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Chapter 4. Getting Started > Custom Quantization: User Groove

Custom Quantization: User Groove

Quantization doesn't have to sound mechanical. In fact, when used wisely, it can liven up your tracks. Quantization in Reason goes beyond correcting notes. You can use it to capture feel and apply it to a section that has little or no feel to begin with.

To copy and apply a groove

In Sequencer Edit mode, select a series of notes (starting at the beginning of a measure) whose feel you want to copy.

Choose Edit > Get User Groove (Figure 4.59).

Figure 4.59. Get User Groove copies the subtle timing and velocity characteristics of a section of notes and copies it to the clipboard.

Reason copies the groove of the notes you've selected to the quantize resolution pull-down menu (Figure 4.60). Until you select Get User Groove again or close down your program, this groove will remain in the User Groove memory.

Figure 4.60. Once a groove has been defined as a user groove, it can be used to edit other groups of notes (choose User in the quantize resolution menu).

To apply your groove, select a note or series of notes at the beginning of a measure, and then select User from the quantize resolution pull-down menu.

Click the Quantize Notes button.

“Feel” and the Limits of Quantization

Quantization is a great way to keep your multi-track project “clean sounding”—but clean is not always better. Track upon track of perfectly timed performances can sound mechanical and phony—without feel.

Feel is how humans play “outside the grid,” also called groove. Groove is difficult if not impossible to calculate through quantization. Though mathematically wrong, a good groove can sound “righter than right.”

Reason's User Groove feature makes it possible to analyze a series of notes and apply the timing quality of those notes to other notes in your tracks.

Copying a Groove: What Does It Mean?

Copying a groove is different from copying notes. When you copy a groove, Reason analyzes and copies the timing relationship among the notes. You can apply this groove (relationship) to any pattern, regardless of how different the notes or rhythms are. For the swing example in Figure 4.61, Reason copies how far the notes on/off the beat vary from the grid value. The notes on the upbeats (between the beats) lag in timing, and this accelerates the timing moving into the downbeats (counts of 1, 2, 3, or 4).

Figure 4.61. In this basic swing beat, the notes between the beats drift to the right of the default sixteenth note grid (the notes are playing “behind the beat”).

Copying a groove is more reliable when Reason has more information to analyze. If you were to copy the groove from a pattern that was already snapped to grid, you wouldn't be copying any groove data because there would be no variation information.

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