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Who records rock music, with no live drums?
Old 8th April 2003
  #1
Who records rock music, with no live drums?

How do you DO that?
Old 8th April 2003
  #2
Re: Who records rock music, with no live drums?

Quote:
Originally posted by Jules
How do you DO that?
I've recorded a rock track once which used a lot of distorted violins and cellos,guitars, bass and no drums, but percussion.

Real interesting stuff for a movie soundtrack.

Is this the kind of music you mean? Or are you referring to something with distorted guitars and samples(ala Marilyn Manson,NIN)?
Old 8th April 2003
  #3
Yeah, on the latter....
The most recent examples have been The Lightning Seeds, who despite having one of the best UK rock drummers in their midst used a lot of loops and programmed drums on their most successful records.
Rock music with NO drums.......I can't think of any.
Old 8th April 2003
  #4
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Quote:
Originally posted by chrisso
Yeah, on the latter....
The most recent examples have been The Lightning Seeds, who despite having one of the best UK rock drummers in their midst used a lot of loops and programmed drums on their most successful records.
Chrisso, you're not the Chris in question are you?
Old 8th April 2003
  #5
Just thought I would get a dialog going with folks using samples & loops and no accoustic Kick, Snare & Toms on rock music.

For noise limit reasons
For production values

Join in!


Old 8th April 2003
  #6
Quote:
Originally posted by Jules
Just thought I would get a dialog going with folks using samples & loops and no accoustic Kick, Snare & Toms on rock music.
Well, I've done rock with loops, initially for noise restriction, but then it evolved into more artistic reasons. I'm the muso/composer type, with AE leanings, as opposed to the other way around. So, the loops start as a songwriting tool, with the intentions of re-recording with real drums later (and I know a few GOOD drummers) but sometimes the loop becomes a part of the track's personality, and you just can't let it go!

Is it still rock without the sound of wooden tubes with plastic streched over the end being hit by sticks? Well, I would probably say, umm... "maybe"

hehe
Old 8th April 2003
  #7
Quote:
Originally posted by Messiah
Chrisso, you're not the Chris in question are you?
No!
'One of the UK's best rock drummers'?....I would never say it myself at least.
LOL

Jules,
I regularly use loops and samples because I can't make a lot of noise (recording drums) and I can't justify the expense of hiring a suitable studio.
I have to say, most of the time it is a frustrating experience. By the time I've got the loops and samples sounding right I could have played it myself.
On the other hand the 'bedroom recordist' has spawned an interesting new genre in combining loops, samples and rock elements.
BTW, I think DJ Shadow often does it well.
Old 8th April 2003
  #8
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for wht it's worth, Manson's "Mechanical Animals" has NO LIVE DRUMS...
a great album.
Old 8th April 2003
  #9
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a lot of pop rock still uses loops, with and without real drums. but i think the trend is towards real drums. One thing i've been doing is taking a real performance, and looping it, and altering it with filters, and running it under the performance.
Of the last five records i've done, all but one have had some loops or samples - and these are all rock bands.
cheers - dave darling
Old 8th April 2003
  #10
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CHAOS's Avatar
 

...

I've been doing rock songs without "real" drums lately. Using loops, some from older recordings of mine, or from loop CD's, and I've been having a great time with them.

I think that since electronic music has really come into it's own, fusing some of those aspects with rock can work well.

It's been liberating for me (I can't play drums). Though there are songs that just need the real thing, other songs don't. They can give a certain "vibe" that real drums don't normally give.
Old 9th April 2003
  #11
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No live drums - rock?

Hey Julian, there are no live drums on our album: 'The Light Years Ahead' by Alternative3 - only old drummachines sampled and looped and it kinda rocks. I could program drums (Roland TR 505 for example) for the 'Queens of the Stoneage' and it would rock! It all depends on the music really...
Old 9th April 2003
  #12
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Normally I use a combination of a real 'live' acoustic set and drum machine sequencing, but I do use only drum machines on occasion.
Old 9th April 2003
  #13
Jax
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A tune I came up with several years ago called Light Runner started out with all the everything but the drums, and was rather freeform until I put the drum skeleton into it. The bassline and spooky keyboard parts were developed first, and I developed a drum pattern with a Kawai K-11 played back via MIDI. This was all sequenced to together, but the bass (guitar, not synth), keyboards, and vocals came first. This is not an uncommon way for songs to be built up.

I think Jules is asking about compositional skill and approach, combined with MIDI knowledge, more than which groups have tracked tunes without live drums. These days, that might as well be at least half the music in pop culture considering the widespread use of sound replacement and sampling.
Old 9th April 2003
  #14
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For rock bands, I've always used live drums. I'm working on some ad stuff right now, though, where the agency wants "garage rock" (surrre they do ), and I'm wondering what I can get away with. I'll probably still replace the current drum machine with a real drummer.

Samples with rock bands can be great, but I have a feeling that a lot of the current commerical rock-with-loops stuff ("our label introduced us to our DJ") is going to age pretty poorly.

I saw an interview with Jon Brion where he said, "Loops are the DX7 of the 90's." I wouldn't want to be responsible for the modern-day "Do You Think I'm Sexy", ya know?

Then again, that was a big hit. Maybe I would...

Old 9th April 2003
  #15
jho
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Jules,
All just my opinions, but the topic is up my alley so here goes thumbsup

Given that you have the right sounds/samples of course, IMHO Probably the closest to 'live' sounding drums can be done on a drum machine (like MPC) if you record the parts in a linear and non-looping method on one big pattern...like playing the kick and snare all the way thru for the 4 min. song (recording via midi), then come back and add hihats...and another pass for toms , crashes etc. Avoiding too much quantization where possible...Then bounce using 8 outputs in one single pass with everything separated.

I think the most 'drum machine' sounding stuff is because folks can use too many loops and not enough new variations of the material.

I have several artists (including some of my own projects) that utilize pretty hard rockin stuff with drum machines, loops, samples, and sometimes some blended in live percussion / cymbals. I can email u mp3 link if you like to some of the stuff I'm referring to.

jho
Old 9th April 2003
  #16
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i love love love my drum machines, however...

there is one rock band i work with and for noise reasons they track at their space with electronic triggered drums. i just freakin hate em. terrible. we replace the sounds with some stuff from the clearmountain drum library and all that, but i'm never convinced the timing/performance is really locked in. plus, they are so concerned with "perfection" that they play their parts in an isolated fashion which further leads me to be bothered by timing/tightness issues.

i've issued the mandate that at the very least they will have to play their next tracks all together in the room at the same time and i'll only re-track the really off stuff. they need that kick in the ass as a lesson. i wish it were just a regular kit i could mic up. i bet they'd get a full letter grade of improvement over the drum trigger setup. i'll eventually win this argument. i'll save the drum machines for my own creepy bleepy music.
Old 9th April 2003
  #17
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I did an album for a couple of Hebrew guys a few years ago? There were tons of layers of distorted, jangly electric guitars with 'verb, acoustic guitars, vocals etc. but no drums. Everything was percussion, some of which was common, some of which I had never seen before and was a real challenge to record. I haven't listened to that since we finished it, I should dig that out. I remember it being pretty cool at the time.
Old 9th April 2003
  #18
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Quote:
Originally posted by Jay Kahrs
I did an album for a couple of Hebrew guys....
Good thing those Hebrews didn't all have trumpets, or you'd have New Jersey's first "open-air" studio...
Old 9th April 2003
  #19
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You guys who program for "live band" rock stuff, do you go with a straight clock or get into deep push/pull stuff? Do you use stereo image samples or pan the mono stuff around? These are what I see as the two big nuts to crack. Ok one more. Who creates their own samples vs. using libraries? As a drummer I have my opinions but I'm curious as to what y'all do.
Old 9th April 2003
  #20
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drumless

I sometimes like using some nice percussion stuff for the basis of a track, and then adding a full drum kit later for flourishes. It can give a song a different feel, and make the musicians approach things differently. Do it on a less 'singley' song, change up the flow and sound of an album. Lots of little tricks like that can go a long ways in making people get into a band's whole cd....
Old 9th April 2003
  #21
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For my own music I use a mix of live and synth drums. I usually use an Roland R8mk-II, a 707, and an xp-80. My music is more like a classic rock mentality, but using modern instrumentation and sounds. Not what would be considered "modern rock".

I go between programming and actually just playing the parts live to hard-disc. As far as programming tempo changes, sure- I do that all the time.

Lots of times I'll run the synth drums through an amp and distant mic it in my large room. Another thing I regularly do , is route the snare signal to a small amp, and place that amp on top of the snare. Then I record the resulting vibration of the snares, and mix back in.
Old 9th April 2003
  #22
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Quote:
Originally posted by G-man
For my own music I use a mix of live and synth drums. I usually use an Roland R8mk-II, a 707, and an xp-80. My music is more like a classic rock mentality, but using modern instrumentation and sounds. Not what would be considered "modern rock".

I go between programming and actually just playing the parts live to hard-disc. As far as programming tempo changes, sure- I do that all the time.

Lots of times I'll run the synth drums through an amp and distant mic it in my large room. Another thing I regularly do , is route the snare signal to a small amp, and place that amp on top of the snare. Then I record the resulting vibration of the snares, and mix back in.
Hey G-Man, I also own a Roland R8 mkII. That's a very capable drum machine.
Old 9th April 2003
  #23
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G-man and Robert: I'd be interested to hear what you guys do to program tempo changes. One the things I hate about loop based stuff is the incessant pounding of the click's presence--when I play to it I often want to play against it and find it sort of depressing. Do you layout a tempo may first or perform live and add loops to a post-recording tempo map?
Old 9th April 2003
  #24
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Here are a few "rock" TV commercials I did using my sampler for drums:

Budweiser

Coors

Hyundai
Old 9th April 2003
  #25
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For me the biggest problem in programmed rock drums are the HH & Cymbals, cause most of the time, you don't have enough variations of them. A closed HH is not such a big thing, but Half open or Full open hats always sound completely different at each stroke.
The problem with cymbals is very often, that they sound kinda unmatched with the rest of the kit, so you have to search really long for a good matching sound, and then again, not enough variations.
I like to have drummers play a live HH with cymbals over the progrummed stuff in rock style music.
The other way is of course, that you use the prog'd HH as a kind of character, getting its intensity through NO variations. Very good thing to speed up a tune, when you minus-delay them.
Lots of industrial bands use this to give their songs an even more mechanical feeling.
I think, its a matter of taste.
Loops are more on the boring side, but if you have no time and no money (see filmcomposing) ...
For the real thing, you need the real thing.

kosi
Old 9th April 2003
  #26
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Quote:
Originally posted by heinz
You guys who program for "live band" rock stuff, do you go with a straight clock or get into deep push/pull stuff?
Nobody adds groove to their clock? Yes I get it, I'm a noob of questionable origin. Maybe made a bad impression at some point. Who knows.

But i AM really interested in hearing from other people who do this.

Starting with Kosi's point, which is very relevant. I've programmed tons of rock stuff, most of it sucked. I am learning though.

Digital cymbals suck. Multi-sampled digital cymbals suck. As Kosi implied, I can get 100 different sounds out of a ride cymbal within 100 strokes. For rock stuff sampled cymbals are not the stuff of legends.

So yeah, what I like to do sometimes is lay down the tune on a live kit with just overheads with high-pass applied, to get the live cymbals and the groove of the tune. Then I add drum samples (of THAT same kit) to fill in and give me the isolation and control on the drums.

OR, I do this just to pluck the natural groove from the live performance, create the click, and run off that vs. straight clock. To me a straight clock is a ticket to flat sound for rock. I've done it too many times to satisfy those who feel the tempo must be "perfect" or else something is fucked up in their minds. Then they get in the car and listen to Led Zeppelin II which is all over the place, commenting on how much it rocks.

The Roland R8 drum machine had a fairly competent groove application technology, that operated on fixed grooves to loosen them up. More than just randomizing the hits, it would push the groove a bit behind or up front depending on how you set it up. It helped. You can do the same thing with click tracks by applying the same rules. That can get you in the general groove ballpark while staying fixed to the clock.

As Kosi said, "For the real thing, you need the real thing." If Phil Collins ever makes a comeback, the story may change.
Old 10th April 2003
  #27
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Quote:
Originally posted by verticalplunge
G-man and Robert: I'd be interested to hear what you guys do to program tempo changes. One the things I hate about loop based stuff is the incessant pounding of the click's presence--when I play to it I often want to play against it and find it sort of depressing. Do you layout a tempo may first or perform live and add loops to a post-recording tempo map?
As heinz stated, one of the great things about the R-8, and R8-mkII, is that you can create "groove" templates. You can make things swing, lag, push, even on a constant tempo, just through its groove/quantization. Now, I do right in tempo changes.

Basically, I will program a few simple beats, whatever the basic beats the song needs. I usually map a song out bar per bar, before I record it. So, I go and figure out when the beats need to change, and where tempo accelerations/decelarations are needed. Then I just program the tempo shifts into the actual DAW, and use that to control the master tempo. The R-8mkII, xp-80, or whatever else I'm using, are midi synched to the DAW. So, for the scratch tracks, it is just simple beats. Then after I get some guitar, keys, vocals, I will go back and actually work out fills and flesh out the patterns a little more.

One thing is to just pay attention to the nature of drumming. For example, a lot of busy fills go behing the beat a little, so you can push them to fall a little behind. If a drummer goes into a fill, and then hits a splash on what should be the 1 beat, for example, pushing that splash a little ahead or behind can add that extra humanity to the performance. That being said, I usually only use live cymbals, except for hats. Or if you are going from verse to prechorus, you can program the snare to push ahead a little on the previous bar. Little things like that.

A good idea is to get some drum basics books, like the Hal Leonard stuff with cd's. They will give you a good overview of common beats and fills, so your parts will sound more informed. Notice, I don't say realistic, b/c you're using a drum machine for pete's sake. there is no point in trying to make it sound acoustic.
Old 10th April 2003
  #28
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BTW,
The R-8 and R-8mkII were the brain childs of Linn AND Roland. Alot of people are not aware of that.
Old 10th April 2003
  #29
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Quote:
Originally posted by G-man
BTW, The R-8 and R-8mkII were the brain childs of Linn AND Roland. Alot of people are not aware of that.
Crap I owned both machines and explored every molecule and didn't know that. Great info, that machine was excellent.

Quote:
Originally posted by G-man
One thing is to just pay attention to the nature of drumming.
YES!! That's exactly what I was talking about. Analyzing what it is about the drummer that gives a rock song that push & pull, and where in the song it happens... Why a human does what they do playing drums is usually subconscious, but objectively it is still measurable as you described.

Quote:
Originally posted by G-man
you're using a drum machine for pete's sake. there is no point in trying to make it sound acoustic.
Aha! But there is a point... these days "drum machines" aren't used for rock without laughter, but one can build a tenable library of samples if they have access to a great kit in a great room. My library consists of acoustic drum samples that are completely raw and maleable. In some cases I can get extremely close if the track is basic enough.

Sample libraries need to be DEEP, a dozen or more samples of a single ride cymbal for example. Sure, it takes more time to program, but if you're really going for natural I would say that's a minimum entry point. Meticulously recreate the acoustic performance.

Beyond that thought, it's about the stereo image. Mono samples blow for the whole kit sound... I recently read the Rupert Neve interview in TapeOp (bonus articles) where he put it very elegantly, "There was one studio that asked me to listen to a "wonderful recording" that they had made last week, and I asked if they'd ever thought of recording in stereo. They said, 'It is stereo.' I said, 'It's panned mono, you've panned the image to three different places. That's not stereo. "
Old 10th April 2003
  #30
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Some good points. Sure, if you're using some really good samples, you may as well go for it. I don't use many samples, so I haven't been up that alley yet. If it calls for real drums, I'll try to play it, and if I can't hack it I'll get someone else to.
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