Beyond the metronome and quantisation

simoncroft

Still playing. Still learning!
Silver Member
May 30, 2013
19,288
SE England
Sometimes, I just don't feel the groove where the DAW wants me to put the notes, so I vocalised what I wanted to hear against the metronome. Then I added bass and drum to the vocal. According to the piano roll grid, what I've done is a mess. But I'm using these two bars as the template for the rest of the song. My groove, not machine groove. :)

 

davidKOS

not posting these days
May 28, 2012
16,786
California
I've done both off and on grid recordings.

I find to really get the "old school sound", sometimes it's best to not use a grid. But then you have to play pretty much in time, just no so exactly as with a grid.

Other times, I'm happy to have the precision the grid offers.

And I can see why your riff idea is hard to deal with, it's got a groove that at one point is something between a triplet and a 332 subdivision of the beat!

Easy to feel, hard to write as a MIDI part on a piano roll.
 

davidKOS

not posting these days
May 28, 2012
16,786
California
But isn’t “programmed” music “real?”
Well, yes...but I've recorded pieces of music that were not on a click track, no MIDI nor piano roll.

I've also recorded pieces that used a composed MIDI "template", had the piano roll, etc.,

I suppose both methods produce "real" music. I think the idea is that lots of rock music was recorded without a click track and was thus "more real".
 

CigBurn

Total Hack
Jun 22, 2014
16,128
Same Shed Different Day
I think the subtle variations that happen while playing to a beat, give the part a certain human-ness. The same part programmed for timing accuracy can sometimes feel/sound sterile to me. imho anyway.

Though I'm not averse to editing if needed to clean up timing. Guess it depends on the part.

Both are real music of course. My use of the word 'real' was meant to describe a part as played by a musician at the time of the recording, with its natural human variations . Probably not explaining myself very well. :)
 
Last edited:

Dadocaster

Dr. Stratster
Mar 15, 2015
27,584
Sachse TX behind the cemetary
There are some types of music that benefit from a mechanical feel and I sometimes would like to quantize to make things more perfect. But.....both boyo and I have some junky fun stuff we do even in simple stuff that resists quantizing. So, since it rarely works for me, I mostly stopped trying.

I do like having drummer play to a click though, if they will. That degree of tightness I really like. Kind of self correcting groove.

(I am dying to record with the new band but trying to get up to speed to play out is taking all our time and energy..}
 

simoncroft

Still playing. Still learning!
Silver Member
May 30, 2013
19,288
SE England
I have quantised a lot in the past, when someone asked me to write their arrangements in a 1980s pop style. It just gave it that very clinical, precise sound. Funnily enough, a band that personified the sound I'm talking about was New Musik, and they never used a sequencer for anything. Having worked on about 20 reels of old tapes from their keyboard player, I can tell you, the only time the tempo drifts is when the tape's stretched!

While it's not what you want for many styles of music, it does make replacing damaged sections with a similar section from elsewhere in the song very easy, because you're always working in whole beats and bars. :D
 

simoncroft

Still playing. Still learning!
Silver Member
May 30, 2013
19,288
SE England
Well, yes...but I've recorded pieces of music that were not on a click track, no MIDI nor piano roll.

I've also recorded pieces that used a composed MIDI "template", had the piano roll, etc.,

I suppose both methods produce "real" music. I think the idea is that lots of rock music was recorded without a click track and was thus "more real".

To me, the whole point of DAWs having multiple ways of going about creating music is that the 'best' way depends on whose using it, and what they are trying to achieve. For instance, if your in score editor and you want a note to extend into the next bar, it's usually a lot quicker to go into piano roll and drag the end of the note across the bar line, rather that stay in the score and insert a tie.

Similarly, due to the limitations of my piano keyboard, the more complex the part is, the more approximate my timing tends to get. It's not that I can't hear it; the problem is in the execution. I have no compunction about using quantisation to get it close to what I wanted, then manually tweak it to what I actually want to hear. The way I look at it, when you write dots on a stave in a DAW, you are essentially producing quantised music. Unless you are prepared to get into Zappa-esque sequences of tuplets, you're probably going to end up using one or both of the above techniques, at least sometimes.

Having spent a lot of years in magazine production, where time was always of the essence, I'm constantly striving for more efficient ways to produce music within the DAW environment.
 


Top