playing on the grid

TMe

Senior Member
If your band wants to do a live from the floor recording, you can practice with a click leading up to it.
My thoughts exactly. I'd like to practice and record everything using click tracks first. Then we can try "live from the floor".
We met the engineer last night and he would prefer us to record without a click and record the songs live without vocals and lead guitar.
There's a couple of things to watch for if you're taking that approach.

Typically, the singer and lead guitarist are playing with the band when the bed tracks are recorded, but they're isolated and not being recorded. Since they know they're not being recorded, they give sloppy, half-hearted performances, and that effects everyone else's playing. Ya gotta get your singer and lead to play like they mean it while they're helping you record the rhthm section.

The band also needs to be tight, and capable of playing the songs beginning to end without any flubs. It's entirely possible to do all the same editing of a track recorded without a click but, as mentioned by beyondbetral, it's much more labour intensive (expensive) to do so.

One option is to find a good practice recording, put that through the cans, and have the drummer play along with that "scratch track", and start from there.

It's also a good idea to chart your songs in advance. If the studio guys has a chart showing the structure of a song (verse 1, chorus 1, bridge 1, etc.) with approximate times where each part starts, that can save a lot of time scrolling around to find a spot that needs attention.

That's great, but where is the producer and why is the engineer speaking to the band about this?
In a demo studio, one guy typically does everything. That's why I'm trying to convince my guys that pre-production is everything. Ideally, we should get to a point where all anyone needs to do is stick a microphone in front of us. In my fantasy life, we end up pulling everything together so well that we can do an actual live recording, with video. Live for ye olde authenticye, and video because it's 2019.
 

MrInsanePolack

Platinum Member
Yes we could, but the problem is that a lot of our songs change time sig during them. We switch from 4/4 to 6/8 and back again. I think it could be possible to use a click for some songs and I would be interested to try but the lead singer/rhythm guitarist is really against it and believes it would kill the feel. You may feel he's making excuses not to learn how to keep to a metronome and you can make of that what you will. I've always believed however that the drummer's job is not to keep the time, but to make the beat. Keeping time is the responsibility of the whole band.
That's easy if you can do the math. Record the 4/4 parts and the 6/8 parts individually, then have the producer splice them together. If done right, the song will be seamless and the feel will remain in tact.
 

TMe

Senior Member
Yes we could, but the problem is that a lot of our songs change time sig during them.
That's where we get into the question of "What is a click track?"

For songs like that, someone needs to sit down with software and program a drum part. It doesn't need to be a full drum track with all the fills. In the past I've used nothing but a clave counting time, with cymbal crashes at the changes. That works.

It's a tedious process. You need to start with a practice recording, manually quantize it to the nearest whole note so you've got a reference, and then write the click track to fit the song. I can take hours to do this for one song, and it's not a lot of fun. Once you do it, though, it's worthwhile even if you only use it as a track for solo practice. You'll find your time improves, and that rubs off on the rest of the band.

If you want to get really ambitious, you could add more detail to the click track, so the band is hearing full beats with bass, snare, hats and cymbals. I wouldn't program in the fills, though. You want to hear the beat during transitions, and programmed fills would bury the beat.

It's lots of work, but if you walk in to a studio with a click track pre-programmed like that, it can save a lot of studio time.
 

MrInsanePolack

Platinum Member
That's where we get into the question of "What is a click track?"

For songs like that, someone needs to sit down with software and program a drum part. It doesn't need to be a full drum track with all the fills. In the past I've used nothing but a clave counting time, with cymbal crashes at the changes. That works.

It's a tedious process. You need to start with a practice recording, manually quantize it to the nearest whole note so you've got a reference, and then write the click track to fit the song. I can take hours to do this for one song, and it's not a lot of fun. Once you do it, though, it's worthwhile even if you only use it as a track for solo practice. You'll find your time improves, and that rubs off on the rest of the band.

If you want to get really ambitious, you could add more detail to the click track, so the band is hearing full beats with bass, snare, hats and cymbals. I wouldn't program in the fills, though. You want to hear the beat during transitions, and programmed fills would bury the beat.

It's lots of work, but if you walk in to a studio with a click track pre-programmed like that, it can save a lot of studio time.
Wow! That is the extremely hard way!

Find the tempo of each section. Adjust a BPM or two so the numbers are usable, and do the math. A 4/4 at 100 BPM has a triplet feel at either 75 BPM or 150 BPM depending on if the triplets are faster or slower than the straight 4/4. Record the sections to corresponding click speed and let the engineer put it all together.

As an example, this track was recorded this way. Took about 10 minutes to find the click speeds. Can you find the seam?

 

TMe

Senior Member
Find the tempo of each section. Adjust a BPM or two so the numbers are usable, and do the math.
The problem is tempo changes. Even if the time signature doesn't change, but the song has a lot of (intentional) tempo changes, they need to be programmed in. We could record one section at a time, using a different tempo setting for each section, but there would be a lack of continuity unless the musicians were rock solid, especially if the band likes to vary their dynamics a lot.

What I'm talking about is really more of a production, or pre-production thing than a drumming thing, so not many drummers would want to spend the time doing it.

The funny thing is, as much as I whine about drummers trying to sound like electronic drum tracks, half of my argument is that if they like that sound they should consider learning to program drum tracks - and I'm not being sarcastic when I say that. I find that programming drum tracks helps me write parts and clarify what I'm trying to do. It's just a variation of learning to write sheet music.
 

MrInsanePolack

Platinum Member
The problem is tempo changes. Even if the time signature doesn't change, but the song has a lot of (intentional) tempo changes, they need to be programmed in. We could record one section at a time, using a different tempo setting for each section, but there would be a lack of continuity unless the musicians were rock solid, especially if the band likes to vary their dynamics a lot.

What I'm talking about is really more of a production, or pre-production thing than a drumming thing, so not many drummers would want to spend the time doing it.

The funny thing is, as much as I whine about drummers trying to sound like electronic drum tracks, half of my argument is that if they like that sound they should consider learning to program drum tracks - and I'm not being sarcastic when I say that. I find that programming drum tracks helps me write parts and clarify what I'm trying to do. It's just a variation of learning to write sheet music.
Gotcha. Dynamics could really mess up splicing if not done right. Actually, it could make things quite ugly.

I like to do some grid based programming myself, but basically just for practice purposes.

The splicing/click thing could still work, but I do agree that conditions must be right. I can't help it, when I was gigging that was my job, situating anything click related. Luckily the engineer we worked with at the time was open to trying anything. Granted, he was all about using the computer to make music, but had an old school approach too so was pretty open with what we were doing.
 

beyondbetrayal

Platinum Member
Use a DAW to create your click track. You can program in tempo changes as well as subdivision changes. My band does it all the time. It's a pain, but it works great. What I meant was practice with the click as a band, and when you do your "live off the floor" recording use the click also. You will be confident you can still nail it. It will sound just like you wrote it, tempo changes and all, but be TIGHT. too many tempo changes, or accidental changes really make for uneasy listening. In a tech death band we have subdivision changes, and several tempo changes, but we don't have people "dance" to our music.
 

Reggae_Mangle

Silver Member
Playing to a click is something you should do your whole drumming career while practising.

It builds up your own internal body clock and helps you keep time in those situations where there is no click.

As a drummer, I feel it is my job to be the time keeper for the rest of the band members. If I have a bad clock, that means everyone gets screwed.

The more you do it, the easier it will become as time goes by.
 

Erberderber

Senior Member
I agree with you to a point, but I don't believe the drummer should be the sole timekeeper of the band. It's the responsibility of the entire band. Yes, the whole band gets screwed if the drummer has a bad clock, but the whole band gets screwed if the singer or bassist is off time even if the drummer plays perfectly in time. It's everybody's job to keep time.
 

TMe

Senior Member
I was in a band, long ago, with terribly messy time. I programmed all the songs into a drum machine and learned to play them from memory, with no accompanying track. On stage I would count in the songs and then play them from memory, almost completely ignoring the band. People were impressed, my band mates were thrilled, and I ended up quitting the band because playing drums for them was just hellish hard work - no fun at all.

I much prefer playing "with" a band and having some dialog. Being the tempo Nazi is only appropriate if other people can't keep time at all, and then I might as well be playing alone in the basement, since I'm doing my best to ignore them, and the band would be better off using a drum machine.
 

Hollywood Jim

Platinum Member
I agree with you to a point, but I don't believe the drummer should be the sole timekeeper of the band. It's the responsibility of the entire band. Yes, the whole band gets screwed if the drummer has a bad clock, but the whole band gets screwed if the singer or bassist is off time even if the drummer plays perfectly in time. It's everybody's job to keep time.
I have never liked the statement that it is everybody's job to keep time. I feel that as a drummer it is MY job to keep time and tempo. I am the click track for the band. It is everybody else's job to follow the drummer. Follow my click track. Now maybe saying it is everybody's job to keep time is really saying the same thing. But I'd rather hear people say it is everybody's job to follow the tempo. And it is my job as a drummer to provide the tempo.

I play in a live band that has two guitar players. One guitar player rushes his solos. So I have to play a little behind the beat when he is soloing. The other guitar player drags behind the beat when she is singing and playing. So I compensate with a solid beat for her while I try to ignore her dragging tempo. The slightly off tempo playing of these two players is never noticed by the audience because I'm there to compensate. So if I were to let these two players "keep time" the rest of the band would be following them as they destroy the songs. Yeah I know, I know I should get them to change and improve or leave the band. They both have been playing for over 40 years. And our band sounds great despite these short comings. And because I control the tempo and provide the click for them, everyone's happy. Including me. By the way the bass player is very good and he does keep good time. He is following my tempo (click track).

.
 

KamaK

Platinum Member
Use a DAW to create your click track. You can program in tempo changes as well as subdivision changes. My band does it all the time. It's a pain, but it works great.
On a whim, and inspired by this thread, I wrote a quick motif that goes 4/4 to 6/8 and spent half-an-hour putting it to tape. I've done signature changes before, but never on drums, and I was curious to see just how hard it would be.

Unfortunately, Garageband doesn't allow you to have multiple sigs per song, so I simply ignored the accent on the metronome.


I know. It's horrible, and my performance is horrible, but honestly, this is the best I can do in a half hour, and it was a good bit of fun.
 

beyondbetrayal

Platinum Member
On a whim, and inspired by this thread, I wrote a quick motif that goes 4/4 to 6/8 and spent half-an-hour putting it to tape. I've done signature changes before, but never on drums, and I was curious to see just how hard it would be.

Unfortunately, Garageband doesn't allow you to have multiple sigs per song, so I simply ignored the accent on the metronome.


I know. It's horrible, and my performance is horrible, but honestly, this is the best I can do in a half hour, and it was a good bit of fun.
Reaper is "free" and you can do it, Another thing is to take off the accent on the metronome, but I think you can change the click every bar if you want.
 

BillBachman

Gold Member
Locking into the metronome (or click) is crucial. I have a different take on it than many--the metronome is not your time keeper, it's your ear trainer, or the player next to you. As tight as you play with the met is a tight as you'll play with another musician even as time may be breathing a little bit. Use it to train your ears, and solid time/understanding of rhythm will be a positive side affect.
 

danondrums

Well-known member
Use a DAW to create your click track. You can program in tempo changes as well as subdivision changes. My band does it all the time. It's a pain, but it works great. What I meant was practice with the click as a band, and when you do your "live off the floor" recording use the click also. You will be confident you can still nail it. It will sound just like you wrote it, tempo changes and all, but be TIGHT. too many tempo changes, or accidental changes really make for uneasy listening. In a tech death band we have subdivision changes, and several tempo changes, but we don't have people "dance" to our music.
This. It's so easy this way.
 

MrInsanePolack

Platinum Member
are there some tips how get better at playing with the click and be more consitent?
Use it all the time. You need to feel the click, not just hear it. The more you use it the easier it gets.

You can use anything as a click. A traditional metronome, a drum machine, a song, a looped track, anything that keeps a time you can play WITH. Not play to, not follow, but play with. This is where feeling the click comes in. It sets the pace, you lock in internally. Now transfer that feeling to your hands.

Just listen to it for a while if you have to. When using a click and pad, to warm up I just play the quarters for a while, then 8ths, finally 16ths. By that point I'm usually warmed up and locked to the click. Now is when the real work gets done.
 

bonerpizza

Silver Member
There's a game I play with my drum students where I'll have the metronome going and gradually take out counts til they only have 1 to use as a reference, example being start out at 80 BPM playing a basic rock beat, metronome counting 1, 2, 3, 4, play a few times, then take out the 3, then take out the 1, then the 4, or whatever counts you want to remove.

Another game is to just start the metronome with it only counting the 1, play a beat along with it and try and make sure you land back on 1. Start with a higher BPM like 120 and as you get the feel for it slow it down, when you get to the 50 and 60 BPM range it can get frustrating!

Being able to play to a click in this day and age is crucial but more importantly being able to maintain solid time will get you gigs and help you keep the ones you already have!

Good luck.
 
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