Tags: posts polarity-music Bitwig Grid Learning music-production Problem-Solving Research wisdom

How to Learn the Grid: Trial and Error, Research, and Problem Solving in Music Production

Tutorial | Aug 21, 2023

In this video, I discuss how to learn and understand the grid in music production. Many people have misconceptions that taking a course will make them a professional musician, but that's not how it works. A course can provide the basics, but real learning happens through trial and error, researching and experimenting. I explain that it's important to overcome problems on your own and develop problem-solving skills. It's not about memorizing individual modules, but rather understanding how to use them in different contexts. I emphasize the importance of researching online, reading the manual, and exploring different resources to gain knowledge. I also share my own process of learning, documenting, and experimenting with patches. Learning music production is an ongoing process that involves constant learning and building experience.

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Questions & Answers

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

Question 1: How do you learn the grid and music production?

Answer: Learning the grid and music production involves a combination of various methods. While courses can provide a foundation and basic understanding, they may not make you a professional musician on their own. It is important to supplement your learning with additional resources such as online videos, tutorials, books, and official channels like Bitwig. These resources can help you grasp the basics of the grid and signal processing. However, it is essential to remember that music production is a continuous learning process that requires problem-solving skills and the ability to overcome obstacles independently.

Question 2: Can individual modules be learned separately in music production?

Answer: While it is possible to learn about individual modules in music production, it may not provide practical knowledge on how to use them effectively. Learning to work with modules is a gradual process that occurs alongside solving problems and experimenting with different approaches. Merely accumulating knowledge about individual modules does not translate into a comprehensive understanding of how they interact, which parameters to choose, or how to combine them for desired results. Learning by solving problems and gaining experience over time is a more effective way to understand and utilize modules in music production.

Question 3: How important is the manual in learning the grid?

Answer: The manual is a valuable resource when it comes to learning the grid. It provides information on the different modules, their inputs, outputs, and how they can be modified. Consulting the manual helps understand the technical aspects of the grid and serves as a reference guide while building patches. Additionally, within the grid itself, you can click on any module and access a short description, input, and output details, which can assist in the learning process. Therefore, while the manual can be helpful, it should be supplemented with other resources and hands-on experimentation for a more comprehensive understanding.

Question 4: How does the learning process in music production resemble problem-solving?

Answer: Learning music production, including the grid, is akin to problem-solving. As you create music or build modular patches, you encounter various challenges and obstacles. By trial and error, experimentation, and continuous research, you learn to overcome these problems and find solutions. It is essential to develop problem-solving skills and an ability to think critically in order to progress in music production. You may find yourself getting stuck at the same points repeatedly, but through persistence, learning, and building experience over time, you develop the skills necessary to solve problems creatively and achieve your desired musical outcomes.


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.

[00:00:00] So how do you learn the grid? That's a question I got a lot and I also get a
[00:00:04] question for grid course and the course of how to make music or produce music
[00:00:09] and I think a lot of people have the imagination of you start at the
[00:00:14] beginning of a course and then at the end of the course you are pretty much a
[00:00:18] professional and you know how to do music but that's not how it works. A
[00:00:24] course can only give you maybe the rough basics of how things work but again also
[00:00:30] the basics you can learn easily on the internet watching some videos maybe
[00:00:35] reading a book on signal processing or it's let's go here to the the Bitwig
[00:00:41] channel itself they have nice playlists here let's build a nice playlist also
[00:00:46] the grid is a nice playlist. What you like concepts here so there are a lot of
[00:00:52] features already on the official Bitwig channel you can watch to learn the
[00:00:57] basics of how the grid works and how basic signal processing works. I also
[00:01:03] made here some kind of playlist for the Bitwig grid crash course it's some
[00:01:08] videos it's at the moment hidden there are some videos coming soon for that but
[00:01:13] at the moment it's just at four videos giving you the basics but in my opinion
[00:01:19] it's pretty hard to make a grid course because you can't teach everything
[00:01:24] that's out there it's not impossible and it's also more important to
[00:01:30] overcome problems for yourself in the future because you get always to the
[00:01:35] same point where you get stuck you're always stuck every time to till infinity
[00:01:42] it's making music making modular patches is basically problem-solving 101 so you
[00:01:53] need to learn how to solve problems how to overcome problems for your for
[00:01:59] yourself in your own way it's not like there's always someone explaining to you
[00:02:04] what to do in a certain moment right that's that's not how it works and it's
[00:02:09] also I think a problem with modern-day school they teach you stuff but they
[00:02:15] don't teach you how to overcome problems when there's no one there telling you
[00:02:20] what to do so here someone on reddit wrote I've watched polarity put together
[00:02:25] his amazing instruments and generative sounds but how do you get to the point
[00:02:29] of learning all the individual modules just a matter of read the fucking manual
[00:02:32] trial and error my issue is when I am creating an instrument or effect I
[00:02:37] realize I can't overcome a problem because I don't know all the modules and
[00:02:41] what they do or when a given context calls for one module over another and
[00:02:47] basically what here what here is described is basically how you learn I
[00:02:52] start always with try an error I have a rough concept in mind when I build
[00:02:58] something I have a rough idea how stuff works so I try some stuff right a trial
[00:03:03] and error and then maybe I fail I get to a point where I get stuck and I go to
[00:03:07] the manual and read maybe there's a module for that for the problem I
[00:03:12] currently have oh there is a module let's try and use this module does it
[00:03:17] work no it's missing this and that value I can I have to adapt right so how do I
[00:03:24] overcome this in a certain different way oh there are two other modules I can use
[00:03:29] so you can change this here and I can change that down and combined it works
[00:03:33] like the other module I use so I use these modules instead so I read the
[00:03:39] manual for that right I go in there and look if there is something and learning
[00:03:46] all the individual modules is in my opinion it's not the way of doing it you
[00:03:52] learn along the way when you solve problems you learn along the way by
[00:03:56] solving problems what these modules do and how you can use them and also how
[00:04:03] you can misuse them in certain contexts to give you what you want and learning
[00:04:10] the modules on its own I think it doesn't give you anything I mean you can
[00:04:15] do it and you have then bit of knowledge about the modules but how do you use
[00:04:21] them how do you combine them and why and what kind of modulation is in between
[00:04:27] and what parameters to choose and why and so there's a lot of knowledge missing so
[00:04:33] learning individual modules doesn't give you anything it's something you learn
[00:04:37] along the way the manual is pretty interesting to find information on what
[00:04:43] kind of modules are there and what they do and what they use as input and output
[00:04:48] and so on and what you can modify so it's interesting but also when you go to
[00:04:52] the grid itself right you can click any module here and can click help then you
[00:04:57] see a short description you can see the input and the output so it's pretty nice
[00:05:02] actually for that so it's also the manual in my opinion so it's yeah going to the
[00:05:08] manual and look what's what's in there and use it and then also what's missing
[00:05:14] in here is that you not only go to the manual you also go to research papers on
[00:05:21] the net you go to different tutorials you go to description of devices or
[00:05:27] hardware implementations of certain things right so for example I try to
[00:05:34] recreate the 808 drum set in the grid without using samples of course so I was
[00:05:42] going to the net internet researching for 808 how was the 808 built right and
[00:05:48] someone here made a video about it someone made a patch in pure data so
[00:05:53] after schematics of this then I have here the original board of the 808 so
[00:05:58] they use here six oscillators square oscillators so for some reason there was
[00:06:04] some kind of element they could use on the chip on the platen to create six
[00:06:10] different oscillators pulse oscillators to switch so impulse oscillators pretty
[00:06:15] simple it's just switching on or off right all the time so they came up with
[00:06:20] that and it was some kind of very inharmonic sound but they could use this
[00:06:24] for for the symbols and it's also used here for the open head and the closed
[00:06:31] head so it's pretty interesting actually to research this then there's your
[00:06:35] tutorial from sound on sound I found this on the net they have a lot of
[00:06:39] articles on tutorials from back of 2001 online still online so someone
[00:06:45] synthesizing basically 808 inside of the note modula which is also interesting to
[00:06:50] read so you research all that stuff write down I am writing down here in
[00:06:56] obsidian take some notes right then I have here something I found on the
[00:07:02] cherry audio website they created some kind of plug-in for the 808 simple
[00:07:09] right and they write some information down here let me see the above
[00:07:16] description of a simplified a bit an actual TR-808 then splits the simple
[00:07:20] oscillator hash in order to replicate a higher pitched initial segment of the
[00:07:24] sound in the lower pitched body of the sound these use separate amplitude
[00:07:28] envelopes and or filter it a little differently then mix together okay so
[00:07:33] they give some hints to the patch how the patch could be implemented so then
[00:07:39] I made some own tests some experiments right in the grid looks like this here
[00:07:44] I made some screenshots how I did it in the grid these are simple this is here
[00:07:48] the 808 hi-hats if a one two three four five square wave oscillators combined
[00:07:56] together with two filters right and then you get some some kind of sound out does
[00:08:02] it sound the same yes it does great can I simplify it and so on so this these are
[00:08:07] my thoughts and I document everything here so I can make a video maybe about
[00:08:13] it or maybe I can recall it when someone asks me about it or I want to implement
[00:08:18] it myself in maybe three years and I have no idea how I did it back then so I
[00:08:22] have something documented and I also sometimes watch my own videos to be
[00:08:28] honest I watch my own videos when I need to create something and I did it I am
[00:08:33] recalled maybe three years ago and then to have something you know noted or
[00:08:40] something documented about this so it's it's how I work it's basically like an
[00:08:44] scientist so you research you try an error you make experiments you compare
[00:08:49] the results does it work can I simplify stuff can I miss you something can I
[00:08:55] recombine it and then you make a lot of patches and then you stick with something
[00:09:00] that works great for you and then you make a video about it so this is how it
[00:09:03] works for me so it's always like this you never it's never ending you're
[00:09:11] always in this kind of loop that you try an error you research you make notes you
[00:09:18] make experiments you fail and then you build up experience over time this is
[00:09:24] how it works and this is how it works with everything in life in my opinion you
[00:09:29] can only learn the basics most of the times it's also a driver license when
[00:09:33] you be in driver school right you learn how to drive a car but you never learn
[00:09:38] how it's how it is to be in a real accident when you hit someone with
[00:09:42] bicycle when some animal runs in front of your car what how do you react with
[00:09:47] your body I had this experience multiple times with my car because I'm bit older
[00:09:54] I think and I know how it feels and how I reacted back then and how I would react
[00:10:01] now so it's always like this in my opinion with all stuff in life it's not
[00:10:07] like you can't take a course and then you know everything it's not possible it's
[00:10:12] always failing succeeding learning building up experience trial error and
[00:10:20] stuff like this so this is how it works yeah I want to show you actually here
[00:10:26] the 808 sound how it sounds so this is here a Markov chain Markov chain melody
[00:10:32] generator so it's you choosing the next melody note based on the last melody
[00:10:40] note right it's also based around probabilities and this is here a patch I
[00:10:47] didn't came out of nothing I built maybe 10 patches like this before that patch
[00:10:54] but all of the other patches had some shortcomings maybe it was too complex it
[00:10:59] took too much CPU power or it was too complicated patch too many modules and
[00:11:06] stuff like this but this was basically my last patch here and this was the
[00:11:11] thing that made it into the video so when you see the video most of the times
[00:11:16] I did this multiple times beforehand in different iterations in different bad
[00:11:23] bad versions okay so this is the Markov chain let me open up here the 808 thing
[00:11:34] 808 simple this is basically here the patch I showed you in the obsidian notes
[00:11:45] but here I'm using two pools oscillators one is face modulating here the other
[00:11:53] one but I'm using here the Hertz 2442 Hertz as a bass signal it never
[00:12:01] changes and this one has 1k 1 1 kilohertz here pitch and then modulating
[00:12:09] face modulating the other one we get this very in harmonic sound also a few
[00:12:16] the 808 snare and here I'm doing something I would never do actually but
[00:12:22] I learned this while I'm building this patch here I'm using the gate input
[00:12:27] actually disable this here you can see we get your gates positive value of 1
[00:12:34] from 0 to 1 and I'm using the gate length which shortens which shortens here
[00:12:41] dispersed to 1 millisecond even shorter 0.2 milliseconds and I'm using this as
[00:12:50] exciting signal for a self resonating bandpass filter so don't trigger anything
[00:12:58] it's just you know this sound this click sound going into the filter here then
[00:13:03] because the resonance is pretty high with the bandpass I create a sine wave
[00:13:07] at 244 Hertz then I mix in your bit of noise and then it sounds like the 808
[00:13:16] snare and you can shape the snare while by by shaping here the signal so it gets
[00:13:27] more body if you make the gate length a bit longer and because I did this I can
[00:13:35] remember this now and can reuse it in different contexts and different patches
[00:13:41] I create in the future right so it's pretty interesting actually get with the
[00:13:45] gate into the filter here and create a snare sound from this I would never do
[00:13:51] this on my own and you can't learn this in a course because why should you learn
[00:13:57] this there are so many drum machines out there and every drum machine did it
[00:14:02] basically a bit differently and they did it back then because it was cheap to do
[00:14:06] on the on the chip right what else hats symbols oh yeah the hats that's are
[00:14:15] basically here the five square waves
[00:14:20] sounds like an 808 kind of maybe it's not exactly the same because you don't
[00:14:31] have the same mortars like they did have on the chip back then but it gets in the
[00:14:36] same direction right so this is how you learn basically the grid in my opinion
[00:14:41] it's a lot of trial and error read the manual watch some videos combine stuff
[00:14:46] have a lot of fun by experimenting with things and then you do this till the end
[00:14:54] of time until infinity because that's the fun that's the fun part you never done
[00:15:00] learning things in life so yeah I want to make put this video out for some
[00:15:05] people or maybe for the future when people ask me that stuff I can point to
[00:15:09] this video can explain all this in a in a kind of understandable way okay thanks
[00:15:20] for watching leave a like if you liked the video and see you on the next one
[00:15:22] bye