Weaning from Click/Live BPM/Click Tracks?

ottog1979

Senior Member
The last few months I've really been focusing on keeping a steady meter. It became apparent that I didn't always do this and drifted BPM more than I'd like to admit or was aware of prior to now. So, I've been using a programmed metronome to get band songs started and Live BPM during the song as a way to focus on steady meter. It's definitely helped - I'm getting much better at it.

But, this has brought up a question and I'm interested in hearing the general consensus. There have been a few times recently when I don't get the Live BPM going during a practice song with the band and I felt like I was missing my crutch and anxious about it. So then the question: Can your steady meter improve to the point when you no longer feel the need for something like Live BPM? Or, is it common to continue to use these tools (like a click-track also), consistently on-going into the future simply because they are easily available and useful?
 

Boomka

Platinum Member
So then the question: Can your steady meter improve to the point when you no longer feel the need for something like Live BPM? Or, is it common to continue to use these tools (like a click-track also), consistently on-going into the future simply because they are easily available and useful?

Yes and yes.

Yes, you can certainly improve your meter.

But, yes, many top players still use metronomes and click tracks to get tempos started or throughout whole songs depending on the situation. Big stage productions, TV and theatre shows and just about any show with a lot of dancing in it is likely to have click tracks involved these days. It keeps the hoofers happy, it allows the production people to program lighting and staging effects to happen at precise moments without needing to be triggered by a human, etc.

There's no longer any shame in having a click going on stage. But, you need to be able to work without one as well.
 

Odd-Arne Oseberg

Platinum Member
Even if one generally has good time it depends.

Your mood, level of restedness or not, a cup of coffee, piece of chocolate, the weather...

I know the couple of songs that I warm up with pretty much everyday have felt from slightly to fast to be comfortable to strangely slow.

I know Simon Phillips says he uses a metronome all the time.

There's also that video of Steve Gadd almost counting off and then deciding not to, singing and nodding to a song for a good minute before he feels confident he has the right tempo and dares to count it off.

Find some James Brown live.. :)

Tempo used to be part of the dynamic expression that's what's natural.

Does it feel good?

What you want is awareness of what the tendecy is right now. You'll probably learn this from recording yourself as any other thing. Play the same ting and see if you modified what you tried to fix. Build awareness and build your facility to where all you need to concentrate on is the music and the time.

For ease, I think it's only professional to bring a metronome to be sure of tempos. You never know in all the "excitement." Depends on the gig, but you know, even conductors do it.
 

drum4fun27302

Gold Member
I believe it helps. The more you do it and "autocorrects" using livebpm as a reference, the more you will get used to noticing you speeding up or slowing down , thus making you a more consistant drummer.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
Great topic.

I'm not a fan of metronomic time, like at all. I think really great human time feels better by a large margin. I have to play with a looper quite a bit. Every bar feels the friggin same. It's like I'm trying to jog while dragging a stone block, I really don't prefer it.

I get to compare looped stuff with non looped stuff and non looped stuff is just more exciting IMO. I am 2 completely different feeling drummers, depending on whether I'm trying to play to a loop or not.

Last night I got to do a blues gig, no loop, and boy did it feel great. I didn't have to watch my volume on every beat like a hawk in this particular room, and my guy doesn't loop when we play blues, thank heaven. Honestly, last night felt like sex. I really needed that lol.

But back OT, weaning....for me it is a mental struggle to not lose focus on the tempo/meter....EVER. Not even for one second. Mental focus. It's like developing a time circuit that runs independently of what I play. Meaning if I drag a hit, my time circuit (ideally) doesn't allow me play the next beat in relation to the dragged note, I attempt to play the next beat where it would have been had I not dragged that note. Self analyzing, coupled with immediate self correction. That's my goal.

For me it's akin to developing a separate brain function that is purely a mental hammerlock on the time, that isn't affected by my own timing mistakes. It's a higher mental function than my own playing, as if I'm watching my own time from a separate place, while I'm playing. And that's the challenge for me, I like going to la la land when I play, and I do, but I still have to have this time circuit thing going on that isn't affected by my own movements, if that makes sense.

But at practice, I try and make time feel as good as possible without a metronome, by me mentally noticing my time, not following along to a click. Flow is king.

Not to say I don't do metronome, I do both. I do think it's important to practice time without a metronome too.
 

ghostnoted

Member
Maybe I'm just not a click player (at least live), but I like when drummers have a slight variation in time. There's a song we used to play at 127 BPM for the verses, but I naturally slowed down for the choruses, which was 123. When we recorded it, we programmed it into the click, because the full song at either tempo was either too rushed or too clunky. I probably do these things without realizing, but it allows me to also play a little behind the beat if I choose as well; it gives a "human-ness to the performance" without being off-time, of course. It also makes live performances more spontaneous I feel. I do still practice to a metronome though.
 

drum4fun27302

Gold Member
Great topic.

I'm not a fan of metronomic time, like at all. I think really great human time feels better by a large margin. I have to play with a looper quite a bit. Every bar feels the friggin same. It's like I'm trying to jog while dragging a stone block, I really don't prefer it.

I get to compare looped stuff with non looped stuff and non looped stuff is just more exciting IMO. I am 2 completely different feeling drummers, depending on whether I'm trying to play to a loop or not.

Last night I got to do a blues gig, no loop, and boy did it feel great. I didn't have to watch my volume on every beat like a hawk in this particular room, and my guy doesn't loop when we play blues, thank heaven. Honestly, last night felt like sex. I really needed that lol.

But back OT, weaning....for me it is a mental struggle to not lose focus on the tempo/meter....EVER. Not even for one second. Mental focus. It's like developing a time circuit that runs independently of what I play. Meaning if I drag a hit, my time circuit (ideally) doesn't allow me play the next beat in relation to the dragged note, I attempt to play the next beat where it would have been had I not dragged that note. Self analyzing, coupled with immediate self correction. That's my goal.

For me it's akin to developing a separate brain function that is purely a mental hammerlock on the time, that isn't affected by my own timing mistakes. It's a higher mental function than my own playing, as if I'm watching my own time from a separate place, while I'm playing. And that's the challenge for me, I like going to la la land when I play, and I do, but I still have to have this time circuit thing going on that isn't affected by my own movements, if that makes sense.

But at practice, I try and make time feel as good as possible without a metronome, by me mentally noticing my time, not following along to a click. Flow is king.

Not to say I don't do metronome, I do both. I do think it's important to practice time without a metronome too.

Livebpm isn't a metronome. It is an app that shows you a graph of the tempo being plAyed over time. You will see after a couple of seconds that you have been speeding up/slowing down and make a mental note and adjust accordingly.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
It's good to understand your tendencies (speaking collectively)

Like I tend to drag a bit during bass solos. I know this so I am more vigilant in those situations. Rarely do I rush anywhere, but I'm not totally immune from it. It happens sometimes.

The recorder is still the best tool. It shows me in no uncertain terms where my tempo/meter weaknesses lie.

Human time is not metronomic time. It feels better sometimes to slightly accelerate certain passages. It's not a conscious thing, it happens naturally and just feels better on certain stuff....better than a metronome to my ear. But technically it is "out of time". So what, it was more meaningful is my stance. Imperfections are beautiful. Perfection does not exist in nature.

Human time has a little wiggle room, where metronomic time is very strict and no fun IMO. I stretch time and compress time because that's what humans do. As long as it's within parameters it's all good to my ear.
 

bermuda

Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
Staff member
I believe it helps. The more you do it and "autocorrects" using livebpm as a reference, the more you will get used to noticing you speeding up or slowing down , thus making you a more consistant drummer.

Exactly. A click helps you identify your weak spots (triplet fills were always a problem for me, slow tempos too) and trains you to compensate for them in order to hold the tempo. LiveBPM (I use that now and then!) is the test to let you know if you've conquered your issues. Eventually, those habits become part of your DNA, or so they should.

I don't think that using LiveBPM is necessarily a crutch, although it does bring one's personal confidence into play. My tempos are pretty steady, thanks to more than 30 years of recording and playing to clicks. I do still check myself though, sometimes with LiveBPM, but mostly with a quick assessment at the end of a song: did we end up where we started?

We can't agonize over speeding up say, 3 bpm. But with LiveBPM, we're constantly checking ourselves, constantly adjusting, and that can affect the feel. Even if they're fairly imperceptible pushes and pulls, there's an anxiety that goes along with being shown you're not right on. I think that feeling is worse than simply accepting a slight variance in tempo over 3 or 4 minutes. Even Zappa didn't catch that stuff.

Now, this isn't an excuse to have bad time, or refuse to work with a click, or avoid checking yourself with the app so you can gauge progress. But there is a point where you just have to play drums, and know that you can keep a suitably steady tempo without having to worry about the reading on the app. If a song needs to be in perfect time, then we're talking click anyway, and of course there's a confidence (born from experience) that helps make that easy.

So, ideally, you should be able to confidently play without having to monitor your progress all the time. That'll just drive you crazy.

Bermuda
 

DrumEatDrum

Platinum Member
Program (using a drum machine or computer software) a 4 bar loop.

3 bars of click, and 1 bar os silence.

Then move to 2 bars of clock, 2 bars of silence.

Obviously, do this in the practice room, not with the band.

Learn to feel the pulse without the click in your ear. That should help you feel confident to wean yourself.
 

bermuda

Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
Staff member
Program (using a drum machine or computer software) a 4 bar loop.

3 bars of click, and 1 bar os silence....

I do relish the idea, if you play a fill through that silent bar. Anyone can keep a beat for a bar, but a fill - or maybe just stopping for that bar - is the real test for finding "1" when it comes back.

But I've heard this suggestion before, and I'm not sure if it's as helpful as it is simply a fun challenge. That is, I think it would create anxiety about exactly where the count is, especially with 2 bars' silence, and learning through fear isn't good. A better way to identify timing issues is to use a constant click, so you know instantly where the pushing and pulling problems are. Once those are corrected to match the click and they start to feel natural, then it's smart to try the empty bar or LiveBPM to see if it's ingrained.

Bermuda
 

Odd-Arne Oseberg

Platinum Member
Putting the click on different parts of the beat is another way.
 

ottog1979

Senior Member
I was hoping you'd chime in Bermuda! Your answer was sorta what I was thinking and helpful.

I didn't post this up to start a click-track vs. not debate while playing. I play without one and very much enjoy the human touch in music including variance in tempos. It's just that I came to be aware that my variance was wider than I wanted and have been focusing on narrowing it. Just the focus alone has helped. Apparently, as my awareness becomes more automatic and in the background, I won't feel the need to check so much or constantly. I'll keep the faith & focus and see where it goes.

One thing fun about Live BPM - you can check all kinds of recordings. Many, many, many - even current songs - are not steady. A majority, it seems, start at one tempo and end about 5 bpm higher. The majority also vary +/-3, sometimes more.
 

bermuda

Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
Staff member
One thing fun about Live BPM - you can check all kinds of recordings. Many, many, many - even current songs - are not steady. A majority, it seems, start at one tempo and end about 5 bpm higher. The majority also vary +/-3, sometimes more.

I'm the first to agree that most music can breathe, a little bit anyway, and sound perfectly tight and groovy. And, a 3bpm variance is not a real liability for a live band.

What I have a problem with is the drummers who hide behind "music has to breathe" because they 1) can't hold a tempo, and/or 2) they shun a click because they can't work with it. Those are the guys who can't stay within maybe 5bpm of their starting tempo, and perhaps don't know it.

There are some great tools and methods to help develop good time, but in the end, the goal is to be able to maintain a reasonably steady tempo without depending on those tools. There'll probably be times when it's necessary to work with a click, but that's typically for synching to a backing track or video, not because the drummer can't keep steady.

Frankly, if a drummer can't hold a reasonable tempo without having to resort to a click, that band needs to find a new drummer.

Bermuda
 

Mikedrums78

Senior Member
Putting the click on different parts of the beat is another way.

This for sure ↑ 

I heard of doing this from players like Benny Greb and Nate from 8020 drummer. I usually put it on the up beat, like a ska or reggae skank, ( the ands of 1,2,3,4)

Nate puts it all over the friggen place!

It really does help you become in control over the time while having the click as a reference to what you`re playing.
 

Jeff Almeyda

Senior Consultant
Putting the click on different parts of the beat is another way.

It sure is. It's like a variation on the beat displacement concept.

I got the moving click idea from Benny Greb. When I got the click on the "e" (2nd 16th note subdivison of the beat). I found that I was rushing that "e" in fills and stuff. So my first note would be dead on and then the rushing occurred on the 2nd 16th note. If I made sure to get that 2nd 16th note dead on, the rest of the fill flowed in time.

Awesome tool.
 

JustJames

Platinum Member
This has been an interesting discussion.

And it prompted me to download LiveBPM onto my phone. What a great app! I used it to monitor some simple grooves I'm re-visiting, things that I have written from when I took lessons. In some ways, I think this may be a better training tool than a metronome. I can see where a metronome or a click could be a great tool for recording or synching, but I like how LiveBPM lets you monitor your tempo.
 

Hollywood Jim

Platinum Member
Yes, I love using the LiveBPM app. It is a great tool to use during rehearsals.

And sometimes I use it during live performances if I'm playing with a band that has tempo issues. You know the kind of band I'm talking about. The one that makes you fell like you are herding cats when you play with them.


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