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Music

Quantize: A Brief Introduction

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When recording a MIDI track for a project, sometimes the notes may be out of sync with the click track. You may have to spend time adjusting those individual notes and placing them on the grid. 

Quantization helps fix these issues, it can also be used creatively to affect only certain notes and to create interesting effects to a MIDI track.

The Quantize Setup

The simplest way to quantize a MIDI track is to select the MIDI data and press Q. The MIDI data will be automatically aligned to the grid size and the default quantization option. 

The Quantize Setup in the MIDI menu gives you advanced quantization settings that help you to modify the quantization setup.

The Quantize Grid option helps you to select the grid type that you want to Quantize to. You can also find these option from the drop down menu in the Editor.

The Quantize Setup Window
The Quantize Setup Window

The Swing option lets you add a swing feel to the notes by slightly shifting the second note. It can be used to add a shuffle feel as well. Note that this option is available only when the straight note option is selected and when the tuplet option is switched off.

The Tuplet option lets you divide the grid into smaller sections, allowing you to perform more complex quantizations. Try it out on a MIDI rhythm track and feel the difference.

The Magnetic Area sets the area around the grid lines on which the notes will be affected. The notes that fall in the magnetic area will be quantized, the others will not be aligned to the grid. 

When you move the slider, you will notice the blue area getting bigger and bigger, this means that the notes in that area will be affected. To switch off this setting, put the slider at the 0 position.

Setting Presets

There are about 19 presets from which you can select. Cubase also offers the option to create and edit new presets. 

To load a preset, click on the name of the preset and it will be loaded. You can also rename a preset by double-clicking on the name and then type in the new name for the preset.

To create a new preset, you can load an existing preset and then tweak it to get your desired setting. After setting up the preset, click on the Store. The new preset will be created and the name can be changed by double-clicking on the preset.

If you want to remove a preset, simply select the preset and press the Remove button. 

Other Settings

The Non-Quantize option allows you to set the distance in Ticks for the notes that are not affected. 

The Random Quantize option helps to randomize the quantization process to create a more natural and human feel to the MIDI data. The robotic feel of a perfectly in grid rhythm will be removed, and a more natural and smooth feel will be felt on the rhythm track.

The Iterative Strength option lets you determine how much the notes should be moved towards the grid. When the Move Controller checkbox is activated, the Controller functions such as the Pitch Bend, Velocity, and so on will also be moved. 

Ensure that you’ve activated this option if the MIDI data contains important Pitch Bend and other Controller information.

The Auto Q helps to automatically quantize the recorded data according to the grid that has been set. Ensure that you’ve calculated the grid size according to the notes you play. 

Oher settings such as Quantize Lengths, Quantize Ends, Undo Quantize can help create interesting rhythms. 

The Quantize Lengths option adjusts the length of the selected MIDI information according to the Length Q set in the toolbar. If the Length Q is set as Quantize Link, the value of the notes will be according to the Quantize Grid. The Quantize Ends also will adjust the end of the MIDI notes according to the Grid and other settings.

Conclusion

Quantization is a very crucial step in producing rhythm and MIDI parts. Without quantization, you will have to manually move the notes according to the grid.

With the Quantization option, you can automatically align the notes on the grid and add a variety of effects to it to create the sound that you have on your mind. 

The Undo Quantize option helps you to go back to the previous position of the notes in case you have made any errors. 

You can also Freeze the quantization of the notes if you do not want a particular part to be quantized.

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