Keeping time isn't important!

Jonesy

Senior Member
I'm in an "original" band and up until recently thing were going well. However, the other day we sat down to record one of our tunes and before we started I had a conversation with my guitarist that went something like this:

Him: So, are you gonna play along to a metronome?

Me: Yeah... I wanna make sure the song isn't slowing down or speeding up.

Him: Oh I'm not worried at all about speeding up or slowing down so you don't need a metronome.

Me: Okay, man... I'll do my best then.

In my mind, something is obviously wrong here. Just wondering if you guys have had any similar experiences.
 

con struct

Platinum Member
It could be that he's saying that you have such good time that he's not worried about it, that you don't need a metronome.
 

drumguyfromWI

Senior Member
I HATE playing along to click tracks while recording. it makes the song sound robotic. I like the songs to be able to breathe and feel natural, like a live show.

maybe the guitar player does too.
 

bermuda

Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
Staff member
I like the songs to be able to breathe and feel natural
Exactly. There can be slight fluctuations that add to or make the music feel more natural, but that's not a license to speed up or slow down with wreckless abandon. Slight pushes and pulls - if they occur at all - should be imperceptable. And they can't really be deliberate, they should just occur naturally. Or not. Sometimes shifts don't sound right, sometimes perfect tempos don't sound right. It's always a song-by-song basis.

Now, if the timekeeping is just plain bad, that's a different story. Again, letting a song breathe - if it feels better that way - still requires a steady tempo between breaths.

Bermuda
 

eddiehimself

Platinum Member
I HATE playing along to click tracks while recording. it makes the song sound robotic. I like the songs to be able to breathe and feel natural, like a live show.

maybe the guitar player does too.
You really ought to play along to a click track whilst recording. Otherwise you won't be asked to do any more recordings.
 

con struct

Platinum Member
You really ought to play along to a click track whilst recording. Otherwise you won't be asked to do any more recordings.
Oh, I don't think so. I've rarely had to play to a click track doing session work. There have been times when I've even been given the option, and I've always chosen to forego the click. (Edit: There was one time when I tried it both ways and the producer decided that he wanted to go with the click. Oops!) Contractors consider a lot of factors in choosing players for their call-back lists.
Anyway, Jonesy is talking about recording with his band, a completely different situation.
 
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SickRick

Guest
You really ought to play along to a click track whilst recording. Otherwise you won't be asked to do any more recordings.
Why? Do you think that recordings with a click track sound better per se? That's just plain wrong. Tons of Motown or 70s funk recordings or for example Earth Wind & Fire recordings sound great and no click was used. Just because it has become a habit in studio recordings that you cut and edit the shit out of any recording (which basically is only possible if recorded to a clicktrack) doesn't mean thats the only way to do it or the right way to do it.

If you can lay down a serious groove in one perfect take for one song that does not need to be edited, cut in half, put together again etc. without a metronome you dead sure will be called again for the next recording. Because if you can do that, you'll also be able to play along to a click just fine if people want that.

On the other hand: if you're able to play with a clicktrack, but it just doesn't feel right, you don't hit the snare in the exact same spot with the same energy all the time etc. and your recording will have to be edited heavily later, you dead sure won't get called for the next recording session again.

Play what sounds good and what feels good. Nobody will ask if a metronome was used after the recordings if all the other guys can play well over what you played.
 

Jonesy

Senior Member
I must admit, I was surprised by how well I was able to keep things steady throughout the song.

Of course, I didn't want to play to a click in the first place because then I can't flow with the song as much, but I was still under the impression that it's best to record with a click. I guess it makes sense that if a drummer can manage to keep a song relatively steady without a click, then it might be better for the song as a whole to forgo it and "let the song breath" as you guys mentioned.

Interesting...
 

drumguyfromWI

Senior Member
You really ought to play along to a click track whilst recording. Otherwise you won't be asked to do any more recordings.



not necessarily.

first if all, I personally have absolutely no use for a click. it just throws me off. my band records all at once (minus the vocals), so I have no problems staying on beat without a click. I just watch the other guys playing their instruments, just like I do at shows. it works great. on the contrary, when I try to play to a click, I get so focused on playing to the click that I forget to play along with the other instruments. basically, what we do in my band is we record as close as possible to how we play live. and if you can get good takes, there's no need to edit the crap out of a recording and make it sound unnatural. music is art, not science.

and second of all, I'm not a "session" guy. I record with the punk band I'm in, but our main focus is live shows anyway.

if you have good rhythm, you don't need a click track.
 
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oldrockdrummer

Senior Member
had to use clicks back in the day but pro tools and other production software pretty much takes care of it now you just need good tempo and feel
 

DW_Drummer

Junior Member
I'm siding with the "non-click" guys here.. I admit I do have a click track but the only time I use it is when I want to experiment with timing on a particular groove and I'm alone in my own studio .. never used one during any recording session . ...If your internal timing is good then do not come dependant on a click .. let your own clock do the work and just let it flow ...
 
I'm going to play devil's advocate here and say learning how to play along competently to a click is VERY IMPORTANT, especially in today's musical climate. A lot of the songs you're playing to may be more forgiving if it's a traditional rock band/ three piece jazz, whatever, where tempo ebbs and flows all in the natural course of a track, but consider the following.



For studio :

Sure there are programs like beat detective and audiosnap out there to manipulate your tempo, but if the recording is intended at some point to sync up with samples or loops, then there may be considerable tweaking involved on the engineer's side. Have fun integrating that 180 bpm loop with the clickless track you just recorded!

Live:

Perhaps even more importantly, what if you're asked to play along to sequenced parts in a LIVE context, which is becoming more and more commonplace nowadays? You have to able to lock in with the sequencers or loops, no escaping it or sugarcoating it.

I totally agree that sometimes it's beneficial to be able to break free from the constraints of a click every now and then, but I would hope no one comes away from a discussion like this thinking "I'll never need to play to sequenced time, because the music just needs to breathe!". In a perfect world it would be the case, but in all practicality it should be considered a high priority to learn how to play in tandem with a click.
 

Drifter in the Dark

Silver Member
I couldn't agree more with raggletaggle! Half the reason I've had a drumming job for the past 2 years is because I can accurately play along to a click. It actually makes things much easier for that particular band. To get ahead in today's musical world, you have to be able to do lots of things well, and one of those should be the ability to play with a click. You'll be able to get more gigs if you do!
 

con struct

Platinum Member
I'm going to play devil's advocate here and say learning how to play along competently to a click is VERY IMPORTANT.
No question about it. But it's equally important, I think, to not need the click. Being able to handle yourself in any situation is what gets you called back.
 

grooveweapon

Senior Member
I HATE playing along to click tracks while recording. it makes the song sound robotic. I like the songs to be able to breathe and feel natural, like a live show.

maybe the guitar player does too.
While I agree that it isn't 100% necessary to use a click track in a studio, I have to disagree with the idea that playing along to a click track makes your drumming sound robotic. A click track is a guide to playing in time, it isn't a rule. You're still recording YOUR drumming which, even with a lot of practice, is rarely going to fall right on the click beats. You will still hear your natural feeling in there. Besides, even those who have really good time might not notice that they are gradually changing the tempo. What a click does, is guarantee a certain degree of tightness with you and the band, especially when you're paying a lot of money in the studio and you don't get to do a bunch of takes to get it right. It also allows the engineer to edit a lot easier. Again, you don't have edit the crap out of it, and a good engineer can smooth over a minor flaw without making it sound unnatural and requiring you to do another take. If anything, using a click leaves your options open...and will leave the band sounding that much tighter.
 

Deathmetalconga

Platinum Member
Exactly. There can be slight fluctuations that add to or make the music feel more natural, but that's not a license to speed up or slow down with wreckless abandon. Slight pushes and pulls - if they occur at all - should be imperceptable. And they can't really be deliberate, they should just occur naturally. Or not. Sometimes shifts don't sound right, sometimes perfect tempos don't sound right. It's always a song-by-song basis.

Now, if the timekeeping is just plain bad, that's a different story. Again, letting a song breathe - if it feels better that way - still requires a steady tempo between breaths.

Bermuda
I think that's a good way to put it. A bit of fluctuation is okay if it's rooted in the feel of the song and the musicians' response to it. Just as a song can speed up or slow down, it can faster or slower.As with anything else, the key is to know what you're doing.
 

Deathmetalconga

Platinum Member
While I agree that it isn't 100% necessary to use a click track in a studio, I have to disagree with the idea that playing along to a click track makes your drumming sound robotic. A click track is a guide to playing in time, it isn't a rule. You're still recording YOUR drumming which, even with a lot of practice, is rarely going to fall right on the click beats. You will still hear your natural feeling in there. Besides, even those who have really good time might not notice that they are gradually changing the tempo. What a click does, is guarantee a certain degree of tightness with you and the band, especially when you're paying a lot of money in the studio and you don't get to do a bunch of takes to get it right. It also allows the engineer to edit a lot easier. Again, you don't have edit the crap out of it, and a good engineer can smooth over a minor flaw without making it sound unnatural and requiring you to do another take. If anything, using a click leaves your options open...and will leave the band sounding that much tighter.
I agree with this also. I hate metronomes and click tracks but they are important and have a role to play. Yes, the metronome is a fascist Nazi, but there's a role for that kind of discipline in the music.
 

Banzai

Senior Member
When I've recorded alone (me first, then the other guys) I've found that a click track or metronome is extremely comfortable and helpful.

But I really practice giving groove and feeling to a metronome beat so that I don't sound mechanical or robotic.

The metronome (imho) is just for timekeeping and should have nothing to do with groove or breathing.


Banzai
 

bermuda

Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
Staff member
I envy you guys who refuse to play to a click, and can pick & choose your gigs. I'm a slave to my own career and have to take every gig that comes my way, click or not.

FYI, I walk into the bank at 122bpm. :)

Bermuda
 

con struct

Platinum Member
I envy you guys who refuse to play to a click, and can pick & choose your gigs. I'm a slave to my own career and have to take every gig that comes my way, click or not.

FYI, I walk into the bank at 122bpm. :)

Bermuda
There's such a thing as picking and choosing your gigs? Why didn't I ever hear about that? I guess my bills and mortgage chose not to tell me or something.
 
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