note value that you entered.

Entering and Deleting Notes Using the Mouse

Entering notes: Make sure you are in Draw mode (pencil tool). To insert a note, first click one of the duration buttons at the top left of the Staff View to select from among the basic noteheads. Then, click in an empty space to insert the note. You may also hold down the mouse button and drag the new note to a different position.

Tip: Disable the Fill and Trim boxes before you enter notes on the staff. This will allow you to see the true values of the notes you enter on the staff.

Deleting notes: Point to the note, hold down the left mouse button, and press DELETE. You can also select the Erase tool and click on as many notes as you'd like to erase.

Editing Notes From the Staff View: Click a note using the right mouse button. Cakewalk displays a Note Parameters dialog box which lets you edit all note parameters, including some that the Staff View doesn't display.

The parameters you can edit are: Time, Pitch, Velocity, Duration, and Channel.

Copying a note: To copy a note, hold down the CONTROL (Ctrl) key and click the note to be copied. Drag the copy to its new position and release.

Moving a note: Click on a note and drag it to a new position. You can drag to a new time (horizontally) and a new pitch (vertically).

Changing Pitches Diatonically Or Chromatically: When you drag a note up or down to a new pitch, the note normally snaps-to the notes in the current key signature (diatonically). This makes it easy to drag notes quickly among pitches that are in the key. But you can also drag in half-steps (chromatically) by right-clicking while still holding the left mouse button.

There is no checkbox for "Snap-to key signature". You switch this mode on or off with the right mouse button. While dragging, click the right mouse button to toggle between diatonic and chromatic modes. The next time you start to drag a note, the mode is reset to diatonic.

Tied Notes: There is no special "tie" tool in Cakewalk. Whenever you see a tied note in Cakewalk, it is in reality only one note with a long note duration. There are two steps you need to take if you want to tie two notes together:

1. Right-click on a note, and make the duration longer.

2. Delete the second note.

If you want to edit a tied note, you have to select the first note in the group of tied notes.

Deleting a tied note: You cannot delete a tied note, since it is really part of the first note. To "delete" a tied note, right-click on the first note in the group, and make the duration shorter.

Snap-to Time: The Snap-to checkbox determines whether you are guided to insert notes of certain durations at starting times that are multiples of that duration. For example, if you've selected the quarter-note button, and Snap-to is checked, your inserted notes are forced to the nearest quarter-note boundary. This can be handy for entering many notes quickly, but of course you need to turn this off to enter certain things. Turn it off, for instance, if you select the half-note duration and insert a note on the last beat of a measure and want Cakewalk to redraw the screen to show two quarter-notes tied together. The underlying sequencer event is a single note extending over the measure boundary.

Displaying Non-Concert Instrumental Keys

For historical reasons, certain musical instruments are traditionally notated in a transposed key rather than the actual key. For example, a normal (Bb) trumpet part is written in the key one whole note higher than the actual "concert" key, and an Eb alto sax part is written a major sixth higher. Musicians have traditionally learned to read and refer to the notes they play using the proper transposition interval for their instrument.

Cakewalk supports these non-concert instruments through the use of the Key+ column in the Track View. Simply enter or record the notes into the instrument's track transposed as the musician would expect them, and then set the proper transposition interval in the Key+ column to make it play in the correct key. For example, a trumpet track should have all its notes a whole note higher than concert pitch, and should have Key+ set to -2 to transpose it 2 chromatic steps back down.

The Staff View automatically transposes the key signature for each track according to the track's Key+ value. Multiple tracks appear and can be printed as an orchestral score, with the proper different key signatures for each track.

Note that this Key+ information is saved in Cakewalk .WRK files, but Standard MIDI (.MID) files don't support our Key+ key offset function. If you save a file as a MIDI file, the Key+ transposition will be applied to each note event, so that the file will sound the same, but the Key+ info will be lost. If you're reading in a MIDI file, you can easily set up the non-concert instrument track and then save it as a Cakewalk .WRK file. For each non-concert track, simply (a) use Edit | Transpose to change the notes, and (b) set Key+ to offset the transposition.


You can change how each track is displayed by clicking the Layout button. Cakewalk displays the Staff View Layout dialog box, listing track names alongside the designated clef(s).

To change the clef for a track, select the track in the list and choose from Treble, Bass, Treble/Bass, Alto, Tenor, and Octave-treble.

If you assign a track to Treble/Bass, the track is split onto two staves. Use the split option to specify the split point, which is the lowest note that should go on the treble clef. All notes lower than the split point are notated on the bass clef just below. Keep in mind that a track assigned to Treble/Bass, uses up 2 of the 24 available staves.

The Staff View Layout is remembered with each .WRK file.

Editing in Realtime


The Staff View lets you edit events during playback, in realtime. This is particularly useful if you are looping on a small region using the Auto Shuttle, such as a measure or two, you can hear any change you make on the next loop.

To set up a loop, click the Loop button, and either use the Select tool to select the region you want to loop, or manually set the From and Thru times.


You can click on a note and drag it to a new time (horizontally) and a new pitch (vertically). See the Editing Notes From the Staff View section of this document for more information on dragging notes.


Entering Lyrics From the Staff View

Cakewalk has the ability to add lyrics directly to the Staff View. To do so, select the Pencil tool and move the cursor underneath the lowest note on the staff. Continue to move the cursor down until the pencil appears with a capital "T" next to it; then click. If the cursor is properly positioned under the note, you will see an insertion box. If not, another note will be added (simply use the Undo feature to delete the unwanted note).

After typing each word, press SPACEBAR to advance the editing bar to the next associated note. Use hyphens to separate a word by syllables. Each syllable will be aligned with a single note in that track.

Editing Lyrics

If you change your mind or misspell a word, simply click on the word to be changed. The editing box reappears around that word, the word is highlighted, and you can change or edit it as you please. You can use the Erase tool to delete lyrics as well as notes.

You can use the TAB key to select the next word, or SHIFT+TAB to select the previous word.

The Hy-phen-a-tor! TM

The Hy-phen-a-tor! is a utility you can add to Cakewalk to automatically separate a word by syllables. Once installed, you will see a new button, Hyphenate, in the Lyrics View. The Hy-phen-a-tor! has a dictionary of more than 150,000 words.


Select Tool

Use the Select tool to select notes/regions you want to edit. It is also useful for setting up loop points.

Shortcut key: S

Pencil Tool

Use the Pencil tool to insert new notes and lyrics.

You can also delete notes with the Pencil tool. Simply click and hold down the left mouse button over a note, then press the DELETE key.

Shortcut key: D

Erase Tool

Use the Erase tool to delete notes and lyrics.

You don't have to select the Erase tool to delete notes. Simply click and hold down the left mouse button over a note, then press the DELETE key.

Shortcut key: E

Scrub Tool

To audition those notes currently displayed in the Staff View, select the Scrub tool. Move the pointer to the beginning of the Staff View; click and drag to display the vertical scrub line. As the line moves over the notes, they play. You can use the Scrub tool to move backward and forward and to play the displayed notes as slowly as you like.

The Scrub tool is only useful for playing currently displayed notes in the Staff View, not for playing an entire sequence.

Shortcut key: B


Entering Triplets with the Mouse

You will notice a button next to the dot "." button with a "3" on it. To enter triplets in the Staff View with the mouse, push this button after pushing the desired note duration button. Whenever you click on a note, the state of these buttons will change to match the note. Notice that the notes you insert will not be detected as triplets until all three of them have been entered. As stated above, Cakewalk must re-interpret the sequence to redisplay the Staff View, and it can't detect triplets unless all three steps are notes of equal size. It doesn't know you just entered a single note as a triplet. It's as if the note had just been recorded or entered from some other view.

When Snap-to is on, it knows to "snap" to triplet positions for the currently selected duration when the "3" button is down. When Snap-to is off, you can position a note at single-tick resolution. This is probably only desirable in certain rare cases, since Snap-to makes note positioning much easier and micro-adjustment can be accomplished by clicking on the note with the right mouse button.


The Resolution must be set one step size smaller than the smallest triplet size you want to resolve. A triplet 16th is smaller than a regular 16th, so you must set the Resolution to a 32nd to resolve it.

Limitations when Displaying Triplets

Unlike a dedicated notation program, Cakewalk uses the sequence itself as the stored representation of the music. It does not store the exact way the Staff View looks; instead it continually re-interprets the sequence data. This is so because of our history as a sequencer program, but it also brings us additional benefits in ease of use and automatic notation correction. It means that the Staff View is continually trying to detect triplets from MIDI data, dealing with timing inaccuracies and simultaneous non-triplets.

There are some limitations to triplet detection. All three steps must be notes (not rests) of the same basic duration with no ties leading in or out. If the notes have rest spaces between them, you must enable Duration Fill (check the Fill checkbox), since a complex mixture of notes and rests within a triplet cannot be detected. The Staff View will generally detect triplet voices mixed with non-triplet voices on the same staff, but certain complicated cases can still interfere with detection. If these conditions are met and the timing of the notes is close enough to exact triplet positions, then triplets will be detected; otherwise the Staff View will portray them as some combination of tied notes out to the specified Resolution. You may find it useful to quantize the notes closer to exact triplet positions using Edit | Quantize. Detection will be improved in future versions of Cakewalk. Rests and different note durations within triplets will be detected properly, and support for other tuplets besides triplets will be considered.


Adding a Line to the WINCAKE.INI File

You can modify the [Wincake] section of the WINCAKE.INI file from the Windows Notepad, or from the Settings | Initialization Files section in Cakewalk. Every time you add or change a line in WINCAKE.INI, you have to restart Cakewalk for the change to take effect.

Note: The WINCAKE.INI file is replaced with CAKEHS.INI in Cakewalk Home Studio, and CAKEXP.INI in Cakewalk Express.


If you enable this line, Cakewalk will record to whatever track is selected in the Track/Measure View, regardless of which track is selected in the current view.

n = 0 Disabled (default)

n = 1 Enabled

Read the Recording With Multiple Tracks Selected section of this document for more information.


This line will include the Staff View Window title text when printing.

n = 0 Disabled (default)

n = 1 Enabled


If a hyphen is left unresolved at the end of a staff system, this line decides if the hyphen continues on the next staff system or not.

n = 0 Disabled (default, hyphen does not continue)

n = 1 Enabled (hyphen continues on the next staff system)


You can set the number of pre-scanned measures through the StaffViewPreScanMeasures line. The setting affects how far back - in advance of the current displayed time - Cakewalk starts scanning to look for very long notes or lyrics that might extend into the current Staff View. The default value is n = 16.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Do I Tie Notes?

There is no separate "Tie" tool in Cakewalk. Read the Tied Notes section of this document for detailed instructions on a work-around.

How Do I Enter Chord Symbols?

Chord symbols are only supported in Cakewalk version 4.00 and later. If you're using a previous version, a work-around is to enter chord symbols as lyrics.

How Do I Enter a Second Verse (Lyrics)?

The current versions of Cakewalk only allow you to enter one verse.

How Do I Enter First and Second Endings?

You cannot enter first and second endings in the current version of Cakewalk.

How Do I Export a Cakewalk File into a Notation Program?

To export a Cakewalk file to a notation program, you need to save the file as a Standard MIDI file (.MID). Go to File | Save As, and set the Save File As Type option to MIDI File. By clicking the Options button, you can specify if you want to save the file as a Format 0, or Format 1 MIDI file. You should now be able to open the MIDI file from the notation program.


Cakewalk Records to the Wrong Track

Cakewalk will record to the track that is selected in the current view. If you have multiple tracks selected in the Staff View, Cakewalk will record to the top track by default. Read the Recording With Multiple Tracks Selected section of this document for solutions to this problem.

I Can't Delete Certain Notes From the Staff View

You cannot delete a note if it is tied over from another note. To delete a tied note, edit the duration of the first note in the group.

There is a limit to the range of notes that can be edited/deleted from the Staff View. If a note's pitch is too high, you will not be able to delete it. The solution is to go to a different view (Event List or Piano Roll) and edit/delete the note.

The Staff View Doesn't Scroll During Playback

Make sure the Scroll Lock button is not on.

The Last Measure Doesn't Print Out

If the last note in a song is tied over from a previous measure, Cakewalk will not print the last measure(s). The reason is because Cakewalk only recognizes the starting time of notes, not the ending times. This only happens if the note starts close to the end of the previous measure.

The Resolution option in the Staff view plays a role in which notes are displayed. If the resolution is not high enough, Cakewalk will round off starting times.

A work-around for this problem is to insert a dummy event in the "intended" last measure. For example, in the Event List you can insert a Pitch Wheel event with a value of 0. This should not be a problem since the event will not print.

Results Are Different When Exporting to a Notation Program

Taking inexact human performances and notating them within staff notation's rigid rhythmic constraints is a challenging goal in itself. This is not to say that the Staff View displays an exact image of how any given music printing program prints notes; each program has its own approach to loading MIDI files and rounding off timing. But you can work with the Quantize command to create a MIDI file that is easier for a notation program to read with predictable results.

"General Protection Fault" When Printing

Solution: Contact the manufacturer of your printer and make sure you have the most recent version of their driver for Windows. If not, obtain and install it.

Explanation: When Cakewalk prints, it uses the printer driver that you've installed in Windows. Many printer drivers have problems ("bugs") which appear only when certain applications use them, even when the application is using them correctly. Unfortunately, Cakewalk's intensive use of TrueType fonts may flush out a problem with a printer driver which is not apparent when you're using other programs. The printer driver may crash. You can tell this because the error message identifies the printer driver as the program which crashed, not Cakewalk.

We have investigated this problem thoroughly. In all cases so far, we have not found any way in which to modify Cakewalk to avoid a printer driver problem. The only solution, unfortunately, is to obtain a fixed version of the driver. The good news is that many printer manufacturers update their drivers frequently, and newer versions of many will work fine with Cakewalk.

Hint: Sometimes a driver for a similar printer will work and will not cause a GPF.

Example: A manufacturer makes similar ink jet printers. One printer is black & white only, the other is color. The color printer is "backward compatible" with the B&W one, so the driver for the B&W one will also print correctly with the color printer. The B&W driver does not cause a GPF crash. Solution: Use the B&W driver to print from Cakewalk to the color printer. Music notation is all black & white anyway! This does not mean you lose the ability to print in color from other programs. Windows lets you install more than one printer driver for the same printer port. You may choose among drivers from each Windows program's Print Setup dialog. Install both the B&W and color drivers. Choose the B&W driver when printing from Cakewalk and choose the color driver when you need to print in color from other programs.

Example: If you have a printer "model number 4", the driver for "model number 3" may work with model 4 and may not cause a GPF. As described in the previous example, you may install both drivers and select either as needed. Please see README.WRI. There may be additional information about specific printer models and driver version numbers.

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