One of the most useful tools for a time-strapped composer working to a deadline is the great and almighty template – and in the first scottbuckley.com.au tutorial, I will show you how to make one in Sonar.

NOTE: This tutorial works for all versions of Sonar, including Home Studio & Music Creator.

A template is a project file that can be recalled when you are beginning a new project. Within the template is stored all your favourite virtual instruments, effects, bus settings, MIDI tracks, track folders etc. – all set up ready to go. It’s a real time-saver because it saves you from having to do the same set-up every time you begin a new project, and it’s a life-saver because when you are on a project – time is a scarce commodity.

Templates are almost essential for those of us who compose orchestral mock-ups, with astronomical MIDI track counts that can take hours of work to set up. Ugh… nothing kills a creative mood more than technicalities.

There are two ways you can have a template ready to go. One way is saving a fully set-up project file in your own folder, which you can File > Open at any time and File > Save-As a new project. This is fine, but as I have found in the past, you run the chance of forgetting to File > Save-As at the beginning, working on it for a while and then saving – overwriting the template file you started with. That’s just silly, because now you will have a template file that changes constantly. Never a good idea.

The other, and better way, to deal with templates is to use Sonar’s own Template file format – .cwt. When saved in the appropriate folder, this template can be selected from a list of templates when you start a new project using File > New. This way you don’t run the risk of overwriting the template. Yay.

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Step 1Set up your dream template

Start a new blank project. Think about what the ideal template would be to start with each time you begin a project. You probably have a core list of instruments and effects you use each time you work – so make sure you insert those instruments and effects (each with their corresponding MIDI tracks & bus settings) into your template.

Your needs (your choice of instruments & effects) may vary with each project, but atleast the template will give you a base to build from when starting.

Here’s a very simple orchestral template I set up (see image left). I’ve got my virtual instruments at the top (3 x Kontakt 3.5 instances), and then MIDI tracks mapped to each articulation loaded in Kontakt, sorted into their instrument groups using track folders. This leaves me with a nice neat template to start pluggin’ away at. I don’t have EVERY articulation at my disposal ready to go, but I have a good core selection which I can add to if need be.

Step 2 – Find out where Sonar’s default template folder is…

To access the template under Sonar’s New Project window, you will have to save the template to Sonar’s default template folder. To find out where that is, go to Options > Global. A new window will pop up, with a number of tabs at the top. Click on the Folders tab.

This tab shows all of Sonar’s default folders for various files it uses; we need to note the file-path to the Templates folder. If you can’t see the entire path, click on the button to see a graphic folder view of where it is. (See image right)template21. Make a note of the file path, because we will be saving our template to this folder.

Step 3 – Save your template

Go to File > Save As. To save as a template, we need to change the file type to a template; to do this, use the drop down menu at the bottom called Save as type,  and select Template. This will change the file extention to .cwt, Sonar’s extension for a template file.

Navigate to Sonar’s default template folder we noted earlier. Before saving, give your template a relevant name – it’s no use calling your template ‘Template 1’ and later having no idea what the template was about. Seeing as my template is a basic orchestral template, I shall call it ‘Orchestral – Basic’. Hit the magic Save button.

Step 4 – Beginning project with your shiny new template

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Now that we have saved our template as a .cwt file in Sonar’s template folder, we can now access it under the New Project window when we start a new project. To make sure of this – go to File > New.

If you saved your template correctly, it should appear in the template list at the bottom of the New Project window (as my ‘Orchestral – Basic template does in the image left).

Select this template, and you’re new project will have all the same track, instrument & effect settings you set up in your template earlier. Sensational.

In Conclusion…

Templates are fantastic tools for allowing the creative juices to flow without the hitch of labouriously setting up the technicalities of virtual instruments & routing. Harness this power, and thou shalt have a much more enjoyable time creating, rather than connecting!