Logic Pro From A to Z – G is for Groove Templates
Generally groove templates are used to extract the feel from loops (MIDI or audio) that we like so that we can apply it to our own MIDI or audio regions. But going one step further and using the extended region parameters, they can be used for a lot more than as a simple quantization template.
Getting the most out of them requires paying attention to velocity and note length in addition to note on positions. Because matching the feel and groove between various parts of an arrangement require attention to these elements as well. In the following examples I am going to establish a groove template and apply it in a few different creative ways.
A great way to start is by creating your own groove template. To do this, simply sequence up a region by playing in notes with the feel you want to establish. In the example below I set the tempo to 100 bpm and played in a series of eighth notes with a clav sound, putting thought into the velocities and note lengths as well as the timing. I played it at this tempo because eighth notes felt comfortable at that speed. The pitch of the notes played is unimportant. I used two notes an octave apart simply because spacing my hands apart like that felt better. You can of course create the source region you want used as the template in whatever way suits you best, this way worked for me since it allowed me to capture some of my imperfect human feel in a comfortable manner.
Governing the note on positions of sixteenth note based subdivisions with a region containing eighth notes like this is no problem. Option drag the right corner of the region to half the length in order to convert the notes to sixteenth notes while still maintaining all the note attributes. With the region named as you want and selected, scroll to the bottom of the quantize menu and choose “make groove template”. After this is done you will have a new entry in your quantize list bearing the name of the region.
Going forward, I programmed up some drums next. Below are three versions of a short drum region I played in. The first is the original sloppily played raw drum part. It is followed by the same region quantized with the new groove template. It sounds a bit tighter with the click, but maintains the same “ahead of the beat” feel the original groove template has. The third version is where it gets interesting. Click on the disclosure triangle next to “More” in the region parameters to reveal extended options. The Q-velocity field can be scrolled into positive of negative ranges. Using positive values causes the selected region to take on the velocities of the notes in the groove template. Negative values work in reverse, the notes that were originally accented in the groove template become quieter, and the events at the position of unaccented notes become louder. The third version in this example, to exaggerate the point, has the velocity parameter at the highest value of 127%.
Giving the bass part the same groove template based quantization entry will work nicely to keep it locked in with the drums. This locks them together while while still maintaining the completely “human” feel of the originally played in un-quantized part used for the original grove template. Once we introduce pitched notes, the note lengths can then also take on some of the groove template’s characteristics. The Q-length parameter is used to apply note durations from the source sequence the same way Q-velocty is used to apply the velocity values. Positive values will force the note lengths to the lengths of the notes in the source sequence that fall at the same position. As you keep increasing the Q-Length percentage, the notes get shorter, relative to the notes in the source sequence. Negative values work in reverse, notes get longer in relation to notes at the same position in the source sequence. Below are two versions of a freely recorded in bass part. The first is un-quantized. The second has the Q-velocity at 100% and the Q-Length at 80%. The Q-Velocity on the drums are set at 25%. Just enough for the accents to poke through together where they need to on the two parts.
Generating groove and feel is about interlocking elements fitting together nicely. This at time means parts locking in for similar accents and note lengths. Other times it’s about mutually exclusive accents or durations that stand out from other parts. As a final example, Here are two versions of drums, bass, and clav playing all together. They are all quantized to the original source groove template. The first version has note lengths and velocities as played; in other words, unaltered by the groove template. The second version has the Q-velocity and Q-Length settings all set to 75%
Generally when it comes to groove and groove templates, less can be more. The better the part is played in the less quantizing you will need to apply. Remember that note on positions can also be affected by percentage. By default they are quantized by 100%. This means either right on the grid, or exactly matching the positions of notes in the chosen groove template. Use the Q-Strength field to apply note on quantization by less then 100 % in order to maintain some or all of the feel of played in parts.
Go and get your groove on and have fun with groove templates. You’ll no doubt stumble upon all kinds of groovy possibilities. I’ve used very generous values in these examples to demonstrate their effect. But often time, lower values will be just enough to push the feel gently in the right direction.