Recording - The unrelenting task master

Tbonez

Member
I've spent a bunch of time lately recording and analyzing my playing over the last year. I've found a disturbing trend that I constantly rush. When I line up the backbeat/snare on the 2 and 4 I find that I am always pushing the beat by a microsecond. It doesnt seem like much but in the context of playback or listening to the band Im in, I can identify it. It makes the drums sound overly urgent, its not pleasant and it borders on being stressful to the listener - if Im being totally objective. When I play time, according to my natural feel, Im out of the pocket.

I've spent an outrageous amount of time trying to learn to stay on top of the beat and play behind it. I want to master my ability to play with time in the context of the notes.....BUT To play on top of the note feels lazy and to play behind the note feels like Im walking in mud. There is no natural feel unless Im playing slightly ahead of time. I guess its just poor habits, learned behavior and trying to "bury the click"..When I bury the click (to my ears) Im playing ahead of time.

My personal opinion is that counting using 1/2/3/4 is an awful way to count time. Each number is actually a word. Depending on where you actually hit the drum while saying the word greatly impacts if you are in front/on top/ behind the count. I play better time when the click is crisp with the shortest delay. Im getting a little better after hours of practice but there dont seem to be any good lessons or advice that address this topic.

Anyone have good exercises to calm down my "in front" counting/playing and make it feel more natural/intuitive? I feel like Im starting over again and having to apply significant amount of my focus on the count while playing.
 
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larryace

"Uncle Larry"
I have a suggestion that went a long way to help me even my time out.
Let me preface this with the statement that before this exercise, I really didn't know what good meter sounded like. I hadn't really got down and dirty with the metronome in a major way. This taught me.
The exercise...I just use my hands only, (alternating) trying to bury the click at 40 BPM. One stroke per click. For 1 hour straight. That's it. You can subdivide in your head if you want or need to. I chose not to subdivide after initially subdividing. I wanted to actually feel it, not arrive there by subdividing. Makes it much harder, which I prefer.
It forced me how to measure time in my head. It's an exercise of total precision.
You could use it with feet too.
It turned into a very rewarding meditation exercise for me. I use this exercise to ingrain a steady quarter note in my brain. The global change in the way that my time felt...for the better...was unexpected.
It would take the first 30 minutes before I was able to clear out all of the chatter in my head and become mentally still. The last half hour is amazing for me.
This is what it took for me to get time into my head. I'm a guy who has been playing a long time but who has just "discovered" the study of time.
It's a lifelong pursuit of mine, to have dead even time.
The recorder is your bestest friend there.
The good news is that you've horrified yourself sufficiently enough to take action. The honest critique of yourself, which is an essential skill, is your great friend. Things won't be the same timewise, ever. Which is a good thing. Way to go and congratulations. You've passed the point where you can't ignore this any longer. That is a really important part, the horror. It's the motivation I needed to take learning time seriously. Time is something I will always have to remain vigilant about, no matter what my age.
 
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8Mile

Platinum Member
Welcome to the club. The recording is a harsh mirror, isn't it? I still regularly decide I should give up drums listening to playback. But, as you're learning, this is the way to fix the things that are bothering you.

The bottom line is that larryace's advice is the best. That should be your primary approach, in my opinion.

That said, a few weeks ago, I bought a Beatnik Rhythmic Analyzer. They stopped making them years ago, but there's a guy who still sells brand new ones on Reverb. I bought one a couple weeks ago after hearing Mike Dawson from the Modern Drummer podcast rave about how much his has helped him with precision.

This thing is an obsession waiting to happen. It's basically a practice pad with a beat detector, metronome and digital display attached. You can program it to play different patterns and it measures how accurately you match the notes. Spoiler alert: You're not as close as you think! It's an incredible tool I'm just exploring the depths of, but I can already tell it will be a difference-maker for my precision.

There's a good listing of features here if you click "more" and view the whole thing. They don't make these anymore, so you can't buy them through music stores. Luckily, a guy bought all the new ones and still sells them brand new on Reverb. https://reverb.com/item/8814845-beatnik-rhythmic-analyzer-ra1200p
 

danondrums

Well-known member
I think Benny Greb's "Language of Drumming" is a great book for getting super deep into the subdivisions and learning to gain control of each limb in the manner you're looking to do. It consists of some of what Larry prescribes above and puts it in to a very methodical process where no crack is left unturned.

I'm currently working on it having had a similar revelation to yours and it's immensely helpful.

Congratulations and kudos to you for letting your ego get out of the way and starting a path to serious growth.
 

Tbonez

Member
I have a suggestion that went a long way to help me even my time out.
Let me preface this with the statement that before this exercise, I really didn't know what good meter sounded like. I hadn't really got down and dirty with the metronome in a major way. This taught me.
The exercise...I just use my hands only, (alternating) trying to bury the click at 40 BPM. One stroke per click. For 1 hour straight. That's it. You can subdivide in your head if you want or need to. I chose not to subdivide after initially subdividing. I wanted to actually feel it, not arrive there by subdividing. Makes it much harder, which I prefer.
It forced me how to measure time in my head. It's an exercise of total precision.
You could use it with feet too.
It turned into a very rewarding meditation exercise for me. I use this exercise to ingrain a steady quarter note in my brain. The global change in the way that my time felt...for the better...was unexpected.
It would take the first 30 minutes before I was able to clear out all of the chatter in my head and become mentally still. The last half hour is amazing for me.
This is what it took for me to get time into my head. I'm a guy who has been playing a long time but who has just "discovered" the study of time.
It's a lifelong pursuit of mine, to have dead even time.
The recorder is your bestest friend there.
The good news is that you've horrified yourself sufficiently enough to take action. The honest critique of yourself, which is an essential skill, is your great friend. Things won't be the same timewise, ever. Which is a good thing. Way to go and congratulations. You've passed the point where you can't ignore this any longer. That is a really important part, the horror. It's the motivation I needed to take learning time seriously. Time is something I will always have to remain vigilant about, no matter what my age.

Great advice will try to implement this practice method this week! Thanks so much...
 

Tbonez

Member
I think Benny Greb's "Language of Drumming" is a great book for getting super deep into the subdivisions and learning to gain control of each limb in the manner you're looking to do. It consists of some of what Larry prescribes above and puts it in to a very methodical process where no crack is left unturned.

I'm currently working on it having had a similar revelation to yours and it's immensely helpful.

Congratulations and kudos to you for letting your ego get out of the way and starting a path to serious growth.

Thanks - I will check into this! Im a huge Benny Greb fan.

I will say the more I listen to myself on a recording the more its clear why the pros sound so much better than the novices. When I play on time or time everything snaps together like a puzzle...
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
I'm of the mindset now that rock steady meter at the proper tempo are the 2 most important things, period. That great choice of notes isn't great unless they can be played in time. With the proper dynamic. I don't have this down, time. But I am way further ahead than I was prior.
 

brentcn

Platinum Member
Anyone have good exercises to calm down my "in front" counting/playing and make it feel more natural/intuitive?
Yes, there are quite a few of them — rushing is very, very common among drummers who haven’t specially addressed this issue. And what works for one player, may not work for another, so it’s important to try a few different approaches. Drilling quarters at 40 bpm for an hour isn’t going to hurt, but the fact that it helps one drummer, or a few, doesn’t mean that, for certain, it will help you specifically. We are not all so similar in this way. If you do try this 40 bpm thing, and it doesn’t work out, please don’t feel discouraged. There are other approaches.

I feel I could teach you myself, bc I’ve taught many others to play solidly with the click. I also know already that you, as a student, want a guaranteed-super-very-best way to address this skill, and the dirty truth is that you have to try a bunch of different exercises and methods until you stumble onto what works for you. You need to commit to improving yourself with the help of others. If 40bpm quarters is all it takes, then great. But if not, do not give up. You just have not worked the right thing, or combination of things, for long enough yet.

So, what are the methods? Try YouTube first. I recommend Nate Smith 80/20 drummer for this type of thing. If that doesn’t work, give me a shout. Good luck!
 

paradiddle pete

Platinum Member
Relax, it's only a track.. Recording yourself is a whole world away from playing with others. it may be rushing a little is how you got used to playing with other musos's. Also I wouldn't get overly concerned with not being perfect because that's where the Mojo lives..
 

Super Phil

Senior Member
This is probably a simpler answer than you're looking for, but if i think i may be rushing then one trick it to elongate your strokes.
 

AsbaSakae69

Junior Member
Drifting slightly, have anybody faced this problem? Practicing alone I play a song right on the click each time, but when the whole band (only 3 musicians) tries to play with the click as we're preparing for studio, then we go off within a few bars. I feel guilty for it. what can I do?
 

mikyok

Platinum Member
Relax, it's only a track.. Recording yourself is a whole world away from playing with others. it may be rushing a little is how you got used to playing with other musos's. Also I wouldn't get overly concerned with not being perfect because that's where the Mojo lives..
^ This. There's a vid on the Rick Beato channel where he quantizes Bonham, it sounds horrible quantized.

There's a reason that a lot of modern day recordings sound stale, bland and lifeless and that's because everything is time aligned, autotuned and compressed within an inch of it's life.

Playing to a click comes with practice and a lot of how you play to a click is dependent on the music you're recording, playing around the click is how you should think of it. Sometimes you have to push it and sometimes you have to hold back. Nobody is perfectly on the beat.
 

cbphoto

Gold Member
Sometimes you have to push it and sometimes you have to hold back.
Year ago I read an interview of Paul Wertico and he talked about pushing and pulling against the click to improve the feel of a tune. At the time I was playing in several church bands which were using a click and I thought, "No way". I understand that it's possible to push & pull against the click, but the entire band has to be on the same page, locked into the drummer not the click.
 

mikyok

Platinum Member
Year ago I read an interview of Paul Wertico and he talked about pushing and pulling against the click to improve the feel of a tune. At the time I was playing in several church bands which were using a click and I thought, "No way". I understand that it's possible to push & pull against the click, but the entire band has to be on the same page, locked into the drummer not the click.
Playing with a full band live to a click is a sport I'm yet to play ;). Off topic but was there any reason for playing to a click live? Samples, backing tracks etc? I can see how it would be tricky for a whole band to be on the same page feel wise because you get some players who are really mechanical to a metronome.
 

cbphoto

Gold Member
Playing with a full band live to a click is a sport I'm yet to play ;). Off topic but was there any reason for playing to a click live? Samples, backing tracks etc? I can see how it would be tricky for a whole band to be on the same page feel wise because you get some players who are really mechanical to a metronome.
The worship groups using a live click were large, 6–8 musicians, 2–4 background singers, and a drummer 😉. The click kept this herd on time. In addition, the worship leaders of two churches were degreed musicians who taught music for their day job ("Let's bump up the tempo 2 BPM. Ahh, much better."), and all the music played was a cover of popular Christian worship tunes so the click kept the tempo similar to the original (this makes it recognizable and easier for those in the pews).

Another thing about larger American churches in general, if they have the money they buy very good audio gear. Line arrays, SSL consoles, Aviom monitor mixers, Audix, Shure, Audio-Technica, Telefunken, etc., etc., and this attracts musicians like moths to a flame. To me, it's natural that a band leader would add a click to this pile and set a minimum standard for musicianship.



(sorry to derail the thread)
 

brentcn

Platinum Member
Drifting slightly, have anybody faced this problem? Practicing alone I play a song right on the click each time, but when the whole band (only 3 musicians) tries to play with the click as we're preparing for studio, then we go off within a few bars. I feel guilty for it. what can I do?
Ignore the other players and stay with the click. Be as solid and even as possible, and make them adjust to you. There really is no other way, and for a while it will sound bad. Over time, the other players will hopefully address their own tendencies, and the whole thing will improve. it’s a slow process, but a very worthwhile one, if you intend to grow as a player.
 

MrInsanePolack

Platinum Member
Another thing about larger American churches in general, if they have the money they buy very good audio gear. Line arrays, SSL consoles, Aviom monitor mixers, Audix, Shure, Audio-Technica, Telefunken, etc., etc., and this attracts musicians like moths to a flame. To me, it's natural that a band leader would add a click to this pile and set a minimum standard for musicianship.
That's not even a church at this point, its a theatre. No pews, no altar, no statues, no crucifix, no windows. Instead it has theatre seating, a stage, screens, projectors, a massive sound system, and what looks to be an engineered acoustic ceiling. It's more akin to Walmart in structure, and costs probably as much. I'm not knocking on anyone's religion or house of worship. These types of churches are everywhere here in Arkansas. It's just not what I think of when I think of a church. I spent my first 15 years of life in the NE, where churches have steeples with bells, vaulted ceilings and stained glass windows, wooden pews and an altar. The churches I remember only have an organ, an old lady who plays it, and they are shoved away to the side or back of the church where they aren't seen.

As for the click, the more you use it the easier and more natural it will become.
 
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