How Perfect Is Perfect Timing?

Bigsby

Junior Member
Hi all,

I’ve been recording myself to a click and looking at the hits on the grid. i know people say not to do this but i find it useful, as i feel like i’m right on the beat when i’m playing but the grid/recording says something different. it’s good immediate feedback that has really improved my playing.

i find that i’m about 2-3ms off (usually in front of beat, but sometimes behind) from the click. this is subtle but nonetheless feels different from being right on.

question is: am i expecting too much of myself? can i really fix that 2-3ms or is that totally normal? i’m finding that correcting this extremely slight difference is difficult to feel out and am wondering what i should consider to be bang on the beat consistently.

thanks!!
 

Mighty_Joker

Silver Member
question is: am i expecting too much of myself? can i really fix that 2-3ms?
In order, yes, and no.

I have worked in this industry for over ten years, in everything from touring stage work where I played live on stage to a click and backing track, to studio recordings (with and without a click), educational media productions, and everything in between, and my timing to the ms has never, ever come up. Quantisation exists for pop producers who demand a particular thing, but as far as live drumming is concerned, you're never going to fix, nor ever need to fix, a 2ms timing issue.

That said, I applaud your method, and it will help your overall timing. I just don't think it's necessarily something to get hung up about. We're not robots, nor should we be.
 

CommanderRoss

Silver Member
Quantisation exists for pop producers who demand a particular thing, but as far as live drumming is concerned, you're never going to fix, nor ever need to fix, a 2ms timing issue.
We're not robots, nor should we be.
This!

As a hired gun, I do work for a guy who owns & runs a recording studio here in town. There have been days where I feel I'm "off" and want to do a few takes, but he'll pull me into the control room & show me the Pro Tools screen. It looks like I'm all over the place but in his opinion, it's not enough for people to really hear. The push and pull of the time is part of the "humanization" of music & that it's ok.

If he wanted stiff perfection, he'd just program the drums from his software.

Keep up your plan my brother. It's only for the best.
 

Xstr8edgtnrdrmrX

Well-known member
anyone - especially non-musicians (the most common listeners) - who notices a 2-3ms difference should be making money as a player/analyzer them selves...that is a very slight sway in tempo. I would not worry about it. In, fact, as others mentioned above, that shift is what gives music feeling

The way you are practicing will definitely help you visualize, adjust to, and monitor feel for sure, so it is not wasted effort. To me, NO practice is wasted effort. This kind of practice allows me to adjust major shifts in tempo in my non-combo group situations like community band and choral gigs I do where often times the tempo can shift between 10-40ms in an instant b/c of the number of people in the group....and often b/c of the number of people in the group that NEVER practice with a met
 

Old PIT Guy

Well-known member
It's interesting, because a guy like Efrain Toro can bend in and around a click playing Latin or fusion-funk and it sounds so right. And then someone else has a stab at it and it's like playing sharps and flats in all the wrong places. Of course musical context is in play - can't play contemporary music that way. Still, I think there's an implication involved in playing time that's on some level as important as measure-perfect metric time.
 

Push pull stroke

Platinum Member
anyone - especially non-musicians (the most common listeners) - who notices a 2-3ms difference should be making money as a player/analyzer them selves...that is a very slight sway in tempo. I would not worry about it. In, fact, as others mentioned above, that shift is what gives music feeling

The way you are practicing will definitely help you visualize, adjust to, and monitor feel for sure, so it is not wasted effort. To me, NO practice is wasted effort. This kind of practice allows me to adjust major shifts in tempo in my non-combo group situations like community band and choral gigs I do where often times the tempo can shift between 10-40ms in an instant b/c of the number of people in the group....and often b/c of the number of people in the group that NEVER practice with a met
I’m amazed you have the patience to play with a community band. Most of them aren’t nearly good enough for me to count measures of rest for. LOL
 

Odd-Arne Oseberg

Platinum Member
Practicing things like that is good and can only raise our skill and awareness, but when you play it should be about feeling good and sounds right to you or the artist your working for and that can meaning many things. The more aware you are of what's happening the more capable you'll be to hear and intuitively adjust to what's wanted.
 

Otto

Platinum Member
Keep in mind that engineers will 'humanize' a recorded tempo that is generated to sub 1 ms variance by adding a variable variance that is above 'human perception'(considered to be 5 ms)

+-3 ms(7ms variance) is right at human perception and what is 'generally' considered to indicate human origin and more friendly to the ear.

Perfection is not always a measurement of accuracy....and I hear my younger self incredulously scoff.
 
Last edited:

Xstr8edgtnrdrmrX

Well-known member
I’m amazed you have the patience to play with a community band. Most of them aren’t nearly good enough for me to count measures of rest for. LOL
well..it is actually more of a band director/retired professional musicians band. There is an audition process and you can get cut, though once you are in, that rarely happens. It is about the same level as my upper level college band was...so the music can be pretty intense.

Plus, I need some reason to justify adding to and keeping my huge Innovative Percussion bag of concert implements ;)
 

Push pull stroke

Platinum Member
well..it is actually more of a band director/retired professional musicians band. There is an audition process and you can get cut, though once you are in, that rarely happens. It is about the same level as my upper level college band was...so the music can be pretty intense.

Plus, I need some reason to justify adding to and keeping my huge Innovative Percussion bag of concert implements ;)
Yeah, I played in a group like that when I was in high school with my band director. It didn’t pay, but the level of playing was pretty high. I think everybody in there had a music degree, and most had master’s.
 

Xstr8edgtnrdrmrX

Well-known member
Yeah, I played in a group like that when I was in high school with my band director. It didn’t pay, but the level of playing was pretty high. I think everybody in there had a music degree, and most had master’s.
funny, in high school, i played in my band director's.....Polka Band. It was him on clarinet, his wife on tuba, his dad on accordion and vox, and me - a mulleted 80's metal head - on set. Dad was straight from Poland by way of Cleveland...we gigged on weekends and I was making $100 a weekend as a freshman and sophomore playing church basements, the local German restaurants and social clubs. It was a freaking blast!! My metal head/punk friends could not believe it, and I was like "it is basically old school punk!"
 

Bigsby

Junior Member
That’s pretty cool! How does it work? Can I also use it standalone when strumming with a guitar plugged into a miced amp? The documentation was a bit unclear to me on how to get it up and running.

I feel like there should be apps that do something like this, rather than needing a huge rack piece. also, these devices may not be good for neurotic people like me.
 

MrInsanePolack

Platinum Member
funny, in high school, i played in my band director's.....Polka Band. It was him on clarinet, his wife on tuba, his dad on accordion and vox, and me - a mulleted 80's metal head - on set. Dad was straight from Poland by way of Cleveland...we gigged on weekends and I was making $100 a weekend as a freshman and sophomore playing church basements, the local German restaurants and social clubs. It was a freaking blast!! My metal head/punk friends could not believe it, and I was like "it is basically old school punk!"
Totally, lots of 2/4 in polka. My grandparents listened to lots of polka when I was a kid. It's not horrible music by any means. Kinda circus-y, but I think the music was well before the circus.
 

Xstr8edgtnrdrmrX

Well-known member
Totally, lots of 2/4 in polka. My grandparents listened to lots of polka when I was a kid. It's not horrible music by any means. Kinda circus-y, but I think the music was well before the circus.
yep...circus'/traveling shows probably adapted it for its feel and sound.

One of the coolest things for me was just being immersed in the people celebrating their heritage. They were Polish, by way of the Cleveland Polish community, which has a very cool history. I am now married to a Detroit Polish person...I did not realize how strong of a presence Polish people had in Detroit. Her grand uncle is Pope John Paul II (Karol Wojtyla)...also pretty cool.

that whole culture was much different than mine - Swedish - in the music and the way they celebrated...
 
2-3 ms isn't anything to worry about. Sound travels at about 340 m/s, so 3 ms results in a distance of about 1 meter. You have bigger distances on stage between musicians and it still works.
If you want to work on those details though, you can try to "mask the click" by hitting right on the click. Too much analyzing might be counter-productive as you don't want to constantly second-guess yourself while playing. :)
 

sumdrumguy

Senior Member
question is: am i expecting too much of myself? can i really fix that 2-3ms or is that totally normal? i’m finding that correcting this extremely slight difference is difficult to feel out and am wondering what i should consider to be bang on the beat consistently.

Keep working on burying the click/metronome, but don't stress those hits that are slightly off.

Another great approach is using gaps in the click. Start with 3 bars of click and 1 bar of silence looped. That 1 bar of silence will test your internal clock. Once that feels comfortable, try 2 bars of click and 2 bars of silence. Then 1 bar of click and 3 bars of silence, and finally 4 bars of click and 4 bars of silence.

Do each at a range of tempos, and not only even/round numbers. Include some odd tempos... 135, 157, 179, etc.

Record yourself to confirm your results. Have fun! (y):D
 
Last edited:

Bigsby

Junior Member
2-3 ms isn't anything to worry about. Sound travels at about 340 m/s, so 3 ms results in a distance of about 1 meter. You have bigger distances on stage between musicians and it still works.
If you want to work on those details though, you can try to "mask the click" by hitting right on the click. Too much analyzing might be counter-productive as you don't want to constantly second-guess yourself while playing. :)
YES. This happens all the time now. As I'm playing, I'll be thinking, "yup, that hit was slightly early." "that was slightly late." etc.

And then performance generally suffers and then I actually start sounding bad haha.
 

rebonn

Senior Member
That’s pretty cool! How does it work? Can I also use it standalone when strumming with a guitar plugged into a miced amp? The documentation was a bit unclear to me on how to get it up and running.

I feel like there should be apps that do something like this, rather than needing a huge rack piece. also, these devices may not be good for neurotic people like me.
This would be perfect for neurotic people. The meter is adjustable for ms sensitivity. You can plug anything into it. There's 2 inputs. One for the reference (click) and the other for what ever you want (a mic'd practice pad), guitar etc... It measures accuracy to the click.
 
Top