Lab Assignment 7

Advanced MIDI and Automation


MIDI quantization editing

  • swing
  • humanize
  • manual adjustment
  • Synth parameter automation

  1. Open your DAW, create a new song/project with the title “YourFirstNameYourLastName-Lab7”. If prompted, use the following settings:
  • Sample Rate - 44.1kHz
  • Resolution - 16 bit
  • Tempo - your choice (try to get away from 120)
  1. Open the Instruments tab of the Browser panel. Drag an instance of the Impact sampler instrument onto a new track in the Arrange window.
  2. Load a preset in Impact and adjust settings as desired. Record a four bar drum part. Remember to utilize the metronome and precount from Lab 5 as needed while you write and record your part.
  3. After your drum part has been recorded, open the piano roll editor and quantize. Then, explore some of the additional quantization and MIDI editing techniques described below.
  4. When you are finished editing the drum part, drag an instance of Mojito or Mai Tai onto a new track in the Arrange window. Adjust settings as desired and record a part to accompany your drum part.
  5. After your synth part has been recorded, open the piano roll editor and quantize. Then, explore some of the synth parameter automation techniques described below. You may want to manually test some synth parameters before deciding which ones you want to automate.
  6. Before submitting your assignment, ensure that your song includes:
  • A drum part using the Impact instrument that has been “creatively” quantized (meaning that there is some application of swing, humanization, or manual shifting of notes after the initial quantization)
  • Two instances of Mojito or Mai Tai synth parameter automation that are NOT volume or pan – these can be on the same track or two different tracks if you decide to record a second synth part.
  1. When you are finished, submit your project using the procedure in the Basic Submission Instructions document.
  2. As always, save a backup copy on your personal storage media.

Quantization settings and additional MIDI editing in the piano roll editor:

You can open the Quantize tools in the Piano Roll editor by clicking the Q button at the top of the editor. As long as your MIDI notes are selected (CMD-A for select all), they will be quantized or processed according to whatever options you chose in the Quantize toolbar.


The swing parameter will shift notes on the upbeats away from the grid. Higher percentages will result in more dramatic shifts, though sometimes a subtle use of the swing parameter can be very effective.


Humanize is available from the Action menu in the Piano Roll Editor. Running the Humanize action while notes are selected will randomly shift their timing slightly off the grid, making the performance a little less perfect but potentially more “natural”.

Manual Adjustment

Holding Shift while dragging notes will prevent them from snapping to the grid. You can use this technique to make individual notes happen just a little early or late (a technique often used in hip hop and neo soul drum programming). This can be especially effective on snare drums or claps.


Look at some of the other actions in the Action menu – “Length” and “Velocity” are particularly helpful. They can help to make the lengths and velocities of MIDI notes that you recorded more even and regular if desired.

Synth Parameter Automation:

Volume and pan automation are automatically available when you click on the Show Automation button to the left of the arrange window. Automating other parameters is nearly the same process:

  • Click the Automation view button in the upper left, then use the track Automation view menu to chose the desired Automation parameter.
  • Volume and pan show up automatically when dealing with audio tracks. With instrument tracks, we need to add the desired parameters before we can start editing them.
  • Chose “Add/Remove…” from the track Automation view dropdown menu to find the parameter you want to adjust.