Jump to content

Recording in "free" tempo - no click track


Recommended Posts

  • Moderators

Whatever works... and as far as it being easier on the engineer later with a click - waah - get over it folks.
:p:cry::lol:
It's what makes the musicians happy and gets you the musical end result that everyone's shooting for that matters. Suck it up and do what you have to do to get it done.




Nice post Phil. Some great points and pointers.

Something I don't see mentioned very often mostly because it goes against "internet forum fashion"... is that some bands just sound better playing to a click. Not a popular concept, I know.

But some bands just float. Not in a musical way, but in a musically inept way. By spending some time with a band like I've just mentioned, frequently it's the first time they've even entertained the notion that there is a pocket, a tempo, and a feel, that is waiting to be tapped for this tune.

So, like I say, my truth may sound ill informed but I can attest that from my personal experience...

It is possible to get the basic tracking musicians feeling that click/shaker

It is possible for them to use that "restraint" as a plus.

And it is possible to make better music through using the click.


I'm in no way saying this is the way to make good music. I'm only contradicting the axiom that, "If they're not comfortable with a click, why would you ask them to play with one?"

I have guys leaving their experience with me sold on the importance of working with their metronomes. The most basic of musical educational tools and the most overlooked.

Sheesh, I just got an idea. I'm going to look for the cheapest metronome I can find and make it point to give them out as gifts come initial agreement stage.

Awesome.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Replies 94
  • Created
  • Last Reply

I think personal time spent practicing with a metronome is generally good for any musician. :) And again, I'm not opposed to using a click track, or even suggesting the use of one if i think it will be beneficial - although if the drummer's never played to one before, that can be a bit of a crapshoot.

 

What I won't do is push for one, or insist on one just to "make *my* life easier". :)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Members

I think personal time spent practicing with a metronome is generally good for any musician.
:)
And again, I'm not opposed to using a click track, or even suggesting the use of one if i think it will be beneficial - although if the drummer's never played to one before, that can be a bit of a crapshoot.


What I
won't
do is push for one, or insist on one just to "make *my* life easier".
:)

 

I have a drummer who I play with regularly. He is one of the most talented people I know. Unfortunately, also one of the most undisciplined musician I've ever met at his skill level. He's never played to a click, but at same one of those guys who can just find the groove and can sit in with anybody in town.

 

Well normally I don't record him with a click, however. I was working on a project where the main line was a piano track, and the player wanted to play to a click track. So I layed it down. Then I played bass line to him and the click, thinking if he hears the bass line he's gonna fall in right on time. Well initially having the piano, the bass, and the click threw him off, then I tried without the click it got better but still not there. After a couple more takes, I threw the click back in and bam he was there. Had the take in two tries after that. Sometimes its just a mental game.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Moderators

I have kind of a low end studio but I've only recorded a few musicians that sound good with a click. :idk:

 

I mean, most of them can play to it but don't sound their best. There's one studio musician I often use (I record a lot of singer songwriter demos where I provide musicians) and he sounds very different playing with a click in his ear than he does setting the tempo.

 

Terry D.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Members

All of the Zak Claxton stuff I've been working on recently has been tracked sans click. I've done plenty of stuff with a click too.
:)

 

Count me in as another one who's done it both ways, and I find that I can't say how much I prefer going freestyle, with no click.

 

As Phil mentioned, we're click-free on the Zak Claxton project. Of course, since there's nothing to sync to except each other (no MIDI/sequenced parts, no drummer coming in after the fact and so on), we just have to rely on each other that we have good time and can maintain the groove. I'm not at all concerned about slight variances in time; if you plotted our stuff to a grid, I'm sure you'd see little discrepancies all over the place.

 

But humans have made music probably as long as we've been identifiable as humans... hundreds of thousands of years, using our internal sense of rhythm as the "click". To me, that's what's natural and pleasing to the ear, as opposed to the "perfection" of being locked into what a machine tells you to do.

 

Side note: in the '90s, I was once in a band that performed live while being synched to backing tracks form an ADAT as well as a sequencer. In a word, it sucked. There was no room for spontaneity, and my drummer (who was absolutely great) started playing really conservatively in order to be sure he wasn't deviating from the Almighty Click. Plus, he had to try and groove with some big isolating headphones onstage, which both looked stupid and made him uncomfortable. And yes, he'd also occasionally swear the click was slowing down. :D

 

Anyway, yes: no click on my current album. Thankfully, I have a great drummer and we trust each other while tracking the drums live to get a great take and stay in the pocket, perfect tempo be damned.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Moderators

Anyway, yes: no click on my current album. Thankfully, I have a great drummer and we trust each other while tracking the drums live to get a great take and stay in the pocket, perfect tempo be damned.

 

 

To be clear, I agree with everybody. Note the comment above "I have a great drummer and we trust each other while tracking the drums live to get a great take and stay in the pocket".

 

My point is, and not to beat a dead horse. I guess I've already killed it a while ago, my apologies but... if you're working with a band that just doesn't sound that great with regards to their time, like I do quite a bit, these are my customers, you can get them happening with a click, much to their surprise. And you can get them sounding better for it.

 

Me? Tracking me and my buddies. Sure, let's cut it free. Jeff and Phil, that Zac stuff sounds awesome. Wouldn't suggest anything different. Nor would I ask Richie Hayward to "please try and lock, Ritchie". I totally agree.

 

'Cept when I work with some bands. I'm not suggesting anyone who says, "let a lesser band sound just like they sound", I'm not suggesting you should change your outlook.

 

I'm just saying, you can get a weaker band to sound like a pretty good group, before edits, with the aid of a click. Whether that's something interesting to you is a different matter. It's less interesting to me today than it was a couple years ago, I'll say that.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Members

 

To be clear, I agree with everybody.

 

 

As you should. Idealistically any musician you're working with should be flexible enough as an artist to handle both approaches. Not always the case, but it should be. IMO anyway. Sometimes its absolutely necessary to be locked into a perfect tempo, others its better to be locked into a perfect groove.

 

I will say this, often times I find it necessary and beneficial to say screw the click even if I need it because it hypnotizes people into losing the 1. I instead just create a generic synth drum loop or a synth bass line, because it gives the guy tracking a reference to the one, while still being in line with the perfect digital time stamp.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Members
.


But humans have made music probably as long as we've been identifiable as humans... hundreds of thousands of years, using our internal sense of rhythm as the "click". To me, that's what's natural and pleasing to the ear, as opposed to the "perfection" of being locked into what a machine tells you to do.




With all due respect, I see tons of young bands that can vary tempo up to 20 BPM difference, by the end of the song, either speeding up or slowing down; and the bands which play in such a manner, that if you try to foot-tap the tempo along with song, you find yourself syncopating and tapping on upbeats, etc, 4 bars later :p

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Members

In answer to the original post, I know exactly what you mean: Cubase doesn't make tempo changes easy. (Ever tried inserting an extra 2 bars at the beginning of a song *after* setting up the tempo track? - nightmare! )

You could always try recording a "click-track" by hand in one way or another - you still have the opportunity afterwards to clean up any hits that sound noticeably out-of time.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Members

My point is, and not to beat a dead horse. I guess I've already killed it a while ago, my apologies but... if you're working with a band that just doesn't sound that great with regards to their time, like I do quite a bit, these are my customers, you can get them happening with a click, much to their surprise. And you can get them sounding better for it.

 

 

Sometimes. It's been my experience that if a band doesn't have decent time, they can't play very well to a click either, particularly if they aren't used to playing with one. You can hear them lurching back and forth to sync up to the click, and they lose whatever feel they might have. 9 times out of 10, if the band has any kind of feel going at all I'd rather hear the tempo varying than listen to them try to play to a click.

 

Yeah, some people will edit the lurching parts so they're in time too, but I have zero interest in doing that. If their time sucks without a click, and they can't play to a click either without destroying the feel, to me that's when it's time to say "Go home and practice to a metronome for awhile and come back when you're actually ready to be in a studio."

 

Once in awhile, a band whose time isn't that great without a click does sound better with one, it's true. Though I'd still rather have them practice to one at home and not need it when they actually record.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Members

As you should. Idealistically any musician you're working with should be flexible enough as an artist to handle both approaches. Not always the case, but it should be. IMO anyway.

 

 

Why "should" they? Who's the artist here? If the artist has a particular way they like to do things because that's what they feel is going to best serve their art, then why should they change that for the sake of proving they're "flexible" and making the engineer's job easier?

 

 

Sometimes its absolutely necessary to be locked into a perfect tempo, others its better to be locked into a perfect groove.

 

 

If from an artistic standpoint the artist thinks the song would be best served if it's played in perfect tempo, then yes. They need to have the skills to serve their vision, so if perfect time is what they want and then they can't play to a click, they need to go back to the woodshed.

 

If the decision is made to play to a click for any other reason than "because this song would be served best played in perfect tempo", then it's probably not a very good decision. It's a decision to cover for someone's inability and/or laziness - either the musicians' or the engineer's or both.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Members

Why "should" they? Who's the artist here? If the artist has a particular way they like to do things because that's what they feel is going to best serve their art, then why should they change that for the sake of proving they're "flexible" and making the engineer's job easier?




If from an
artistic
standpoint the artist thinks the song would be best served if it's played in perfect tempo, then yes. They need to have the skills to serve their vision, so if perfect time is what they want and then they can't play to a click, they need to go back to the woodshed.


If the decision is made to play to a click for any other reason than "because this song would be served best played in perfect tempo", then it's probably not a very good decision. It's a decision to cover for someone's inability and/or laziness - either the musicians' or the engineer's or both.

 

 

I agree 100%. My point wasn't to say a person should be flexible enough to play to a click for the sole purpose of making the engineers job easier. They should be flexible because it could serve the purpose of making the song better. To be inflexible, simply because, "That's way I always done it." is the definition of a rut in my book.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Members

I agree 100%. My point wasn't to say a person should be flexible enough to play to a click for the sole purpose of making the engineers job easier. They should be flexible because it could serve the purpose of making the song better. To be inflexible, simply because, "That's way I always done it." is the definition of a rut in my book.

 

 

Cool, we're on the same page then. Although I can count on one hand the number of times when I'd prefer to hear a song that was cut to a click, it would suck at those times not to be able to play well with one.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Members
With all due respect, I see tons of young bands that can vary tempo
up
to 20 BPM difference, by the end of the song, either speeding up or slowing down; and the bands which play in such a manner, that if you try to foot-tap the tempo along with song, you find yourself syncopating and tapping on upbeats, etc, 4 bars later
:p



Sure. I'm making a rather huge assumption, and it's that you're working with people who are capable of keeping a tempo. We all know that in many cases, not every who records should be recording. They should instead be practicing, preferably with a metronome. :D

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I need to toss up a track from one of the Alexa's Wish albums I produced. It's the title track off of Whatever. It starts at 130 BPM, and accelerates consistently throughout the song; and just before the one or two measure ritardando at the very end, it hits about 138 BPM.

 

IMHO, it suits the song. It was certainly intentional. And it was recorded without a click.

 

But I hear what you're saying about bands that will, without an external time reference, either vary all over the map (in a rough, unmusical way), or constantly rush the tempo. Even if it's a really cool song otherwise, that can totally ruin it. And mixing players who can't hit "one" at the same time (unless you massively edit them into time) can be an issue too - a kick and bass hitting tightly together has one "impact", one type of "sound" and a kick and a bass hitting 50 or 100ms apart has a completely different sound... and when it varies all over the place, you're never quite sure how to dial them up. :lol:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Members

I need to toss up a track from one of the Alexa's Wish albums I produced. It's the title track off of
Whatever.
It starts at 130 BPM, and accelerates consistently throughout the song; and just before the one or two measure ritardando at the very end, it hits about 138 BPM.


IMHO, it suits the song. It was certainly intentional. And it was recorded without a click.




 

 

Amen. On at least one recording I've done (using sequenced drums), I set the tempo to speed up very gradually throughout to try and make it sound less like two bedroom musicians with a computer.

Given that most pop or rock songs repeat the same chorus at least 3 times, I think subtle tempo changes can go some way to stop it getting repetitive.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Moderators

 

Sometimes. It's been my experience that if a band doesn't have decent time, they can't play very well to a click either, .

 

 

+1

 

And I would say "every time" instead of "sometimes."

 

Conversely, if a band grooves well together without a click, it doesn't necessarily follow they'll do so with a click.

 

Terry D.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Members
I can't seem to link directly to that single song, but here's a SoundClickpage that has the song Whatever on it if anyone would like to check it out.


http://www.soundclick.com/bands/default.cfm?bandID=23806



Groovy song, drummer and singer are great!
I love the washboard and ride bell sequence.:p

The speed increase of the song works great too, adds to the quirkyness of the song.

Edit; sorry guiro not washboard.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Members

Here's my ramblings on the click. Observations not blanket statements

 

 

If the drummer absolutely can't play to a click why bother? If he's hyper ventilating and lost it why do you want to put him through that, it aint gonna happen. You can explain the problem areas but understanding and executing are 2 different things. AKA go back to the woodshed or find somebody else if you need him to lock to the click now, not some day in the future.

 

 

I've noticed that if a drummer is say 90% on with a click the 10% tempo variations can be very noticeable (almost like slowing down and speeding up a tape deck) as they usually slow down or speed up to fall back into with click as opposed to having the variations happen over time. Of course you can correct that with your DAW if you want

 

 

If you use a looped rhythm be careful that the drummer doesn't unconsciously jam to the loop, I've seen this happen where it can get in the way of their part.

 

 

 

Some of the best music on the planet was recorded without a click. Shame on engineers who try to force it for their convenience. Style yes, convenience no :mad:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Members

I use both to record our drummer, whichever he feels comfortable with. Sometimes (especially for songs we have been playing live longer) he is comfortable blasting through it without a click whereas others he likes the click.

In my experience he usually prefers the click in the faster songs and the slower songs he likes to play without.

There is no right or wrong answer I would say though, the end outcome is the maim thing.

I think that if it is a "band" then they would be used to following the drummer anyways but if I was recording a drum track for another band to use I would be more inclined to use a click.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.




×
×
  • Create New...