Timing then and timing today

Mad About Drums

Pollyanna's Agent
It is true that we can't ignore the music which is around us on a daily basis, everywhere... TV, adverts, radio, internet, etc... we don't really listen to it, but it's there all the same...

As for top 40 billboard type of songs, not everything's as bad as we make it, there's still some nice stuff out there, with real musicians, not machines.

These are the days of the click in recording studios and many acts uses samples and pre-recorded music live on stage too, being able to play with "precision" nowadays is a must, of course, there's exceptions, some artists still doing it the "old" way, with no click in the studio or live, but these (pro) artists are not playing mainstream pop and rock.

I don't know if many (any) of you know the album "Electric Rendez-vous" by Al Di Meola, it features Steve Gadd on drums, that recording was done with no click or metronome, when you listen to it, it's hard to believe it, the timing's so perfect (and the music's not simple to play).

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6yBMkNL30xg

But that's the thing, players like Steve Gadd, Vinnie Colaiuta, Simon Phillips, Dave Weckl, Jojo Mayer, Benny Greb and the likes are monsters, they're on another planet, they're the drummer's drummers, the elite... most of us will never get there, even if we practice 20 hrs a day with a click, it's all subjective, some famous albums are fantastic in terms of timing mainly because who's playing in them... and most of these musicians don't need a click when they play/record music.
 

mikel

Platinum Member
It is true that we can't ignore the music which is around us on a daily basis, everywhere... TV, adverts, radio, internet, etc... we don't really listen to it, but it's there all the same...

As for top 40 billboard type of songs, not everything's as bad as we make it, there's still some nice stuff out there, with real musicians, not machines.

These are the days of the click in recording studios and many acts uses samples and pre-recorded music live on stage too, being able to play with "precision" nowadays is a must, of course, there's exceptions, some artists still doing it the "old" way, with no click in the studio or live, but these (pro) artists are not playing mainstream pop and rock.

I don't know if many (any) of you know the album "Electric Rendez-vous" by Al Di Meola, it features Steve Gadd on drums, that recording was done with no click or metronome, when you listen to it, it's hard to believe it, the timing's so perfect (and the music's not simple to play).

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6yBMkNL30xg

But that's the thing, players like Steve Gadd, Vinnie Colaiuta, Simon Phillips, Dave Weckl, Jojo Mayer, Benny Greb and the likes are monsters, they're on another planet, they're the drummer's drummers, the elite... most of us will never get there, even if we practice 20 hrs a day with a click, it's all subjective, some famous albums are fantastic in terms of timing mainly because who's playing in them... and most of these musicians don't need a click when they play/record music.
I love certain albums because I love the music, I dont think I have ever judged an album on the quality of the timing. I think it is entirely possible to have perfect timing and be a poor drummer, or have average timing but be a superb inventive drummer.
 

Aeolian

Platinum Member
Clicks have been around before drum machines. People recorded metronomes. A common trick in the '70s was to splice a tape loop of the beat on another machine and let it run though people's headphones while playing to keep them in tempo. Keeping things in tempo was essential during the rise of multi-track independently recorded parts. Trying to play along with something that is shifting around is hell. It's one thing to chase another musician you can watch and react with, but chasing something that's just coming though the cans is really hard.

This kind of reminds me of the playing covers like the record or doing one's own thing debate. If someone (or a group) who can keep steady time throughout a whole song decide to push and pull it a bit (a la Ringo and the pushing the choruses thing) then I respect that as a musical choice. Much as a classical conductor will add drama to a concert by speeding up and slowing down a bit as the music suits. But I hear this sort of thing far too often from people who can't do it right in the first place. Who get caught up in the moment and rush, or bog down playing fills that they can't groove though.

Altering something, has to come from a foundation of having it down in the first place.

Whether the Wrecking Crew, Funk Brothers, MG's or whatever, pop music has a long history of being played well and in time. And producers have had to get creative or use pro replacements with flash in the pan groups who couldn't. Today you have folks like the Dirty Loops or Pomplamoose who are dead on time, while grooving just as hard as the FAME crew.
 

Mad About Drums

Pollyanna's Agent
I love certain albums because I love the music, I dont think I have ever judged an album on the quality of the timing.
Me neither, it's just this thread which made me remember an interview about Al Di Meola's drummers in which he stated that Steve had played the whole album without a click and made an emphasis of Gadd's great timing. I just thought it was relevant to the subject of this thread.

I think it is entirely possible to have perfect timing and be a poor drummer, or have average timing but be a superb inventive drummer.
Certainly... but some have both, perfect timing and superb creativity, which is the point I was highlighting.
 

_Leviathan_

Senior Member
Bands and music are a product of the times they live in, sure. But the technology is too. Do you think they would have had 20 guys recording into a room mic to make a wax cylinder if they could have done different? If the musicians and producers at the time had access to the digital manipulation we do today, would they have made their music exactly the same? Who knows, but I doubt it. I think if the standard was always metronomic time in pop/rock music, then some of you would be complaining about music today being too loose and freeform. The only reason people made music like that was because that was the standard, and for every wonderfully loose drummer like Billy Martin from MMW there's drummers with just bad time that need to charge up their metronomes.

Getting your right hand and left foot to basically be a metronome by "cracking the books" with a pair of headphones isn't fun, but it's a great skill for a drummer to have. Then you can go off metronome and keep a similar standard of tightness, while still having a human time and feel. Listen to the Soundgarden record last year or Clutch this year and tell me "slick, digital" modern music done to a click can't rock or feel amazing.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mwI8N146W5s
 

mikel

Platinum Member
Nothing wrong with technology, if it improves the reproduction of the original performance. You could argue that musicians in the wax cylinder era were better than now. They had to record, as a band, straight to disc, so there individual performance had to be perfect.. Notation, volume, dynamics and timing. Now, with multi track recorders most things can be "Fixed in the mix" or dropped in or used to trigger better sounds.

I think a recording should be a representation of a moment in time, a performance. Like a gig.You were there on that night and were lucky enough to witness the performance. The following night? the performance will be slightly different.

Sometimes less really is more. A friend of mine is a songwriter/producer and he was sent a recording by a friend of a friend asking him to re mix and produce it for them. It was post punk stuff. After careful listening and consideration he sent it back with the note: "Its rough, gritty, loud and slightly shambolic. Its perfect Punk, I'm not going to mess with it".
 
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