For me, sequencing is fun and very versatile.  I am not the kind of keyboard player that can jump in on any song and just start jamming.  I do better if I can take my time and learn, practice, and improve before practicing with a full band.  A lot of this might be from the lack of confidence in the early days, but in reality I find myself a jack of all trades and master of none.  If I had spent more time on any one instrument, I might have gotten pretty good.  Fortunately – or unfortunately, I have always been interested in so many different things that my chops were not the best.  As a percussionist, I was able to hear what I wanted, but did not play drum kits so my feet and hands were always locked in perfect step!  Sequencing gave me the ability to lay down rough performances on the keyboard (and remember I use the keyboard keys to ‘trigger’ the drum sounds, so I am still playing keys).  Once recorded using MIDI – again I am not recording the sounds but the physical action and movements, I could enter the Edit Mode on the sequencer and make corrections to timing, notes, durations etc. until the piece felt good to me. For the drums, the standard practice is to use the Quantizing feature (I can go into this later as well for future posts) to make sure all beats were perfectly ‘on the grid’.  I have used drum machines and sequencers since they first came out.  The sounds are great but too often the result of overusing the quantize feature makes the drum tracks sound mechanical – unmoving – and even impossible for a real drummer.  I preferred to leave a little slop here and there.  I want emotion in my songs, not perfection.

In “Bassics”, I just enjoyed the new sounds I had and played with this Bass Guitar patch and came up with the basic groove.   I like adding textures and unusual percussion/FX sounds to keep the songs flowing and changing.  Available sounds are so much better now, but I still enjoy bringing out these old tunes.

  1. A really good and thought-provoking post, thanks. I enjoy “abusing the hell” out of the traditional instrumental sounds, e.g. having the flute play way below what it can play in real life and so on. What you are excellently saying still holds true – you have to work hard to achieve a spontaneous and genuine performance sound.

    Liked by 1 person

    • midimike says:

      Exactly. In some cases I think it is good to know where things should be (including limits) and then expand and others it might be OK not to know and just respond to the environment it creates. You are very good and you understood! I try to make the learning stages easier, but there is a lot of work involved. Great observation. Good to see you again!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Dan says:

    This is 80’s for sure. I could easily see this in one thriller scene. but so cool. I imagine a guitar solo, well let me get deeper into it, neck and middle pick ups on the strat, some proco rat distorsion and big muff to go with the bass slapping and so it goes. This is fun Mike, my imagination runs crazy. Love this groove. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • midimike says:

      Ha! 80’s is dead on! Many of my friends told me over the years that my songs sound like movie scores or sound-track themes. Maybe with a screaming guitar solo it still could be! I can almost hear it now…. I am glad you enjoyed this one.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. wilforbis says:

    I’ve been pained with the dilemma of (over)quantizing myself. Sometimes I’ll quantize everything and then go back in and add slop. I’ve always wondered if there’s a method to the madness of how people tend to fall off the beat. A book I read a few years ago had a quote on the matter:

    “At a finer timescale, Repp found that within individual melodic phrases there was a tendency to accelerate at the beginning and slow near the end…Repp speculated that this pattern may resemble human locomotion, in other words, a musical allusion to physical movement.””

    So basically people play ahead of the beat at the beginning of phrase and behind at the end. Still, it’s would be tough to really get that right when moving notes around.

    Liked by 1 person

    • midimike says:

      WE all struggle with this – IF we can hear the difference! That is an interesting concept. While there is probably some truth to that, I think more in the component level. For example, the kick drum probably should be very close to the grid. Probably the snare drum as well. However, things like hi-hats, tom fills and other accents I tend to let some – but not all of the hits fall just outside the grid in either direction. Not leading or lagging the beat necessarily, but slightly off the beat. I try to make drum patterns that are either multiple measures with variances all the way through or I use a number of different patterns all just a shade different in timing than the other patterns. A drummer will not play with the EXACT same ‘slop’ on every measure! Great topic. Thank you for bringing this up!


  4. rubiredsaid says:

    I fully get what you mean about practising first. It can make one feel like a fish out of water if everyone’s playing and one is fumbling about!
    Good writing again!

    Liked by 1 person

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