Slicing to Notes

The concept of a musical slicing operation may be familiar. The idea is to take an audio waveform and cut it into logical pieces that can be played with note messages.

By right-clicking an audio clip, a couple of slicing options are listing in the context menu. (These same options also appear in the Edit menu.)

The Slice to Multisample Function

The Slice to Multisample... function presents a dialog box.

The dialog begins with two options regarding the source to be sliced:

  • Bounce and Slice: Executes a bounce function of the clip before slicing it. If this is selected, the signal flow options from the Bounce dialog are shown below (see The Bounce Function).

  • Slice Raw: Simply slices the raw source event.

After these choices comes the critical Slice at setting, which determines at what interval slices will be made. The choices are self-explanatory, including event-based intervals (Beat Marker, Onset, and Audio Event) and time-based intervals (Bar, 1/2 note, 1/4 note, 1/8 note, 1/16 note, and 1/32 note).

When Onset is selected, an additional histogram view appears in the dialog, showing the current selection's onsets based on their strength. The Onset Threshold parameter lets you use only use the strongest onsets. If an Onset Intensity Threshold for set for this event (see Stretch Section), then that value will be used. A setting of 0 % will use all onsets.

Additionally, if the Detail Editor Panel is onscreen, it will stay bright even when the dialog is open to visualize which onsets will be used. If the dialog's Onset Threshold is changed — by adjusting the numeric control or dragging the vertical slider within the histogram representation — the shown/dimmed onsets in the Detail Editor Panel will update.

The final option in the dialog is to Limit number of slices or not. This does not alter the Slice at setting, but simply stops slicing if the maximum slice count has been reached.

Choosing to Slice Raw at each Onset and clicking OK would lead to a new instrument track with a new note clip.

On this new instrument track, a Sampler device has also been created with the corresponding slice of audio assigned to each note seen in the note clip.

The original audio clip could now be rearranged by editing the note events, or it could be reinterpreted on the fly by playing any of these notes in real time.

The Slice to Drum Machine Function

The Slice to Drum Machine... function leads to the exact same dialog as Slice to Multisample... and produces a new instrument track with a new note clip in the same way, but the instrument track is given a Drum Machine device with each slice loaded into its own separate Sampler.

The choice between Sampler and Drum Machine is really one of workflow. While Sampler places all slices in the same signal chain, the Drum Machine gives you independent chains (and a unique Sampler) for each slice. If you want to process individual slices in different ways, you might favor the Drum Machine.

In the end — like so many things in Bitwig Studio — the choice is up to you and your personal preference.

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