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Quantizing Modulation Signals in Bitwig Studio

Tutorial | Jul 19, 2022

In this video, I showed how you can use Bitwig Studio to quantize modulation signals. Using a Test Tone device, I demonstrated how to use a quantizer to equally space steps to rebuild the MIDI keyboard. I also showed how to use the PASIC 8 modulator to step through notes and create a random melody generator. Finally, I showed how to use the quantizer and PASIC 8 modulator with filter devices, poly synths and VSTs, as well as the potential issues with VSTs.

You can watch the Video on Youtube - support me on Patreon

Questions & Answers

Maybe you dont watch the video, here are some important takeaways:

How can I use a quantizer to modulate a signal in Bitwig Studio?

The quantizer is a useful tool for modulating signals in Bitwig Studio. To use it, first modulate the input with a random modulator and set the resolution to 9.15 (to compensate for intonation). Then, use a macro knob to modulate the quantizer to a range of 64 steps. This will divide the octave into equally spaced fifth steps and allow you to target all the notes of the chromatic scale. Finally, use a second macro knob to select only the white notes out of the chromatic notes.

How can I use the PASIC 8 modulator to create a random melody generator?

The PASIC 8 modulator is a great tool for creating random melodies. Start by setting the modulator to C3 and then use the phase knob to switch between different steps. Each step will dial in a different note. Then, use a random modulator to control the phase and create a random melody. You can also smooth out the transitions for a more organic sound.

How does the pitch algorithm work in VSTs?

The pitch


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 another video and Hina asked me yesterday, I'm trying to figure
[00:05.200] out if those modulators can have a signal flow.
[00:08.080] So for example, those random modulations will affect tuning and then be quantized.
[00:14.840] And this is what this video is about, how you can quantize modulation signals in Bitwig
[00:20.400] Studio.
[00:21.400] So let's say you have here a test tone device with just outputs sign and you can dial in
[00:28.840] a frequency here and because it's frequencies, right, you can also hit in between notes.
[00:36.120] So it's not always that you hit exactly notes you want to hit, right?
[00:42.760] So I did also a bit of music with this test tone device yesterday and also in a side note
[00:50.160] we got in the last update here, we got a Dirac option, which you can use, get this click,
[00:58.840] which you can use to sample impulse responses very handy.
[01:02.720] So back to the sine wave here.
[01:05.920] So let's dial in here actually C3 so we can type in.
[01:17.160] And yeah, we need to modulate now here the frequencies with the random mod.
[01:26.760] Let's go to 16 notes.
[01:30.040] We can see we get notes all over the place and frequencies all over the place and not
[01:38.520] even notes.
[01:39.640] So what you can do is you can use a quantizer for this.
[01:43.840] And the big problem with the quantizer is actually, it's not a problem, but you can
[01:50.720] only make equally spaced steps.
[01:54.520] So there's no way of doing something like a C major scale where you have like whole step
[02:00.600] and then whole step and then half step and something like this.
[02:04.760] So you can only do equally spaced steps.
[02:07.680] We'll show in a minute how it works.
[02:10.000] So let's go do an instrument track here, open up a note, piano roll.
[02:17.480] So let's see, we have C major scale, we have C, we have D, we have E, F, G, A, B, and then
[02:26.280] again, C. So you can see we have your whole step, whole step, then half step, then whole
[02:31.680] step, whole step, half step, half step.
[02:34.680] So it's not equally spaced, right?
[02:36.840] Also a minor.
[02:37.840] It's the same.
[02:39.080] So we have whole step, half step, and then whole step, half step, whole step, whole step,
[02:45.920] and so on.
[02:46.920] So it's a different spacing sometimes here.
[02:53.400] So it's not easy to do with a quantizer because you can only do equally spaced steps.
[03:02.280] But it's actually the case that all of these scales in all of the MIDI keyboard is actually
[03:06.680] built from fifths and if you start at C here and use fifth steps and then you can rebuild
[03:17.440] all the scales, you can rebuild the whole MIDI keyboard.
[03:20.680] So let's start at C here and then go up a fifth, which is 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, semitones.
[03:27.560] 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, and
[03:40.880] so on.
[03:41.880] So we can space out your everything and you can see you hit all the white keys here.
[03:49.960] Let's go down.
[03:50.960] 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7.
[03:55.520] And at some point you get then here the black keys in there, also, by the way, the sharps,
[04:02.680] get all the sharps in there.
[04:03.800] So you can rebuild the whole 12 notes in one octave, spread across all the octaves.
[04:11.360] So this is how you build the circle of fifths, how you build the scales, how you build a
[04:15.880] MIDI keyboard or a piano roll, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, and so on.
[04:23.080] I probably made an error here at some point, but just to make this clear how this works.
[04:28.120] So now that we have this, we can equally space here this with the quantizer.
[04:36.920] So instead of using maybe modulate here this with the macro, we can dial this in.
[04:46.840] So we modulate the input and then we push here the resolution to 9 and then we modulate
[04:54.440] to the quantizer.
[04:56.760] We modulate this here by exactly 64 steps.
[05:10.160] You can see here when we go up, we start at C4, next one is G, exactly like I showed
[05:15.640] you on the piano roll, next one is D, A. And you can see we have a small little drift here.
[05:24.000] We drift off these keys and I think what this is, is it's just intonation.
[05:31.400] We divide basically all the octaves into equally spaced steps and it's not what's happening
[05:38.320] on the piano or actually in an equal temperament where you have like a small little correction
[05:44.600] in there to make it, I don't know, more western sounding.
[05:49.840] I don't know why it's, I have no idea about the history of that.
[05:54.640] So what we can do is we can correct this here by typing in 9.15, 9.15 exactly.
[06:04.480] So we compensate for this drift.
[06:07.080] So now we have here C, G, D, A, E, B and then we go to the sharps, F-sharp, right, we can
[06:20.520] also push this here to the bipolar and go down, we got F here and then we go into the
[06:26.320] sharps here.
[06:27.320] So we can target all the notes, get chromatic with this and all you have to do now is to
[06:34.840] select only a collection out of this.
[06:38.840] So let's say from F to what's this here, B6 and then you get all the white notes.
[06:45.640] If you get all the white notes, you can represent A minor and C major with this.
[06:50.840] So what you can do now is use a second macro here and just say I want to go here to F,
[06:58.280] it's the first white note.
[06:59.680] The next one is A-sharp, so 15 and go up here up until B6 because the next one is F-sharp.
[07:11.520] So this one and you can target basically with this slider here, all white keys.
[07:22.680] So instead of modulating the frequency directly, we modulate all the white keys, which selects
[07:32.400] only the white notes out of the chromatic notes spread across the whole keyboard from
[07:38.200] this input and this quantizer here, so just modulate this and now we basically get all
[07:45.800] the notes of A minor or C major, maybe add the delay here.
[08:03.240] So this is the order here.
[08:26.960] We modulate with a random modulator here, this macro knob which selects all the white
[08:31.680] notes out of the chromatic notes here, which are all the notes on the keyboard.
[08:37.120] And then we use this input here to modulate the quantizer, quantizes this to all the chromatic
[08:44.400] or equally spaced fifth steps we just showed you here.
[08:48.880] So it's a bit complex, but if you follow basically what I said, you can easily make
[08:56.800] sense out of it.
[08:58.720] And this is the complicated way of doing this and that's a much easier way and I'll show
[09:04.120] you in a minute.
[09:08.720] Maybe this is interesting for you because you can also do here instead of using this
[09:17.320] and this and maybe go back to this and we modulate here also the full range of the quantizer
[09:24.800] with this.
[09:27.240] But now we go back here maybe to modulate this by only 12, so only one octave, so we
[09:34.120] modulate the frequencies here by one octave and then we divide this also into 12 equally
[09:40.160] steps.
[09:41.160] So what we get now is also chromatic, but only within one octave.
[09:57.040] So we have here C, C-sharp, C-sharp, E, F, F-sharp, G.
[10:15.240] So this is again so modulating this by 12, resolution is 12, so you get all the notes
[10:21.680] within one octave.
[10:23.840] There's also something maybe you need at some point, I don't know.
[10:27.800] So there's a more easier option of course and this one is the last tip of the day.
[10:35.280] You just use a PASIC 8 modulator here like this and you maybe go to C3 and then you maybe
[10:46.320] want to put this on hold so you can use here the phase thing to switch between different
[10:53.000] steps and each step dials in basically a note.
[10:57.400] So the first one is the root note here, so we leave this unmodulated.
[11:02.280] The second one is maybe let's say go up seven semitones with just a fifth.
[11:10.960] This one here is going up one octave.
[11:15.480] This one is going down five semitones.
[11:20.480] This one is maybe going up a minor third.
[11:26.520] This one is going down one octave.
[11:35.400] This one goes up maybe five semitones and so on.
[11:39.000] So you can use this here and then step through all these notes pretty easily, close this
[11:50.680] down, use a random mod here and then modulate with a random mod here, just a phase.
[12:06.200] You get also kind of a random melody generator, something like this.
[12:11.360] You can also smooth out here the transitions to get these band, banding sounds.
[12:27.560] You can also use an LFO here, something like this and modulate the volume, maybe use a
[12:42.280] random thing and change this, smooth it out, maybe also modulate at the speed, or actually
[13:00.800] not the speed of time base.
[13:24.160] Basically you can't switch here with the modulator to pull down, would be nice effect, but it
[13:34.680] is what it is.
[13:39.400] So now that you know how you kind of change or quantize frequency signals, you can do
[13:46.440] the same not only with the test tone, you can also use it for the filter device here,
[13:52.640] and to change here the frequencies of that, so maybe use a quantize here, die in the resolution
[14:05.760] of 9.15, you can easily remember this, right?
[14:10.920] Then modulate this here by the amount of 64, then use a macro knob here, modulate this,
[14:33.080] and you also know that if you go down here by minus 15%, you hit F, and then you modulate
[14:41.520] this here up until you get, I don't know, B6, use a random here, maybe use a random here
[15:09.960] also for the resonance, you get nice level, extra sounds, clicks in there, and you can
[15:39.520] basically use this everywhere where you have frequencies, and you can dial stuff like this
[15:53.680] and you can also use it on the EQ plus for instance, right?
[16:00.400] So let's use the input, let's use all of this quantizer and put this over to the EQ, and
[16:16.280] maybe also use a random here, and we can modulate here or start at C5 for instance, and modulate
[16:31.680] here by exactly 64, and let it go down to C2, okay?
[16:54.680] So this works basically everywhere, it also works on, I don't know, poly synth, the frequency
[17:01.000] knob or something like this, it gets a bit harder when you use it for VSTs, let's say
[17:08.840] I tried it yesterday on Crane Space here, and in Crane Space you have your pitch knob,
[17:14.760] and you can pitch by up to 24 semitones, or go down to minus 24 semitones, so here the
[17:23.240] problem is that actually the value that you get in Bitwig for modulating, let's use a
[17:31.480] macro here, is not semitones, so if you modulate this you can see here we can modulate up to
[17:37.280] 0.5, and 0.5 represents actually 24 semitones pitch up, so you have to make the math in
[17:50.840] the head to actually get the right amount of modulation value or modulation amount you
[17:55.520] need to pitch up maybe for one semitone or two semitones, so I had the version of Crane
[18:01.000] Space before I think it's 2.0 where it actually showed me here with the pitch, but I think
[18:06.960] it was a bug more or less, it showed me actually here how many semitones I pitched up, maybe
[18:14.760] let's see, I think I still have it on there, right? Yeah, it's the old VST2 version, here
[18:25.160] it kind of works, so you have your pitch up to 24, okay, so you can use a macro here and
[18:38.120] modulate, you can see here it shows me the exactly the semitone amount, so you can use
[18:47.360] here the parsec 8 which to hold, you can use here the phase and modulate with the second
[19:00.000] one to 7 semitones, here we go to 12 semitones, here we go to 12, and this is also the problem
[19:26.000] here with the pitch algorithm, you can't dial in here and scale because it depends on what
[19:36.720] kind of sound you send in, so let's say you send in C and you pitch up by minor third
[19:45.720] which is three semitones, you end up on D sharp which is not in the scale of C minor,
[19:58.120] but if you send in actually, I don't know, a B which is one step lower, a B and then
[20:05.360] you go three semitones up, you end up on D which is not in the scale of C minor, so it's
[20:14.280] actually advised when you go in with rich harmonic material, you can only pitch up by
[20:18.960] maybe an octave or go down an octave or go up maybe seven semitones or something like
[20:26.400] this works because it's a perfect fifth and a perfect fourth and a perfect octave works,
[20:33.440] but if you go then into maybe two semitones or one semitone then it can lead to pretty
[20:39.680] dissonant results sometimes because it depends on what kind of sound you're going in, here
[20:46.240] with the frequency knob and with this kind of stuff, it's not really that important because
[20:51.920] it's absolute, but this one here, it's a pitch algorithm which is relative, so when you send
[20:57.800] in a B and shift it up by three semitones it leads to different results, it's a bit hard
[21:04.040] to explain actually in broadspot, you probably know what I mean, so here we go, maybe twenty
[21:11.720] four semitones up, maybe go seven down, yeah let's stick with this, so now we can modulate
[21:29.360] it with a random knob, again the phase, and maybe bring in the feedback here up a bit,
[21:46.800] bring this maybe in front of the delay here, take my reverb here, so you get nice musical
[22:16.520] results and I also showed you the problem with the VSTs, so that's why I hope a lot
[22:24.560] of these VSTs become flap plug-ins in the future where I think this is not that big
[22:33.600] of a problem anymore, but yeah I also showed you how you can quantize signals to a scale
[22:41.000] with the quantizer and with the Pasek 8 here, I think Pasek 8 is actually the simplest version
[22:47.280] of that because you can dial in the notes you want and the pitch intervals you want
[22:52.720] and you get nice interesting results, okay so yeah guys I hope this was a bit helpful
[23:12.200] for you, thanks for watching, leave a like and subscribe to the channel, thanks for watching
[23:16.880] and I'll see you in the next video, bye!