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Old 04-04-2011, 02:32 AM
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bermuda bermuda is offline
Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
Join Date: Apr 2006
Location: Los Angeles
Posts: 6,548
Default Re: My rant on today's pop music

Originally Posted by mediocrefunkybeat View Post
How do you cope with a piece that has been deliberately quantised to Hell and back again? Are you inclined to attempt to humanise it or do you prefer to play it absolutely back to the original?
A track can only be quantized to a grid, it can't go any further than being perfectly tight to the tempo. And let's not forget that a drummer's goal is to play on time, not loosely. Perhaps he doesn't need to be perfectly locked to a grid, but only so much straying and flamming is permissable. Just as you can't over-quantize, you can't over-humanize, or it just sounds bad. There's a point where you can no longer rationalize a drummer's looseness as 'feel'.

Anyway, the rule is, if a song is sequenced, that's what I do. If it's played, that's what I do. The goal is to not make changes, although there've been a few occasions where we've improved upon the feel by straightening out something that just felt bad groove-wise in the original. We don't take things the other way though... making them more 'human' when they weren't that way to begin with.

I ask this because I want to know your (obviously contextual) perspective on the quantising issue. I have no specific bias personally - I have written a lot of electronic music in the last few years and I've taken both programming approaches, but is the 'perfect time' tool used too much when it's actually entirely unnecessary?
Is perfect time ever unnecessary? Let's be careful not to confuse groove and tempo as mutually exclusive. When Vinnie and Gadd and all the rest groove hard with a click, nobody jumps all over them or says they sound stiff, sterile, or too perfect. It's just as easy to make a robotic part against grid, as to program a very human part that's also in perfect time. We hear a lot of music on the radio that grooves, flows, and you'd swear has a live drummer. I've been fooled, and I'm supposed to know the difference! I'm also very proud of songs I've recorded that sound like a seqeunce. It's the pinnacle of precision.

That actually raises another point - what if I have to duplicate a part that I can't tell is played or programmed? I do whichever I feel will duplicate the part the closest. Although it might be helpful, it's not so important that I know how a part or sound was created, I just need to know how to re-create it, and that's where my sanity is often taken to the edge.

I'm working on something right now that's mind-numbing in terms of the amount of actual parts and sounds. If I told you what it was, you'd probably say "That? But it sounds so simple!" Well, part of what takes a simple sounding part and makes it groove are all the little subtle shakers, additional loops that are barely perceptible, but they're in there and contribute to the groove. I suppose if some of the pop haters had to program the way I do, they'd have a reason for hating the songs! Haha, seriously though, they'd also have a genuine respect for what goes into those tracks. As I do.

Back to programming.

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