Saturday, August 25, 2012

Easy Fixes to SHUFFLE timing

Here's an easy way to fix the little "hiccups" in timing for the shuffle song you've played.
Obviously you can't "quantize" songs written as shuffles (see previous blogs). ... If you do, then all your great swing time will become a straight 1-2-3-4.

Shuffle timing is 1__e and _ah 2__e and _ah
(see... it's even hard to just type). Here are some easy SHUFFLE TIMING tricks I've learned and used in songs on my websites (index site to the main site:) and

Menus below are for GarageBand, but the process works in any studio program:

You want your bass line to be steady. Most of that can be quantized easily... Techniques are in an earlier blog but the basic process is this:
1. Go to your piano (or rhythm instrument) track's Notation panel that shows the SCORE (traditional notes).
2. Highlight ONLY the quarter notes in the bass clef, working no more than 2 measures at a time. Select Align to >> 1/4 note.
3. Listen to those measures focusing on only those low notes to be sure you didn't lose an important swing time you really wanted to keep.
4. Now listen to the higher notes. When you hear a slight "off-ness", put the playhead (red marker line) there.
5. Go to the Piano Roll view and look at the high MIDI notes. You most likely want to quantize the notes at count 1 and 3 to be 1/4 notes. Try to see if that aligns them with the bass notes without losing the swing.
6. Go to Control and turn OFF "Snap to Grid." Here's the harder but almost final step:

7. Listen to the swing notes in between (counts 2 and 4). Where needed, do this:
A. Put the playhead exactly where the notes begin (front of the MIDI bar for the note).
B. Highlight these higher notes and Align to 1/8 notes. This gives the set an exact "hit" together.
C.If needed,  put the column of aligned notes back where the playhead is.
D. Finally, gradually slide the column of swing notes to the exact place where you want them. Often this is just before count 1 or 3 begins (the measure bar).

8.The Best SWING feel comes from a strong Count 1 and an almost-as-strong Count 3. So if you're aiming for the best, this tedious task will get you closer:  For each of the BASS's set of 4 MIDI quarter-notes in a measure for 4/4 swing,  ensure that the Velocity for each is set with numbers like this example:
70  60  65  60
ALWAYS A FINAL STEP: Go to Control and turn back ON "Snap to Grid." You'll save a lot of later time if you try moving or pasting notes before remembering this step!
Much joy to you as you swing your music!
©2012 DianaDee Osborne