Quantizing refers to the process of correcting the timing of MIDI recordings. Notes not played in time with the click will be aligned to the musical grid when quantized. This means that a sloppy performance can be easily corrected, or that you can give a whole different rhythmic feel to it (for example you can give a swing feel to something played in straight 8ths). The definition of quantizing is “to restrict to a prescribed set of values”.
Enabling the Metronome. Quantizing will be most effective if you are recording to a click. You’ll find the metronome and count-in (labeled “1234”) buttons next to the display. For this tutorial, you’ll need to record some MIDI, so hit “R” and record a few bars of music with your controller.
Quantizing MIDI Regions Using the Inspector. In order to correct the timing of a performance, select a region and open the Inspector with the key command “I”. At the top of the Inspector, click and hold next to where it says “Quantize off”:
Then, choose a division value from the drop-down menu, for example “1/16 Note”.
Tip: To understand what quantization does, open the Piano Roll (P) and watch the blocks snap to the grid as you select a division value.
Setting a Default Quantization Before Recording. You can set a division value before recording and notes will be quantized automatically to that value. To do this, click the background (as opposed to selecting a region) and select a division from the Inspector. When you select a region, the Inspector will show the name of the selected region, but in this case the Inspector says “Region: MIDI Thru” because no regions have been selected. You need this “MIDI Thru” on the Inspector to set a default quantization value. I have set it so that everything I record will be quantized to a 16th-note.
Setting Quantization Values. If you are quantizing whole regions and asking yourself what division value to use, set the value to the smallest rhythmic division played. For example, if you’re recording a piano part with chords both in quarter-notes and sixteenth-notes (and you’re in 4/4), choose 1/16 as your division, as this is the smallest note value played. This can be tricky if you don’t know a little bit of music theory, but in the end you can experiment with different values and let your ears decide.
Quantizing Individual or Groups of Notes in the Piano Roll. Using the Inspector is great for quantizing whole regions of notes, but if you just want to quantize individual notes or groups of notes, use the Piano Roll instead. The easiest way to open the Piano Roll is to double-click a MIDI region, then on the Piano Roll, select the note(s) you want to quantize. Finally, select a quantization value from the pop-up menu left to the Piano Roll. In this example, I have selected the first 2 chords and have quantized them to a 1/4 note.
Using Q-Strength to Keep Some of the Original Performance. Sometimes quantizing can dehumanize a performance because nobody plays 100% on the grid all the time. Q-Strength will let you set how much of the performance you want to quantize: 50%, 85%, 90% aligned to the grid? Again, let your ears be the judge. This parameter can be found on the Inspector (I) by clicking the “More” disclosure triangle. Double-click next to “Q-Strength” and type a percentage, for example 75% (in the Piano Roll, you can find this parameter below the quantization pop-up menu).