Bitwig Studio Grid Tutorial: Exploring Generative Patches
Tutorial | Jul 20, 2020
In this video I explained the basics of the grid system in Bitwig Studio, exploring the pre-cords, pitch in/out modules, ADSR, oscilloscope and how to create a generative patch within the grid. I explored how to modify the pitch signal and how to trigger the ADSR envelope with a gate input. I also discussed how to use the pitch quantizer and the gates module to create a self-playing system and how to use random modulators and transpose modules to add more dynamics.
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Questions & Answers #
Maybe you dont watch the video, here are some important takeaways:
What is the grid in Bitwig Studio? #
The grid in Bitwig Studio is a modular environment that allows you to create and modify sounds with an array of different modules. These modules can be used to create sounds from scratch or to modify existing sounds. The grid is an intuitive and powerful platform for sound design and experimentation.
How does the pre-cord feature work in the grid? #
The pre-cord feature in the grid is a connection between the keyboard and specific modules within the grid. When enabled, the pre-cord will automatically adjust the frequency of the Sine-Oscillator according to the key pressed on the keyboard. This allows for easy modulation of the sound without having to manually adjust the pitch of the Sine-Oscillator.
How do you create a self-playing patch in the grid? #
To create a self-playing patch in the grid, you need to disable the pre-cord feature and use modules such as the Gates and Pitches modules. These modules can be used to generate gate signals and pitch signals respectively, which will then trigger the ADSR envelope and the Sine-Oscillator. This creates a self-playing patch
This is what im talking about in this video. The text is transcribed by AI, so it might not be perfect. If you find any mistakes, please let me know.
You can also click on the timestamps to jump to the right part of the video, which should be helpful.
[00:00.000] Hey folks, welcome back to a new video on this channel.
[00:03.600] In today's video, it's about the grid in Bitwig Studio and I want to kind of take away
[00:09.920] the fear of using the grid.
[00:12.320] I want to explain the basic initial setting of the grid, what it means, why it's that way
[00:20.040] and how you can turn it into a generative patch.
[00:29.600] If you want to save some money on Bitwig Studio and the upgrade plans and you want to
[00:34.360] support my channel and my content, then go to my web page, use the link to the Bitwig
[00:39.040] store, use my code and save 10% on the regular price.
[00:45.320] So when you load up a Bitwig Studio, you probably already have here an instrument track
[00:49.800] which is completely empty and you have maybe an audio track already loaded in your default
[00:56.120] template and all we need is basically an instrument track.
[01:00.520] We select this instrument track by clicking on it and then we want to insert an instrument
[01:06.440] on this instrument track and we do this by clicking the small little plus button here down
[01:11.800] below and then we can select some instruments here, we can select VST instruments and we
[01:17.360] can also use Bitwig instruments and we search for grid, so we are using a Poly-Grid today
[01:23.760] because it's a grid tutorial, so we need to use a Poly-Grid and just click that, click
[01:31.200] okay and then we need to open up this grid device by just clicking into this empty space
[01:36.920] here or we can click the small little symbol here down below to open up the window and
[01:43.040] in my case the Poly-Grid window is completely empty and that's because I wanted that way
[01:50.480] but in your case maybe you have a simple preset here already as a default and this is probably
[01:58.560] a Sine-Oscillator and ADSR and an outmodule, so this is basically how it looks on your
[02:08.040] screen when you load up the Poly-Grid for the first time.
[02:11.440] And this is also the simple synthesizer you can imagine inside the grid, okay.
[02:18.800] So when we close this down here and we have our arm button enabled, we can choose your
[02:26.760] our MIDI keyboard as an input, should be fine, all in's and then we can use our keyboard
[02:33.720] to play the synthesizer, so perfectly nice.
[02:45.280] And to explain this a bit more, we have on these modules here some smart little functions
[02:57.520] already integrated and this is on the Sine-Oscillator we have here the pitch pre-cord
[03:03.840] and when I disable the pre-cord for the pitch or for the Sine-Oscillator here and I play
[03:09.320] something on the keyboard all I can hear is the same note for every key I'm playing.
[03:18.120] So there's no pitch change, okay.
[03:20.720] When I enable here the pre-cord again for the pitch then the Sine-Oscillator is changing
[03:27.280] the frequency accordingly to the key we're pressing on the keyboard.
[03:32.040] So this is pretty nice but you may be asked why is what's the pre-cord and why we have
[03:40.240] At first it's pretty simple as you can see we all we need is basically three simple modules
[03:46.440] to have a function and synthesizer inside the grid so it's easy and simple to set up.
[03:55.360] So when we disable basically this here and use a pitch, let's go in here a pitch in, okay.
[04:07.400] You can basically do the same thing with more modules and I need to turn this up here.
[04:14.240] So one of the 20 steps in the positive region so now even though the pre-cord is disabled
[04:26.680] we can change the pitch by playing different keys on the keyboard, okay.
[04:30.560] So it's basically the same thing than just disabling this and enabling the pre-cord.
[04:36.680] So it's the same thing instead of having two modules we can use just one module with
[04:44.880] the pre-cord enabled and with this set up here with these two modules there's of course
[04:51.720] a benefit because now you can change the incoming pitch signal basically to your likings.
[04:58.480] You can hook up multiple modules between the pitch in and the Sine-Oscillator so you can
[05:04.160] change the signal before you go into the Sine-Oscillator.
[05:08.160] When we remove this here and use the enabled pre-cord everything is basically a black box.
[05:14.720] It's just a Sine-Oscillator module and you can change the pitch for instance, okay.
[05:21.840] So when we use here from the pitch category the pitch quantize and there's no way we
[05:28.120] can basically modify the pitch, the incoming pitch signal with the pre-cord here, okay.
[05:34.440] So we have to disable this pre-cord, use a pitch in module and then we can basically
[05:43.360] hook up the pitch quantize between the pitch in and the Sine-Oscillator.
[05:48.280] And now with this module we can modify the pitch signal so we can say just enable or
[05:56.480] just allow me to use these keys on the keyboard.
[05:59.680] When I use these disabled keys here on the keyboard as you can see I'm pressing now a G here.
[06:07.320] It moves basically the key to the next possible key so in this case here it's a G sharp.
[06:14.920] So when I'm pressing G I'm playing a G sharp when I press G sharp I'm still on G sharp.
[06:21.640] So it's basically a diatronic transposer or a small diatronic transposer in the grid that
[06:27.600] allows me to narrow my possibilities of pitch ranges down to one scale, okay.
[06:33.920] So that's all it does basically.
[06:36.400] There's also here a small button on the side where you can use a different node input when
[06:46.560] you hit F1 on the module itself you can see a nice little overview what it does and
[06:54.200] you can also see here there are some inspector parameters for all the modules.
[06:58.560] So when you select the module you can always look here to the left side on the inspector
[07:02.680] and see some more options for this module, right.
[07:06.360] So now we learned basically that we can use pre-cords to have a simple set up when we
[07:13.720] don't need to actually modify pitch signals for the Sine-Oscillator and we can disable
[07:19.640] the pre-cord and use basically a pitch in to hook up some modifiers in between the pitch
[07:26.960] in and the Sine-Oscillator and can modify our pitch signal, okay.
[07:34.120] So all the signals inside the grid are basically the same.
[07:39.520] So we can use an oscillator here on oscilloscope, sorry.
[07:45.760] And go with the pitch signal into the oscilloscope and just debug the signal itself which value
[07:53.720] is applied which value is coming in or coming out of some modules so the oscilloscope is
[07:59.400] pretty helpful.
[08:00.400] So you can see there's already a line above the zero line so the middle line is basically
[08:05.080] zero and when I change the keys on the keyboard.
[08:14.840] So you can see when I'm playing different keys the value here goes up and down accordingly
[08:20.400] to the keyboard or the keys we are pressing on the keyboard.
[08:24.440] This means it's just a regular value so when we go out of the Sine-Oscillator which basically
[08:33.000] produces audio signals so we go out of the Sine-Oscillator and go into the oscilloscope
[08:40.720] here you can see it's also just values so we have a static pitch value here and we have
[08:48.840] a super dynamic signal that goes up and down over time.
[08:53.920] So it's basically the same domain it's just signals it's just a value changing over
[09:03.440] So every signal inside the grid is basically a value changing over time and you can modify
[09:08.720] everything okay.
[09:10.680] So when we just delete this here again delete the pitch quantize.
[09:20.360] So this means we can modify all the signals in the grid to our likings but before we start
[09:30.360] into that I think I also want to explain me the ADSR what's happening with this thing
[09:35.960] because we have already or we have also a pre-cord here on the ADSR which is a gate input
[09:42.040] and it does exactly the same thing.
[09:44.680] So when we remove the ADSR here we can hear basically the Sine-Oscillator playing a
[09:57.280] Sine-Wave continuously so when we change the keys on the keyboard we can change the
[10:12.280] pitch but we can't change the volume over time.
[10:16.400] So what we want is basically an ADSR on envelope we just use this here for an envelope now.
[10:24.960] So an envelope is basically when you trigger the envelope with the key press then it starts
[10:30.640] here and then it's raising the volume then it's going lower the volume and then it fades
[10:38.120] out over time.
[10:39.400] So you can basically change over time what you want to do with the volume okay.
[10:46.000] So in this case here I'm using a volume knob in between the Sine-Oscillator and output
[10:53.680] and I'm going here to minus infinity raise the volume here.
[11:06.640] So the Sine-Oscillator always outputs sound continuously and to make it stop you basically
[11:13.160] have to put in a volume fader and fade it in over time every time you press a key on
[11:19.360] the keyboard right.
[11:20.880] So you usually use an envelope like this here and then you modulate the volume fader
[11:29.680] over time okay.
[11:31.920] So now when I press a key on the keyboard you can see the volume knob here basically behaves
[11:41.320] exactly the way we are modified here the envelope on top okay.
[11:48.680] So as you can see we need now two modules for this we need an envelope and we need a volume
[11:56.480] knob basically but inside the grid this is all combined into the ads are module itself
[12:02.920] so you don't need that and you can just replace this.
[12:10.120] So now we have basically an envelope and a volume control combined in one module and it's
[12:18.000] called ads are envelope and now when we press a key it changes the volume over time okay.
[12:28.320] So when we use an oscilloscope again and go here to the input make this maybe a bit
[12:36.400] longer go to fast you can see the shape of the audio coming out of this ads are is basically
[12:48.840] exactly the same shape as we used to set up here in the ads are in the loop.
[13:06.360] So this is pretty helpful because it helps you to shape the sound but that's also an
[13:11.400] output here below and we may be hooked this up here to the bottom input of the oscilloscope
[13:18.240] and we press some key again now you can barely see it maybe we remove here the audio out.
[13:29.600] And now see the shape of our ads are basically as a signal.
[13:37.080] So the bottom output basically gives you exactly the shape of the ads are as in signal
[13:44.440] and the top output here gives you the audio out that's shaped by the volume envelope okay.
[13:54.440] So you can use the ads are basically as a volume shape and you can use it to produce
[14:00.200] some signals in the form of this envelope.
[14:03.920] So this can be pretty helpful sometimes and you have also here an output as you can see
[14:09.280] a modulator output where you can just click it then it plinks a while and then you can
[14:14.080] modify some different parameters inside grid to shape some of the knobs with the shape
[14:20.120] of the envelope itself right.
[14:22.680] So pretty handy module actually and you have this pre-code right.
[14:27.240] So this pre-code is basically connected to your keyboard again or to your piano roll
[14:31.960] and when this is enabled then you can input notes or open the gate here or trick out
[14:38.880] this envelope via your keyboard or your piano roll I mean you disable it then nothing
[14:48.480] But exactly the same as with the pitch you can also go here into IO and use the gate
[14:55.440] in just hook this up and now it works exactly as before.
[15:02.160] And the benefit of this is we can now modify also here the gate signal basically before
[15:10.920] we go into the ads are and trick or something or the envelope with the gate signal.
[15:16.040] So we can for instance I don't know use delay delay after the gate input and again just
[15:27.520] when I press the key here it takes 500 milliseconds before the tricker actually starts okay.
[15:34.600] So I'm pressing now and that's a small delay.
[15:42.160] So we can modify the signal before the signal reaches the envelope itself okay.
[15:49.720] And sometimes this is pretty handy and sometimes you don't need that so you can remove it
[15:54.920] and just use the pre-code and trick out with the keyboard or your piano roll okay.
[16:04.480] But this allows basically is for input from non-human sources basically.
[16:14.440] So in this case here this behaves exactly like a synthesizer it doesn't play anything
[16:19.560] until you press the key or you paint some notes into the piano roll right.
[16:27.160] So what you can do now is disable the pre-code go here to the data category and use the
[16:34.840] gates module and you can see the gates module is playing already here it highlights some
[16:40.000] of the steps and I just painted in here to make all these steps enabled and you can see
[16:47.960] the output here is already blinking and it's also yellow which is also our input check
[16:55.000] here on the ADSR so let's connect it and you can see without me pressing anything on
[17:04.440] the keyboard or the transport is not playing I don't have any clip here with notes in it.
[17:13.680] So it plays for itself basically.
[17:16.040] So the gates module outputs gate signals and place the envelope accordingly to the rhythm
[17:28.600] of our gates module.
[17:37.080] So you can do the same thing basically also with the pitch right we have here also the
[17:43.920] pitches module and then we can delete the input and hook up basically the pitches module
[17:53.560] with the pitch input of the Sine-Oscillator and now we have here also insert some notes
[18:04.040] and then we have basically a self-playing patch.
[18:12.560] So we removed basically all the external inputs we removed the pre-code here of the
[18:18.880] pitches so we can't input the pitch with the keyboard or the piano roll and we removed
[18:26.440] here the pre-code of the gates input of the envelope so we can't input or trigger the
[18:34.360] envelope with an outside source with an keyboard or with an piano roll clip.
[18:41.640] So everything is basically triggered and decided inside the grid itself with the pitch
[18:47.400] pitches module and the gates module and this basically gives you the possibility to change
[18:55.160] your instrument to a self-playing system and this is where basically all my generative
[19:04.000] patches start because I am generating all the signals inside the grid there's no external
[19:11.560] source at the moment influencing this system right.
[19:17.000] So as you can see the pre-codes are pretty interesting thing to disable because now
[19:25.080] you have the possibility to trigger everything from inside the grid.
[19:30.360] Of course you can change the playback speed of the gates and you can change the playback
[19:35.680] speed of the pitches and you can do all kinds of things right with this and but also in
[19:44.120] this pretty simple basic form you can make it pretty interesting to use in your daily
[19:50.400] producing producer life because it can produce nice interesting melodies right.
[19:56.560] So maybe go in here to this pitches module and change the step count to three so it's
[20:02.400] a bit offset and maybe go here also down to three choose some of your melody and maybe use
[20:12.560] also a pitch quantizer in between we select the scale as we did before and then now we
[20:21.120] are completely free here to paint in some random melody line and the pitch quantizer
[20:28.080] makes it so everything is basically in scale okay okay so this is basically something
[20:44.080] you can drop into a song you make and you just want to have something playing along
[20:51.280] your track in the right scale right so you can maybe add your in the FX box you can
[21:00.000] use a reverb and delay and then you can hook up here some usual modulators for instance
[21:10.000] a random modulator switch to the smoothing all the way up to 100% go to Hertz maybe 3 B
[21:22.880] puller and then use the modulator handle here and just change some knobs on the sign or
[21:33.040] oscillator to make the sound a bit alive a bit more dynamic so on this is something you can
[21:48.000] use basically an ambient track in the background and it changes all the time it plays the same pattern
[21:54.800] and you can insert a lot of modifiers in between these modules to change it up over time
[22:03.440] and yeah basically try and keep it interesting so for instance we can also go in here
[22:09.600] and use a transpose after the pitches okay and then it goes into the pitch quantizer
[22:17.360] and then it goes into the Sine-Oscillator so now we can modify here the pitch itself
[22:29.440] and the pitch quantizer still makes sure that the pitch is in the scale okay so let's use a random
[22:39.120] modulator here again and change the
[22:49.040] and that's basically the smallest the simplest generative patch you can create inside the grid
[22:55.440] we have a Sine-Oscillator Sine-Oscillator output is shaped by the ADS R and the ADS R is basically
[23:01.600] triggered by the skates module in the rhythm of your BPM or your transport setting and then we have this
[23:08.960] pitch melody here which is then modified by the transpose randomly then it goes into pitch
[23:15.680] quantizer and the pitch quantizer makes sure that it's in the right scale and then it goes into
[23:21.200] the Sine-Oscillator and then the Sine-Oscillator yeah basically performs the right pitch at the
[23:27.360] right time okay and that that's something you can use basically in an ambient track pretty easily
[23:34.160] play some pads along the lines and just yeah have fun so this is basically a super simple
[23:42.960] basic concept explanation where you create a simple synthesizer and then you modify it in that
[23:50.800] way that it becomes a generator generator system generating pitches and rhythms by on its own
[23:58.480] basically right yeah maybe the rhythm is always the same because the gates is not changing but you
[24:05.600] can do this pretty easily by removing here the face input which is also a pre-code and when we
[24:16.240] hook up your face input with this one so we have the same effect as before but now we can change
[24:23.040] the face here and to change the rhythm I think we have to use a band and we have to modify here the
[24:31.280] band so when we you can see when the band is this way then it plays the rhythm really weirdly
[24:40.960] so maybe use an oscilloscope again so we can explain the signal flow a bit better
[24:49.520] so face signal usually looks like this it's a value going from 0 to 1 linear wise up from 0 to 1
[25:05.120] up over time pretty linear and when you switch it fast you can or to slow you can see it's just a
[25:13.760] saw saw wave a slow saw wave or a ramp going up all the time and when it's that way then the
[25:22.880] rhythm is pretty straight and we basically distort the signal with the band so maybe give this
[25:30.720] here a different color so we can see it so now the band is in the initial position here it's the
[25:38.400] same but when we go here this way now we can see the band changes basically the face signal
[25:49.120] into a curve and this results in basically the gates module playing in an unusual rhythm or some
[25:59.520] kind of swing okay so what you can do now is leave this in the initial state here use a random
[26:08.160] modulator and just modify this small small amount maybe use this one okay so now the random
[26:17.600] modulator here basically influences the rhythm or the face signal itself which then results into
[26:24.640] slowing down or speeding up kind of rhythm of your gates module right so now you have a real
[26:34.160] generative patch and that form that the rhythm changes and the pitches are changing over time
[26:40.640] and it plays for itself also the sound is changing because we are modulated here the skew
[26:46.000] with the random modulator right so this pretty much the simplest generative patch you can create
[26:52.960] inside the grid and as I explained also earlier it's a pretty small step from a synthesizer you can
[27:04.720] play on the keyboard to a generative patch that generates pitches and rhythm on its own so yeah
[27:11.120] that's it for this video I hope it explains a lot of stuff you didn't know before and you gain
[27:17.680] some knowledge so give me a thumbs up if you liked the video leave me some questions in the comments
[27:23.680] if you want subscribe to the channel subscribe to Patreon and yeah I see you in the next video
[27:29.920] thanks for watching and bye