Guidance on Sharpening Up for Recording Slow, Sparse Music

Maleven

Member
Hi,

I'm in the process of preparing to record for an album I've been working on intermittently with my band mate for some time. The background here is, our music is glacially slow and quite sparse (tempo range on the album of 16 beats per minute to 37 beats per minute, imagine Earth meets Morricone on barbiturates).

In terms of my technical level, when 'match fit' I can play some Tool (albeit single kick; Stinkfist, Parabola, Bottom etc.) and Mars Volta stuff (Cygnus... Vismund Cygnus) reasonably well. That's about my limit. But I'm more interested in really nailing the absolute basics at near elite level, which of course is 90% of the job, especially in almost any kind of rock music that isn't prog metal or thrash/grindcore.

Anyway, I'm more or less entirely self-taught but learned very little theory or proper technique. I've barely ever been a regular practicer since my first two years of playing, but I'm now looking to spend around a month or so sharpening up ahead of putting the drums down.

To track well, I of course need to be really tight to the click, if not in terms of 'feel', then at least so my feel isn't really lopey as I try to catch up with it or drop back to meet it. In addition, my general execution in terms of accuracy and dynamics could use improvement.

With all this in mind, I'd love it if any wiser heads could offer some tips for stuff like tightening up the execution of my drags (being erratic with them often causes the start of the next bar to lag or be rushed, to my ear at least), useful exercises and rudiments and general technical tips to improve my fundamentals; both hands, both feet, meter, dynamic control, accuracy etc.

Thanks in advance for any suggestions or advice. And if anyone's curious to hear rough recordings to get a grasp of what it is I'm doing, I can send you links etc.
 
Last edited:

bermuda

Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
Staff member
First, literally... relax!

Second, don't play games with the click. I don't know what 16bpm sounds like, but I can assure you, you'll need more than one click every 4 seconds in order to follow that! Don't fall into the 'my time will improve with more space between each click' trap. Set a realistic pulse that will actually keep you on track. Don't try to outwit the click... make it work for you.

So, if a quarter note is really 16bpm, you'll probably need a 32nd note pulse just to keep your sanity. That's equivalent to 1/4 notes at 128bpm, which is reasonable.

Good luck!

Bermuda
 

Maleven

Member
First, literally... relax!

Second, don't play games with the click. I don't know what 16bpm sounds like, but I can assure you, you'll need more than one click every 4 seconds in order to follow that! Don't fall into the 'my time will improve with more space between each click' trap. Set a realistic pulse that will actually keep you on track. Don't try to outwit the click... make it work for you.

So, if a quarter note is really 16bpm, you'll probably need a 32nd note pulse just to keep your sanity. That's equivalent to 1/4 notes at 128bpm, which is reasonable.

Good luck!

Bermuda
Hahahaha, oh yep. The clicks are already set up in the track projects for Reaper. Recorded rim clicks myself, cut them down as samples, then sequenced them with more gentle upbeats between the quarter and eighth notes for a good musical feel. I'm using 32nds even at 37 bpm, and also 32nds at 16 bpm. Funnily enough, the 32nds work fine at 16 bpm because it's that slow and sparse that you almost don't have to be in a rhythm to play it, and don't get into one if you're just listening to it. As a result, minor discrepancies on where notes land don't jump out because the last one was literally two seconds ago; the part in question there is just kick on 1 and 3, and snare on 2 and 4 (with a semi-ghost note on the snare on the last 64th before 2 and 4). So it's sort of too long to even stand out.

It's more the evenness of my bars and landing dead on at 37 bpm that's the difficulty. Hitting the 2s, 3s and 4s more or less dead on is easy enough, it's mainly the start of bars after drags at the end of the previous, with which my technique is poor. That and to a lesser degree landing the 8ths on the ride with 100% precision, and being steady through fills (basic as they are). The tempo doesn't help because 37 is still "quick" enough to "feel" like a conventional rhythm, but slow enough to make it hard for a player as technically ropey as I am to execute consistently well.


Thanks for the advice. As well as brushing up technically (which I think could solve a lot), it's a question of finding the balance between staying relaxed and concentrating, a balance which basically lies in locking into a bit of a "zone". Concentration is big when you're playing so slow, it's like trying to ride a bike as slowly as you can really.
 

bermuda

Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
Staff member
It's more the evenness of my bars and landing dead on at 37 bpm that's the difficulty. Hitting the 2s, 3s and 4s more or less dead on is easy enough, it's mainly the start of bars after drags at the end of the previous, with which my technique is poor. That and to a lesser degree landing the 8ths on the ride with 100% precision, and being steady through fills (basic as they are).
It's just a matter of practicing with a click or loop or sequence. You've already identified your weak spots, so it's just a question of correcting them satisfactorily, and consistently. When you get to the rough spots, you correct. It becomes automatic with some practice, and also translates to your regular playing without a click.

Good luck!

Bermuda
 
Top