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My recent ethical dilemma


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Originally Posted by locust tree -


(in response to Phil's post about a click being originated for the ease of engineers/producers)...



Again, for the record, that was Mark's post, if I'm not mistaken... I didn't say that.

 

 

Sorry, man, I just saw that and didn't see the other posts. Didn't seem like something you'd say, but who can tell?

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That's right. Thank you. You play to musician's
strengths
, not their
weaknesses
. I know I keep saying this over and over, but isn't this just
beyond obvious
? If someone cannot play to a click, you have alternatives. If they still can't play to click alternatives, you still have tempo/click map alternatives. Why, then, with all these alternatives, would you EVER dictate that someone must play to a click when they cannot?


Okay. I'll give you one infallible answer that no one in this thread has mentioned.

If you want to remix (i.e. rewrite for a different market) the song later and change the BPM, not having a reasonably time-locked performance can make things unacceptably difficult. I will vouch for this till kingdom come because it has come up. Once people look through my archives and listen to my reinterpretations - which have never and probably will never pander to a club environment (:bor:) - they sometimes want to spice their song up.

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This suddenly reminds me of what I've done in the past to get songs in tempo. A lot of times, I've recorded a basic guitar part first to a drum loop that's in time with the song, then played the guitar part through the headphones while the drummer tracks. Why don't more engineers do that instead? It's more natural for a drummer who isn't used to a click to play with a guitar track.

 

 

I'm not sure who wrote this...anyway, in the last recording session I did, the musicians wanted a semi-looped feel. I recorded a bass line for the first part of a song to a click (complete with some other sounds and record crackles, all part of the loop), and then had the drummer play to the bass line, which he enjoyed. The bass line made an excellent substitute for a click, and got everyone to groove really well together.

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Okay. I'll give you one infallible answer that no one in this thread has mentioned.


If you want to remix (i.e. rewrite for a different market) the song later and change the BPM, not having a reasonably time-locked performance can make things unacceptably difficult. I will vouch for this till kingdom come because it
has
come up. Once people look through my archives and listen to my reinterpretations - which have never and probably will never pander to a club environment (
:bor:
) - they sometimes want to spice their song up.



I've had people remix my songs several times, some of which wasn't done to a click or click substitute, and they've never had a problem...and that was before Ableton Live, Pro Tools with Elastic Time, Acid, and a bunch of other stuff, which make this all sinfully easy. I just did this to multi-tracked drums/bass/guitar with a rock band, slowing down the BPM, and other engineers do this all the time. If you can create a tempo map (which you quoted me as saying), then you can change the BPM in seconds. If you go see the demonstrations for different DAWs at NAMM, you can literally walk past several booths with people demonstrating how to do this at just about any hour of the day.

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I'd personally consider that song to have been recorded with a click, even though what the drummer played to was another instrument that was recorded to that click / time reference, and not directly to the click itself. Ken has mentioned "substitutes" for the actual click.. a loop, a shaker or tambourine, etc. and to me, this is just another one of the countless possibilities in terms of substitution.

It was just another suggestion, and it's worked well for me in the past, so I thought I'd share it. I didn't hear Ken mention anything about making a guitar track for the drummer to play along to. It makes the drummer feel like he's playing with the band, even thought the tempo is already set.

 

 

However, while I'm never one to force a click upon a band or drummer, I would never go so far as to say they are without their uses, or that they should never be used in any form. Practicing to a click or metronome is a basic, fundamental practice method that has been used in music instruction for ages now, and IMO, for good reason. The development of listening skills, the ability to play with others and the development of a good sense of time are all pretty important to one's development as a musician. If you spend time practicing to a metronome, you'll usually have a better feel for time, and whether or not you're pushing or dragging it.

I can get behind this statement.

 

 

Computers allow us to take this even further... put a click track into your DAW, and have the tempo slowly increase, or decrease over time, with several bars of steady tempo interspersed between the accelerandos and ritardandos, and then practice playing along with that every day for a month or two - I guarantee if you do, your ability to hold a steady tempo, or create or follow intentional changes in tempo will dramatically improve - even when you take away the metronome or click reference.

I can get behind this one too. It'd be great if every musician had ample experience with metronomes. But it's unfair to call a musician a "hack" if they don't (not that I'm saying you did or anything, but from some of the posts I've seen in this thread, I get the feeling that's the consensus).

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Originally Posted by locust tree -


(in response to Phil's post about a click being originated for the ease of engineers/producers)...



Again, for the record, that was Mark's post, if I'm not mistaken... I didn't say that.

 

 

Yup, that was me, and I've posted this statement several times on several different forums.

 

And I'm still waiting for any valid reason other than "it makes it easier for the engineer." Haven't got one yet...

 

Clicks evolved around the same time that MIDI did, as the band had to be able to play along w/sequenced tracks, and the click was an audible guide for them.

 

MG

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I agree that they evolved quite a bit with the advent of MIDI, but the use of click tracks definitely predates the introduction of MIDI.

 

As far as a good reason for using a click, when I decide to use one, it's never for my benefit, or to make my life "easier". I feel I should be adaptive in my methods and approach and do whatever makes it better / easier for the band, and that will give them the type of final results they are after.

 

I would never use a click just because it would make it easier for me to edit. As I said, I can edit, and fly things around just fine without one... but if the band has a tendency to rush or drag, and they are trying to avoid that on the recording, and feel that they want to use a click / drum machine / loop / tempo mapped click / scratch guitar part etc. to help facilitate that, then I'll give them what they want.

 

On a tangent, does anyone remember the old Russian Dragons? :D

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I've had people remix my songs several times, some of which wasn't done to a click or click substitute, and they've never had a problem...and that was before Ableton Live, Pro Tools with Elastic Time, Acid, and a bunch of other stuff, which make this all sinfully easy. I just did this to multi-tracked drums/bass/guitar with a rock band, slowing down the BPM, and other engineers do this all the time. If you can create a tempo map (which you quoted me as saying), then you can change the BPM in seconds. If you go see the demonstrations for different DAWs at NAMM, you can literally walk past several booths with people demonstrating how to do this at just about any hour of the day.

 

It's just they all accept a certain loss of fidelity. I don't do stop-gapping for fun.. It sounds better and is often worth the time involved.

 

It's really how vibratos can drift out of time over large changes in BPM (usually 30+) but never quite sync up due to natural rarefaction from the original performance. One phrase is fine, and then the next one needs a bunch of work. That definitely gets accentuated when not using a click.

 

Then they want to lay down drums after the fact to a wobbly performance.. Yeah... I don't know about that. I'm not going to force anybody to use a click, but it some cases it may hurt the final product, yes.

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It's just they all accept a certain loss of fidelity. I don't do stop-gapping for fun.. It sounds better and is often worth the time involved.


It's really how vibratos can drift out of time over large changes in BPM (usually 30+) but never quite sync up due to natural rarefaction from the original performance. One phrase is fine, and then the next one needs a bunch of work. That definitely gets accentuated when not using a click.


Then they want to lay down drums after the fact to a wobbly performance.. Yeah... I don't know about that. I'm not going to force anybody to use a click, but it some cases it may hurt the final product, yes.

 

 

Guitars with tremolo can be really tricky to stretch along with everything else when shifting the tempo globally, and sometimes, I'll stretch those "by hand"/ The cool thing is though that once you figure out what the ratio is, you can get the others pretty close in the ballpark. There's some other audio that has issues as well, like really funky sorts of guitars with wah-wah and other things that take a little more work than simply turning on Elastic Time.

 

So far, I haven't noticed a loss of fidelity in Elastic Time. What programs have you noticed a loss of fidelity in?

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It was just another suggestion, and it's worked well for me in the past, so I thought I'd share it. I didn't hear Ken mention anything about making a guitar track for the drummer to play along to. It makes the drummer feel like he's playing with the band, even thought the tempo is already set.



No, I didn't specifically mention that, although I did mention bass loops in an earlier post today. However, I did mention loops, and have created guitar loops for people to play to before. I can't possibly think of every single substitute for a click that I've ever done!!! :D Your guitar track idea is a good one. Anything that gets people in their comfort zone while still delivering something that everyone wants is a beautiful, beautiful thing!

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It was just another suggestion, and it's worked well for me in the past, so I thought I'd share it.

 

I'm glad you did. :) It's certainly a viable option to recording directly with a click in the drummer's cans, and more inspiring than playing along to nothing but a click by itself.

 

A lot of the time, we tend to start with the foundation stuff - drums, etc... but nothing says you can't take an acoustic guitar / vocal demo with good feel and build up everything around that. I've certainly worked that way more than a few times myself - both with, and without a click for the guitarist.

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Guitars with tremolo can be really tricky to stretch along with everything else when shifting the tempo globally, and sometimes, I'll stretch those "by hand"/ The cool thing is though that once you figure out what the ratio is, you can get the others pretty close in the ballpark. There's some other audio that has issues as well, like really funky sorts of guitars with wah-wah and other things that take a little more work than simply turning on Elastic Time.


So far, I haven't noticed a loss of fidelity in Elastic Time. What programs have you noticed a loss of fidelity in?

 

Mainly FL and Ableton, both of which have several modes of recalculation. Maybe they're onto something at Digi.

 

But the point for me is not to use any of this. If things are more uniform, the audio generally suffers less.

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It was just another suggestion, and it's worked well for me in the past, so I thought I'd share it.


I'm glad you did.
:)
It's certainly a viable option to recording directly with a click in the drummer's cans, and more inspiring than playing along to nothing but a click by itself.


A lot of the time, we tend to start with the foundation stuff - drums, etc... but nothing says you can't take an acoustic guitar / vocal demo with good feel and build up everything around that. I've certainly worked that way more than a few times myself - both with, and without a click for the guitarist.



I do this frequently. The only catch is, the scratch tracks they play to have to be great. I've tracked in some situations where they weren't, and if something else goes out of time, even just for a moment, it takes a lot of work as a player to "tune out" the scratch track and just focus on the click. It gets even more interesting when the backing music you play to is NOT a scratch track, but rather, final takes. If there are timing errors in those, I generally play around them instead of holding steady to the click... but it always takes a few passes through to determine where the shaky areas are. When the whole band makes the same mistake it doesn't sound so bad anymore... and it's not like it goes to CD with the click track audible. :)

In general I think that approach works because where there are more subdivisions in time, there are more waypoints and the tempo will be spelled out a little more. Same thinking goes behind double-timing a click.

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Mainly FL and Ableton, both of which have several modes of recalculation. Maybe they're onto something at Digi.



Possibly. I am really impressed with Elastic Time so far. I've used it just to change the BPMs a hair, though, not really to do anything quite radical. However, when I was experimenting with one of my recording engineering buddies, we were surprised at how good it sounded when we slowed one of the songs down by extreme levels.

I'm not super familiar with Ableton, but when I saw a demonstration of time stretching at NAMM, several of could immediately hear its zippering effect.

But the point for me is not to use any of this. If things are more uniform, the audio generally suffers less.



You got that right!!! :thu:

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wow what a thread...just read it all. Some very valid point's here.

 

I'm no engineer so I can only speak from my experiences as a player. When we do demos in our home studio we often play to click and often do not. Our process is to do drum tracks while playing together, usually re-recording the scratch guitars, bass etc.

 

There are many situations when you may choose to use a click other than a bands/players lack of feel/timing.

 

ie: Using a click as more of a count in, so the tempo is right (decided upon pre-session) to avoid speed changes due to excitement/nerves etc.

 

On a song that the guitar starts (for example) a click is all but necessary for re tracking the guitar intro. It can be very difficult to time the guitar so that it starts at the correct speed and lines up with the drums when they come in if no click is present.

 

Same thing goes for long breaks/stops where there are no drums but other instruments for a number of bars.

 

 

We often decide against using a click when we feel certain parts do need to speed up/slow down the way they do when not using a click. Often it is easier to get the energy/groove right without it. Sometimes the opposite is true.

 

It also makes it easier to re-record sections of drums/electronic drums if the original didn't go in right or we wana change it a bit without having to re-track the entire thing.

 

So the same group of musicians may need/choose a click on one day/song and not on another.

 

Some times we wish we had done it the opposite way (both with or without) .

 

It changes in every situation.

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ie: Using a click as more of a count in, so the tempo is right (decided upon pre-session) to avoid speed changes due to excitement/nerves etc.


On a song that the guitar starts (for example) a click is all but necessary for re tracking the guitar intro. It can be very difficult to time the guitar so that it starts at the correct speed and lines up with the drums when they come in if no click is present.


Same thing goes for long breaks/stops where there are no drums but other instruments for a number of bars..

 

Those aren't really examples of click tracks, and they're always required. :idk:

 

Terry D.

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On a song that the guitar starts (for example) a click is all but necessary for re tracking the guitar intro. It can be very difficult to time the guitar so that it starts at the correct speed and lines up with the drums when they come in if no click is present.

 

On a song with no click and a solo guitar intro, I will usually ask the drummer to click his sticks along with the intro until a beat or so before he (or she) is supposed to come in, then enter in as they normally would. That, along with either a verbal count in over the scratch vocal mic, or the drummer counting it off, gives us plenty to cue off of if we should happen to need to redo the intro to salvage an otherwise great take...

 

Of course, if the guitarist messes up too drastically, you can always just start over. ;) I occasionally tell people it's always better to screw up at the beginning than at the very end. :lol:

 

Same thing goes for long breaks/stops where there are no drums but other instruments for a number of bars..

 

Call out an audible count over the scratch vocal mic... or again, once the drummer's been "out" for a few bars and their drums / cymbals have completely decayed, they can start clicking along with their sticks again... you can easily subtract the count or clicks from the final mix.

 

If you're worried about everyone "hitting" together when they come back in after a long rubato break, good line of sight between the musicians can definitely help... then they can visually cue when to hit based on watching each other. That won't help with overdubs, but you can always try it a couple of times until they get the feel for where it drops back in... occasionally, watching the waveform screen can help... and if that proves too difficult, you can always give them a little C/P help...

 

So the same group of musicians may need/choose a click on one day/song and not on another.

 

Absolutely. Whatever works.

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That, along with either a verbal count in over the scratch vocal mic,


Call out an audible count over the scratch vocal mic... .

 

And then don't do what I've done occasionally, which is REPLACE the scratch vocal with a "keeper" then later need that count. :facepalm:

 

Much less likely these days using software than with recorders, of course. :)

 

Terry D.

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