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Cubase: Beat Designer | Audio Examples

Hear For Yourself By John Walden
Published August 2023

These four audio examples accompany the text in my SOS August 2023 Cubase workshop.

Cubase 12 Beat Designer Audio Example 01

This first audio example illustrates how the swing and offset options within Beat Designer can be used to quickly experiment/create alternative feels from an initial pattern. A simple 8-step pattern of kick, snare and hi-hat (with the hi-hat is playing 8th notes) is used as the basis. This pattern is heard for two bars.

In the following two bars, a copy of the same pattern is triggered but with a small amount of positive swing applied to the kick and the hi-hat. The same pattern is then repeated for a further two bars with a stronger amount of swing applied and then two more bars with even greater swing. The pattern then returns to the original straight feel but with a negative offset applied to the snare (so the groove feels a little rushed) for two bars, followed by two bars with a positive offset (so the groove feels a little laid back).

All of these variations were created in just a couple of minutes by copying/pasting the original and a few simple tweaks of the swing and offset controls.

Cubase 12 Beat Designer Audio Example 02

This second audio example illustrates how the lane shifting and lane invert options within Beat Designer can be used to generate alternative versions of a starting groove. In this case, a somewhat busier 16th-note groove forms the starting point, and this is initially heard for two bars. This is then followed by two different versions where the hi-hat lane has been shifted to the right, first by one step and then by two steps.

For the next two bars you hear a version where the hi-hat lane has been inverted. The final two two-bar versions of the pattern reverts back to the original beat as their starting point but, in this case, the snare and rimshot lanes have been offset to the left bringing their hits one step, and then two steps, earlier in the groove to create further pattern variations.

Again, all of these variations were created in just a couple of minutes by copying/pasting the original pattern into adjacent slots and then apply some of the editing shortcuts described within the main text.

Cubase 12 Beat Designer Audio Example 03

The third example explores the possibilities of more extreme use of the lane offset sliders. The instance of Beat Designer is configured somewhat differently here. Only four sounds are used – kick, snare, hi-hat and clap – but each has two lanes assigned to it (so eight lanes in total) and, for each drum, some hits are placed on each of its two lanes so you could, for example, apply an offset to some hi-hat hits but not to others. The basic 8th note pattern can initially be heard straight (for 2 bars) and then with some swing applied to both the hi-hat and kick (2 bars), before the subsequent 2 bar sections apply increasing large offset values to various lanes within the pattern (with the final 2 bars perhaps well overcooked and feeling very uncomfortable).

Your personal mileage for this loose (‘drunk drummer’) style may vary depending upon whether you embrace some hip-hop or lo-fi music genres.  No, it’s perhaps not how J Dilla might have done it, but it’s a no-fuss process and, used in this way, Beat Designer lets you experiment with the possibilities by simply shifting both the swing and offset controls as your pattern is in playback.

Cubase 12 Beat Designer Audio Example 04

The fourth example provides an example of combining two instances of Beat Designer (in this case each driving their own instance of Groove Agent) but with patterns based upon different step counts. One instance provides the main groove using a simple kick, share and hi-hat pattern using on a 16-step pattern. The second instance adds just a few additional hi-hat hits but uses a 17-step pattern. When played together, the two patterns shift against each other as they are of different lengths and, while the steady kick and snare hold the overall rhythm together, movement within the rhythm is provided by the hi-hats to add interest and only starts to repeat after every 17 bars.

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