Intense Tech with Defense Mech: Groovy Groove and Tick Tricks Part 1!

- Posted April 11th, 2019 by

Hello and welcome back to Intense Tech with Defense Mech! This month I’ll be sharing a few examples of how to use different grooves in LSDj. After you read this lesson, you should feel comfortable using more advanced techniques to manipulate timing in your LSDj songs!

Art by @dethrood

I’d like to start with covering the basics, so bear with me as we may be retreading familiar territory. First, what is a tick? A tick is the smallest unit of time in LSDj. It’s like a pixel of time; you can’t divide time into any smaller components (that makes it basically the Planck unit of LSDj!). How long or short a tick actually lasts depends upon the tempo setting, so for instance one tick at 80 BPM is twice as long as one tick at 160 BPM. (Sometimes individual tick values may vary slightly in the interest of keeping the tempo as consistent as possible.)

Values for commands such as Kill, Delay, and Retrigger are specified as a number of ticks. For instance, K01 will kill a note after 1 tick. Wave instrument Speed is also specified in ticks. Additionally, tables run commands at 1 tick per line by default.

Setting a groove allows us to specify how many ticks each line of a phrase or table should last. The default groove is 6/6, which means the first line of a phrase lasts for 6 ticks, and the second line also lasts for 6 ticks (in fact the second ‘6’ in this groove is redundant and can be removed without changing playback of the song). To apply a groove to a phrase or table, place a G command. The line where the G command is placed will last the number of ticks in the first line of the specified groove, and each line afterwards will last the number of ticks specified in each following line of the groove. For example, a 7/5 groove placed on line 3 of a phrase or table means line 3 will last 7 ticks, line 4 will last 5 ticks, and so on.

To organize grooves within a song, I use a technique that I learned from Hypnogram which is to set the number of ticks in grooves according to the number of the groove itself. So for instance, Groove 00 is the default, but you can’t specify 0 ticks so I leave that at 6/6 (or 6, or whatever I want to be the default). For the following grooves, Groove 01 is set to 1, Groove 02 is set to 2, and so on. I generally set these all the way up to Groove 0C or 12, which is double the default of 6 (though you can feel free to set these up to Groove 0F if you want). This way when I use a G command in a phrase or table, it’s immediately obvious how many ticks each line lasts for. I then usually specify custom grooves for Groove 10-1F – if I look at a G command and see G12 or G17, I know each line will last a different number of ticks. So, for instance I may make G10 a 7/5 swung groove

One fun technique is to exploit the unique ability of LSDj to have different grooves on each channel. In my cover of the song “Into You” by Ariana Grande, I put the wave channel on a 7/5 groove to swing the kick and the bass, while the rest of the channels are straight 6/6 groove. It adds a nice tension to the time feel which sounds kind of in-between swung and straight time.

In a groove such as 7/5, the first line lasts for seven ticks and the second line lasts for five ticks. Since there are only 2 values specified in this groove, each subsequent line alternates between lasting seven ticks or five ticks. This long-short feel adds 16th-note swing. Increasing the difference to 8/4 or 9/3 will increase the swing even more dramatically.

You might also experiment with one channel on 8/4 swing and the other channels on 7/5 swing for more fluid swing feels. In my song Illumin8, I used a variety of swung grooves in the lead to emphasize different parts of the melody. Some grooves, like 8/5/7/4, combine both swing feels while still comprising 24 ticks over four lines, the same as a 6-tick or 7/5 groove. This further increases the push and pull of the melody and contributes a looser, less rigid, more human-like feel to the lead instrument. It provides a nice subtle contrast to the simpler 7/5 groove the rest of the channels are playing.

Grooves 10, 11, 13, and 15 are all various swung grooves

I might make G11 a 3/9 groove for note bending (I usually make this something like 3/9/6/6 in case I need room to add a few more commands until I can fit a G command to return to a 6-tick groove). This groove is also handy if you want a wave channel kick to last only three ticks before a bass note. Here’s an example where I used this groove both ways in BEAT JUiCE:

* I’ll add a note here that LSDj version 6 allows for retriggering the same groove by using successive G commands to restart the same groove over from line 1. Previous LSDj versions however will not restart the groove if the same groove command is used consecutively.

While working in the default 6-tick groove is fairly common, there may be cases where 6 ticks per line is too slow. Choosing a default groove of 3 ticks per line provides a higher resolution for faster note and command triggering. Essentially, playing phrases at a 6-tick groove allows you to play 16 notes and commands each 6 ticks long for a total of 96 ticks per phrase. If you play a phrase at a 3-tick groove, you can play notes and commands twice as fast, but each phrase only lasts 48 ticks, so you’ll need two 3-tick phrases to cover the same amount of time as one 6-tick phrase. Likewise, as phrase resolution increases, you’ll need three 2-tick phrases, or six 1-tick phrases to cover the same amount of time.

One way to take advantage of higher-resolution phrases is to use a Hop command within the phrase to add ticks to its duration. With the right Hop commands, a phrase that normally lasts 48 ticks can be made to last 96. Sometimes this results in some complicated looping, but it can be rewarding to figure it out!

In this example from my song Near Miss, I set one channel to a 3-tick groove and looped the notes I wanted to arpeggiate. It’s common to use tables to create arpeggios, but this method uses phrases to accomplish the same thing. In phrases, the first digit of the H command specifies how many times to hop (0 means skip to the next phrase), and the second digit specifies which line to hop to. So for instance, H71 hops to Line 1 seven times, then continues playing the phrase until H5A, which hops to Line A five times before finishing the phrase.

Phrases can be lengthened by using H commands

I hope this lesson has given you some new ideas to use grooves in your tunes! Next time, we’ll take a look at a few more examples of how to use different grooves in phrases and tables!

Until then, this is DEFENSE MECHANISM, signing off!

Note: traducción al Español por Pixel Guy encontrado aquí.

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