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  #1  
Old 10-08-2010, 04:22 PM
Witterings Witterings is offline
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Default Session Work Advice Please

I'm in a fortunate situation with my work that if someone called and said we need you in a studio today as we've been let down I could nearly always drop what I'm doing, pack up my kit and head straight off and am thinking about trying to get some session work.

I'll be doing this mainly because I want to and for the love of playing rather than my mainstream income (be a bonus to get paid as well) but as I've never done it before have no idea what to do / expect if I get that 1st call ??

I'd appreciate any advice anyone can give and a couple of specific queries I have are:

How do you get the work - do you call sound engineers and ask them to put you on a list or do you have to call Producers and if so how would you go about finding them as they're not necessarily based at one studio???

Generally how much notice do you get (apart from the drop everthing come now call) and what might you be given in advance ie rough sound track, sheet music or anything or is it just turn up on the day and they drop the music in front of you and expect you to play it perfectly 1st time around and how much "interpretaion" is there for fills ???

In a studio sense what is a click track, I always play to records at home and when we've practiced as a band and have struggled with the tempo on some songs have often out a metronome though some headphones, is it literally a metronome or a track recorded to time ???

I know drums are layed down 1st but how does that work, what do you have to listen to or do you all play at the same time so you know where the songs going but just the drums are recorded ???

The only previous studio experience I have is going in with the band I was in at the time so knew the material inside out and we did a "budget" take where we all played together and then just the odd bum guitar note put right and where I'd missed a cymbal one just dropped in so really don't know what to expect at a more professional level ????

Any help / tips and anything useful you can think of on top of the questions I've thought of would be greatly appreciated !!!!
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  #2  
Old 10-08-2010, 05:13 PM
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bermuda bermuda is offline
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Default Re: Session Work Advice Please

Quote:
Originally Posted by Witterings View Post
How do you get the work - do you call sound engineers and ask them to put you on a list or do you have to call Producers and if so how would you go about finding them as they're not necessarily based at one studio???
Generally the producer or artist/musician hires the drummer, not the engineer or anyone at a studio. The studio or engineer might have a list of referrals though, in case a client calls, doesn't have a particular player, and wants to know if they can recommend anyone. However, in 35 years of sessions here in L.A., I've never witnessed it happen.

Quote:
Generally how much notice do you get (apart from the drop everthing come now call) and what might you be given in advance ie rough sound track, sheet music or anything or is it just turn up on the day and they drop the music in front of you and expect you to play it perfectly 1st time around and how much "interpretaion" is there for fills ???
You might get a call that morning, or days or weeks in advance. Sometimes you'll get some notice on what you'll be doing, sometims you learn when you walk in. You might get a rough chart, or not. You may or may not be allowed much freedom in your playing, a good artist or producer will generally give you at least a little, and often a lot of direction as to what they want. Every session/producer/artist/engineer is different.

Quote:
In a studio sense what is a click track, I always play to records at home and when we've practiced as a band and have struggled with the tempo on some songs have often out a metronome though some headphones, is it literally a metronome or a track recorded to time ???
You may get a straight click, or a programmed rhythm or percussion loop, depending mostly on what you prefer. But it's a good idea to be able to work with a plain 1/4 or 1/8 click in case that's all they can generate with ProTools or whatever they have.

Quote:
I know drums are layed down 1st but how does that work, what do you have to listen to or do you all play at the same time so you know where the songs going but just the drums are recorded ???
Drums aren't always first, occasionally they may be last! If you're called in to add drums to an existing track, you will probably get a chart and also be expected to run it down a few times before getting it perfect. Whether the track was cut with a click or not, as long as it has a good feel and you know where the twists & turns are, you should be able to follow it.

If tracking drums first, by themselves, the same would apply. You obviously need to know the song, partricularly where the vocals are.

Hopefully you'd get a demo in advance so you have some idea what you'll be doing. Despite the concepts of spontaneity and playing for the moment, the fact is that a recording is a permanent record of the performance, and parts must be executed with that in mind.

Good luck!

Bermuda
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  #3  
Old 10-08-2010, 05:24 PM
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bermuda bermuda is offline
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Default Re: Session Work Advice Please

One other thing, it's a good idea to be versed in samples and programming. Although a lot of producers and keyboradists may do their own drum sequences, it's sometimes preferrable to have a drummer create those parts. Not that the other musicians don't know how to program good beats... they just don't have a drummer's perspective on the parts.

It's easy & fun to create samples on the computer, and there are dozens of great libraries that 'plug-in' to ProTools, Cubase, Logic, Digital Performer, etc. MIDI is pretty straight ahead for drummers, it's just a matter of finding a program you like. I've tried a number of easy and intermediate programs, and always come back to ProTools for MIDI. I find Logic and DP very cumbersome for basic programming, but it's really about personal preference. A MIDI sequence turns out the same regardless how it was created.

The cool thing about doing tracks this way, is that you can work at home, and literally email the MIDI track and samples. Or you can even create the individual drum tracks (stems) via YouSendIt or some such large file service.

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Old 10-08-2010, 05:53 PM
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dairyairman dairyairman is offline
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Default Re: Session Work Advice Please

yeah! the last studio session job i did was a programming job. i wonder if that's the future for us, at least in the studio.
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Old 10-08-2010, 07:49 PM
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caddywumpus caddywumpus is offline
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Default Re: Session Work Advice Please

Calls come anytime...weeks prior or an hour prior (I have to turn those down nowadays, 'cause I got kids to watch...). Your name gets out there from working in studios with other groups or knowing the studio owners, or in the rare case, having enough of a famous reputation that your name gets around. I'm hooked up with a few studios: first call drummer in two of them and "on the list" in the other ones. The best things you can do to be desirable to the studios you work in is be punctual, reliable, and willing to try whatever it is the engineers/producers want you do. The reason I got the first-call position in one studio is because their previous first-call drummer was late....ONCE! Be easy to work with and reliable, and know how to "lay it down" in one take--EVERY take. Playing with a click is important, but usually you either track live with the band or lay your drum tracks over the existing instrumental tracks.

...just rambling. Hope this helps.
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Old 10-08-2010, 07:56 PM
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bermuda bermuda is offline
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Default Re: Session Work Advice Please

Quote:
Originally Posted by dairyairman View Post
yeah! the last studio session job i did was a programming job. i wonder if that's the future for us, at least in the studio.
It's not necessarily the future, as it's been going on for 30 years, side by side with manual playing. Will one replace the other? It's extremely doubtful. Some genres lend themselves specifically to one or the other, and many genres such as rock, pop, country, soul, rap et al, can go either way.

A good producer knows whether a track will benefit best with programming, or a live playing. A good drummer will be able to do both.

When machines became really popular in the early '80s and drummers were fearing for their jobs... those of us who wanted to keep working bought machines. Eventually we learned to create sounds and use computers for sequencing. It's all good, and all part of making music today. In that respect, yes, samples and sequences will be around in the future, as will acoustic drums and the need for players.

Bermuda
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Old 10-08-2010, 08:07 PM
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caddywumpus caddywumpus is offline
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Default Re: Session Work Advice Please

Nowadays, I find that it's less and less "drum machine" programming, and more and more "sound-replacing" software. People are wanting that live feel, but with the ability to have the drums sound like whatever it is that they want. Maybe that's just the studios I work with, though...
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Old 10-08-2010, 08:17 PM
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bermuda bermuda is offline
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Default Re: Session Work Advice Please

Quote:
Originally Posted by caddywumpus View Post
Nowadays, I find that it's less and less "drum machine" programming, and more and more "sound-replacing" software. People are wanting that live feel, but with the ability to have the drums sound like whatever it is that they want. Maybe that's just the studios I work with, though...
That does happen a lot, although it's really not the drummer's burden, and still preserves his feel. it's sort of the ultimate EQ in terms of making the drums sound exactly the way the producer/artist wants them. As with any use of samples, it won't work for every genre. Imagine trying to replace the snare on a jazz track!

Bermuda
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