Human tine vs metronomic time

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
Any thoughts on the matter?

In my mind, they are two different animals. I much prefer human time, and how drummers, without even realizing it, stretch and compress time. It's much more interesting...to me anyway... when I have that option. It's how I create excitement or lay it back. It's subtle, and doesn't line up with the metronome. When I have to play to the loop, it amazes me how my tendencies are definitely not completely even time from verse to chorus to bridge to lead. I unwittingly play with time, I can't help it. It's part of what I bring to the table, my particular feel, and TBH, I'm proud of my recordings, even though they wouldn't line up to a grid. Thank F'n god it doesn't line up to a grid is where I'm coming from. I don't like the grid feel. As long as the song starts and ends with essentially the same tempo, then I'm good. What goes on during the middle, that's my domain and don't take that from me.

I kind of detest machine time. Sorry but there I said it. To me, for a drummer to follow a metronome...drummers shouldn't have to follow. A big part of a drummers job is playing ever so slightly with time...IMO. When that is taken away, to me anyway, it doesn't feel natural. Every bar feels exactly the same. BORING! I for one don't think anything is wrong when a song drifts naturally, it's beautiful.

Thoughts?
 

JustJames

Platinum Member
Every drummer who doesn't have control over time will now chime in to claim that what they are doing is "bringing feel", when what they mean is that they're sloppy.

Larry, I don't think that this is what you are doing, but you've been around the block once or twice, and I'll credit you with knowing the difference.

I suspect that this thread will be a more cerebral version of the endless chops vs groove debate, but with even less basis.
 

New Tricks

Platinum Member
My thoughts are, I don't see how something played in "perfect" tempo can sound worse that something that wavers. It may not sound better or different but I can't see it sounding worse or uninteresting.

The way I see it, the idea is to get everyone playing together. Older recordings drifted and I can't tell unless it's put against a click.

Newer tempo'd recordings are just much easier to work with. I don't see how they can sound bad.

My ears/brain don't hear slight variations in tempo when everyone is playing close together. However, if one track is perfect, very slight variations in the other tracks sound like hell.

I've recorded drum tracks that were close enough and when the other tracks went down in one take, it sounded great. Then, the more we tried to we perfect some parts, the more we realized that it was easier to do with a perfect drum track.
 

KamaK

Platinum Member
Larry,

Thank you for giving me an excuse to skip my metric modulation exercises tonight. Practice time has been downright brutal to my self esteem this week.
 

tmdrum

Member
When whole band plays together and creates time for the song there's no need for click in my opinion. When recording click can be good tool that drummer can use as a reference without following it. I like to think that drummer is responsible for creating time with or without click. Click is just nice reminder where center of time is... Drummer is free to play behind or ahead of click to create different feeling.

I like to think click is just like center line in the road surface; you're safe if you stay inside your lane :)
 

Andy

Administrator
Staff member
Every drummer who doesn't have control over time will now chime in to claim that what they are doing is "bringing feel", when what they mean is that they're sloppy.
Of course, that's to be expected :)

I believe you can only mess with time when you can already play in time with confidence, & I know that applies to Larry. Playing with tempos & micro timing has to be a conscious decision, even if those decisions are lead by emotions / vibe. For me, it's perfectly acceptable to up the tempo a touch in a "powered up" section such as a guitar solo in a rock setting, but it has to be on the basis that I know I'm doing it. In other scenarios, such as the band pushing ahead, I decide wether to go with the flow or not, & also when to put down a marker to rein it back in if appropriate.

All of this is the very food of making music, & long may it be so.

I like to think click is just like center line in the road surface; you're safe if you stay inside your lane :)
Absolutely, & staying inside your lane, whilst manipulating time, is a hard earned skill.
 

GetAgrippa

Platinum Member
Well you can still keep good time and intentionally play ahead or behind for a "feel". I think that is where Larry is really heading with this. It's not the same as waving in and out of time, or playing on top to drive a song a different direction-hey I did that in the Guru contest-tried to swing a non-swing song and I really sped up my tempo-course it sounded terrible but was fun. But I get where Larry is coming from-sometimes the time and sound is so perfect it sounds like a drum machine and that catches my attention and I think dang some drummer is out a gig. I mean what's the worse insult a drummer can endure-being canned and replaced with a drum machine.
 

paradiddle pete

Platinum Member
I mean what's the worse insult a drummer can endure-being canned and replaced with a drum machine.[/QUOTE]

The bigger insult is that music is now the worse for that mentality, It only goes to show what little they know about rhythm . Perfection is far from perfect. As Jeff Beck said Dance Music is a waste of a good drum sound.
 

GruntersDad

Administrator - Mayor
Staff member
I think we all vary in time, and though we are supposed to lead the rhythm, I think we all follow at times. Vocalist or guitarist changes time a bit and we may follow rather than lead. It happens.
 

Winston_Wolf

Platinum Member
I like options, and I think practicing with a metronome helps you focus on being steady, and (hopefully) more aware of your own natural tendencies. I try to think of a metronome as nothing more than one more guy in the band and not some evil mood killer.

I think it's also important to differentiate between playing with a little push and pull and bad timekeeping.
 

tcspears

Gold Member
In many styles of music, the timing can be implied, and the drummer can play considerably ahead, or behind, the beat.

Maybe it's a jazz thing, but I always see the timekeeping as everyone's job, not just the drummer. I should be able to leave the tempo implied and play some other polyrhythm, subdivision, or tempo modulation, and the song's tempo shouldn't be affected. That being said, I have to have the time in my head, I just don't necessarily have to play it...
 

mikel

Platinum Member
I would think we all work on keeping time, but perfect time? Is that even achievable without the grid? We are there to set the tempo, If we do the count in, and if the count in is way out, either way, then we are not doing our job.

To my ear music played to a grid lacks something, what it is I dont know, feel, humanity?, who knows but it lacks excitement. I think the natural human instinct is for pushing the time to excite and easing it back to create a calmer feel.

Its a bit like the aim to get perfectly even strokes during a single stroke roll. I avoid that like the plague and try to accent and slur a roll to stop it sounding like a drum machine/ machine gun roll. Almost anything for a bit of variation and human creativity.
 

bonerpizza

Silver Member
Not all bands HAVE to play to a click and as long as the tempo doesn't vary too much it's normally not really a big deal, but that doesn't mean that any band should renounce the idea of playing to a metronome without at least giving it a shot. I've been playing in local rock and metal bands for the past 10-15 years and I was opposed to the idea of playing to a metronome up until a few months ago when I finally gave it a shot and it turned out much better than I expected.

My tempo was pretty steady but it was jumping when I'd go into a double time part and it was dropping off when I'd go into a half time part, I also had a tendency to start songs too fast which caused the bassist and guitarist to have to rush through their parts to keep up making everything sloppy. Since I started playing to a metronome I've had numerous people come up to me after a gig to tell me how much tighter we sounded than the last time they saw us.
 

GetAgrippa

Platinum Member
Well gospel drummers love to play with time with their chops. They'll play along in time but then bust out with a speedy fill and chops accents, or play on top of the song then shift back in time and in the groove. Most of the time you want your fills to be in time, but it works for them. Overall it's mostly all in time.
 

Hollywood Jim

Platinum Member
Dose anybody here play live with a band, with a click track? And that same click is not being heard by the other members of the band?
I don't see how that can work.

If the band and your playing drifts off of the click in your ear, I would think that it would make it very hard to play the drums.
And, trying to bring the band back to the click would sound awful from a rhythmic standpoint.


.
 

Andy

Administrator
Staff member
Dose anybody here play live with a band

.
I don't at present, but have in the past. So long as the band all agree the setup, & the reasons for it (usually syncing other elements), it's not an issue. Essentially, it's a more defined chain of command thing.
 

PorkPieGuy

Platinum Member
With my church band, we play and record with a click track and multi tracks.

With the band I play out with, we record with a click track, but we don't play live with one.

I can go either way, and I don't really prefer one or the other because I've done both so much. It's nice to be comfortable playing with one AND without one. I enjoy both equally.
 

Winston_Wolf

Platinum Member
I'm interested more in wanting to add sequenced percussion parts to some of our songs than having an actual metronome, though the skill set (and potential problems) are the same.

I've always been impressed by the way Phil Collins would play real drums along with drum machine parts and still had lots of groove yet stayed perfectly in time with the machine.

Like this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yQLzgQLIjzk
 

mmulcahy1

Platinum Member
I've said this before and I'll say it again; music is a living, breathing thing when played. That's not an excuse for being sloppy or loose with the time in a song but time does waver here and there - it should, we are living, breathing, emotional beings and as long as we're staying in our lane (I like that analogy), everything is hunky-dory.

Take a listen to rigidly timed computer-processed music. It is bland, boring, dull. it lacks soul, feel, vibrance. Like Bermuda reference in another thread, Honky Tonk Woman's time mercilessly increases as it moves on... But it's part of the beast that makes that song what it is.
 
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