Hat Tricks

Now to the hats, which we’ve programmed by drawing them into the grid. As such, they’re perfectly quantised and fixed to uniform velocity:

Pic 13a

However, this sounds rather lifeless. We need to inject a little more energy and groove. Creating a fluid pattern of varying velocity levels can help:

Pic 14a

Next we explore adding some subtle swing to the hats. Swing is a very specific form of quantisation which moves away from straight timing – you can find out more in our detailed feature on the topic here.

Pic 15a

We can add more swing until we find the setting which works best:

Pic 15b

Being Human

The biggest decision of all with quantisation is when it should be used and when it should be avoided. We’ve already discussed how kick drums are usually best heavily quantised, while  Let’s add our other percussion elements back in.

Pic 17a

These work pretty well against the more rigidly controlled elements elsewhere. If they do need reining in a little then iterative (or progressive) quantise can be helpful. This is a feature available in most DAWs which moves elements nearer to the selected quantise grid in smaller increments (usually expressed as a percentage), allowing you to control the amount of quantisation on each element.

Pic 18a

But be careful of destroying faster note sequences even with iterative quantise. Here you may need to edit by hand or choose a finer quantisation scale. If you go too far, the human element may accidentally be removed:

Pic 18b

Instead, err on the side of caution with subtle percussive elements. There are many other flavours and methods of quantise to explore. It’s up to you to decide what needs to be human and what’s best served by a machine. Applying these principles, here’s how our edited beat sounds:

Author Bruce Aisher
14th March, 2014

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