PreSonus Blog

Friday Tips: Studio One’s Amazing Robot Bassist

When Harmonic Editing was announced, I was interested. When I used it for the first time, I was intrigued. When I discovered what it could do for songwriting…I became addicted.

Everyone creates songs differently, but for me, speed is the priority—I record scratch tracks as fast as possible to capture a song’s essence while it’s hot. But if the tracks aren’t any good, they don’t inspire the songwriting process. Sure, they’ll get replaced with final versions later, but you don’t want boring tracks while writing.

For scratch drums on rock projects, I have a good collection of loops. Guitar is my primary instrument, so the rhythm and lead parts will be at least okay. I also drag the rhythm guitar part up to the Chord Track to create the song’s “chord chart.”

Then things slow down…or at least they did before Harmonic Editing came along. Although I double on keyboards, I’m not as proficient as on guitar but also, prefer keyboard bass over electric bass—because I’ve sampled a ton of basses, I can find the sound I want instantly. And that’s where Harmonic Editing comes in.

The following is going to sound ridiculously easy…because it is. Here’s how to put Studio One’s Robot Bassist to work. This assumes you’ve set the key (use the Key button in the transport, or select an Instrument part and choose Event > Detect Key Signature), and have a Chord Track that defines the song’s chord progression.

 

  1. Play the bass part by playing the note on a MIDI keyboard that corresponds to the song’s key. Yes, the note—not notes. For example, if the song is in the key of A, hit an A wherever you want a bass note.
  2. Quantize what you played. It’s important to quantize because presumably, the chord changes are quantized, and the note attack needs to fall squarely at the beginning of, or within, the chord change. You can always humanize later.
  3. Open the Inspector, unfold the Follow Chords options, and then choose Bass (Fig. 1).

 

Figure 1: Choose the Bass option to create a bass part when following chords.

  1. Now you have a bass part! If the bass part works, choose the Edit tab, select all the notes, and choose Action > Freeze Pitch. This is important, because the underlying endless-string-of-notes remains the actual MIDI data. So if you copy the Event and paste it, unless you then ask the pasted clip to follow chords, you have the original boring part instead of the robotized one.
  2. After freezing, turn off Follow Chords, because you’ve already followed the chords. Now is the time to make any edits. (Asking the followed chords to follow chords can confuse matters, and may modify your edits.)

The bottom line: with one take, a few clicks, and (maybe) a couple quick edits—instant bass part (Fig. 2).

Figure 2: The top image is the original part, and yes, it sounds as bad as it looks. The lower image is what happened after it got robotized via Harmonic Editing, and amazingly, it sounds pretty good.

Don’t believe me? Well, listen to the following.

 

You’ll hear the bass part shown in Fig. 2, which was generated in the early stages of writing my latest music video (I mixed the bass up a little on the demo so you can hear it easily). Note how the part works equally well for the sustained notes toward the beginning, and well as the staccato parts at the end. To hear the final bass part, click the link for Puzzle of Love [https://youtu.be/HgMF-HBMrks]. You’ll hear I didn’t need to do much to tweak what Harmonic Editing did.

But Wait! There’s More!

Not only that, but most of the backing keyboard parts for Puzzle of Love (yes, including the piano intro) were generated in essentially the same way. That requires a somewhat different skill set than robotizing the bass, and a bit more editing. If you want to know more (use the Comments section), we’ll cover Studio One’s Robot Keyboardist in a future Friday Tip.

  • Ah. Didn’t recognize this. Thank you. 🙂

  • Anderton

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/0a64f964df2f2d12f982adb0f5126e18911d7ba2929a0091e52c79e3998cfc98.png No problem! In the Edit view, there’s a drop-down menu under Note Color. Choose pitch to have each pitch be its own color. You can also choose coloring based on velocity (which is what I normally use) or the part with which the notes are associated.

  • That is great. Making bass for my guitar parts is now so much easier. Thank you.
    How do i get this colorized notes in the second picture ?

  • Vasily Shevchenko

    Yes, in fact, a very cool topic)) I also use this technique

  • Vic Antz

    Great tutorial! Looking forward to continue!