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Funky Drummer -- was the hi-hat overdubbed?
Old 30th August 2019
  #1
Funky Drummer -- was the hi-hat overdubbed?

a.) It sure sounds to me like it was, check from 2:00 on in the song:



b.) The way Clyde demos the groove in this video, and re-listening to the track aftewards (I've watched both a bunch of times...), I think I understand some about why folks who try to play this now don't get the right "feel":



Basically, it comes down to the hi-hat. I've been working on my own funk drumming since I got a kit again (after a 13 year hiatus...) about six months ago. The idea is to put the "feel" into the hi-hat pattern, not just swing but playing patterns and grooves and other things that aren't really expressible in notation. Not that they couldn't be notated, but the notation won't capture all the bits correctly. Jabo also did this, check out the pattern he plays for "Super Bad" on the ride (and "Sex Machine", for that matter):

(starts around 1:20, he plays the pattern on the bell of the ride at about 3:19)

The way people try to teach these beats, they want to play just 16ths, or 8ths, or some ostinatos mixed in, but it's more than that... The patterns are little songs in themselves, and all the other drums fall in around them.

Anyways, as I've tried to do this all this stuff is much easier to play. My consistency sucks, and sustaining the right "feel' with this is challenging in its own ways, but it's nothing like the backwards jedi mind trick of trying to be "funky" with the rest of yourself while playing straight 16ths. That's a different skill, and cool in its own way, but IMO that is _not_ the funk.


EDIT: All of these sound way better when they cut to the room mics... For funk, recording the kit as an "instrument" as opposed to a bunch of different sound sources is key IMO.


EDIT 2: Jabo refs Bobby Blue Bland "Turn On Your Lovelight" in the vid; I think this way of approaching the hats/ride makes sense in context with the R&B and Jazz that came before it, and you can hear those elements in these tracks. Doing patterns like that definitely reminds me of how Jazz drummers would approach this ('cause it's not fun to just play triplets for the whole tune...):

Old 1st September 2019
  #2
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I’m not sure what the studio arrangement was, but JB often had two drummers on gigs. Other bands of the era, including the funk brothers, utilitised two drummers or two drum parts on recordings.

That being said, Funky Drummer sounds like one drummer to me. What makes you think it’s not?
Old 1st September 2019
  #3
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There's nothing there to make me think "overdub".
Old 1st September 2019
  #4
Quote:
Originally Posted by nd33 View Post
I’m not sure what the studio arrangement was, but JB often had two drummers on gigs. Other bands of the era, including the funk brothers, utilitised two drummers or two drum parts on recordings.

That being said, Funky Drummer sounds like one drummer to me. What makes you think it’s not?
Listen starting at 2:00 - 3:30 or so... The cymbals tick on over the top of open hi-hats, it goes on through drum fills... Starting at about that point, Clyde adds an open hi-hat to his pattern that you can hear -- Clyde's hat doesn't sound like the one that's playing the 16ths either. Plus, the way Clyde demos the beat above, he doesn't play it like that. That, to me, is the big part. The snare is exactly right, the "feel" is exactly right, and he's not playing 16ths. Also, Clyde's hat is about in the middle of the stereo field, and the one playing 16ths is more on the left.

EDIT: I also hear it during parts that would be played on the snare with two hands, but that's only during fills (he does some cool stuff on the snare, esp. during the breaks, with one hand too). There's a hit in the intro where the ride, snare, and the closed hi-hat hit at the same time... I counted it out, it comes around beat 4 of measure 3 going into measure 4, for reference.

Last edited by poserp; 1st September 2019 at 11:40 PM..
Old 1st September 2019
  #5
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In a word, no.
Old 1st September 2019
  #6
Quote:
Originally Posted by creegstor View Post
There's nothing there to make me think "overdub".
I think it might have been played at the same time, but not by Clyde. There's the tambourine version too, which would indicate that there were some overdubs done during the session. I mean, I've tried this a bunch of times, taking breaks for days/weeks between listens to see if it's just a thing my brain is doing (I still won't rule that out), but at this point I lean fairly heavily on it being overdubbed or another musician. Again, in part because that's not the way Clyde seems to play it. He lays out "Cold Sweat" pretty much note-perfect in that video, I don't think he'd suddenly try to _not_ play the 16ths for some reason when he's demoing it but get all the other parts right. Plus the grove on that one is pretty "straight", so 16ths fit right in. One thing that bothers me a bit though is I can't hear his hi-hat other than when it's open in the recording... So, conundrum.

Last edited by poserp; 2nd September 2019 at 12:06 AM..
Old 2nd September 2019
  #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by poserp View Post
I think it might have been played at the same time, but not by Clyde. There's the tambourine version too, which would indicate that there were some overdubs done during the session. I mean, I've tried this a bunch of times, taking breaks for days/weeks between listens to see if it's just a thing my brain is doing (I still won't rule that out), but at this point I lean fairly heavily on it being overdubbed or another musician. Again, in part because that's not the way Clyde seems to play it. He lays out "Cold Sweat" pretty much note-perfect in that video, I don't think he'd suddenly try to _not_ play the 16ths for some reason when he's demoing it but get all the other parts right. Plus the grove on that one is pretty "straight", so 16ths fit right in. One thing that bothers me a bit though is I can't hear his hi-hat other than when it's open in the recording... So, conundrum.
I don't know any musician that plays a song exactly like they did 10/20/30 years ago. Here's a clip of him playing FD verse. He's more fluid/dynamic on the hats and at times he does skip a 16th. But he's hitting others.

It's clearly all live on the record. Not even a question.

Old 2nd September 2019
  #8
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hell yes, they addeded the hat's with a bounce. they could reuse the best mic and preamp, or at least another guy playing when they captured everything. Definatly another "track" Hats + drums
Old 2nd September 2019
  #9
Quote:
Originally Posted by creegstor View Post
I don't know any musician that plays a song exactly like they did 10/20/30 years ago. Here's a clip of him playing FD verse. He's more fluid/dynamic on the hats and at times he does skip a 16th. But he's hitting others.

It's clearly all live on the record. Not even a question.

Yeah, that's exactly how he plays it in the first vid I posted too. He's consistent across time, for funk like that to work it's important to have the "pattern" down cold. They talk about this, like when Jabo says "I played my pattern" or "you know how people fool around with patterns in the studio", then demonstrates how his patterns fit together for "Super Bad", both for the bass and for James' dance moves (which inspired the pattern). "Cold Sweat" is the same way, it relies on getting pretty much 90% of it right every repetition of the pattern. Now, with the Funky Drummer break, that's a bit different 'cause at that point he was embellishing and stuff, so I get that he doesn't have to play it down every time the same way. Nevertheless, I've never seen him play the 16ths the way they are on the record. IIRC there are some live videos of them playing, although due to the popularity of the song at the time I don't think it made their live sets. And, the way he plays it your ear might imply 16ths where he isn't hitting them, but to my ears on the record a.) I clearly hear the 16ths, and b.) they neither sound like what he plays nor do they fit in with the fills and such. They "fit" in being in time and locking in with the track, however that went down it's some tight playing. But you can't play a hi-hat open and closed at the same time. Or hit the snare, the hi-hat, and the ride at exactly the same time either.

EDIT: To be clear, they recorded pretty much all of the track together live in the studio, I definitely agree with that. But the tambourine was at least recorded with some isolation (it doesn't show up at all on the non-tambourine version of the track) if not overdubbed.
Old 2nd September 2019
  #10
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I doubt the hat is overdubbed, it’s way too tight with the kick/snare. My guess is kick/snare/hat played by one guy live with the band. Let’s keep in mind that these guys were ****ing good. The reverb on drums is very washy in the background and I think it plays a bit of mind trickery.
Old 2nd September 2019
  #11
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At 5:40 when the ride is hit, for example, the hi hat appears to stop. Perhaps there was a second drummer playing the hat and the ride?
If there are two drummers I would think they’d be tracked at the same time, though.

When I saw the JBs live around 15 years ago, one of the drummers generally was playing fills and little extra bits, while the other played the main kick/snare/hat groove.
Old 2nd September 2019
  #12
Quote:
Originally Posted by nd33 View Post
At 5:40 when the ride is hit, for example, the hi hat appears to stop. Perhaps there was a second drummer playing the hat and the ride?
I'll have to listen better tomorrow when my ears aren't shot/ I've probably spent a solid two hours today listening, and another hour or so working on the snare thing that he does for the solo section pattern. It's one of those things where my right hand can nail it, but the left has a harder time. I think this is 'cause the way he does the snare and "ghost" notes evolved from how jazz drummers do a basic "swing" on the ride -- flag, tap, pull -- as one smooth motion, so the hand that does this normally (for me my right hand) already has that down, but to do it with the left hand is more difficult for me. One I've got all this together I'll do a video, I hate just talking about it 'cause it's easier to show it, but I still suck and I want to demo it "clean".
Old 2nd September 2019
  #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by poserp View Post
But you can't play a hi-hat open and closed at the same time. Or hit the snare, the hi-hat, and the ride at exactly the same time either.
Can you point out where you hear this? Give timestamps!
Old 2nd September 2019
  #14
Quote:
Originally Posted by creegstor View Post
Can you point out where you hear this? Give timestamps!
I gave a count, the first audible example (to me, anyways) happens at the end of "4" in the third measure, or right on the "1" of the fourth measure. That happens between seconds 5 and 6. Once he adds in the open hi-hat to his pattern from 2:00 on, I hear many examples that are too numerous to mention, basically the first thirty seconds of Maceo's solo (abt 2:00 to 2:30) -- that whole section, pretty much every open->closed hat has at least one or two "ticks" of a closed hat over the top. He goes into the change, and all through the fill heading into the change from 3:00 to 3:12 I hear various parts that sound like two-handed snare bits (I could be wrong, of course, Clyde is pretty awesome with one-handed snare fills like that, but there are a couple of spots that sound to me like he used two hands, I haven't broken down the fill all the way yet so I don't have exact time stamps). Once we come out of the change, that pattern uses more open->closed hi-hat and to my ears I hear lots of "ticks" on a closed hat over the top of his pattern when his hat is open, listen between 3:15 - 3:30, but it extends beyond that too.

EDIT: Also, I listen on both headphones and various kinds of speakers (including my studio monitors) -- for me, it's easier to hear the separation on speakers than headphones.

EDIT2: One semi-unrelated thing -- when we cut to Clyde's solo sections, the drums seem to come up in the mix. That could be a compressor, or perhaps there's at least one mic on his drums, or he just plays louder (his dynamics are, of course, excellent as well). The reverb comes up too, so I kinda lean towards compression (as that would increase the room volume as well as bringing up Clyde's drums) but I don't know enough about recording techniques and tools at the time to really tell. My understanding (please correct me if I'm wrong) is Brown had a studio that he either built or used extensively, so it wouldn't surprise me if he had more than average recording equipment available.

EDIT3: And... I think he likes to do his hi-hat so it's not "closed" super-tight when he closes it. In the videos I've seen of him, his hat has more "body" to it, more of a "chh" sound than a "tick", so to speak. That may be preference thing, or just the way the kits are set up for those vids, but I see it enough that I wonder if that was his preference. And, further, he tends to hit more with the body of the stick than the tip, which would also accent the "chh" quality.

Last edited by poserp; 2nd September 2019 at 06:43 PM..
Old 2nd September 2019
  #15
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I think the long reverb kind of blurs the distinction between what is the tail of the snare and the tail of the hats. It’s making the open hat seem longer than it actually is.

Someone needs to locate the multitrack to solve this mystery...
Old 2nd September 2019
  #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by poserp View Post
I gave a count, the first audible example (to me, anyways) happens at the end of "4" in the third measure, or right on the "1" of the fourth measure. That happens between seconds 5 and 6. Once he adds in the open hi-hat to his pattern from 2:00 on, I hear many examples that are too numerous to mention, basically the first thirty seconds of Maceo's solo (abt 2:00 to 2:30) -- that whole section, pretty much every open->closed hat has at least one or two "ticks" of a closed hat over the top. He goes into the change, and all through the fill heading into the change from 3:00 to 3:12 I hear various parts that sound like two-handed snare bits (I could be wrong, of course, Clyde is pretty awesome with one-handed snare fills like that, but there are a couple of spots that sound to me like he used two hands, I haven't broken down the fill all the way yet so I don't have exact time stamps). Once we come out of the change, that pattern uses more open->closed hi-hat and to my ears I hear lots of "ticks" on a closed hat over the top of his pattern when his hat is open, listen between 3:15 - 3:30, but it extends beyond that too.

EDIT: Also, I listen on both headphones and various kinds of speakers (including my studio monitors) -- for me, it's easier to hear the separation on speakers than headphones.

EDIT2: One semi-unrelated thing -- when we cut to Clyde's solo sections, the drums seem to come up in the mix. That could be a compressor, or perhaps there's at least one mic on his drums, or he just plays louder (his dynamics are, of course, excellent as well). The reverb comes up too, so I kinda lean towards compression (as that would increase the room volume as well as bringing up Clyde's drums) but I don't know enough about recording techniques and tools at the time to really tell. My understanding (please correct me if I'm wrong) is Brown had a studio that he either built or used extensively, so it wouldn't surprise me if he had more than average recording equipment available.

EDIT3: And... I think he likes to do his hi-hat so it's not "closed" super-tight when he closes it. In the videos I've seen of him, his hat has more "body" to it, more of a "chh" sound than a "tick", so to speak. That may be preference thing, or just the way the kits are set up for those vids, but I see it enough that I wonder if that was his preference. And, further, he tends to hit more with the body of the stick than the tip, which would also accent the "chh" quality.
You've got to understand he was likely playing exactly as instructed by Brown because that's how Brown worked, orchestrating down to minute detail. How he plays now is going to be more relaxed.

I think the "flams" are simply hearing a pedal close with a stick tip hit so close that it's confusing your ear. Stubblefield was able to do stuff hardly anyone else has been able to do (at that level anyway). The guy was superhuman.

The rides are between hat hits. Nothing he couldn't do in his sleep.

There is nothing on this recording that sounds impossible... for him. For many drummers? Yes absolutely.
Old 2nd September 2019
  #17
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I'm not saying it could not be done. It's a feel & Sound thing to me. The high hat player is playing in circles to give it a strong feel. The drums have a different feel to them. Different micing, different player.
Old 2nd September 2019
  #18
Quote:
Originally Posted by creegstor View Post
The rides are between hat hits. Nothing he couldn't do in his sleep.

There is nothing on this recording that sounds impossible... for him. For many drummers? Yes absolutely.
Well, to me in that intro bit especially it sounds like the hat, ride, and snare hit all at the same time. And, yes, he can do some cool stuff, but I think more of it has to do with note choice and it's more "linear" than a lot of people think. Not entirely, but that linearity IMO is what makes these both a.) groove and b.) playable. Same goes, for instance, with "Amen Brother" or "Think (About It)" and similar drum grooves from around that time. Anyways, I think he's great, but I don't think you can't learn how to do that in a reasonable amount of time, in part because if you jettison the 16ths throughout (and instead play the patterns he's playing in the other videos), the whole thing is somewhat easier to play. Actually, the thing _most_ versions get wrong is the interplay between the kick and the snare; instead of focusing on the hats, I think it's better to start there and work outwards 'cause a good portion of the "funk" comes from his syncopation with those parts. Of the dozen or more videos I've watched of other drummers trying this, none play the pattern he plays (and demonstrates in the Drummer World video) on the snare and kick, they play more of the things that I've always played with this beat and didn't know were "wrong" until I saw him do it. And, that's one of the main things that messes up the funk, the other being (IMO) trying to do the strict 16ths instead of his patterns on the hat. Try playing "Cold Sweat" correctly with the straight 8th's/16th's approach... Guaranteed not to funk.
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