Recording cymbals separately?
Old 24th October 2011
  #1
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Recording cymbals separately?

Does anyone ever record drums by doing the cymbals seperately from the toms/kick/snare (two different takes essentially) If you have experience, what's your conclusion? What did you like? what were some problems you encountered? Would you do it again, if so, what would you do differently?


If I do this, I want the drummer to be able to bang on something (where the cymbals would be) to keep his groove and whatever going. I'm thinking maybe muting the cymbals completely? What are some good ways to mute cymbals, or at least enough so that gating them will be no problem whatsoever? Thanks everyone!
Old 24th October 2011
  #2
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I've always dreamed of it - perhaps. Perhaps you could mix in the pieces of an electronic drum kit so that there is something to hit doesn't resonate so much (and you cold get a midi trigger the same time.
Old 24th October 2011
  #3
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Old 24th October 2011
  #4
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Please don't take this the wrong way as a snaring remark, but I feel bad for any drummer asked to do this by an engineer. Doing this basically turns a drummer into a glorified drum programmer. It's probably worse than sequencing drums with awesome sample libraries.

1. It loses it's humanity (like a programmed drum part)
2. It's still not as clean an "perfect" as programmed drums.
3. Probably takes longer.

So what's the point? I don't get it. Please enlighten me.
Old 24th October 2011
  #5
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doing what you mentioned is only good for a very musical diarrhea.
Old 24th October 2011
  #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RANTARAVE View Post
doing what you mentioned is only good for a very unmusical diarrhea.
Fixed
Old 24th October 2011
  #7
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sonic dogg's Avatar
 

It takes quite a drummer to keep the feel doing it that way. And it takes forever to do it. Been there Done that. I didnt ask the drummer to do it. He wanted to try it that way. 6 days 10 songs. He was a great player and you couldnt tell it wasnt tracked all at once.

The SOUND of it was spectacular!!!
Old 24th October 2011
  #8
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cowboycoalminer's Avatar
 

This has merit. I find symbols mostly sound like ass even miked with great overheads because of bleed. I've been thinking of close mic sampling a few and trying it.
Old 24th October 2011
  #9
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vernier's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by rickyeatworld View Post
Does anyone ever record drums by doing the cymbals seperately from the toms/kick/snare (two different takes essentially) If you have experience, what's your conclusion? What did you like? what were some problems you encountered? Would you do it again, if so, what would you do differently?


If I do this, I want the drummer to be able to bang on something (where the cymbals would be) to keep his groove and whatever going. I'm thinking maybe muting the cymbals completely? What are some good ways to mute cymbals, or at least enough so that gating them will be no problem whatsoever? Thanks everyone!
Simple is best, having a great drummer play good all the way through. But it's neat to add a crash after the fact, like with a ton of old tube limiter as an effect. As for cymbals in general, its not bad to leave them out entirely, as ABBA did most of the time, as well as many other greats.

With electronic drums, if you want to swap stuff later, no prob, have at it. I do it all the ways mentioned above.
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Old 24th October 2011
  #10
Gear nut
 

I have done this a number of times. Most of them, it was the drummer that wanted to try it.

It has always turned out awesome but is a lot of work to get there. Takes a great drummer who has their parts worked out really well.

I have always used electronic pads to take the place of the cymbals while tracking the drums- triggering cymbal sounds so everyone can hear a "place holder" of the cymbals. Then the reverse while tracking the cymbals - pads for the drummer to hit so he can get into the performance (would be weird to just be hitting cymbals...)

I'm sure that you have heard and liked records that used this technique without even realizing that it was used.

-Willie
Old 24th October 2011
  #11
Gear Head
 

A less drastic take on this is to overdub crashes only.

Lets the drummer groove naturally.

It's not something I do very often, but it's helpful when going for the HUGE drum sound.
Old 24th October 2011
  #12
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I just finished an album this way and while right after tracking I swore I'd never do it again, upon hearing the finished product I'll probably try it again. I appreciate the above statement about not wanting to ask a drummer to do it because it loses feel. This is true. That being said it opens up a world of possibility in the mix. Shit experience for drummer/dream come true for mixer.

I would do it again for a slower, simple song. Otherwise I don't think I'd bother.

To anyone hell bent on trying it, make sure drummer practices the songs for a month before going in to track.
Old 24th October 2011
  #13
Gear nut
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr. Light View Post
I just finished an album this way and while right after tracking I swore I'd never do it again, upon hearing the finished product I'll probably try it again. I appreciate the above statement about not wanting to ask a drummer to do it because it loses feel. This is true. That being said it opens up a world of possibility in the mix. Shit experience for drummer/dream come true for mixer.

I would do it again for a slower, simple song. Otherwise I don't think I'd bother.

To anyone hell bent on trying it, make sure drummer practices the songs for a month before going in to track.
Every time I do it, I swear I will never do it again but... The end result always sounds so good that it's hard to say no when a drummer wants to try it...
Old 24th October 2011
  #14
Gear maniac
Queens Of The Stone Age have been recording their albums this way since Rated R. For me it sounds amazing.
Old 24th October 2011
  #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Grin-go-go View Post
Queens Of The Stone Age have been recording their albums this way since Rated R. For me it sounds amazing.
They've also been recording with joey castillo, dave grohl, and josh freese... who can probably handle whatever you can throw at them.
Old 24th October 2011
  #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rickyeatworld View Post
Does anyone ever record drums by doing the cymbals seperately from the toms/kick/snare (two different takes essentially) If you have experience, what's your conclusion? What did you like? what were some problems you encountered? Would you do it again, if so, what would you do differently?
Back in the 1980s I did this on a couple projects.

NEVER. AGAIN.

Seriously, whatever benefits (sic) might have been achieved by tracking the cymbals seperately were completely outweighed by the impediment to a compelling musical performance this technique presented to even very skilled professional drummers.
Old 24th October 2011
  #17
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Jim Wirt told me that Elliot Minor's first record was recorded with cymbals separately and that record sounds great. Totally up to the workflow based on the music IMO.
Old 24th October 2011
  #18
Honestly, tracking drums and cymbals separately is something I do all the time, and is really not especially hard to do once you get used to it. It is definitely a skill that takes a bit of time to master, but it essentially boils down to air drumming the ghost parts with one to three limbs while tracking. Have your drummer approach it like an independence exercise in the practice room, a la The New Breed or something (a drum textbook most schooled players have gone through). It can seem like a pain at first, but once it becomes second nature the sonic results are worth it!

[And as a slightly off-topic side note, I knew a great drummer in Indianapolis who would air drum all the big usual fills during a gig, which made him one of the most tasteful and musical drummers in town. The practice meant there were big open spaces where the rest of the instruments could breath and shine. It was pretty impressive to watch/listen to!]
Old 24th October 2011
  #19
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There are some cymbals now that are super quiet, they claim to have only 25% of a usual cymbal's volume. I don't think they are made to be miced up. They are intended to trigger cymbals on an electric kit but give the drummer the feel of real cymbals. I believe Ziljan makes them. They are pricey, but I wonder what those would sound like.
Old 24th October 2011
  #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dylanwissing View Post
[And as a slightly off-topic side note, I knew a great drummer in Indianapolis who would air drum all the big usual fills during a gig, which made him one of the most tasteful and musical drummers in town. The practice meant there were big open spaces where the rest of the instruments could breath and shine. It was pretty impressive to watch/listen to!]
We had a drummer whose kit was too big to cart around to the practice room.
So when we were practicing, it was quite off putting when the drums would cut off and he'd be doing the air drum thing, working out what would go where when he had the full kit.
Old 24th October 2011
  #21
are you just trying to not have phase issues? If so I'd just take some samples of the kick, snare & toms before you start tracking and then replace them afterward. Mileage will very, but usually this gets close to what you're attempting to do.
Old 24th October 2011
  #22
Gear addict
 

I have never understood why people do this? To me it sounds really fake, I love QOTSA but the drums where this is done do not sound real at all.

What I mean by that is alot of the times the drummer will compensate for the crash cymbal, so you will have a right handed crash and Hi-hat beat both playing at the same time, which is not possible or natural.


However, I also really dislike over drum mics, how often do you listen to a drum set from 6 feet in the air.

It's all about the room mics for me.
Old 24th October 2011
  #23
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To me the "human-ness" factor of live cymbals is 90% of why I seek to record certain songs with a real drummer in the first place. The interaction and bleed between the different cymbals is what actually makes the recording "human" and more interesting than programmed drums for the right type of song that calls for that approach.

If you don't like the cymbal bleed into the other mics why not just sample replace everything BUT the cymbals in post ?

Seems like better results could be acheived that way IMHO.

Old 24th October 2011
  #24
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Didn't Peter Gabriel have the hats recorded separately though the kick/snare was programmed. Granted, Copland played...
Old 24th October 2011
  #25
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"Human" doesn't always equal "good".

Tracking cymbals seperately, and also rim shots, for me sounds much better on some songs. Drummer isn't a problem, just hire the guy who can do it.

I love some 80s disco/funk records where the kick and snare is programmed (usually a LinnDrum) and the hihat/cymbals/percussion is played "live" on top of it. Wouldn't want to have a live drummer on those records, that's the right sound for that style.
Old 24th October 2011
  #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JonMiller View Post
What I mean by that is alot of the times the drummer will compensate for the crash cymbal, so you will have a right handed crash and Hi-hat beat both playing at the same time, which is not possible or natural.
You mean the drummer pedaling the hi-hat while playing? I do this all the time ... It's not unnatural at all. Ever listen to any Smashing Pumpkins? Jimmy Chamberlin is a big hi-hat pedaler. Gives the songs a sense of constant movement.
Old 24th October 2011
  #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Loflyinjett View Post
You mean the drummer pedaling the hi-hat while playing? I do this all the time ... It's not unnatural at all. Ever listen to any Smashing Pumpkins? Jimmy Chamberlin is a big hi-hat pedaler. Gives the songs a sense of constant movement.
I think he's thinking more of the common '5-handed drummer' programming error where more than 2 hand-related things are happening at once and it starts sounding fake.. ie, ride cymbal, crash and snare at the same time.
Old 24th October 2011
  #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by musicl View Post
Didn't Peter Gabriel have the hats recorded separately though the kick/snare was programmed. Granted, Copland played...
Care to share album/song details? I'm sure PG has used many different drum recording techniques/styles over the years.

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Old 25th October 2011
  #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jrakarl View Post
Care to share album/song details? I'm sure PG has used many different drum recording techniques/styles over the years.

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I believe that was 'So'. Pretty sure there are no cymbals on the first 2 albums at all.
Old 25th October 2011
  #30
It requires a 'game' drummer who doesn't mind going through the agony.

Best IMHO is if they actually hit the cymbals while doing the drums BUT to do this you have to put blankets over the cymbals but you really need about 3 towels thick on the hi-hat to stop them making a noise.

to then do the cymbal overdubs the drummers then dont seem to mind 'miming' the drum hits then hit the cymbals..

Its agony to do but the sound can be amazing..

especially if you do the hi hat as a separate overdub.. (IMHO)

Actually to be honest, I only ever did it ONCE on ONE song, it was sheer hell - but produced a fantastic result!
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