Finally - I have understood my issues with timing

Think timing is simply adhering to a click track?

think again…

I watched about half of it but then I ran out of time.

What is the lesson?

What it means is, there is no black and white (only in theory), everything is shades of gray :confused: .

This is my take:

Within certain limits imposed by the mind timing is not a physical property but rather a psychological property.

Although we would not be able to cognate extremely fast or extremely slow tempos as musical, within these limits, parts of the music - phrases - have their own independent timing, processes in slightly different ways, because the mind is imposing its own representation of its timing ‘organic timing’ if you like, so as each phrase has (tiny) variants such as accellerandos, extra swing, etc.

A long time ago I used to think that timing was about exactly fitting to a click track, but obviously its not this as ao much of the best music (emotionally) is way out. It was not that I did not realise that this was the case, but rather that this video helped me crystallise some thoughts about it all.

Timing is sometimes acquired. Mostly in one’s preferred style it will fall into acceptable and “accurate”. Play a different style to what you are used to and maybe it can get a little fragmented as you impose your preferred style onto an alien one. Different bands can play the same material with vastly different dynamics and timing (I know that at very first hand). Most cover bands can be very surprised at how slow original recordings actually are after a few years playing them and original bands live performances are often a lot faster unless they’re very organised big shows.
Timing just has to be “right” and not necessarily correct, and that depends on one’s physical and mental make up and the quality of the instrument.
In sequencing the dynamics can effectively “correct” the timing so it doesn’t sound so staccato and software has come a long way to helping with that but care still has to be taken when sequencing to make sure that the musical piece sits well with itself with quantising applied before applying “time correction” or “swing” which can sometimes push the music where it doesn’t belong.
Don’t over naturalise notes and yet be aware that over correction of existing, badly timed material can sometimes make that music worse and not better.
Better to do small corrections than blanket timing control.
As illustration one famous conductor said “Music has three tempos. Composition tempos, rehearsal tempos and concert tempos…” Orchestral sections will all move at their own dynamic pace depending on the attack, swell and decay of the relative instruments which is why orchestras excel at huge oceanic movements.
The bigger the band the more the tempo is going to get unruly so a small trio/quartet or quintet will need tighter margins than a 40 piece jazz orchestra.
Timing and quantising is a little science on it’s own and to get it right the composer needs to understand his own timing and then what sort of correction to apply, if any is needed.
Indeed my timing can vary from day to day. If I’m relaxed or in a hurry, hungry or hungover.
If you have trouble playing to a live click then change it to an instrument if you can if you have to.
To practise playing to time then actually finding an inaccurately played or a piece with varying tempo and playing along with that can help the process of not fighting the metronome but assimilating it into a performance. Trick the mind into thinking the metronome is a player and not a machine.

OK… so I would be in agreement with this, broadly, but where does this leave Cubase?

Are it’s tools enough, is it about swing, and quantization - I think not, its more than this. Perhaps each phrase needs its own “timezone”.

Cubase’s timing tools are nothing but an assistant. Any timing issues are usually down to the user but there can be software issues. If the user’s timing issues are negligible then any issues with Cubase can be sidestepped after they have been noted and reported. In either case, unless very critical, for movie scoring and show timings where Cubase is used for (controlling) that purpose, any timing issues should be manageable.
Generally, if you can’t hear it it won’t be there. If you can then see it there might be a graphical issue.
There are cases where you know you’ve hit a note spot on (heard and or seen) and it isn’t spot on on playback then there might be some sort of issue but always check that the issue is not just down to one user (ie: yourself).
Report in the General section to see if others have similar results and if there are a number of you then it might be wise to take it then to the Issues section after a couple of days.

Always, when working with a DAW expect that what looks incorrect can sound correct. Always the ears are the first point of reference if working purely to musical values (as I think we’re talking about here).
To timing critical values, movie cues and so on, then maybe more study will be needed of incorrect values if they look to be incorrect although HEARD to be correct.

50 shades of it, amirite? I guess that means we are all bound to make mistakes using a click track. :mrgreen:

Click tracks should only be applicable to “industrial” music. Movies, adverts, jingles, TV themes etc. A metronome used to be used for practise to get any speeding up or slowing down under control. Although music moves on at a pace, metronomes were only a guide so it was easier to work with other musicians yet for the most part practised alone or in pairs.
I certainly have issues with timing with some bands and not others and that’s not to say the bands are at fault, just that we think differently about the timing.
If you think differently to the click track all you need do is work at it.
There is a point working with click track/metronome (percussion etc.) where if you can’t hear it then you’re timing must be perfect. A few problems are caused by listening to the click too much and so playing either side of it so you can hear it. It’s a funny conundrum.

Yes but has Cubase got human timing right?

My point is that there are lots of functions that require you to know exactly where the beat is, if you work without a click track and simply ignore this then you miss out on a lot.

None of the current Cubase functions fit the description of timing implied by the above video (I said implied). If we think in phrases and cognate the timing in phrases (I think we do), then it would be very useful if Cubase could parse the timing this way.

Ive been playing a lot of Jazz Ballads and they are a good example of wayward timing that is totally authentic and valid. You can also watch a conductors arms at any classical concert. Is this sort of timing, captured and utilised by Cubase?

Ive been playing a lot of Jazz Ballads and they are a good example of wayward timing that is totally authentic and valid. You can also watch a conductors arms at any classical concert. Is this sort of timing, captured and utilised by Cubase?

In general no. Unless you’re talking about huge drifts in timing I’ve yet to hear a “wayward” jazz ballad. But that’s me as a listener talking. As a player then if you study the piece there are times when the eyebrows furrow. I wouldn’t be too critical of yourself especially if none of your friends notice anything odd about the timing. Again I wouldn’t be too critical of Cubase either as it does a pretty good job within the bounds of competent musicianship, but don’t expect too much of it as it is, after all, only a machine.
Orchestral music, as I mentioned earlier, is by nature unwieldy and different sections have different attack portions. Try moving violins and (bowed) basses at the same time in tight 16ths. Not easy. For a machine pretty much impossible.
Cubase attempts to catch this with the new Tempo Detection feature but it does say that long notes are difficult for it.
I’d say about any DAW and quantisation that if you do the type of work that needs it you need to learn every aspect, trick and turn about that program’s quantisation features, bugs and faults to have full confidence of it’s performance to time schedule of itself and of your client.
If I didn’t know where the beat was without a metronome by now I’d be very depressed indeed. :mrgreen:

This reminded me of an interview on YT with Fred Hersch’s teacher who said he had " what we call a Basic Emotional Rhythm " ( 1:06 ) . The first time I heard that my ears pricked up .

Timing , hmmm,…
There was a drummer once who decided to end it all after all the musicians he knew kept insisting that they couldn’t play with him because his timing was so bad .
He threw himself behind a train .


Brilliant! :laughing: