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bitflipper

How to ruin a drum track...

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On a related note, here are some timing tips from bass legend Carol Kaye. I especially liked the bit about making a metronome groove.

 

 

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Thanks for posting that Carol Kaye video.  Super interesting listening to her talk.  I wasn't remotely familiar with her, but knew her work without knowing of her.  Great stuff and inspiring.

On another note, I'm a subscriber of Rick's, so I saw this video earlier.  I'm not a good drummer when playing the actual instrument and don't actually own a kit.  But I'm a decent programmer.  It's just what I have available and that's what I use to make music.  Get to it, right?  Anyway, I'm on the search for a technique to use when programming drums that gives them feel and room to breathe.  Groove.  I think that partly lies in the tempo map and getting a good swing in that tempo map.  Then it's also about note placement.  It's the note placement and the swing of that placement that I am needing to work on and get closer to the feel of a human.  I'm open to suggestion there or if there are articles I'm not aware of.

Edited by Myriad Rocker

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Point taken, Craig.

I'm not innocent. I'll admit to moving around a few kick and snare hits now and again. And I start every song with a click track, regardless of whether they're programmed or played drums. But that doesn't mean one has to be a slave to the grid. The click track goes away after the initial guide tracks have been recorded, and then every subsequent track is played by hand. Everything but shakers. My arms get tired.

 

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2 hours ago, bitflipper said:

Point taken, Craig.

I'm not innocent. I'll admit to moving around a few kick and snare hits now and again. 

Which means that you totally get it!! You fix the notes that sound wrong, not the notes that look wrong :) 

B.B. King would have never had a career if his flatted-7th-to-tonic bend ever actually made it to the tonic...

I've often said that far from leeching the soul out of vocals, Melodyne has made my vocals MORE soulful. That's because I can sing with abandon, knowing that if a note or two is off, I can fix it. That's a big improvement over constantly second-guessing whether the vocal is any good while I'm singing it. Similarly, quantization takes the pressure off of playing drum parts. 

They're all tools, and neutral. The skill of the person using the tools is the determining factor in the tools' effectiveness. But I sure am glad we have these tools.

P.S. In my workshops, I use John Bonham as the poster boy example of why playing around the grid works a lot better than playing to the grid. 

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1 hour ago, Craig Anderton said:

They're all tools, and neutral.

^^ Hardcore right/wrong assessments of tool usage tend to miss the mark, but it does bring light to "studio" versus "live." No one will care how the end product was made (DAW, tools, overdubbing, etc.); but when live, those that rely on "studio tools" stick out much more prominently.

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I think one thing that's often been missed in these tempo and quantizing discussions is the fact that the tools are far from perfect IMHO. The transient detection is too rudimentary, i.e. on one hand too much level oriented and on the other hand it is totally based on transients being very short what is not always true in "real" music. Think of a drum hit, the stick is not always being exactly the same time (ms) on the drum skin and in some cases it even hits twice or more times. In such cases the tools have real problems to find the correct transients and often even in easier cases.

I do not want to negate that there is absolutely some kind of feeling inserted with tiny tempo variations by the real good musicians (like above). On the other hand there are those mean amateurs like me that do not have a steady timing feeling (but it gets better all the time) and there it may sound better to have some quantization 😅!

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Speaking of the tools not being perfect, I was messing around with tempo detection at the weekend.

I took a song I did with my daughter, which was originally done in Band in a Box (using RealDrums / RealTracks for drums & guitar, but MIDI for piano, organ & bass), and dragged in to Cakewalk for recording the vocals. It was recorded at 120bpm.

I took the stereo mix, and dragged it to the top of the track view - Melodyne detected a constant tempo of 60bpm.

However, using audio-snap to derive a tempo map showed the tempo fluctuating between 118 and 123 bpm constantly throughout the song.

So the tools are definitely far from perfect.

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1 hour ago, mettelus said:

^^ Hardcore right/wrong assessments of tool usage tend to miss the mark, but it does bring light to "studio" versus "live." No one will care how the end product was made (DAW, tools, overdubbing, etc.); but when live, those that rely on "studio tools" stick out much more prominently.

I've tried to convince my band that if I could just record my parts in MIDI, take them home and doctor them up, that when I came back the next night my live performance would then be impeccable.

Oddly, they insist on real-time sound generation. "The audience won't wait around while you edit the PRV", they said. Luddites!

Next, they'll tell me I have to use a real tambourine instead of samples. Now, that's just a safety issue - those things can give you bruises.

 

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Saw another Rick Beto video where he took a few songs from pre 2000 and a few songs from post 2000 and was able to take the post 2K stuff and cut copy paste it anywhere like it was all quantized perfectly.

The state of quantized music is very grim now a days, but I can respect the new generation just like once upon a time I asked respect from the older generation. when I looked at them as they were intelligent but somewhat out of touch with newer techniques.

 

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"Next, they'll tell me I have to use a real tambourine instead of samples. Now, that's just a safety issue - those things can give you bruises."

 

Ray Thomas made half a career playing the tambourine. (Ouch)

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It is very strange the way music has evolved over the past 15 years or so, we strived so hard in our recordings that we forgot about the basic, true element needed to create a great song... human feel. Something we over looked in the search for perfection.

PS- also might be worth pondering the benefits of take lanes. Punching in is one thing, nickel + diming for the perfect take is another.

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The goal of replacing the human component is well on its way...remember when buying gas or groceries, going to the bank, making an airline reservation, browsing for books, getting product support - all involved some kind of human interaction? 

Humans are complicated, and therefore complicate and reduce the efficiency of everyday transactions. In 20 years you won't drive your own car anymore. (At least that should eliminate automated traffic fines; of course if you do get one, well good luck contacting a human to appeal it.) In far less than 20 years, all pop music will be mostly generated by algorithms. Heck, many are seriously predicting the end of conventional male/female unions. Why endure the messiness of interpersonal relationships when a robot can service all your needs while never complaining about any of your limitations?

The ultimate end game, I fear, is finally achieving a perfect world wherein mechanical perfection replaces all human activity. Problem is, that will make us unnecessary, and by then, the machines will be smart enough to realize that. We may be the last blemish to imperfection to eradicate.

Or not. After all, jazz never died, it just left the Top 40.

 

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For those of us  here that want to do their own experiments on what was mentioned in the first video ...

here are some MP3 examples of John Bonham's drums only

http://www.saladrecords.com/bonhamfiles.htm

I was lucky enough to see Led Zeppelin 3 times at Madison Square Garden in the 70's , John Bonham brought down the house w his drum solo's , for a large segment of the drums solo he didn't even use  sticks .

I  also saw Bonham's son a few times w Robert Plant . 

Great Players .

For me the real find in this thread was the video interview of Carol Kaye .  She still got it . It was nice to hear her just kick it and tell her story

In the section where she talked about using the metronome  you have to watch and listen closely to understand the benefit of what she was saying  , 

Her implied message was to play off the 2 and the 4 of the beats . If you listen closely you will hear her count in ...and once she is there she is using the metronome to define not only timing  for her playing , but a level of swing feel ....that is possible when you only play off the 2 and 4

Using her approach  the 1 and the 3 are  silent and the player is hearing those beats inside their heads .

Playing  off the 2 and the 4 of the metronome requires a lot more skill because  it is easy to get lost and one may loose their place until they become more familiar with the concept .

This happens because the player must feel the 1 and 3 w out hearing it . The tempo of the song moves along at the same pace even though  to pull off the correct tempo and feel means the songs tempo is halved using this approach  ...

A silent 1 , heard 2 , silent  3 , and heard 4  beat style of  metronome use means that a BPM of  60 = 120 BPM when one  used to using the metronome as per standard use ....

It might not sound like much but when the tempo is halved like that small changes can speed up or slow down dramatically into tempos a player may need to practice and spend more time  at . ( first hand assessment lol )

Essentially I have looked at this approach as  a drum track w just the snare hits ....

Both Ed Cherry and Emily Remler have tried to hip me  this years ago ...did I listen ?  ....no ...lol... better late than never ...

The true beauty behind this approach is w a little practice a player can develop a much more swinging approach to what ever it is they choose to play .

When I say Swing I am talking about The Freedom of Unlimited Interesting to play and hear  Hip Phrasing ...

I think of it this way , When I play off the metronome using the whole 1, 2, 3 , 4 , beat approach to 4/4 I might as well try to join The High School Marching Band because that what it sounds like to me and to others ...

Like it or not , my music and playing  will  be swinging  like a rusty gate ... lol

Using the silent 1 , heard 2 , silent 3, heard 4  metronome approach takes a fair amount of practice

( honestly some days I'm hit or miss on it , yet I still carry on )

I just came back and edited this because in Cakewalk the metronome preferences have adjustments for the first beat and then the other 3 beats combined ...It is possible to make the first beat silent , yet it is not possible to change the 2, 3, 4 beats they will sound ..

An easy thing to do would be to record the metronome , then edit beat 1 and 3 out of it and create a groove clip to save .

For fast and dirty , a practice thing I like to do  often is to just pull up a drum VST  , load a basic beat up with a hard hitting snare on the 2 and the  4  beats and then just  solo the snare . It is  simple and easy  enough to go there using that approach ...

all the best,

Kenny

 

 

Edited by Kenny Wilson

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Re live versus studio and tools...in live performance, there's so much more going on than the music, like the interaction with the audience. If you make a mistake, a second later it's gone. With recording, whatever you play is frozen in time, forever. So there's more incentive to "get it right."

The irony to me is that when I started in this business, the object of recording was to capture the "magic" of live performance, which had been honed with months of practice or time on the road. Somehow it got turned around, and now the object of live performance is to reproduce what was created in the studio.

Given that I play live very rarely, I can't do the first approach, which I prefer. My way of compensating is to write and record a song in the studio, and once it's finished, then the song has its personality established so I re-do it (sometimes from scratch, sometimes just basically replacing everything). The replacement song is always better.

Interestingly - and I'd be curious if anyone else has experienced the same thing - I pitch-correct my scratch vocals (which are usually pretty rough) so that they're perfect all the way through. Listening to them over and over and over again while recording the parts does something unexpected. When I go to sing the real vocals, the pitch is a zillion times better. It's like listening to the "perfect" vocal trained me to sing better. Same with rhythmic parts, like rhythm guitar. 

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I hope this video doesn't encourage anyone being sloppy. Metronome is your friend when practising technical stuff. I didn't hear him pointing this out.

It would have been a good idea to include the full band version for comparison to hear how such playing works with other instruments of the song.

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On 5/13/2019 at 9:40 AM, RobWS said:

Ray Thomas made half a career playing the tambourine. (Ouch)

Tread carefully regarding the legacy of Ray Thomas within range of my typing fingers. 😒

I've been a Moody Blues fan since high school, and my high school career was in the late '70's, not exactly during their heyday. By rights, I should have been in The Kiss Army

I, too, once subscribed to the theory that Ray fit into the "he doesn't have a lead vocal or flute solo on this one, so give him a tambourine so he has something to do onstage" rock paradigm. But a few years ago as I assembled a MB library of the 2006 remasters and started listening critically, sometimes on headphones, I started to marvel at how thoughtfully and how prominently Ray's tambourine was integrated into the arrangements of many of their songs, especially the uptempo ones.

Of course I hadn't noticed it before because it's so well integrated, it fits so well. Mellotron, check, flute, check, tambourine, check.

Listen to "Ride My See-Saw" or "Lovely to See You" or "Question" and try to imagine them without the tambourine. A really cool effect they used that I want to swipe someday was how they have Ray double Justin's strumming rhythm on "Question." That tambourine kept the Moodies grounded in their beat group origins, helped keep them accessible when other prog rock bands lost touch.

Most musicians would love to have that "half a career."

So there.

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On 5/14/2019 at 11:50 AM, Craig Anderton said:

The irony to me is that when I started in this business, the object of recording was to capture the "magic" of live performance, which had been honed with months of practice or time on the road.

That's literally why it's called "recording". It's supposed to be a record of a real event.

We need a new term for whatever it is we do nowadays. "Construction"? 

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On 5/14/2019 at 7:50 PM, Craig Anderton said:

Interestingly - and I'd be curious if anyone else has experienced the same thing - I pitch-correct my scratch vocals (which are usually pretty rough) so that they're perfect all the way through. Listening to them over and over and over again while recording the parts does something unexpected. When I go to sing the real vocals, the pitch is a zillion times better. It's like listening to the "perfect" vocal trained me to sing better. Same with rhythmic parts, like rhythm guitar. 

I've definitely found this.

Something even more strange was when I started using the TC Helicon VoicePrism to add a small bit of rasp to my voice. After a while, I found I was doing the rasp myself even though I thought my voice was incapable of it.

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