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  #1  
Old 10-24-2013, 12:43 PM
ricky ricky is offline
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Default Having trouble playing with click

I'm pretty much a novice, and I'm trying to work on playing with click.

When I play without one I can keep a decent groove, but for some reason with a click, I tend to be late on the snare. Sometimes early on the kick and hihat, and then late on the snare. Makes the groove sound like it's dragging. I feel like I'm keeping time and grooving, but when I listen back, it's no good!!

If I play really rigidly I can keep the groove.

I know the answer is probably "keep practicing", but I thought maybe someone might have a clue as to why I'm doing this.

Also, what is better to practice with, a simple metronome click, or a fuller percussion type loop or something along those lines?

Thanks!
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  #2  
Old 10-24-2013, 01:09 PM
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JustJames JustJames is offline
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Default Re: Having trouble playing with click

I've been drumming for less than a year, so take this whence it comes.

Initially I found an old fashioned clockwork metronome to be really useful, because if I lost my place, it wasn't doing any fancy bar counting, just clicking at a steady rate, so I could leap back in as soon as gathered myself up again.

I tried apps on my (Android) phone. One of them was definitely speeding up and slowing down. That was a PITA because as a newbie drummer I assumed it was me losing the beat. It definitely wasn't.

Now I'm using a Boss DB60, and setting up clues for bars, which I now appreciate a bit more.

Don't overthink it...when you get it right, the click (whatever its source) magically disappears.
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  #3  
Old 10-24-2013, 01:21 PM
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Bo Eder Bo Eder is offline
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Default Re: Having trouble playing with click

Perhaps you're not going slow enough. Obviously, you have to put in the time - anything worth doing will take time and lots of trial and error, but probably more error. I suggest getting a metronome you can hear (I still use an ancient Boss Dr. Beat) and slowing down, concentrating on exact beat placement.

If you check out Benny Greb's instructional DVD (I think he only has one), he has a whole section where he shows how he works with a metronome. It was difficult, but enlightening what you can do with it. But the concept is to get the beat internalized within you so you can play around with beats. Good luck!
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Old 10-24-2013, 04:01 PM
beyondbetrayal beyondbetrayal is offline
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Default Re: Having trouble playing with click

you nailed the answer in your question..

to get good with a click. practice with a click.

i see bands record all the time (guitars.bass.drums) and they are GREAT players, and cant play to a click for all.. some even ask to turn the click off so they can just play to the drums or whatever. that's not how to record. EVERYONE plays to the click..

I play to a click (with backing tracks) every time a i jam to my bands songs because i have the luxury that we record ourselves and i have a computer in the jam room. but even a small metronome is good enough.......

try using it for your playing.. your rudiments. your fills. whatever. eventually it will be hard to play out of time
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  #5  
Old 10-24-2013, 05:04 PM
eastcoastdrummer eastcoastdrummer is offline
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Default Re: Having trouble playing with click

Maybe it's a time vs. feel thing? If you feel it's steady while you're playing it, but the snare sounds "late" on playback, maybe you ARE keeping good time, but not playing with the right feel (at least the feel you're expecting to hear on playback).

This could actually be a great thing for you - if you're already somewhat steady to the click, and are already recording yourself and analyzing it, it shouldn't be too long before you nail it.

Work on your feel alongside the click - keep the hats and bass where they are and try to nudge the snare a bit ahead in your groove. It'll feel all wrong for awhile (probably get some tension from trying to play the snare early) but you'll know for sure on playback. Once it sounds good there, you'll just have to keep repeating it until the new groove feels as natural as the old wonky-sounding one.
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  #6  
Old 10-24-2013, 06:48 PM
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Acidline303 Acidline303 is offline
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Default Re: Having trouble playing with click

Quote:
Originally Posted by ricky View Post
Also, what is better to practice with, a simple metronome click, or a fuller percussion type loop or something along those lines?!
This can have a bigger impact on your patience with the click than you think. I had all sorts of issues with the quarter note "bink boop boop boop" that I had to follow on my second recording session. I sat down on Cubase one night and programmed a few bars of click with quarters with a nice ride bell sound and much softer 8th notes on a shaker type sound. Those 8ths made a huge difference. I think it's much easier to align your time to something that actually sounds a bit musical, rather than a static prodding you get from the default sounds on some machines.
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  #7  
Old 10-24-2013, 06:52 PM
cornelius cornelius is offline
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Default Re: Having trouble playing with click

That's great that you're recording yourself, and it's also great that you're hearing where you're having problems - that's the first step :-)

You didn't mention what kind of grooves you were playing, or the tempo, so fill us in if you can... Playing to a more layered loop is a great way to practice. If you have access to loops with a steady tempo, then record yourself again and see if your playing changes.

With the sparse click, playing spaces is difficult, but learning to hear, feel and internalize that space is part of playing. Also play along with some songs that you know have steady time (drum machine or programmed drum parts that songs have). Keep on recording yourself, it's a great way for you to hear how you're doing, but will also train your ears and help you to be a critical listener...
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  #8  
Old 10-24-2013, 09:31 PM
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John Lamb John Lamb is offline
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Default Re: Having trouble playing with click

Metronomes suck.

To make a long story short, (I go into more detail about how and why in my book) they just don't do a great job at what they are supposed to do.

Now - don't get me wrong - having something measure your tempo is really really important. I just don't think the metronome is the best tool for the job. Instead, I advocate using a step sequencer, such as a drum machine. There are many free phone and browser apps, as well as more fully functioning programs such as Fruity Loops where you can program in something that is a bit easier and FAR, FAR, FAR more pleasant to work with.

Step sequencers allow you to craft repeating patterns that can specifically support you and what you want to practice. You can delete bars, and do a lot of other things that most metronomes don't allow you to.


It is possible to enjoy the click of the metronome - I do. At least now I do. I suffered through the click for years before I learned to enjoy it. The cold, non musical click just drove me batty. Instead use a drum machine to create something that is fun to play along with. You'll get more out of your practice time and have more fun to boot. Why make things harder on yourself?
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  #9  
Old 10-24-2013, 09:41 PM
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Default Re: Having trouble playing with click

two major tips that will benefit you in your quest for good time

1) play with the met, not to the met

2) don't chase the clicks/beeps, just divide the space between them evenly ....look at the clicks as checkpoints ......the space between them is where we live ....live there and you will eventually be able to make the time elastic


have fun....we've all been through it and it's well worth the time and effort

enjoy the process
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  #10  
Old 10-24-2013, 10:20 PM
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picodon picodon is offline
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Default Re: Having trouble playing with click

Quote:
Originally Posted by ricky View Post
I'm pretty much a novice, and I'm trying to work on playing with click.

When I play without one I can keep a decent groove, but for some reason with a click, I tend to be late on the snare. Sometimes early on the kick and hihat, and then late on the snare. Makes the groove sound like it's dragging.

Thanks!
I can't find it back quickly now but I remember there was a thread with a comment on how things get more groovy when you slightly delay the 3, which means being late on the backbeat. You may be wrong time-wise, but right groove-wise. Of course you may be wrong groove-wise too if you exaggerate and get closer to the 3-uh than to the 3.

I do agree with previous post that the clicks should be seen as references, not every note must be right on the click and not a millisecond later. Drumming with a mtronome becomes stressful otherwise. I see it as a tool that prevents you from rushing or dragging, not a tool that tells you exactly where to place your hits.
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  #11  
Old 10-25-2013, 12:56 AM
ricky ricky is offline
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Default Re: Having trouble playing with click

Quote:
Originally Posted by cornelius View Post

You didn't mention what kind of grooves you were playing, or the tempo, so fill us in if you can.
Just simple 4/4 beats. I do find that I don't really have this problem at faster tempos. But below 100 bpm it starts to happen. Yesterday I was practicing at 75 bpm.
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  #12  
Old 10-25-2013, 01:03 AM
ricky ricky is offline
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Default Re: Having trouble playing with click

Quote:
Originally Posted by John Lamb View Post

Now - don't get me wrong - having something measure your tempo is really really important. I just don't think the metronome is the best tool for the job. Instead, I advocate using a step sequencer, such as a drum machine. There are many free phone and browser apps, as well as more fully functioning programs such as Fruity Loops where you can program in something that is a bit easier and FAR, FAR, FAR more pleasant to work with.
I do have a setup with a DAW.

Something I was thinking is maybe contributing to my problem is hearing the click. I have it going in headphones, and I have to turn it up pretty loud. It's almost painful sometimes. I don't have the drums going through the headphones. I almost think part of it is the way I'm hearing my drums, the balance in the room or something (it's a very dead room), and then the click pounding in my ears.
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  #13  
Old 10-25-2013, 01:05 AM
ricky ricky is offline
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Default Re: Having trouble playing with click

Quote:
Originally Posted by picodon View Post
I can't find it back quickly now but I remember there was a thread with a comment on how things get more groovy when you slightly delay the 3, which means being late on the backbeat. You may be wrong time-wise, but right groove-wise. Of course you may be wrong groove-wise too if you exaggerate and get closer to the 3-uh than to the 3.
That's interesting. I suppose that could be what I'm trying to do, but at this point instead of groovy I am sounding more spazzy.
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  #14  
Old 10-25-2013, 01:07 AM
ricky ricky is offline
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Default Re: Having trouble playing with click

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Originally Posted by beyondbetrayal View Post
you nailed the answer in your question..

to get good with a click. practice with a click.
I had a feeling!

Thanks everyone, for all the comments and tips, I really appreciate it!
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  #15  
Old 10-25-2013, 02:12 AM
Stoney Stoney is offline
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Default Re: Having trouble playing with click

Hi beyondbetrayal

To put in my penny's worth...

Yes practice is the key but the most important thing is to feel comfortable with the click and not get bogged down by it. It's ok to play ahead or behind the click or right on it. You just have to keep it as a reference and nothing more. I think perhaps whilst you are playing with it you are concentrating on the click more than you are yourself! Just relax and play loosely around it and think of it as a reference and the more you do it the more relaxed you will become :)

How are you playing with music that has been played to a click btw? Record yourself doing that and hear back how that sounds. There's loads of play along stuff out there and it's far more enjoyable than playing with just a click (from a practice point of view).
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  #16  
Old 10-25-2013, 05:59 AM
beyondbetrayal beyondbetrayal is offline
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Default Re: Having trouble playing with click

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Originally Posted by Stoney View Post
Hi beyondbetrayal

To put in my penny's worth...

Yes practice is the key but the most important thing is to feel comfortable with the click and not get bogged down by it. It's ok to play ahead or behind the click or right on it. You just have to keep it as a reference and nothing more. I think perhaps whilst you are playing with it you are concentrating on the click more than you are yourself! Just relax and play loosely around it and think of it as a reference and the more you do it the more relaxed you will become :)

How are you playing with music that has been played to a click btw? Record yourself doing that and hear back how that sounds. There's loads of play along stuff out there and it's far more enjoyable than playing with just a click (from a practice point of view).

Before shows i jam to my own bands songs.. i have the sessions. so i crank the click and mute the drums basically... we have click tracks mp3s rendered too so its nice to have.

I agree with you for the most parts.. but when practicing recording in time to a click or your just starting.. its good to try and play with the click. not in front or behind. same with rudiments.. once you get good at playing in time.. you can work with ahead or behind the beat. I also think playing to a click ALL the time isn't great either. I do sometimes but not as often as i should, but i feel i have a pretty good sense of time. no where near perfect. learning how to keep time without the metronome is nice.. and not concentrating on BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP and just having fun is what its all about. but for recording I'm a huge believer in a click.

I'm no expert on a click like some guys.. i flam my kick and snare the odd time but that's part of my style now... also.. when i have a click going its usually 220-240bpm.. so doing blast beats and double kick at these speeds its hard to be PERFECT all the time too..

. as the other guy said, I have my click on an earbud when i practice and i need it LOUD!!! like damaging loud....

your best bet ( if you can afford it) is a set of mics. so you can have a set of isolation headphones. that way you don't need your click blowing your ear drums. or get a set of gun range headphones and an earbud in one ear with a click. slide the ear cup off the other ear to hear your drums.. that way the click is isolated and doesn't have to be too loud.

personally the style of my band I play in, I want to be BANG ON the click all the time. (death metal) probably why my post is biased to recording with a click and having good time.
when i play jazz or blues i prefer not to have a click on as its nice to change tempo from time to time or play in front of or behind the beat as you said. or same as if I'm just jamming out on my kit playing

either way, practice is key. with or without a metronome.. your timing and coordination is only going to improve.. nothing happens in a day

Last edited by beyondbetrayal; 10-25-2013 at 06:03 AM. Reason: editing
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  #17  
Old 10-25-2013, 07:13 AM
robthetimekeeper robthetimekeeper is offline
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Default Re: Having trouble playing with click

Quote:
Originally Posted by ricky View Post
Just simple 4/4 beats. I do find that I don't really have this problem at faster tempos. But below 100 bpm it starts to happen. Yesterday I was practicing at 75 bpm.
Try setting at 150 bpm rather than 75 bpm and counting eighth notes instead of quarter notes. Your beat will stay the same tempo but there will be less space between the clicks making it easier to stay on time. Works for me.
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  #18  
Old 10-25-2013, 08:24 AM
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Default Re: Having trouble playing with click

Quote:
Originally Posted by ricky View Post
I do have a setup with a DAW.

Something I was thinking is maybe contributing to my problem is hearing the click. I have it going in headphones, and I have to turn it up pretty loud. It's almost painful sometimes. I don't have the drums going through the headphones. I almost think part of it is the way I'm hearing my drums, the balance in the room or something (it's a very dead room), and then the click pounding in my ears.
You don't actually need the click very loud at all. You ought to able to turn it way down and still work with it. Besides, turning it up too loud is really dangerous for your hearing.

The problem isn't that you can't hear the click, it is that the click isn't working. A musical pulse acts like a drill sergeant, synchronizing the brain to it's beat. A metronome just isn't very musical, and if you try to play *to* it, it becomes torture. Instead of trying to listen to the click, try to feel for it. It is a small semantic difference, but a huge difference in result. Victor Wooten's book The Music Lesson might be a good read for you. It turned my head around on this point the 2nd time I read it.
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Old 10-25-2013, 09:21 AM
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Default Re: Having trouble playing with click

I agree with what everyone is saying to a large extent.

The click should be FELT more than it should be HEARD.

When I first started practicing to a metronome, I had the track blaring. This creates a number of problems. First off, it kills your hearing. A piercing sound drilling your ear drums for any length of time at high volume is not good for the ear drums. And those are your most valuable drums! Secondly, in recording, a REALLY loud click will often bleed into the recording. Which is not something you want either.

So what I like to do is I turn the click down so it's JUST loud enough that I can hear it over my drums. And I just try and groove to it. Pay attention to it every so often just to make sure that you're on time. Most clicks will have a different BEEP for the "1" count, so as long as you can line up with that, you should be good.

I kinda feel like playing to a metronome is one of those things where you just wake up one day and a light bulb goes off and then suddenly you can't NOT play to it, lol.
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  #20  
Old 10-25-2013, 11:44 AM
Stoney Stoney is offline
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Default Re: Having trouble playing with click

@ Beyondbetrayal

I was a bit confused there reading your reply back thinking hang on, this guy seems to know what he's doing so why is he asking the question in the first place

I then realised I mistakingly replied to you and not the OP (Ricky) which was my intention. Apologies :)
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  #21  
Old 10-25-2013, 04:05 PM
beyondbetrayal beyondbetrayal is offline
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Default Re: Having trouble playing with click

haha all good. I'm just another drummer trying to hand out tips. I never used the internet/forums when i started playing.


I find the clicks in reaper/protools / other daws don't cut it for me...... i DO play loud. but i cant hear them until they are shaking my head making my eyes blink every time.

try using a different sound.... i also found a good tip in reaper.. set the click up as a track. so you can see the wave form of the click. then use a trigger vst and trigger the click track with a cowbell.... DONK DONK DONK... you can turn it down and here it pretty good.

and its harder to sync the slower you go... that was great advice.. double the speed of the click and use it as 1/8 notes.

if your playing REAL slow you could almost set it 4 times to 16th notes... its annoying to play with but the recording will sound tight
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  #22  
Old 11-11-2013, 11:54 PM
FridgeBuzz FridgeBuzz is offline
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Default Re: Having trouble playing with click

"You cannot create experience, you must undergo it."

I started using a click track during live gigs with my band last week. I've used the click for practice through my entire experience as a drummer but never in a live situation because I thought that the groove on a live set should be felt as human as possible. I put together a small click station that involved a 4 channel mixer, an ipad, and a passive DI box. At first I was fearing for my life that I was just going to be so completely out of control from the click that I would end up hitting the kill switch within 30 seconds of the song. After playing 3 sets through, I got pretty comfortable and it seemed like the band was way tighter. I guess you could say I dove head first on this experience and I'm glad I did because now I know which part in each song I can expend my energy or keep reserved. But like others have state there may be that risk of depending on the click. I don't see it that way, but rather see it as a very essential tool for allowing the audience to comprehend what the rest of the band is playing.
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  #23  
Old 11-12-2013, 12:47 AM
drum4fun27302 drum4fun27302 is online now
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Default Re: Having trouble playing with click

Try practicing with just the 1 (no 2,3 and 4) if the song is at 120 , put your metronome at 30 and play with the click on the 1. That will give you more freedom yet be much harder .
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  #24  
Old 11-14-2013, 04:48 PM
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Torkerz Torkerz is offline
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Default Re: Having trouble playing with click

You know, I had a drum teacher who would be listening to a song he knew in the car, singing along. He would get out, fill up with gas go pay and then come back to his car, switch back on his engine and he would be in the EXACT place the song was, and that is no exaggeration... I saw him do it.

What is this you may ask? Freak of nature? No... His time was impeccable. Working with a click isn't just about hitting the points signified by the click, it's understanding the space between the notes too.

I always find singing common subdivisions between the click help me understand slow tempos, or tempos where I have decided to have the 1 mark the beginning of lets say the 5th bar. For example sixteenths.

1 e + a 2 e+ a etc

Increasing the subdivision, helps you mark time and keep the tempo in your head.

Time Awareness for all Musicians by Peter Erskine is a great book to help you work on time keeping. Remember, the click always should be used as a reference point. I used to have the click mark this skip note in a jazz ride line only... That was HARD, but it helped me understand what time is... It's about the SPACES and making them even.

Just take it slow and really get to the bottom of what the click is doing. Practice everything with the click. You will scream, throw your sticks, punch the cymbal sometimes... But keep at it and sooner or later every sound engineer or producer will be saying "That was TIGHT" A trick I got taught, with a 4/4 click, if you can't actually hear the click any more, you're bang on the beat.

Good luck dude!
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