Is counting in during songs unprofessional?

DrumEatDrum

Platinum Member
You can hear stick clicks on plenty of recordings. Sure, they're often low in the mix, but they're there.

Joan Jett's version of Crimson and Clover comes to mind, but I know there are others.
 

Erberderber

Senior Member
This seems to be about more than a mere dispute over "counting in." Other troubles are boiling in the cauldron. You don't have a very high opinion of your singer/guitarist. You portray him as an incompetent musician who selects the wrong chords and drops his picks amid performances. A band without respect is a band with a short shelf-life. You and he might have a sit-down centered on improving relations. The only way to quell resentment is through candid communication.
Fair point. I have been playing with this guy for 5 years and he's definitely someone wrapped up in himself and can be dramatic at times. We've played only three gigs in that time and every time he's been a nervous wreck on stage and fluffed up at least a song or two. The problem is that despite the fact that he still makes mistakes at every single rehearsal (not to mention the gigs) playing songs that he wrote years ago, he still has the audacity to point out every single minor gripe he has with the other players in the band, while we stay silent every time he has a meltdown. I don't count in on every in-song break either. I just do it when there's a bit of flow. For some of the other breaks, we have to wait for the singer to lean back from the mic and then come in as he's heading back, so we have to be almost telepathic. We have been playing together for long enough now not to have stick clicks and count ins in mid-song breaks, but I refuse to accept that doing such a thing would be considered as amateur and that no top bands would ever dream of doing it.
 

C.M. Jones

Well-known member
The problem is that despite the fact that he still makes mistakes at every single rehearsal (not to mention the gigs) playing songs that he wrote years ago, he still has the audacity to point out every single minor gripe he has with the other players in the band, while we stay silent every time he has a meltdown.
Insecurity can do strange things to people. He might be launching this maneuver as a means of diverting attention from his own shortcomings. It sounds to me as though a band meeting would be useful. Remaining silent in the presence of outbursts only encourages further antics. If you want conditions to improve, an open (but civil) conversation is in order.
 

PorkPieGuy

Platinum Member
I do it because we use a metronome when we play live, but I'm the only one who has it in IEM's. Everyone else is still using wedges for the most part.
 

Otto

Platinum Member
the Boss...Born to Run...creates great expectation and excitement in the listener...but like most special spices, best in limited use.

Stick Click can do the same but really does need buy in from all on the bandstand. What the band feels tends to be what the audience feels.

I prefer to think of it as a 4 count pick-up and treat it, musically, as such.
 
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MntnMan62

Junior Member
Hi all,

I played a little gig last weekend and at our rehearsal last night, our singer told me that I have to stop clicking my sticks and counting in when we have little stops during songs. He says we look like amateurs and that no serious top bands do that. Really? I'm pretty sure tons of top bands do it. I also think the audience appreciate it as it shows the band are keeping it all under control. So we tried them without and I bobbed my head instead, which actually worked ok, but seriously? Is it bad to click your sticks and shout "1,2,3,4" every now and then?

Just listen to or watch any live footage of Zappa. He's always counting the band in. On Roxy, he's actually stomping on the stage to count the band into Village of the Sun. If have a tune where everyone is supposed to come in together, how else is everyone going to be in time if someone doesn't count you in? It seems your singer doesn't know what they are talking about. Probably just an amateur.
 

bermuda

Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
Staff member
We seem to be having two different conversations here...

To the OP - is this about counting to start a song, or about counting during a break in the song in order to come back in together?
 

Icetech

Gold Member
Meh... it's a singer... he/she is holding you guys back anyway :) (not a fan of singers) Personally, next practice i would be counting in with a cowbell :)
 

Morrisman

Platinum Member
I tend to play quarter notes or off beats on the hihat, softly.
Sometimes just two beats before we all come back in.

Hihat is good because the audience doesn’t notice it, but the band can listen for it through the noise in the room.
 

Chris Whitten

Well-known member
Yeah, I think for some of the thread there has been confusion.
Counting in the beginning of a song is completely normal. Spoken count or stick click, whatever. I've never been in a band that didn't count in the first bar of a song.
Counting out loud or stick clicking mid-song? No. It is unprofessional.
If I'm playing with unsure band mates I start to gently stomp my hi-hat a few beats before the planned pick up. A lot of the time I will bring the band in with a very obvious drum fill, where the time and groove is obvious.
Maybe after an extended, out of time pause in the music the singer can indicate the time. You hear classic songs where the singer has done that - McCartney, Bono (U2).
 

jimb

Member
Last band I played with they all wanted me to count them in on every tune ...even a tune with a delicate finger picking extended intro which of course sounded ridiculous.....eh? it made me feel very uncomfortable that none of them were confident enought to just start a tune....and they'd all been playing years. Weird.
 

Erberderber

Senior Member
We seem to be having two different conversations here...

To the OP - is this about counting to start a song, or about counting during a break in the song in order to come back in together?
It's both, but more about the ones during the song when there's a break in the middle and the band have to come back in again. He said he can just about deal with the ones at the beginning but cringes when they're there during in-song breaks. I don't even do it that much anyway. Just every now and then when I feel it's required.
 

Odd-Arne Oseberg

Platinum Member
It really depends on the band and the song.

If it doesn't fit the hi-hat is usually your friend.

When it comes to counting off in the beginning that is just normal.

There's a vid of Steve Gadd that I can't seem to find anymore where he's about to count off, but then he stops. He sits nodding his head for about a minute until he's sure he got the right tempo and counts off.

Not to make fun of every singer, but in th average bad they are the ones who understand ensemble playing the least and most often tend to have unfounded narcissitic obsessions with what is "professinal." Along with this the stuff that's really important is often ignored as well.
 
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Juniper

Gold Member
Your left foot is your friend. Same as a stick click but not as loud

I understand your problem some 'musicians' have shocking time. If it's at the stage where you're going to those lengths to keep everyone in then maybe you need to find some cats who can count!

Alternatively, get gig tight and the problem solves itself

This, if I feel like I and the band need a point of reference for coming back in I use the hi hat via my foot.

To the audience it sounds a little more like part of the song or composition than using your sticks.

Plus it’s quieter.
 

iCe

Senior Member
I count in most of the songs, but i also try to be 'creative': for songs that have a real heavy intro, i count in on the china. Sometimes both because it's just awesome hehe
Only during rehearsals and feel a bit goofy i count in like '1, 6, 98, 5' just to 'f' around with everyone. Underneath that is also that i try to let everyone feel the pulse and don't hang on what i'm saying. Only during rehearsals i reverse the bass and snare (so i'm playing the afterbeats or upbeats) during parts so 'train' the rest of the band in what happens if i make a mistake and that the pulse is still going (so to feel the click instead of focusing on the bass and snare).

Besides sticks, i also just use the hi-hat pedal to keep the beat going an have more subtle sound than sticks clashing
 

Lee-Bro

Senior Member
Fair point. I have been playing with this guy for 5 years and he's definitely someone wrapped up in himself and can be dramatic at times. We've played only three gigs in that time and every time he's been a nervous wreck on stage and fluffed up at least a song or two. The problem is that despite the fact that he still makes mistakes at every single rehearsal (not to mention the gigs) playing songs that he wrote years ago, he still has the audacity to point out every single minor gripe he has with the other players in the band, while we stay silent every time he has a meltdown. I don't count in on every in-song break either. I just do it when there's a bit of flow. For some of the other breaks, we have to wait for the singer to lean back from the mic and then come in as he's heading back, so we have to be almost telepathic. We have been playing together for long enough now not to have stick clicks and count ins in mid-song breaks, but I refuse to accept that doing such a thing would be considered as amateur and that no top bands would ever dream of doing it.

OP, looking @ the parts I highlighted, why in the world are you still playing with this guy? I mean, what's keeping you there? I think most musicians would've moved on from this project a long time ago. Like, did he rescue your children from the 89th floor of a towering inferno, did he give you a kidney, is he your only compatible mega-rare blood type, are you in the same Dungeons & Dragons group?
 

bermuda

Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
Staff member
Here's the deal...

If this isn't your band and there's a leader, and they don't like something, then you don't do it. You don't need to question it, or reason with them, or be an 'artist', or get a consensus about whether they're right or wrong for asking you to stop.

If the band is really having a problem finding their way back after a second of silence, then eventually the leader will suggest that someone - maybe you - count them back in. Then you can click or count or nod. Maybe say "I told you so!"

Otherwise, don't sweat it. If they want to stumble on breaks, let them. If it becomes too embarrassing and frustrating for you, find another band. That's not being a temperamental artist, that's just being happy playing drums. That's the reason for playing at all, right?
 
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