Tips for humanizing your grooves and rhythms

Although they can be implemented as an artistic choice, perfectly-quantized drums often sound sterile and lifeless.

Humanizing your rhythms can help make them feel performed and achieve that enigmatic feeling we refer to as ‘groove.’ In the video tutorial above, we walk through how to humanize your drums via velocity, timing, and pitch manipulation. Focusing on FL Studio and Ableton, we also explore some DAW-specific tricks for templatizing and accelerating your workflow (if you’re a Logic Pro user, check out our other tutorial on humanization).

Humanizing rhythms is a delicate art that strives to strike a balance between accuracy (we don’t want to go so far off the grid that the intended rhythm becomes unclear) and the musicality that’s born from the inherent imperfections of human performance. Furthermore, some rhythmic adjustments can be quite subtle, so diving into humanization can also be a great way to sharpen your musical ear.

Do you have any questions on the techniques discussed in the video? Let us know in the comments below.

March 28, 2020

Nick Chen Content Marketing @ Splice. Nick Chen is a producer, performer, and educator under the aliases "nickthechen" and "Enix."