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How did the pros quantize before daws?
Old 3 weeks ago
  #1
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robotchicken's Avatar
 

How did the pros quantize before daws?

In listening to some of the records of yesteryear, some of the grooves I hear sound wayyy too tight to be true.

I read somewhere that tape was manipulated to correct time in performances.

How common of a practice was this in studios before daws?
Old 3 weeks ago
  #2
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DAWs have done many things, but one of the big ones is allow mediocre musicians to sound great and to be "pro".

If as an eng., you were good at splicing/editing tape, you could fix timing issues by marrying takes. But even that had it's limitations.

some of the grooves I hear sound wayyy too tight to be true.

Any exs?

Cheers.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by robotchicken View Post
In listening to some of the records of yesteryear, some of the grooves I hear sound wayyy too tight to be true.

I read somewhere that tape was manipulated to correct time in performances.

How common of a practice was this in studios before daws?
I'm not really a 'pro' but as far back as the mid 80s I used to sample and quantize via time stretch with a hardware sampler. Before that I used to splice tape with a razor and cut and paste the best performances. DAWs have been around since the later 80s so quantizing has actually been available quite a long time. It is just easier now. Back in the 70s and early 80s we used to varispeed the tape down and have the musician play detuned at the slower tempo. This wasn't quanitizing obviously, but it gave tighter performances when you sped the tape back up. Another thing to consider is time in the studio. Back in the 70s and 80s bands spent months/years in the studio getting the right performances. Band nowadays, thanks to quantizing, can get the right performances in the a couple/few hours. If quantizing was not a available now, pro bands would just spend more time tracking.

Let's be clear, if DAW quantization was a available in the 60s and 70s and early 80s, bands would have used it. They would have used pitch correction too. Musician today are much better technically than musicians even 10 years ago. quantizing is not a crutch it is a tool to save time and money.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeff Hayat View Post
DAWs have done many things, but one of the big ones is allow mediocre musicians to sound great and to be "pro".

If as an eng., you were good at splicing/editing tape, you could fix timing issues by marrying takes. But even that had it's limitations.

some of the grooves I hear sound wayyy too tight to be true.

Any exs?

Cheers.


Thanks...here's an example
Old 3 weeks ago
  #5
Before DAWs existed, back in the late 70's, early 80's, I quantized parts in a sequencer. Drums were often Linn or Oberheim, so the drum track was dead on the grid. Then you synced to a sequencer playing the keyboard parts and often bass too, so that was locked. Then you could play other stuff live on top of that, being very careful to lock to the groove. When you drifted, it was painfully obvious, so you punched and punched until everything sounded mega-tight.

There were also a few drummers I recall that could sound amazingly like a drum machine when playing to a click. Not many, but a few could do that. It wasn't a thing that anyone even thought of doing before they heard something like a DMX locking down to the grid. It was a kind of new sound back then that some drummers were chasing. Lot of people thought Billie Jean was a drum machine.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by robotchicken View Post


Thanks...here's an example
Wasn't "echo" a drum machine?

In other words, "Drum Machine and the Bunnymen"
Old 3 weeks ago
  #7
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Sigma's Avatar
Lol tony bongiovi made over 120 edit slices in a 2 minute Ramones tune mixed at 15 ips

Last edited by Sigma; 3 weeks ago at 01:31 PM..
Old 3 weeks ago
  #8
Practice. Playing with the full band so tight is relative to other musicians, not a rigid pulse. Recording 50 songs and picking 12 of them that have that magic. Slow the tape down, record, speed it back up. Overdub handclaps. Fire the drummer and replace him with someone that can play, or even sometimes don't fire the drummer and don't tell him you've replaced him with someone that can play. Don't work with people that can't play.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #9
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Drumsound's Avatar
To add to above posts, there was often a lot of takes and a lot of punching in to fix things. What was interesting in that style was that it was still often up to the player to get it right. You'd roll back the tape, tell the player to play along, and you (the engineer) punched IN and OUT. If the player didn't get it right, you did that AGAIN.

This, of course, was after MANY takes of basics. Either until there was one that worked, or that you edited between takes to make the master.

Modern music makers and engineers often put those tasks on the engineer. Find a similar section and grab the one that's played right, or take those 2 notes that rush and cut and drag them into place.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #10
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In the late 70s for keyboards I used....a metronome. The wind up kind. Good ones were expensive.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #11
I wasn’t recording in the 70’s or 80’s, but unless a sequencer was being used, I would wager that it’s called being a good player.

I have worked with more than a few drummers who can play to a click and it pretty much sounds perfect. Same goes for keys and bass. I try not to brag much but I have played guitar for 25 years and my rhythm is impeccable.

Pro players can usually nail it in about 3 takes, especially if they’ve heard the song before or rehearsed it with a band who uses a metronome.

I agree with the statement above that the advent of easy editing in the digital realm, along with all the other distractions created by the internet have resulted in a lot of mediocre musicians.

Speaking of which, I feel convicted - I’m going to sign off now and go play some guitar.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #12
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Muser's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by robotchicken View Post


Thanks...here's an example
they can often be tight even if they move around in terms of tempo. if you analyze what goes on in drum performances, the drummer is usually shifting around even if stuck within some absolute tempo. it may often be shifting around in short windows of time, and differently for different parts of a song. usually the faster the overall tempo, the more variation occurs. if some aspect of swing is included, that's an added factor and it's usually equivalent to a specific degree of delay. if you have a really compelling performance it becomes difficult to have any kind of quantize grid accord with those factors after the fact, because if the grid isn't sufficiently following the amount of small tempo changes and swing, the sequencers event positions won't easily resolve to the performance.

but in the case of that particular song, here's them doing it live. I doubt they should have too many problems in the studio, as long as the producer had set up the correct conditions for the recording. the producer was Ian Broudie in this case and if you listen to his interviews, you soon get the impression he knew how to make sure the conditions were right for getting it all right. the Bunnymen seem to have originally started out using a Korg Minipops Junior but I don't think they probably stuck with it.

here they are live.

Old 3 weeks ago
  #13
Quote:
Originally Posted by robotchicken View Post


Thanks...here's an example
It’s strange to me that one would cite THIS as sounding particularly tight/quantized, as I hear almost every single snare fill as being slightly rushed/having some micro-timing push-pull issues (typical of a drummer playing such a sparse beat to a click track.) I mean, it’s plenty solid to me, but certainly nowhere near as tight as, say, “Billie Jean”.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #14
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In addition to the points above, sometimes you could use a digital delay to help shift something a bit, and then just print the result. Some digital delays could even store a few seconds, and also let you alter tuning a few cents in either direction. So, you could just work your way through the track cleaning up notes/percussion/phrases/etc, and printing them back.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #15
Quote:
Originally Posted by Drumsound View Post
To add to above posts, there was often a lot of takes and a lot of punching in to fix things. What was interesting in that style was that it was still often up to the player to get it right. You'd roll back the tape, tell the player to play along, and you (the engineer) punched IN and OUT. If the player didn't get it right, you did that AGAIN.

This, of course, was after MANY takes of basics. Either until there was one that worked, or that you edited between takes to make the master.

Modern music makers and engineers often put those tasks on the engineer. Find a similar section and grab the one that's played right, or take those 2 notes that rush and cut and drag them into place.
The (only) way I still do it.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #16
Click tracks and drum machines or sequencers.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #17
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Sigma's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by toledo3 View Post
In addition to the points above, sometimes you could use a digital delay to help shift something a bit, and then just print the result. Some digital delays could even store a few seconds, and also let you alter tuning a few cents in either direction. So, you could just work your way through the track cleaning up notes/percussion/phrases/etc, and printing them back.
at least where i worked, that would have been too time consuming ...the producer would have just hired another drummer
Old 3 weeks ago
  #18
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Sharp11's Avatar
 

as for "tightness" in general, if you listen to recordings from the earlier era of say the late 60's in to 70's, you'll hear quite a bit of tempo variation from beginning to the end of tunes - some songs rush quite a bit. It's fun, just move the slider around.

some songs had actual tempo accelerando and ritards built in -
Old 3 weeks ago
  #19
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not forgetting people made drum tape loops too. The drums on Saturday night fever are loops , they were cut and edited and went out around mic stands. Part of the reason was the drummer who cut some original tracks/sessions wasn't available again so they made loops from his performances.

anyone who came up throught the 80's had to learn to play with a linn drum or click. Also people were using midi sequencing from notator or cubase 3 on Ataris to trigger drums and keyboard parts in synths so perfect,grid time was the norm back in those days.


M


M
Old 3 weeks ago
  #20
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henryrobinett's Avatar
This is EXACTLY WHY I BEMAON MODERN DAWS. There used to be high quality musicianship. You had to be good enough to nail it in a couple of takes. And if you couldn't they HIRED SOMEONE who could. Back in the days you had killer anonymous session players who could read and play anything, any style. Now you have a bunch of mediocre players who expect the engineer to fix it for them. I STILL try to get it right. Argh.

DAWs have spelled the end of great musicianship. If the band came in to record and they sucked you got the tape as evidence. THEN you knew what you had to work on, because YOU SUCKED. Then you practiced really hard and came back three months later to do it better. No illusions. No studio tricks. It was all up to your musical ability.

GET OFF MY LAWN! LOL.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #21
I've had my own studio and been using a DAW since the mid 90s. Still to this day I've never quantized anything I've recorded. I play multiple instruments and can usually nail it in 1 or 2 takes. I'm self taught. I use the DAW as if it were a tape machine, that's how I've always looked at it right from the very beginning. But that's just me.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sigma View Post
at least where i worked, that would have been too time consuming ...the producer would have just hired another drummer
Personally, I would use it for stuff like tightening up the worst offender kick and snare hits when still working with tape, to avoid having to cut the tape, make it easier to drop things in. Not exactly micro level quantizing, but can still tighten stuff up alot.

I am talking about mixing and the tracking already being done, and you have what you have. Otherwise I completely agree that it can sometimes be quicker to just play the darn part again, or get someone who can.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by robotchicken View Post


Thanks...here's an example
Interesting example.... that would be lots of drop-ins I reckon.

Tony
Old 3 weeks ago
  #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by satissounds View Post
I've had my own studio and been using a DAW since the mid 90s. Still to this day I've never quantized anything I've recorded. I play multiple instruments and can usually nail it in 1 or 2 takes. I'm self taught. I use the DAW as if it were a tape machine, that's how I've always looked at it right from the very beginning. But that's just me.
Me too. The exception being when I write a song using midi or virtual instruments. But actual acoustic or real instruments, drums, bass, guitar, vocals - I NEVER quantize. I have on occasion fixed a wrong note. I have to fight to use Melodyne or any pitch correction. I hate the computerization of music,
Old 3 weeks ago
  #25
Quote:
Originally Posted by henryrobinett View Post
Me too. The exception being when I write a song using midi or virtual instruments. But actual acoustic or real instruments, drums, bass, guitar, vocals - I NEVER quantize. I have on occasion fixed a wrong note. I have to fight to use Melodyne or any pitch correction. I hate the computerization of music,
Sorry, I do use midi to record the keys I admit that but don't quantize it. It's as it comes. I'm like you, guitar, bass, flute, sax, wind controller, percussion all played live. If I play a bad bit but the rest is good I usually just try to overdub in whatever bar(s) it's in.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by henryrobinett View Post
This is EXACTLY WHY I BEMAON MODERN DAWS. There used to be high quality musicianship. You had to be good enough to nail it in a couple of takes. And if you couldn't they HIRED SOMEONE who could. Back in the days you had killer anonymous session players who could read and play anything, any style. Now you have a bunch of mediocre players who expect the engineer to fix it for them. I STILL try to get it right. Argh.

DAWs have spelled the end of great musicianship. If the band came in to record and they sucked you got the tape as evidence. THEN you knew what you had to work on, because YOU SUCKED. Then you practiced really hard and came back three months later to do it better. No illusions. No studio tricks. It was all up to your musical ability.

GET OFF MY LAWN! LOL.
Well, it's not 1975 anymore, and yes, there are a LOT of amateurs and hacks playing with daws, but that's what happens when an industry becomes democratized - would you really rather go back to the good old days when the mob controlled the money, the gatekeepers picked the talent and your ability as an individual to control and realize your art was essentially non-existent?

I didn't think so.

The DAW hasn't killed the "art", it may be harder to be heard over the din, but the potential and possibility to have a career - controlled by you - is finally a reality.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by henryrobinett View Post
This is EXACTLY WHY I BEMAON MODERN DAWS. There used to be high quality musicianship. You had to be good enough to nail it in a couple of takes. And if you couldn't they HIRED SOMEONE who could. Back in the days you had killer anonymous session players who could read and play anything, any style. Now you have a bunch of mediocre players who expect the engineer to fix it for them. I STILL try to get it right. Argh.

DAWs have spelled the end of great musicianship. If the band came in to record and they sucked you got the tape as evidence. THEN you knew what you had to work on, because YOU SUCKED. Then you practiced really hard and came back three months later to do it better. No illusions. No studio tricks. It was all up to your musical ability.

GET OFF MY LAWN! LOL.
Agree.

I’m working on a prog instrumental album right now and am laying down drum takes that are 15+ minutes long, with a lot of changes, and it’s hard work, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Hopefully that comes through in the record.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #28
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Sigma's Avatar
as an aside..when stevie wonder gave his 0003 lynn drum to my buddy dexter wansel sometime after he did secret life of plants , the first thing we noticed was stiff feel..so the hat and cymbals were overdubbed live to make it more human..sometimes even the tom fills..still remember unscrewing the lid to change the chipsets

Last edited by Sigma; 3 weeks ago at 08:00 PM..
Old 3 weeks ago
  #29
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Brent Hahn's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by toledo3 View Post
In addition to the points above, sometimes you could use a digital delay to help shift something a bit, and then just print the result. Some digital delays could even store a few seconds, and also let you alter tuning a few cents in either direction. So, you could just work your way through the track cleaning up notes/percussion/phrases/etc, and printing them back.
Sure, as long as the errors were early. The majority aren't.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brent Hahn View Post
Sure, as long as the errors were early. The majority aren't.


been there... flip the tape, dump back with a long arbitrary delay then flip to normal and delay till fixed..bro i have seen it all..recording is a bitch and the engineer is "supposed " to be a god LOLZ!!!!!!

so set to arbitrary AHEAD in reverse ..then go back to normal playback ...shift with delay to set back in


our motto was "the eng is infallible when wrong blame the assistant"
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