I’ve been in a discussion about whether a swing setting could be implemented. This would ideally allow a user to dial in an amount of swing delay on 16th notes, or on both 8th and 16th notes, from 0 to full, with zero representing no swing, an full represent treating a 2nd 8th note as a delayed sixteenth (i.e., dotted 8th + 16th), or in the case of 16th notes, having the even numbered 16th be delayed, up to the point of becoming a 32nd. The ideal settings seem to be in the 0 to mid-point range, but there may be use for the more extreme settings. The thought was that the sobriety setting already manipulates the midi data for both tempo and timing, therefore, why couldn’t we get a setting that keeps tempo and applies a fixed amount of timing.
I second this request! Implementation should be reasonably easy as it has been done on all sorts of devices since close to the beginning of MIDI. I agree that options for swinging/shuffling both 1/8 notes and 1/16 notes would be great. The most useful one would be swinging/shuffling even-numbered 16th notes in a measure, where full swing gets you to triplet timing. I’d recommend using the nomenclature from classic MPC swing settings where 50% = no swing and to 66% is full triplet timing.
I discovered the other day that the BB already responds to “swung” MIDI clock/sync from external sources. See this thread: http://forum.mybeatbuddy.com/index.php?threads/beatbuddy-swings-with-external-midi-clock.7007/
Specifically I used my MidiGal (https://midisizer.com/midigal/) running MidiPal software that can send MIDI clock with various grooves applied, including “swing.” The implementation of the “shf” (= shuffle) groove for this device appears to be the classic MPC implementation of delaying every even-numbered 1/16 note (although rather than the 50% (none) to 66% (full triplet timing) range of the MPC, values from 0 (none) to 127 (full triplet)).
Verdict: the Beatbuddy responds in real time to changes in the groove amount! This is huge! When swinging every other 1/16th note, this means that any beats on 1/8th notes remain the same while 1/16th notes move to full triplet timing (or any increment in between. Implementing swing/shuffle would really help the BeatBuddy get that elusive “groove” for quantized MIDI patterns.
To pull from the other thread: to emphasize the importance of implementing this feature in the Beatbuddy, the following are quotes from an interview with Roger Linn, inventor of the Linn Drum and MPC, about his thoughts on groove. Note specifically that he believes the most compelling rhythms come not from small random variations in timing but from precise variation from an in-between groove setting for a specific drum pattern and tempo in combination with subtle variations in dynamics.
I would also note that while the Beatbuddy has numerous non-quantized stock patterns recorded from a human drummer, a groove timing adjustment to MIDI clock would allow ANY beat to be swung to a precise degree.
"Roger Linn: There are a few factors that have contributed to natural, human-feeling grooves in my drum machines. In order of importance:
Swing – applied to quantized 16th-note beats – is a big part of it. My implementation of swing has always been very simple: I merely delay the second 16th note within each 8th note. In other words, I delay all the even-numbered 16th notes within the beat (2, 4, 6, 8, etc.) In my products I describe the swing amount in terms of the ratio of time duration between the first and second 16th notes within each 8th note. For example, 50% is no swing, meaning that both 16th notes within each 8th note are given equal timing. And 66% means perfect triplet swing, meaning that the first 16th note of each pair gets 2/3 of the time, and the second 16th note gets 1/3, so the second 16th note falls on a perfect 8th note triplet. The fun comes in the in-between settings. For example, a 90 BPM swing groove will feel looser at 62% than at a perfect swing setting of 66%. And for straight 16th-note beats (no swing), a swing setting of 54% will loosen up the feel without it sounding like swing. Between 50% and around 70% are lots of wonderful little settings that, for a particular beat and tempo, can change a rigid beat into something that makes people move. And unlike the MPCs, my new Tempest drum machine makes it very easy to find the right swing setting because you can adjust the swing knob in real time while the beat plays. I first introduced swing – as well as recording quantization – in my 1979 drum machine, the LM-1 Drum Computer."
"4. The playback timing should be very accurate.
In my drum machines, I wrote the software in such a way that the notes play exactly at the correct timing location. And for the included drum sounds, I insured that the beginnings of the samples were closely trimmed to minimize any delay at the start. I’ve heard lots of theories over the years about other timing tricks, like introducing random timing variations into the notes of the beat, or delaying the snare on 2 and 4, but I’ve never found these to do much good. In fact, I’d suggest that if the note dynamics and swing are right, then the groove works best when the notes are played at exactly the perfect time slots."
Phil F and kir, I’m loving this dialog—very enlightening
Just as a note for the record, if done the Roger Linn/ Akai MPC way, swing for 16th notes keeps the odd-numbered 16th notes in place and shifts the even-numbered 16th notes later. The MPC defines swing percentage as the odd\even note length. For 16th note swing:
50% swing (no swing): odd notes take a half of the space in a 1/8th note (for 16ths) = even notes are as long as the odd ones.
75% swing: odd notes 3 times longer than even ones (75%+25%=100%)
[*]66% is triplet timing
I have several dissociated thoughts about this.
I think that having swing beats is much more important than unsober drumming.
Adding swing to anything but the most simple beats can make them sound horrible if they were not originally designed for a swing feel.
Mechanical swing can sound very “mechanical,” so it’s better to have a non-quantized swung beat to begin with rather than trying to swing an existing beat.
Swinging existing beats might give the right eighth note feel to existing events, but it’s not going to add things like style appropriate accents, fills, and ghost notes.
[*]Singular Sound has just released a beat pack with “Swung and Shuffle” beats. I’m sure these are FAR superior to anything we could come up with by swinging 95% of the existing beats.
Here’s a list of the beats available in the pack.
Blues/ Country: 14 songs
Variety of Shuffle beats on hats, ride, rim and snare
4/4 and 6/8 time signatures
Krupa tom beat
Funk/ Pop/ Rock: 19 songs + 7 BONUS* songs containing percussion
Swung 16th’s, ghost notes
Variety of snare accents
Sound variety on rim, hats, ride
New Orleans Style: 4 songs
2nd Line Grooves with “between the crack” human feel
Variations on snare, hats, ride
Jazz: 16 beats
Variety of swing beats on Ride and Hi-hat cymbals
4/4, 3/4 and 6/4 time signatures
The bottom line is that I’ll be buying the new gig essentials swing pack.
Good info and thoughts.
One key swing with “mechanical” swing though: it is adjustable to very fine gradations. An existing pattern in one of the sample packs–however groovy it may be–is stuck at the recorded groove amount which may work great for a given tempo/song but not for others.
For those of us doing more electronic/drum machine styles with the Beat Buddy and less concerned about replicating a human drummer** it would be very helpful to be able to swing even the basic stock patterns. This would allow for a big variety in feels with a relatively small number of patterns.
**I would also argue that there is a possible ‘uncanny valley’ thing going on when using drum machines in that the closer you try to replicate a human, the more artificial/offputting it can seem. This probably applies more to live performances than recordings…