Quantize or No Quantize (Groove Theory pt. 2)

Welcome yall to the second installment of the groove theory series where we explore ways to get more groove and bop from your tracks. If you haven’t checked it out already, you can read the first installment of the series here. Full disclaimer, this article may not be as useful to the advanced producers out there, but if you are a beginner, or maybe even intermediate, this article is worth a read. In the world of modern music making, you’ve most likely crossed paths with a process a process called quantization. You’ve also probably pondered the age old question, “to quantize or not to quantize?”. There is a lot of stigma surrounding this process. Some people think you should avoid quantization at all costs, while others utilize it to help add a certain character to to their groove. Others view it as a necessary step to help express themselves when their current musicianship doesn’t allow for it. No matter your preference or situation, quantization is a tool that when utilized with intention and control, can render powerful results. With my productions I prefer a hybrid approach and use quantization to not only achieve movement I couldn’t obtain otherwise, but also to speed up my creative process to strike while my inspiration is hot. I’ll be going over a few little tips and tricks that I like to use and hopefully offer some insight for your future beat makings. So lets jump in to the second topic of our groove theory series, quantization!

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How To Use ASMR In Your Beats : (Groove Theory part 1)

Welcome to the first blog post of 2019! This is part one of a four part series that I’m calling, Groove Theory. Over the past year I’ve received a lot of questions from people regarding my production process, and by far the most common question goes something like… “how do you get your beats to swing?” or “how do I get my drums to sound human?”. In a time where music production is so accessible, I think a lot of us can find ourselves trapped in rigid grid structure of modern DAWs. Now this isn’t to say we shouldn’t celebrate the positives that DAW’s bring into our lives. For one, it offers a safety net for all of those misplaced and mistimed notes. It allows for us not so musically inclined individuals to prosper and create music. It also allows us to program and play things our fingers otherwise couldn’t. However, underneath all that lies a trait that can plague our beats if we let it… that’s right. you guessed it…. sterile, overly quantized, non human music. Now this isn’t to say quantized music is inferior or NOT human. In fact I believe the opposite. Music should be whatever fits the mood, but sometimes you want things to swing. If you are sticking to the grid, or playing parts live and then hitting full quantize, your going to have some rigid beats. And I know what you might be thinking…. “but trap beats are on the grid and they are dope???!!!!” While this is true to some degree, trust me when I say, the producers who are really making the fly trap instrumentals are sprinkling in little tricks that add subtle nuance. This nuance translates into that oh so coveted human feel. With that said, the question may arise: How does one make their drums and beats swing and groove? Well over the next few weeks we are going to explore a few methods to do just that. Some will be obvious and some not so obvious but hopefully beginner and more advanced producers a like will find some nuggets of info that worth implementing. So with out further adieu, lets get into our first groove theory topic, How to use ASMR, and other textures to create groove.

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Compressors 101

Ah yes. The inevitable compressor article... For whatever reason this is a topic that i think most young producers and novice engineers (age and experience alike) struggle with. I know I did. In fact compression and just dynamic processing in general (compressors and expanders), eluded me for quite some time.  I understood the concepts but it took me a while to understand how to appropriately and deliberately use them.  In my opinion what makes dynamic processing so hard to grasp is that it's not as glaringly obvious of an effect as say reverb, or delay. This makes it a difficult tool to dial in and understand if you have an untrained ear. Because of this,  the majority of the time I was using compression I was using it incorrectly and was in turn taking away from the song instead of helping it. It took me a while to fully embrace and understand the magic of compressors, but once I finally did I started realizing how much my songs were benefiting. If you can tame your songs dynamics, you can maximize the musics impact and movement which not only helps emphasize and support the songwriting and arrangement, but also gives your more control of your mix. So without further adieu, lets jump into it. Here is Compressors 101. We will go over their parts, the basic concepts, a few ways you can implement them, and also how you should be approaching dynamic processing.

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9 Free VSTs That Are Actually Good

9 Free VSTs that are actually good: We all love free stuff, but unfortunately in the music world, free is rarely synonymous with quality. In fact, we usually have to spend quite a bit in order to get quality sounds and tools into our music production arsenal.  More often than not you get what you pay for, and while the price tag can hurt, it is usually worth it.  This is not to say there aren't cheaper or even free alternatives, actually there are almost endless numbers of cheaper and free alternatives; the problem is that they are rarely good. Do a quick search for free VSTs and you will find all sorts of plug ins that of do their job to a degree, but lack that professional luster we all long for.  With that said, if you dig deep enough you will find that there are indeed quite a few gems to be found. So lets do this! Here are 9 free VSTs that are actually good. I'll also share how I incorporate these tools into my beats so you can get an idea for how they work and weather or not they are worth your download.

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5 Ways to Add Variation to Your Music Productions

When I first started making beats I found that I was continuously falling into the same trap. I would create an 8 bar loop, duplicate it, add or remove parts to make a verse, an intro, and hook and call it a day. It wasn't until I started exploring the world of electronic music that I realized I was missing one very important element in my music, the B section. Variation is a key component when it comes to being able to successfully deliver a musical thought.  It keeps the listener's attention, and gives the creator more control over the momentum and progression of their song.  If you're anything like me, once you get one musical thought out of your head, and arranged and mixed, you just want to keep it moving and get on to the next musical idea. The B section is a powerful (and quick too! as we are about to learn) way to add variation to your arrangement, and what's even better is you can create one relatively quickly and easily. 

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3 Creative Audio Post-Production Tricks to Elevate your Sound

Ever hit that point where all of your melodies and chords sound a little sterile and lifeless? Or maybe you feel like you just keep making the same track over and over again, or that your music doesn't sound unique enough? Either way, I think we have all been there, and while It's no quite writers block, it's still an inspirational dip. Well, this post is all about how to supercharge your music production with a few creative post production audio techniques that can help inject new life and movement into your next track.  What's so powerful about these methods is that they can work across every element of your track, whether that be drums, basslines, melodies, or even vocals. We will dive into the power of chopping things up, automating parameters, and even making your software come up with creative ideas for you. It's going to be a post packed with information so lets get this thing moving!

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