Keeping time isn't important!

Inchron

Junior Member
In a perfect world everybody would play in perfect time and perfect pitch.Actual frequency numbers and BPM are merely guides when determining obvious error.They should be used for refinement in the practice room only and like any other practice, put to musical use.One shouldn't practice at the gig or the studio.Prepare with clicks don't perform with them..It's not LIVE MUSIC is it?.I had a chance recently to play percussion on a gig with a drummer using clicks.The time was pushed and pulled (unnaturally) to a point where all I wanted to do was play some Blue Oyster Cult cowbell all night.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nZYO25kHhrU
 

Ferret

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.

It's a mark of professionalism. I recorded stuff without a click, and it sounds like a live gig because I approached it exactly the same way. Problem is, there are tiny little sections that snag a little bit between the instruments, especially if your timing is not sharp enough to keep up with a click. Even if its discreet people still hear that, experienced ears get the better of us. If you wanna go somewhere as a band, I've been told people who decide that for you look for little things like that.

If you wanna not get thrown off by the click, remember its you thats throwing off the click. It is perfect, we are not. What I find works best, iss having a scratch track that was done to a click beforehand. I practiced with the scratch track (cant hear the metronome but its implied by the guitar) then we loaded that guitar track into the studio, amped up the click at the tempo it was recorded at, and let it rip.

If you do that the click feels like a left foot timekeeper or something, it justs blends in with your playing and you hear it as a fifth limb, like you hear your snare/hats/kick line up. I don't think about it until I miss a hit by a little or something, then its just a reminder to stay on and my quarter note timing still doesnt lose pace. That makes it so much easier to interact with the other instruments without having focus pulled to your timing all the time.

Just my 2 cents, rules are just as fun to break.
 

yesdog

Silver Member
I have done a lot of sessions, its almost a must to play with a click. If you don't you are making the engineers life miserable as well as the band. How the heck are you going to do over dubs or edits or even redo a drum fill if its not in time. it makes everything go so smoothly if your drum track is right on the money. Yes in the digital world you can try to beat match the drums, But there is a 50/50 chance that will work. If said drummer can't play to a click, the other dirty little secret that said band would not even know is ghost drumming
they will hire a pro to lay down 8 to 16 bars of the other drummers beat dead solid and use the original drum sounds to make it sound like the original drummer is right on it.
 

beastdrummagirl

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.
I know how this is.... My band members dont like anything to be soft or slow. I've been told that my timing is good enough that i dont need a metronome, but, on alot of our songs they enjoy to speed up, leaving poor old me in the dust. we have some timing issues on certain songs.... but i think you should definetly keep timing as something very important. Our band is getting better with it and I'm sure yours will to! hope this helps. :)
 

thtst

Senior Member
In a sense this whole timing thing is why i enjoy listening to Stewart Copeland during his years with The Police, as his playing technique is different enough to mess with the heads of musicians too ingrained with 'on the beat' drumming. Mid song switch to a reggae-style beat pattern and see where that goes <insert evil grin here>. You could also briefly change to 6/8 and be right 'on time' once every four measures of the song is 4/4.
 

unfunkyfooted

Silver Member
You can tell when somebody doesn't have much experience with a click by how much they "correct" themselves when they stray from the click. They're like a person first learning to drive. It takes concentration and bigger, jerkier movements to keep between the lines on the road. In time, however, the corrections occur much more rapidly and are much more subtle, and the driver starts to do them without thinking about them. The result is a smoother feeling ride. It takes a lot of practice to get to this point, just like it takes a lot of time playing with a click to make it sound natural and not "forced".

Also, some people tend to hug the driver-side line, others hug the passenger-side line, and some others are able to drive perfectly between the lines (...does anyone catch this metaphor?).
lovely.

absolutely gorgeous metaphor.
 

JT1

Silver Member
Click tracks are important I hate to say it cause I don't like playing to one. They outline major weaknesses in transitions, timing, and beat placement. I know a few drummers who don't use a click Lars Ulrich is one of them and you can barely tell. So while I think it is important to use a click to underline faults in your playing ability I don't think it is 100% necessary to record to one. I play better without one and just to a guitar track to be honest.
 

Inchron

Junior Member
I apologize for the windedness of this response.This is part of an article I'm working on.I thought that maybe this thread may foster some feed back.Feel free to slam it or whatever.I'm looking for critical response.........A Poorly Played Note Well Placed.....".....Is better than a well played note misplaced" This was my friend Wade's reaction after I told him about the book that I had recently given birth to late last year entitled "Beyond the Metronome".I thought to myself this probably was the best one yet e.g. it seemed that every musician I've spoke to regarding this subject had a reaction or experience in regards to tempo,groove,pocket or whatever one chooses to call that thing that gives rhythm it's flow or value... the "Big Beat".We can all agree is is the common thread through almost all music ,especially and not exclusive to that which has it's rhythmic roots in Africa.i.e.folk,blues,jazz,swing ,rock,R&B ,hip-hop.,etc. ......Of course most players know that whatever one might think of anothers' compositional abilities, choice of notes in an improvisational setting or even tone quality, judgments most readily fly in regards to a player's intonation and time or inchronation(in-internal,chron-clock)...that is an individual's own ability to create or carry that rhythmic objective both accurately and with an over-all sense of "steady". This is not just for drummers and rhythm section players either.Everyone has an influence on the groove.A trumpet player playing a nice accent over an and -of- four hit...early,can bring down an otherwise solid groove.So, how does one go about getting this groove together.?Play with records? Play with a metronome?Sure ,if you think that following someone or something elses time is good enough.Getting 'with it' or in-sync is important but who's tempo is it?The guy beating on an imaginary plane(the directors ictus) or some drummer or bassist reading a difficult passage in the music or focusing on the babe in the third row? And we all know how fun it is to practice with a metronome.e.g.that tug-o-war ,so often called a 'crutch' and generally the end result is unnatural at best.So, what do you do when you listen to a recording of yourself and you feel as if your in a race to beat one with a drummer who has sucked the life out of an otherwise great groove? Through many years of playing and discussing this somewhat vague topic I have come to the conclusion that in addition to being a good follower of the tempo,that is being able to 'sync' yourself to what's going on, one should practice creating it and have a recognition of it just as one recognizes good intonation. Creating that steadiness that the music deserves should come from every player at any ability. In the practice room, a process of learning to subdivide and play with the metronome at quarter-notes is a great start but should be viewed as only the beginning. Gradually removing the metronome and replacing it with your own internal one seemed to be an appropriate step and one that was often missing in the aforementioned advice often given to students of the groove. With the exception of playing faster tempos to a slower click or displacing the click to beats 2 and 4(as the swing drummer's hi-hat)an actual process has seemed to have 'snuck' under the radar or just plain taken for granted..As a result most young players and even some seasoned pros who can "play their asses off" can consistently show tendencies to rush through musical phrases or show an inability to recreate a given tempo from the beginning to the end of a tune,song or piece of music.In recording and even live, I've even noticed an increasing reliance on click tracks that lend themselves to players bouncing back and forth on either side of the beat in an effort to stay 'with' it. In the exercise below a student of the groove is given an opportunity to examine his /her own perspective of tempo.Granted the clicks indicated in the chart are metronomic(digital that is) and are to be used as a guide just as a metronome is but obviously diminished (halved) periodically.The idea is to take whatever you are playing, e.g.keep it simple and something you know real well.Remember well played is well placed...and as the click gets 'longer' in duration,substitute the click with your own estimation of where the groove is.Your own 'internal click'.This way the metronome or click gradually becomes less of a guide for the time as your internal clock takes over.Ending up in perfect rhythmic unison with the the clicks is the ultimate goal, but how close you are to them (late or early)and it's consistency is more important and should give you a fair estimate of your conception of the given tempo.Remember this: you must stay true to your perception of the groove.Becoming further away each time means you are not playing the given tempo or altering it to some degree or another i.e.rushing or dragging.At this point try again.Employ more subdivision this time.Maybe incorporating more non-essential movement as often players do.i.e. a slight movement of the head or shoulders.....etc.,etc, ..Well played"(in-tune etc)and ..."Well placed"(rhythmically accurate)
 
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