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Drummers that don't play to clicks.
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Noize919
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27th June 2008
Old 27th June 2008
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Drummers that don't play to clicks.

How do you guys overcome this...beat detective to a click afterwards?
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make them play to a click. or tell them to study up on their Bonham licks for a few years.
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I usually program a basic drum track similar to what the drummer's going to play, then have the bass & rhythm guitar lay down their parts to that, then have the drummer play along to their tracks (without the programmed drums), Unless there are some breaks where the timing is a pure "feel" thing, this works great... work with the guys & have them play along to certain parts while you're working on the programming & this way you can even vary the tempo a bit with your tempo map so it feels more natural (like perhaps pick up the choruses a couple of BPM's, for example), and it'll come out fine. You may have to punch the drums in a few places - don't worry about him getting a perfect take all the way through, 'cause it ain't gonna happen - if he can't play to a click, chances are he's also going to be the type that tends to push/speed up from time to time, and maybe rush some of his fills, as well. Just make sure when you punch him in, you leave yourself maybe 10 or 15 seconds of overlap BEFORE the mistake you're fixing so that you can have a better chance of finding a good crossfade point somewhere in there.
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If the idea is to not play with a click, you need to accept any timing errors that come along, or keep recording takes until a steadily played one occurs.
If you would prefer to use a click and the drummer refuses, try to persuade them.
There was a long thread about clicks with lots of great ideas recently.
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If you hire a drummer who can't play to a click, expect to hear timing error. or use a drummer who can follow one
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Noize919 View Post
How do you guys overcome this...beat detective to a click afterwards?
I wouldn't automatically assume this is something that should be overcome. Maybe its something you should embrace...my answer is this...make the drummer do a killer track without a click (there are many ways to encourage this) and then build killer overdubs around this. you may think this is a joke, but it's not...learn to do this...as an example, have a listen to the first couple of Police Records or any Bob Marley Record.

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Why is it assumed that all rock music should be recorded to a click track?
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Quote:
Originally Posted by beebay007 View Post
Why is it assumed that all rock music should be recorded to a click track?
I hope its not because that would be a ridiculous notion.
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.

i think you've got it somewhat backwards...

it's clicks that don't play well with drummers...


i love that this big philosophical question comes up everytime someone posts
a click track issue.

some drummers play well to clicks

some drummers have to have other rhythmic and feel assistance in their cans

and some simply can't do it, or won't do it.


whether or not they SHOULD, depends entirely on the project.

every situation is different, and music has different styles and purposes.


i've PROGRAMMED drums that sounded lightyears better than some of the
actual live drummers i've recorded over the years.

otoh, there are plenty of live drummers that don't need a click,
and plenty of great live music that sounds far better without any click restraint.


all that said, there some great drummers who absolutely bring steady tempos
to life - THIS is an art, and any drummer who can truly do this, is a rarety -

it's not so much that it's difficult and challanging - and it IS that,
but more that the drummers who really ENJOY playing to a click,
can make that tempo sway and dance in all the right places - and this is YUMMY.


my experience says that if a drummer is having difficulty, they aren't hearing the
correct FEEL in their headphones, and might need an extra component,
like a swung ride cymbal sound, funky bass or guitar phrase, or some kickass vocals,
to help them really get the feel of the song.

sometimes a drummer can't play to the click, because the FEEL is wrong for the TEMPO, etc.
like a one-drop reggae shuffle at 1/4 note = 420 BPM

or the song just SUCKS, and the drummmer isn't getting personally involved.

or the song is SO EXCITING, that the drummer keeps rushing.

and the list goes and on and on.


just my opinion from lots of experience over the years.

.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by beebay007 View Post
Why is it assumed that all rock music should be recorded to a click track?
Because it sounds better when it's not slowing down or speeding up?

It's also easier to overdub parts on a song with a steady tempo. But in a live recording with no overdubs planned, the feel of the song would take precedence over whether or not it has a click.

I have recently had to relearn the keyboard part to 'Light My Fire' by the Doors. The song starts out a hair fast, and then you can feel the drummer pulling it back, so that by the time the first chorus comes around, the song is grooving. If they had known the correct tempo at the start, the song would have been grooving from the beginning. Nevertheless, it didn't hurt the song's success with the public, so perhaps steady tempos are only appreciated by musicians who are used to such a thing?

There are times when a song benefits from a different tempo in the verse, or chorus. This can be done in preproduction, programming the tempo changes into the click track.

In the case of a drummer who can't play to a click, what's he doing in a recording studio besides wasting time and making an ass of himself? (Unless he's Stewart Copeland.)
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Sorry if this post makes me sound like an ass...

What to do with a drummer who can't play to a click? Shoot 'em!

Heck, I've only played drums for about 3 weeks now, and I can easily play to a click! Have them buy a metronome and practice with it. Only after they can play with a click should they be allowed to be free with the time.

We once kicked a drummer out of a house band that I was in because he had bad time (really nice guy though). In studio land however, Beat Detective fixes everything... he went on to be the drummer of a VERY famous emo pop rock band.
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The problem is not when drummers DON'T play to a click.

The problem is when drummers CAN'T play to a click.

I always track with a click. When the band books their time, one of the first things I go over with them is the click track. I make sure the drummer knows that they need to be prepared to track with it. 95% of the time, they come ready, and the tracking goes smoothly.

I prefer the click because it makes overdubbing easier AND because the band usually sounds more powerful (to me, at least) when everyone is locked in nice and tight. Just my opinion though.
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Clicks kill grooves, detectives kill beats. I find most drummers can play to a click but I have never once liked the feel of it versus a few minimum timing errors without the click. But I understand the drummer wanting to do it their way thing. "PLEASE just one more take it is almost there"....NO! Arrrggghhh....
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Yup... IMO, if the drummer can't play to a click, he shouldn't be in the studio.
And if he WON'T play to a click, well... make him!
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Man, some of you guys are really missing out. I have worked with some amazing drummers that can not really play to clicks.

The click track is something to make my life a little easier if I have to do some editing. If the drummer can not play to a click, its no big deal, I just work a little harder.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Noize919 View Post
How do you guys overcome this...beat detective to a click afterwards?

Have them play it twice back to back to the click running at 1/2 to 2/3rds tempo so they learn how large the space actually are. Then reset it to the normal tempo and the keeper will be take two or three, with maybe a clip from 1.


Drummer don't have problems playing to a click they just rush certain spots because they don't truly feel them. Solve that problem and they'll lock to the click without practice.
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Lot's of click threads here already.

Lot's of diff between "playing with a click" and "making it feel good".

No substitute for lot's of practice with a click, or other reference.

also, try a "Beat bug" Beat Bug 3 it can change your life. especially if paired up with Elastic Audio.

I find it pretty rare to get a "band" drummer in the studio that has enough facility to play with a click at various tempos, and be able to adapt new parts on the fly. There's a good reason why session players are session players.

that being said, I love it when a drummer comes in and has the parts so nailed for their band, that all they have to do is settle in with the clik and perform.

again, no shortcut for getting comfortable with a click... you gotta do it alot, and LISTEN BACK, and make adjustments. Best done in the shed, not the studio.
Also nothing wrong with blowing off the click, and going for feel. Unfortunately, 90% of my work is with click, and if not, it's with Beat Bug for reference.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Noize919 View Post
How do you guys overcome this...beat detective to a click afterwards?
Get a new drummer, it's faster. If they can't play in time chances are they can't play anything good even it was in time. A bad drummer will still be bad after beat det. the only difference it will be bad playing with good timing.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by skythemusic View Post
Clicks kill grooves, detectives kill beats. I find most drummers can play to a click but I have never once liked the feel of it versus a few minimum timing errors without the click. But I understand the drummer wanting to do it their way thing. "PLEASE just one more take it is almost there"....NO! Arrrggghhh....
Amen, brother! Slight timing variance CREATES groove and gives music CHARACTER. Nothing is more boring or generic than a sequencer grid (unless your music calls for that type of thing).

Just listen to any drummer with a good FEEL and you can hear them push and pull the beat / tempo when it's needed. Cozy Powell, John Bonham, Stewart Copeland, Jeff Porcaro, etc...

If you really must have a click / metronomic feel, a few suggestions:
  • A. Use a drum machine instead of a drummer.
  • B. If tracking a band, send the click to everyone's cans - not just the drummer.
  • C. Rather than a click, try using a 2-4 bar loop or percussion pattern.
  • D. Let the drummer record in free time. Then, in the DAW, build a click around their tracks and use this as a reference for overdubs.
  • E. Let the drummer record in free time. Then, time correct their tracks to fit "the grid".
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Everyone here should read billy wards drummer site on 'How close is close enough with the click'

How close is 'close enough' with the click??? - Technique/Concepts -- what makes BW BW - Discussion Areas - BillyWard - Message Board - Yuku


Also he mentions a great product that shows him what the tempo he is playing is... cant remember the name. attachs to the snare and reads out the bpm between snare hits... also adjustable sensitivity to ignore ghost notes.

e.g. backbeat at 60 on readout means he's at 120. if it moves to 40 or 80... something is wrong.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by uncle duncan View Post
Because it sounds better when it's not slowing down or speeding up?

perhaps steady tempos are only appreciated by musicians who are used to such a thing?
are you people all insane?

maybe if dude's got no feel ...

many of my favorite songs have no clicks. unfortunately that method of recording seems to have died with pt. i have to listen to music years older than me just to experience truly human 'vibe'. what is that about?

i don't know many musicians who appreciate the steady beats of metronomes (besides maybe some electronica - step sequencers, etc). but i know plenty of engineers who do ...

and why can't you still touch up the drums off the grid? no diff really. just a tad trickier and more aural, less visual.

i dunno. maybe i'm wrong, but as a drummer with 15 years experience who can do both, i don't get it.
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drummers who have a natural groove and steady tempo dont need a click..its something that is introduced cause of programmeble synths involved in songs imo

if a drummer cant play to a click cause hes going up and down then give him his best buddy to help him out and to give him some "feel" ...the bassguitarist!, put those two together and u'll see it goes a lot better
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If you've got a RussianDragon drummer, you've got problems imo. I'd get the cat to practice OCD to some music thats in the pocket. With a novice, it's usually the fills, so I tell em to keep it simple and groove.
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I definatly prefer to play to prerecorded music, loops or percussion than a click, when im behind the kit.

When im recording other people I always ask the band "do you want to play to a click?"

Additionally after the drums are done I can always quantize them in ableton to fix / smooth anything.

I've been able to steal drums from a different take and quantize them to fit the master take whether it was on a click or not.

Some songs benefit form clicks / quantizing some dont. Knowing when to use one approach over the other can really add variety to a project.
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If the tempo is rigid, I don't like it. Dynamic treatment of tempo isn't a bad thing. Any good player will vary tempo appropriately.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Capstan Cappy View Post
drummers who have a natural groove and steady tempo dont need a click..its something that is introduced cause of programmeble synths involved in songs imo
Not really - you can always program the synths to the band, or tweak the midi tracks (if already programmed) to the band's groove via the tempo map. I think the OP is referring to a band that he's just trying to help get locked down a little tighter.

Yeah, and I know that comment is going generate more "send 'em back to rehearse more" satements, but let's face it, when the time is booked, and the session starts, you're trying to find ways to make it work there & then... sending them back to their rehearsal space isn't always the best option. In fact, i'll go further & say that it's almost never the best option unless they're so bad that it would be a total disaster otherwise.
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yes, I love a band who's tempo shifts every 8 bars...

I encourage clicks, it let's the band and I know how much they suck!

A drummer who can't play to a click! dfegad
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I have been recording my music with drummers for 20 years now - never once had them play to a click. I like my rock to be organic.

Even on the odd occasion when I work with drum machines, I make sure to vary the tempo a bit for a more natural feel - I don't think that rock should have a rigid feel.

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feel, groove and vibe 1st
timing maths and grid perfect editing 2nd


A lot of young rock bands belive musicians need to fit in with Pro Tools, when its actually the other way around..But many don't get it.. for them the on-screen grid is the "king"
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Jules,

I agree, but most drummers I encounter can't play to a click!
I am not asking the drums to be spot on, but the click helps keep things constant, plus If there are timing or meeter changes I want them to be purposeful.
"explain that 4/4 to 5/4 change..."what? what do you mean?" when do we get famous?

Rock is no excuse to slack off..!! Know you Sh*t.
Not playing to a click is a cop out, right up there with let's tune some vocals...

But...yes absolute grid is best reserved for dance music and industrial...
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