My band's latest demo ... finally

Pollyanna

Platinum Member
Diego, the ride's only year old at most. Not sure if it's either thinner or maybe it's just the context? I play with thin, light sticks but on that session I was hitting harder than usual.

But yeah, if you're not totally in love with a cymbal, then why not upgrade? (apart from cost, the environment, storage etc :).

I've thought about replacing the Sabian HH with a K because, while I like it I'm not in love with it.

Trouble is, it's perfect for the track that we haven't yet mixed. I play it with mallets and its brightness is perfect, plus as it opens up more it has this wonderful, rich roar. Have attached a small sound file of the unmixed track to give you an idea.


Well anyway, keep on rocking!

(or "jazzing".. I don't know)
Haha - I think the correct term is "keep on lounging" :)
 

brentcn

Platinum Member
I should practice closed rolls ... always liked them. When you practice them do you start with getting them clean at tempo with a click first or just randomly go for it?
Doesn't matter if you start with the click or not, just get with the metronome at some point!

One good way to work on press rolls is to first play single stroke 16ths for a measure, then play "buzz strokes" in the next measure (each 16th note is now a buzz stroke), and back to singles. Do the same for 8ths and triplets, and try switching from buzzes to singles after every have measure, every quarter, every 8th measure. Don't forget to lead off the left, too! For 16ths, set the metronome to 60, for starters.

So, at this point, the press roll is being played in time as a series of buzz strokes. As you get the hang of keeping the pulse, you can focus more on smoothing out the sound of the press roll: masking the pulse within the roll, while maintaining the pulse in your head.
 

Pollyanna

Platinum Member
Thanks Brent, helpful as always - working on it ...

Anyway, finally mixed the last of these demo songs last night: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X-WDGCFFc7w

Wild is the Wind was originally sung by Johnny Mathis for a movie but later Nina Simone and David Bowie did brilliant covers.

Our version is very different to theirs and I'm not sure how keen you guys will be, but I'm adding it for the sake of completeness. I'm basically just doing sound effects on the kit - pretty challenging for touch, tone, texture and length of notes (and mixing) but hardly drum porn :)

Over a minute of blank space at the end again - Windows MovieMaker is a hard beast to control.
 
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mediocrefunkybeat

Guest
So I sat down and listened with pen and paper and scribbled incoherently for a bit... I listened to the first three tracks.

In general, there are a few issues. Firstly, the Youtube compression isn't doing you and favours with the end product here. It's hard to tell if the lack of 'real' top end is as a result of Youtube or your mix. To that end, the mastering is a bit old-fashioned, but generally done well. It sounds a little like it was recorded and mastered on slightly-older-than-prime tape. In terms of overall balance, there's a little too much mid-low (around 300-500Hz) in the mix so it sounds a little 'dull' in overall tonality. Secondly, as a general comment - your snare sounds a little flat and flabby. Like the head is just a little bit too old. That exposes itself on fairly natural productions like this.

If we move onto specific issues, your singer is a little flat on the Roberta Flack tune, particularly with the sustained notes (especially at the beginning with the line 'Moon and Stars'). It's nothing serious, but I picked up on it - I'm not sure many will unless they're listening very carefully.

Moving on again. The mix of instruments is excellent (with one caveat) and the tone of all the instruments blend beautifully - despite the lack of top end. The bass and keys are particular highlights for me, the bass particularly. The drums (particularly the snare) are mixed a little too high and the micing sounds a little too close (small room, I'm guessing?). It's only a small thing, but I noticed it fairly quickly. The cross-stick sound you have though, is phenomenal.

The dynamic range of the recordings is great and very natural. I like that. There's no major master-buss stuff going on, which is a nice change. The fade out on the second track is a little too abrupt. The band seem to have a great sense of buildup and you certainly don't let it all go at once - very good.

In the third track, your fills towards the end seem a little forced and lacking certainty. I'm guessing we have a similar problem in that we're both a little uncomfortable moving off the snare once we've been there for a while. Just a little hesitancy that I picked up on. That's fine - it happens.

I enjoyed the tracks. I thought they were a very fair reflection of your playing and the band in general and the quality was good - with the caveats provided!
 

Pollyanna

Platinum Member
Thanks again for taking the time to comment, Duncan! I won't bother repeating my PM reply here other than to reiterate that the worn snare head was a sharp pickup and, yes, I should have changed it.

I posted the last track a day ago and there have been about 40 views of the thread but just 6 views of the new clip - and no feedback. Meanwhile the thread with the response to the Letterman sessions is going gangbusters.

Either my marketing skills need work ... or the "market" I'm pitching to here wants a full fireworks show rather than my little sparklers :)
 
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mediocrefunkybeat

Guest
I have a cup of fine Sri Lankan tea. You know what this means? No - I didn't just pop to Sainsbury's. It means it's time for an analysis.

I'll start at the beginning. I think the beaters you used on the cymbal wash were a little too firm. I'm guessing they're the 'square-edged' type (I have a pair like this). I think you might have been served a little better by a set of round-ended softer beaters. The idea is good though and I although I think your rolls could have been a little smoother - they're at the right place for the arrangement. The singer feels a little exposed in the mix and doesn't quite blend - although it's only slightly. The bass could do with just a bit of a cut at around 250Hz, it's taking up a lot of the mix space - which is fine, but without the top end on the recording it's a little wooly.

I like what you've done with the guitars in terms of the panning, but I can't help but feel like the acoustic doesn't quite integrate and spikes out a bit. A little too much boost on the high-pass filter maybe - or miked at the third fret. Hard to tell. I can't help but feel like a more exotic instrument would've been appropriate, maybe an Oud; but now that really IS nitpicking.

The arrangement has less of a dynamic shift than the others, but I like the level that the piece has. It's very moody - although we could've maybe done with a slightly earlier dynamic peak rather than the one right at the end. One thing I did find an issue was the 'pan pipe' (guessing a keys patch). It seems to be phasing the rest of the mix and interfering with almost everything given the balance you have (with the prominent low-mid). Run it through a phase scope and you might see it.

Again, I'm nitpicking. You know this - I'm not ripping into your mix because I actually think it's fairly solid. The playing is universally good and again, I hope you know this! I'm just trying to find all the small details.
 

N.I.B.

Senior Member
Very nice! I'm more of a rock / metal person, but I've been getting into a lot of mellower, more spacey stuff lately, and all three of those songs were spectacular.

Like others have said, fix up that snare sound a tiny bit and you're good to go!
 

Pollyanna

Platinum Member
Re: the 4th song: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k_Vng-YFNZA

Ta again MFB! I used round mallets and I would have liked a bit more wool on them, but there's not much choice in my local drum shops! (ie. round or square soft mallets - no sub-varieties).

The bass tones in Wild is the Wind have been a mystery for us, trying to work out what tones need to be tamed. 250hz, eh? You should have been in Oz for this recording :)

It's quite an odd arrangement - as though the bass and electric guitar swapped roles, with the bass playing the arpeggios and the guitar punctuating like a bass in that context. Meanwhile I'm basically playing sound effects rather than rhythms. So it was a pretty challenging mix.

As you noticed, one of my rolls in WITW wasn't as smooth as it could have been. We could have grabbed one of the smoother rolls and punched it in but I'd rather it be real, and the difference is pretty subtle.


@ NIB Thanks for listening! I relate. I was all rock for years but this band has converted (corrupted?) me. Now I'm more interested in beauty than dynamism. People like Brian Blade can combine those things but that man is on another planet ...

@ Larry - good that you're gigging so much after the rock band fallout! Sure, when you're ready ...
 
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larryace

"Uncle Larry"
OK, Pol the cymbal tone I initially didn't like happens in "It's a Mans World" at precisely 3:03. (Conversely the one at 3:13 is utterly gorgeous, that's the Sabian, right?).

You only use 2 cymbals? Is that right? You crashed your 20" ride at 3:03? If so, I retract the statement. I thought it was a "dedicated" crash. Crashing the ride... I would expect more of that tone. I guess I'm wanting for a 2nd "dedicated" crash sound, I still am not crazy about that tone choice there but you don't have a 2nd crash, right?

OK I'm listening to WITW..Again, since you're doing this song anew, I'm going with a blank slate approach.

The first cymbal swell, is that the Zildjian ride? It's majestic. If so I like it in that context. I thought after starting the beginning like you did, (just cymbal swells, nice) right after Glenn sang the first "wild as the wind" I wanted to hear more drums playing more of a rhythm, not a beat per se, maybe something like subdued tom work w/ timpani parts. (I did hear you do some sweet timpani parts, very nice) Songs like these are not my forte, so I'm just winging it here. As the song changes subtley, the drum part should reflect that. (Not that you didn't do that, I feel this song is just very fertile for creativity on the drum part)

Some ideas I came up with as I was listening...rimclick on the quarters in certain sections, castanets at the spanish sounding guitar parts, cymbal swells only when Glenn says "wind", (to satisfy artsy cravings) steady hi hat chick way back in the mix for the entire song to make it easier to follow, definitely wanted to hear the toms just beating away in the background most of the song. The keyboard sounds like a panflute at the end, it fits.

I didn't dislike anything you did, but I wanted more of a "connected from front to back" drum part rather than little islands of drum tones with big spaces in between. I thought that song was actually ripe for a more is more approach, just way far down in the mix if you know what I mean. Not out front sonically.

I like the parts you did, but I thought it was disconnected where I was craving more of a continuous evolving drum part incorporating major subdued tom work as the staple, your cymbal swells (to conjure wind sounds, there's that pesky lyric tie in again) rimclicks in places, windchimes at the very front of the song to usher it in, (cool right?) castanets, and any creative thing you could come up with without detracting from Glenn. I thought you left the canvas too white. Lots of room for non drumset tones, bells, chimes, and the like.

Just call me Mister Candycanes and Sunshine lol.
 
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Pollyanna

Platinum Member
Just call me Mister Candycanes and Sunshine lol.
Larry, you are Mister Candycanes and Sunshine, you and Mister Simplicity Spice and Everything Nice :) You guys are looking at the issues in the music by pro standards, which is flattering for this ageing weekend warrior! We're drilling down to a level of nitty-griitty that I'm finding interesting too.


OK, Pol the cymbal tone I initially didn't like happens in "It's a Mans World" at precisely 3:03. (Conversely the one at 3:13 is utterly gorgeous, that's the Sabian, right?).

You only use 2 cymbals? Is that right? You crashed your 20" ride at 3:03? If so, I retract the statement. I thought it was a "dedicated" crash. Crashing the ride... I would expect more of that tone. I guess I'm wanting for a 2nd "dedicated" crash sound, I still am not crazy about that tone choice there but you don't have a 2nd crash, right?
Yup, a 20", a 19" and a splash (that I rarely use). That particular crash was, I think, not the ideal sound for that moment. It probably would have worked better to have crashed the 19" at that point for tonal contrast since I'd been riding the 20". I try that next time.


OK I'm listening to WITW.

... I didn't dislike anything you did, but I wanted more of a "connected from front to back" drum part rather than little islands of drum tones with big spaces in between. I thought that song was actually ripe for a more is more approach, just way far down in the mix if you know what I mean. Not out front sonically.
keep it simple said:
Drums: Now this is where the rhythm should come from. As larry suggested, a simple & fairly naked tom groove for the chorus only, & done with brushes, & right down in the mix ...
I saw it differently ... as a floating, non-drummy piece and feel it would lose something if the drums added a beat (unless it was Steve Gadd etc). That's how the band saw it, not just me.

Still, there' s more than one way to skin a cat. Do you guys remember the Seven Nation Army Challenge? Not sure how much time you have but I've attached WITW without the drums. It would be a huge eye opener to hear alternate versions!

I'll be original and call this the Wild is the Wind Challenge :)
 

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sam132

Member
Your avatar continues to scare me, but your drumming is great.

You're a good musician as well as a drummer and that really is saying something.

Congrats.

Sam
 

Andy

Administrator
Staff member
I saw it differently ... as a floating, non-drummy piece and feel it would lose something if the drums added a beat (unless it was Steve Gadd etc). That's how the band saw it, not just me.
You're right Pol. It's your band's interpretation, & I didn't pay your collective decision due respect. It was wrong of me to offer my interpretation ideas, as they are irrelevant to the result of your hard work. I, of all people, should know what it's like to have your interpretation questioned. "Why don't you try this", or "maybe that would fit better" is fine, but to offer a completely different arrangement based on personal preference is short sighted &, on reflection, slightly selfish.

Sorry Pol, my bad. As a body of work, the recordings are superb, & your drumming is right on the money. Tasteful, reserved when warranted, & always delivered with great time.
 

Pollyanna

Platinum Member
Thanks Sam. One thing I like about mellow music is you aren't tied to the need to get people dancing which gives you a few extra options.

@ Andy - no need for a mea culpa. Why not? I'm a weekend warrior and not creating stuff to be set in stone. Nuttin wrong with a free exchange of ideas!
 

Deathmetalconga

Platinum Member
We recorded demo tracks late March (dunno why since we hardly ever play - but it's fun). We finally managed to get some tracks mixed last weekend.

All of these start off mellow and build up. We do this a lot ... all a bit Freudian, really.

1. Cover of James Brown's bluesy classic, It's a Man's Man's World, but it's a bit closer to the Renee Geyer version, though: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hxLHLUCHTNM

2. Cover of Roberta Flack's First Time Ever I Saw Your Face: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wCy1hOJJVfo

3. Cover of The Drifters's Broadway: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I1hCTYLyHhc

Later on I get my one and only brief Keith Moon moment with this group. Yay!

There's still one more song to get mixed and I'll update this thread with it when it's done.

We might look at further remixing so all thoughts/ideas appreciated.
Great playing, very tasteful and immaculately fitting to the songs. Yet you still have some flash here and there, like the slick quadruplets at around 2:50 on First Time Ever I Saw Your Face. Your fills really lead the band along in the latter part of Broadway.

Since you ask for advice, I think the snare is too out front in Broadway and it is too wet for my tastes in the other two songs, but that is a matter of personal preference.

Do you mind if I put these comments on your YouTube page?

When I first saw the name of your band, I thought the BMs was some kind of punk rock name (here in the States, BM is a euphemism for Bowel Movement). But now I know it stands for the Blue Mabels.
 
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BigSteve

Guest
Hi Polly,

I truly enjoyed the recordings. You're timing and sense for the music you're playing is spot on. Sounds like you have been hittin' that practice pad pretty hard on the off hours! I'm not going to comment on the quality of the recordings...my knowledge of audio engineering is still so basic at this point. Great job Polly! :)
 
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Pollyanna

Platinum Member
Do you mind if I put these comments on your YouTube page?

When I first saw the name of your band, I thought the BMs was some kind of punk rock name (here in the States, BM is a euphemism for Bowel Movement). But now I know it stands for the Blue Mabels.
Thanks DMC. Re: YouTube - due to my confusion with MovieMaker there's a ton of dead space at the end of the vids. We plant to replace the weakest tracks on our website (embedded vids) with the two strongest ones from this session so I'll have to replace them. So your words will be lost when I replace the vids. Thanks for asking, though!

As for BMs - love it! Well suited to my band's middle aged digestive systems :) I just use the abbreviation because they're "unofficial" releases and for some unknown reason one or two of the band care about our "branding". Perhaps to boost our rep in preparation for a possible gala performance at the Small Valley Primary School Fete supporting Koko the Klown's Amazing Disappearing Rabbits or something - yeeha

Thanks Steve. LTNS - how's your band doing? Still together? My practice routine is an undisciplined joke compared with the intelligent approach of most people on this forum. I have a few practice pads and I play along with my iPod's Steely Dan playlist until I feel like doing something else - that's pretty well been it for months :)

I did recently have an epiphany, though (sadly after the session). I didn't realise that I'd been gradually hitting harder and then one rehearsal I played poorly because the band requires much lower hands - tapping rather than "hitting into the drums" as per rock playing. So I turned the iPod way down to force me to tone down and relax more. Feeling much more comfortable playing now.
 
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BigSteve

Guest
Thanks Steve. LTNS - how's your band doing? Still together? My practice routine is an undisciplined joke compared with the intelligent approach of most people on this forum. I have a few practice pads and I play along with my iPod's Steely Dan playlist until I feel like doing something else - that's pretty well been it for months :)

I did recently have an epiphany, though (sadly after the session). I didn't realise that I'd been gradually hitting harder and then one rehearsal I played poorly because the band requires much lower hands - tapping rather than "hitting into the drums" as per rock playing. So I turned the iPod way down to force me to tone down and relax more. Feeling much more comfortable playing now.
Yes Polly, we are still together and working on this years crop of tunes. Whatever your practice routine is...it is benefitting your playing. Your touch and timing is pretty good IMHO.:) As a hobbyist with a day job and home life like most if I can get a 1/2 hour a day I'll take it. If it's an hour even better...more than that, life is pretty good!

I had to look up LTNS! I've spent the better part of the last 2 years taking care of my Mom who had cancer. She passed away just over a month ago...I sure miss her. Since then I've been trying to stay busy and get back in the shed. I'd like to be a better drummer and it's going to take some work!
 

Pollyanna

Platinum Member
Gee Steve, sorry to hear about your Mum but I guess that's our generation. As my Mum used to say (she died in 95) "time is the great healer". A bit of shedding can't hurt, eh?

Being a weekend warrior, if I do half an hour in a day I feel righteous ... an hour and I'm looking for canonisation :) I've mostly given up trying to expand my range. Usually I'm just keeping my hand in and trying to clean up a few things. What sort of things are you doing?
 
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BigSteve

Guest
"time is the great healer". Isn't that the truth! I'm working on Tommy Igoe's "Great Hands for a Lifetime" and Pat Patrillo's "Learning to Read Rhythms".
 
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