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how to record without a metronome
Old 17th October 2013
  #1
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how to record without a metronome

I hear drummers and people say they record without a metronome or click track but my question is how do you set the tempo when you do that? at that point I guess its just recording and tempo isn't really an issue but what do you do with the tempo at that point? do you just leave it at the default tempo and ignore it? i hate the metronome but dont really know how to record without it. I feel weird ignoring it.
Old 17th October 2013
  #2
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Just mute the click, ignore the tempo and listen to the drummer play. If it sounds like he is playing good then it is good. There's not much more to it then that.
Old 17th October 2013
  #3
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Mo Facta's Avatar
Just record without a click and then, if you use Cubase, use Tempo Detection to create a tempo track that shifts the grid to the pre-recorded material. This will help you edit and add MIDI, if need be.

In Pro Tools you can do this with Beat Detective.

Cheers
Old 17th October 2013
  #4
Registered User
Most DAWs can be set up for musical time (beats, bars & tempo) or real time (minutes and seconds). If you want to ignore everything set it up for real time.
Old 17th October 2013
  #5
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guitarwolle's Avatar
I record with 2 Radars - in this case just hit the REC-button, that's it. With the Radar it becomes more complicatet WITH a click
Old 17th October 2013
  #6
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Birdland101's Avatar
Use a bongo loop see if they will accept that Idea, or just a click on every 1 of the beat, if you cant get them to agree, well then just hit record and then enjoy hours of eye burning editing.
Old 17th October 2013
  #7
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LoFi_By_Choice's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Birdland101 View Post
Use a bongo loop see if they will accept that Idea, or just a click on every 1 of the beat, if you cant get them to agree, well then just hit record and then enjoy hours of eye burning editing.
This depends on how tight the musicians are. It doesn't have to equate hours of editing.
Old 17th October 2013
  #8
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Birdland101's Avatar
True pretty much stating the obvious right there... but it's probably not jamiroquai or four play, Iv seen established pro s who prefer a metronome, you get playing in the pocket, behind the beat etc, but its fairly rare.. its weird a lot of smaller more amateur bands hate metronomes but the good guys who need it less tend to want to use it more often then not, quite ironic.

Last edited by Birdland101; 17th October 2013 at 12:49 PM.. Reason: .
Old 17th October 2013
  #9
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You're right, it's stating the obvious. But it's not true that only a small percentage of people are quite capable of keeping tempo without a metronome, therefore necessitating a 5-pot-of-coffee session to mix.

I was only saying that because the OP may take from this (as a newb) that it's either metronome, click track, or hours-upon-hours of editing. And that oversimplification couldn't be farther from reality.

I would imagine that the reasons paid professionals use clicks/metronomes in the studio is more multifaceted than simply keeping the band in synch.

I'm not a professional and I use clicks mainly to make overdubs easier, and of course for compositional reasons, but before the advent of DAWs (when I had only a four-track cassette and a cheap mic and lots of time) I never used a click of any sort. My material never suffered from not using a click, if anything it gave some otherwise bland arrangements a bit of variety and character.

At any rate, not an argument, just more for the OP.
Old 17th October 2013
  #10
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Joringgg's Avatar
 

I've never used metronome, I have some kind of natural sense of the times. I try to be sensitive with what I'm playing, is like you can feel when the moment of the note is passing.
Old 17th October 2013
  #11
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LoFi_By_Choice's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Joringgg View Post
I've never used metronome, I have some kind of natural sense of the times. I try to be sensitive with what I'm playing, is like you can feel when the moment of the note is passing.
Right, agreed. Until somewhat recently I thought not having this innate ability discouraged people from writing/recording/performing music. I've discovered over the last few years that people can be far more determined than that.
Old 17th October 2013
  #12
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Birdland101's Avatar
I have to disagree I am sorry.. a click is essential, some of the greatest musos practice with clicks everyday and still will not be perfectly in time, its what separates pros from amateurs... there are 2 things you should never do in western music, "steal" time, and play out of tune, its sort of like tuning by ear, it will be fine but not perfect... I used to ignore the metronome till I took bass playing seriously after 12 years of jazz guitar. My playing has improved decisively and so have my recordings... telling the poster they are not essential would be wrong in this instance I am afraid.
Old 17th October 2013
  #13
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Birdland101's Avatar
You right though it may not equate to hours of editing if you don't mind sloppy time.
Old 17th October 2013
  #14
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LoFi_By_Choice's Avatar
 

OP, a metronome is NOT essential*.











*for everyone.


The most obvious thing separating pros from amateurs is earning a living doing it.

The real essential thing here is the innate ability to play in time. *crickets* sheesh.
I doubt you'll be correcting the other musicians around you if they fail to completely and accurately keep 92 BPM throughout a song. You can stick with whatever tempo you've trained yourself to play, but if you are outrunning or lagging behind the drummer (and everyone else) and creating problems, you're in trouble.
Old 17th October 2013
  #15
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Birdland101's Avatar
Pro s play in time amateurs cant and pro s use metronomes especially drummers... actually most people amateurs cannot even play with a metronome properly.

I will say though if you have not practiced with a click don't go into a studio and expect to be able to do it.

Last edited by Birdland101; 17th October 2013 at 02:17 PM.. Reason: .
Old 17th October 2013
  #16
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LoFi_By_Choice's Avatar
 

Allow me to repeat: I am not a professional musician. I have NO PROBLEM keeping time. Period.

I began musical training at a young age. We did not use metronomes. Our instructor would clap his hands (the first year, at age 10) to make sure everyone stayed together until we developed the ability to follow each other. Those who couldn't develop this ability dropped off like flies. Such is life.

This is completely off base and ignorant, stating "amateurs cant (sic)" play in time. Ludicrous.
Old 17th October 2013
  #17
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Birdland101's Avatar
Well you must be Steve Gadd or something.
Old 17th October 2013
  #18
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Time must be perfect unless its late or early on purpose.. I am so sorry but I don't think you understand this... there is a difference between time and time... a monkey can probably clap in time but keeping time is different.. maybe record yourself play a tune, then go back and put a click on behind your playing and tell me if its still on after 3 minutes.
Old 17th October 2013
  #19
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S.Filpansick's Avatar
 

Maybe I don't put as much emphasis on a click as I should, but if someone tells me they'd rather not use a click, we'll record a take, and then I use my nifty little tap tempo app on my phone, and tap the tempo through the entire playback. If it's fairly consistent (no more than 2-3 bpm drift), we'll keep it, if it drifts more than that (or just completely sucks), I have solid proof for the artist that their internal metronome isn't as good as they thought, and that they NEED to use a click. Haven't had any issues with that methodology so far!

Sent from my LG-LS970
Old 17th October 2013
  #20
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Birdland101's Avatar
Thats a good idea, but i check the thread title is how to record without a click so I am sure the OP uses a click most of the time.. thats why before this thread got derailed by LOFI I suggested one click on the kick or a percussion / shaker loop, instead.
Old 17th October 2013
  #21
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archfrenemy's Avatar
 

I have found that recording to a metronome is all about latency and a natural sounding click or audio sample. Even a basic beep metronome can be made more friendly if the notes are adjusted and a bit of reverb is added.

I have no problem leaving the metronome time rhythmically to add emotion and nuance to a performance, and returning back again to anchor rhythm to a solid spot. Without a metronome, editing becomes a nightmare. I have recorded without a metronome on occasion, but they are always acoustic / vocal only songs with constant tempo changes including gradual ramping up and down.
Old 17th October 2013
  #22
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Birdland101's Avatar
some times even just a side stick on the third beat will help.
Old 17th October 2013
  #23
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old ghost's Avatar
 

It needs to be kept in mind that it is also style and genre dependent. When I record rock songs or really, most songs... Click on, always. It makes everything easier and tighter from there.

But for example, the past couple days I've been recording some classical guitar numbers and the starts, stops and slowdowns are what give the song character. The click would make it all uniform and take a lot away from the feel... These are all songs done in full single takes as well to maintain as human a feeling as possible.

It just depends on the song. (Answer to just about everything.)
Old 17th October 2013
  #24
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johnnyv's Avatar
+1 to what Old Ghost said. I think we tend to assume that everybody only records "pop" music.

Certain styles of music suck if you robotize them.
I recorded a singer songwriter ( OK just call it Folk ya ya) and he had this song in 3/4 time.
My job was to add some bass and simple percussion tracks.
I remember having trouble and was cursing his "timing",, nope, his timing was what he felt and stuck too rock solid for a full 3 minutes. There was a tiny little pause just before the "3" It was the key to the "feel" of this song, You could never play that song right using a click.

And I also think of all the Blues bands I've worked with ,recorded or help record... Those session never used click tracks and depended solidly on the bands locking in on a tempo that rolls like a freight train going down hill.

Only reason I use a click is so my sloppy MIDI work can be corrected. Otherwise I don't use it if I have real musicians in the room.
It is why certain drummers are not welcome at sessions too
Old 17th October 2013
  #25
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archfrenemy's Avatar
 

Ditching the click track all together is generally a bad idea unless you are recording a basic singer / acoustic or full band that has 100% of the arrangement, timing and performance nailed down.

Without a tempo base, you lose the abIlity to quickly use the DAW as a composition tool. There are plenty of ways to create multiple tempos with variable swings based on core scratch track performances. DAW tempos give you the capability to quickly audition composition and arrangement possibilities, edit audio and create new song sections before laying down final tracks.
Old 17th October 2013
  #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Birdland101 View Post
Time must be perfect unless its late or early on purpose..
Which is why Guns and Roses was never popular -- all those tempo shifts withing the songs just turned off the audience.

/sarcasm

Try this nifty experiment: take two recordings of world class violinists playing one of Bach's compositions for solo violin. Drop them into your DAW, pan one left, the other right, stretch one to fit the other and hit play.

I've tried recording my music with a click but I haven't figured out a way to do it because of the tempo changes. I'm sure it can be done -- I'm just not so clever.
Old 19th October 2013
  #27
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mobaudio's Avatar
For the most part, I quit using a click track years ago. Some bands want one, and I do what I can to discourage them; but, you know- gotta pay the bills.

Every project I've recorded without one has been WAY better than the ones with a click, weather it was a "pro" musician or not. Musicians that COULD play to a click in the best possible manner (I refuse to say "perfectly") still played better without one.

It also hasn't affected my ability to edit one way or another. I cut to the kick drum, usually. Just like it's been done for decades. Anyway, the use of click tracks only became commonplace in the 70's- over half a century after the advent of recorded music.

We tend to forget (on this side of the glass) that the MUSICIANS are responsible for the performance, not us. We get hung up (a lot of us, anyway) in "perfect": timing, phase, eq, mics, pre's... whatever. A compelling performance will outshine ALL of that.

Every time.


The only "perfect" time is the one that FEELS right.

Just play.
Old 19th October 2013
  #28
Gear Nut
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by mobaudio View Post
For the most part, I quit using a click track years ago. Some bands want one, and I do what I can to discourage them; but, you know- gotta pay the bills.

Every project I've recorded without one has been WAY better than the ones with a click, weather it was a "pro" musician or not. Musicians that COULD play to a click in the best possible manner (I refuse to say "perfectly") still played better without one.

It also hasn't affected my ability to edit one way or another. I cut to the kick drum, usually. Just like it's been done for decades. Anyway, the use of click tracks only became commonplace in the 70's- over half a century after the advent of recorded music.

We tend to forget (on this side of the glass) that the MUSICIANS are responsible for the performance, not us. We get hung up (a lot of us, anyway) in "perfect": timing, phase, eq, mics, pre's... whatever. A compelling performance will outshine ALL of that.

Every time.


The only "perfect" time is the one that FEELS right.

Just play.
I agree.

There is a funny story where Paul McCartney was asked if Ringo was the best drummer in the world. Paul replied, "Ringo isn't even the best drummer in The Beatles."

George Martin stated that Ringo's time could never be clocked to a metronome, but that had nothing to do with his "feel". His "feel' was without peer.

And therein is the rub.

When musicians "feel" the music, and are in sync with each other in the moment, that's when that "X factor" comes into play. It's a kind of transcendence that can be felt by all. Never mind the clock.

Magic.

But, not everyone has that kind of confidence in their performance.
Old 21st October 2013
  #29
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Birdland101's Avatar
Music is divided into equal beats if they are not played equally and precisely they are considered out of time, even by elementary music teachers.
Old 21st October 2013
  #30
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Karloff70's Avatar
 

Quite simple, really. Sometimes a click is the way to go, sometimes not. To say a click is ALWAYS the way to go is as daft as saying the other.

When a click is NOT the way to go for whatever reason, a great thing to do is use a click count in and let the click run into the first few bars of the take before taking it away to let the take run free from there. This makes sure multiple takes end up in the same area of tempo/energy (as at least they started in the same place) and become editable to each other. Generally almost impossible without any tempo reference as they will differ too much.
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