Quantizing Music? Here I dig into a subject that  save you a boat load of time in your music production…

Have you ever sat there with your midi controller, programmed in beat or melody and watched as all the notes appeared in your piano roll grid?

Only then, to notice that beautiful melody or groove you just recorded shows up on your grid well out of time – you immediately play the rhythm or melody back it just sounds like a bunch of 5 year olds randomly smashing a load of instruments together?

So what do you?

Well, you could, like I did for a large part of my early days as a ‘music producer’ go in and manually edit the placement of every single one of those notes. Put them on the grid lines and even go as far as change the note length and velocities – one by one using nothing but your little two-button mouse, but…

That’s painstakingly long and boring.

You could however….

Do as I do now and use your DAW’s quantization features.

‘What’s quantization’ I hear you ask?

There are two types of quantization to be aware of;

  • Grid Quantization
  • Groove Quantization

Quantizing Music for Grid Quantization:

Grid Quantization (in music production) allows you to change inprecise recordings to more precise recording that usually occur from someone playing an instrument (midi controller or guitar for example) while recording the notes through their DAW. These notes are taken from imprecise locations on the beat grid and moved inline with the nearest grid line.

Quantizing Music for Groove Quantization

Secondly, groove quantization can help you add more life to your tracks and give them a more natural and humanized feel by using pre-programmed grooves and templates in your DAW.

In more simpler terms, Quantization can take your ‘too quick’, ‘too slow’ or ‘too perfect’ notes and bring them (or ‘snap’ them)  in-line with the beat grid or any predetermined quantized settings set up in your DAW.


An Expert Explains: Quantizing Music…

Here’s a great analogy of what grid quantization is…

So, take the grid in your DAW that shows the ‘perfect’ timing.

After playing in some notes you might notice you’ll have drag some of those notes to the nearest line on the grid as some of them are falling outside the lines of the grid.

Using your DAW’s ‘quick quantize’ feature will line this notes up to the nearest grid line.

Grid Quantization Analogy

Think of a train coming into a station. As everyone is standing there waiting to get on the train people will start thinking ‘what door am I nearest too?’

The doors = the lines on your grid

The people = the notes

In the anaology the people will tend to go to the nearest door to them – in quantization, the notes will be brought inline to the nearest line on your grid.

What’s Groove Quantize?

Groove quantize allows us to quantize our audio samples or midi notes to pre-programmed grooves set up in your DAW.

As it’s the groove we are editing here we can also change other things such as;

  • Note timings
  • Note velocity
  • Note duration

Here’s a quick screenshot from FL Studio. As you’ll see you’ve got the option of whole load of different types of grooves to choose from.

To really understand this concept – it’s better to look at it visually.

Quantizing Music: 3 Ways to Improve Your Production with Quantization

 ‘Tighten’ up beats.

For some tracks and genres (harder EDM styles for example), tighten up the sounds will give your track an overall better sound and feel. Sometimes you’ll want to go for that digital computerized sound where a swinging groove just won’t do it.

Speed Up Production Flow:

Sitting there and manually changing the position of each note back in-line with your grid can really affect any creative process you’ve got going on. Most top level DAW’s have a quick QWERTY Keyboard shortcode you can use such as; CTL + Q

Add more Natural feel to your track:

Using your DAW’s groove quantize function, you can also set your notes to play just outside the grid to give your track a more livelier, natural more humanized feel.