Something that I struggle with is when I am recording sequences on my electronic kit and I’m using the quantize and swing feature.
The features are nice and can take a sequence I played and correct every note so it is exactly on the beat or part of the beat (eighth or sixteenth, etc.). The swing feature can then give it some feel by putting it on the back side of the beat.
When I first used these features it took a sequence I recorded, one that I thought sounded good but it did have one or two ever so slight but discernible flaws and made it sound great. It would have taken me hours to get it to sound like that or perhaps I would never get it to sound like that.
Up to this point in my life I had always played acoustic kits. Growing up in the analog world this ability to correct these slight imperfections seemed to me like cheating. To be honest sometimes it still does.
Sometimes I think to be truly great you have to be able to achieve that sound and feel without any electronic help. But then I or no one will ever be that machine.
What helped me come to grips with using these modern wonders are my days of woodworking.
When I had stifled my music I still had this desire to be creative and the creative side of me had to somehow come out.
My grandfather was a woodworker. He worked most of his working life in a furniture factory. That was back when furniture was made in the USA. When he wasn’t making furniture at the factory he was bringing home the rejected pieces and reworking them to make his own furniture as well as making piece from rough boards from the saw mill.
Years ago when a car ran into and damaged a large old maple tree in his front yard, he had it cut down. He took it to the saw mill where they cut him rough boards that he dried and then made into a dresser. That dresser is now in my son’s house.
So I guess I caught the bug from my grandpa.
When I really started to take it serious and wanted to make pieces of furniture I could use and would be proud to display in my home I learned the power of jigs.
I learned about them from watching master carpenter Norm Abram on The New Yankee Workshop.
I never considered using jigs in woodworking as cheating. When I discovered them I said to myself so that’s how they get those perfectly straight lines and make everything fit together so nicely. So to me they were a great tool in my workshop.
I made several jigs and used them on every project I did once I learned how helpful they can be.
By the way I no longer do much woodworking. After building several pieces of furniture for my house and building just about all the furnishings for my home office I can’t believe I haven’t lost a finger. I sure can’t afford to lose one now. Especially now that I’m back into music and drums. I need every limb intact.
So I learned that these electronic wonders are really like jigs for building tracks and music.
The art in woodworking was the vision of the final piece and then determining the process of how I was going to get there. I had to determine what tools to use to cut, assemble and bring the vision to reality, just like a song.
So if quantize helps me create my final vision of a track so be it. I just have to get over the feeling that I’m cheating.
© Otis P Smith and About the Groove, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Otis P Smith and About the Groove with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.