Groove Quantising and Using Groove Control
One of the biggest complaints about MIDI has always been that it felt too stiff or sounded too mechanical. Groove quantizing has been a part of Cubase since the beginning and was a great way to loosen up that stiffness by moving the notes around a little bit which gave it a more human feel. It was fairly easy to use, but ever since the Groove Control was added as a new interface for groove quantising when 4.0 first came out, it is a much better and easier way to work with groove presets. These presets can be applied to any midi part like drums, basslines etc... Not to be confused with Spectrasonic's "Groove Control" which uses MIDI Files extracted from drum loops to blay back the drum loops in samplers or VST Instruments such as "Stylus". For the purposes of this article "Groove Control" refers to the groove quantize window in Cubase VST 5.1 for both Mac and PC.
To follow along with this tutorial and to hear what groove quantising does, download this 16th note hihat part and open it up into your Cubase and send it out to any MIDI drum kit you might have or the LM-7 or LM-9 which come with Cubase. First, select the part and make sure cycle is on, then go to your Functions menu to have a look at the Groove Control. You will notice that there are 2 folders in the window: 16th shuffle and 8th shuffle. If you click on the arrow or + sign to the left of the folder to open it, so you will now see that there are many different types of shuffle that you can use to make your parts feel more musical.
To hear what these do and how they sound, click on Prelisten and then start clicking onto some of the names. Every time you click, you will hear what each one does to your MIDI parts. Prelisten is a great way to audition the different types of grooves without actually applying them to the parts. You will also notice that there are 3 sliders available for adjusting the amount of Timing, Velocity and Duration that will be applied to your part, so the amount of strength of the groove can be variable. Try bringing the timing and Velocity all the way up so that you can make the grooves sound more obvious. You can always back off later to make it feel more like the way you want. When you have found what you like, just hit do it and it will apply the groove quantization to your part.
This is a great way to add life to your drum parts, bass parts or any other part but there just has to be more that just 2 sets of grooves...well there are. Hopefully you have already copied over your "Additional Files" folder from your Mac CD ROM onto your Hard Drive or your "Library" folder from your PC CD ROM onto your Hard Drive. These are not automatically copied over when you installed Cubase, so if you have not already done this, now is a good time to do it since there are many useful things in there which can help you get more out of Cubase. After you have done this, look inside your Mac's Additional Files folder where you will find a Maps & Templates folder. Inside that there is a DNA Grooves folder.
If you have a PC, look in your PC's Library folder, where you will find a DNA Grooves folder.
To have your Groove Control be able to acess these additional grooves, go back to Functions>Groove Control and click on Set Path. When you do this you will asked to find the DNA Grooves folder, so find it in your Additional Files folder or your Library folder and click on Select.
Now you will see all these additional groove folders show up in the Groove Control window which are now available to you.
You can spend plenty of time going through all these new grooves and they are really useful but perhaps one of the most famous groovy drum machine-sequencers ever made was the Akai MPC60. You can download the Akai MPC60 zip for PC or Akai MPC60 sit for Mac here. After you have done that, make a new folder inside you DNA Grooves folder called MPC60 Grooves. On a PC unzip the file to the MPC60 Grooves folder and on the Mac unstuff to the archive to the MPC60 Grooves folder. When you go back to your Groove Control now, you will also see the Akai MPC60 Grooves added to your list of grooves available.
Costa Kotselas worked for Steinberg for many years as a product specialist and content producer for cubase.net. Costa has also been working as a consultant to some of the world's top film composers and is now offering intensive weekend "learn cubase" seminars.
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