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Thread: Velocities and Note Lengths

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
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    Velocities and Note Lengths

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    Hi All!

    Was just wondering. I have this tendency after I've recorded a piano part in a song, to instantly quantize, then level off or even all the velocities of the notes, then I go through all the notes and round them up or down accordingly to the nearest whole note etc etc. In most of my dance tracks I think this isn't too bad most of the time but was wondering what other people do here as regards this?

    I know it's gonna probably sound quite obvious now, but is this taking all the humanistic feel out of it? I know the answer us probably yes but because my piano playing is quite average, well to be honest I can't really play, I can just work out chords and roughly play if you get me drift so find I need to tidy up the notes to a certain degree.

    What do other people here do? some of my songs are sounding a bit regimented.
    Also, would there be a difference as regards an EDM track as opposed to pop or indie?


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Oswego, NY
    Thanked 29 Times in 26 Posts
    I do a lot of piano stuff and I do quantize notes to start, just so I can get the entire idea down. Good practice in making it feel more human is messing with the timing of the chords though.

    I often shift the higher notes in a chord so that they are delayed ever so slightly. And I'll delay the notes more from bottom to top, if that makes sense. Also, velocities matter a ton. Make sure not all of the notes are hitting at the same level. Doesn't have to be major differences in velocity, just some subtle ones.

    And there is certainly a difference depending on the feel you're going for. If it's a house track that's just supposed to be a party/jumpy vibe, then the humanistic feel won't matter. But if it's something ambient or softer, you'll want to take care in making the piano feel more real.
    First melodic D&B track ever

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Thanked 3 Times in 3 Posts
    Quote Originally Posted by SimonT View Post
    is this taking all the humanistic feel out of it?
    Not necessarily. It depends on what sort of quantisation algorithm you use and how aggressively you apply it. If you use an agressive 'note-on' quantise, then yes. If you use a gentle iterative quantise, not necessarily.

    If your stuff is feeling regimented, it's still possible to recover some of the humanity. The easiest way is to do things like applying a logical edit to shift the notes ever-so-slightly away from the grid, or you can vary the tempo a smidge throughout the piece, although this latter is global, so you have to be careful with it.

    As for velocities, the very last thing you want to do is to set them all the same. Depending on which DAW you use, you can again apply a logical edit to set velocity to random values within a certain range, or you can apply MIDI compression.

    Hope some of that helps.
    Dogma is the death of the intellect

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