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McCartney's McCartney
Old 13th October 2013
  #1
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macle's Avatar
 

McCartney's McCartney

Anyone know McCartney's modus operandi when he records solo? That is, when he recorded solo back in the 60s and 70s.

I saw a clip where he was doing a recent recording with Klaus Voormann, and he talked about using a click track for when Ringo overdubbed drums. Got me to thinking how he would record back in the day. I also saw a clip where he sort of showed what he did around the time he worked with Nigel Godrich. He started with drums, but they looped it. Don't think he did that in the 60s and 70s.

I know he has great time, but did he start with other instruments and then overdub drums to that? Or start with the drums?

When I start with just the drums, and no click track and outline of the song, I get lost!! Can't remember where I am.

On that note, is there a way to make a DAW follow the live time of drums accurately?
Old 13th October 2013
  #2
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Virgil's Avatar
Nowadays he uses click track. Talking about modus operandi, have you seen his "Now Play it" episode? he records a song Ever present past, from Memory almost full, 2007). Bit by bit, first an acoustic guitar, then drums, then bass, then guitars. Very interesting, the song isn't much, but you get to witness him actually recording.

Paul McCartney teaches you to play Ever Present Past - YouTube

Now, that's 2007. In the 60s, according to Geoff Emerick's book, for things like "Penny Lane", which was layered overdub after overdub, he didn't use click track. The whole arrangement was built using his piano playing as foundation. No metronome, no click track. Amazing.

Actually, the more I learn about music, the more I admire McCartney, because he simply has it all. Melody, harmony, but also rhythm.
Old 13th October 2013
  #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Virgil View Post
Nowadays he uses click track. Talking about modus operandi, have you seen his "Now Play it" episode? he records a song Ever present past, from Memory almost full, 2007). Bit by bit, first an acoustic guitar, then drums, then bass, then guitars. Very interesting, the song isn't much, but you get to witness him actually recording.

Paul McCartney teaches you to play Ever Present Past - YouTube

Now, that's 2007. In the 60s, according to Geoff Emerick's book, for things like "Penny Lane", which was layered overdub after overdub, he didn't use click track. The whole arrangement was built using his piano playing as foundation. No metronome, no click track. Amazing.

Actually, the more I learn about music, the more I admire McCartney, because he simply has it all. Melody, harmony, but also rhythm.
I have seen the Ever Present Past thing. Very cool.

I wonder why he uses a click track all the time now?

So Penny Lane started with just the piano and nothing else? I don't recall that. Ringo overdubbed his drums to that?

I agree that he is truly amazing. Just a natural ability at everything. Another great clip is him playing drums on Ain't No Sunshine for the unplugged thing. They do 2 takes, and he is great twice. Just a great feel, playing syncopated rolls and stuff. Makes it look so easy, especially considering that's not his main instrument. The more I play the drums, seems the worse I get. I think click tracks and looking at the grid and such have made me completely paranoid.
Old 13th October 2013
  #4
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TheBrightSide's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by macle View Post

On that note, is there a way to make a DAW follow the live time of drums accurately?
I'm not sure about other DAWS, but later versions of Cubase has "Beat Detection" which calculates the varying tempo of a track and sets it globally.
Is that the sort of thing you meant?

Tutorial: Tempo detection in Cubase 6 - YouTube
Old 13th October 2013
  #5
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If you tap your foot while playing your first part - guitar or piano or whatever - you can just stick a mic next to your foot for the purposes of making a click track.

Convert the audio to MIDI in your DAW and then replace with whatever metronome-like sound you require. Adjust any hugely out-of-time stomps.

I have a cheap stomp-box which I use for playing live, but I've often used it for giving me a 'human-time click track'.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/SX-STOMP-STO.../dp/B005MOPBR6

(Incidentally, mainly because it uses a battery, that particular cheap little stomp-box is actually much better than all the expensive, hand-made, boutique stomp-boxes that cost 3 times as much)
Old 13th October 2013
  #6
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NoVi's Avatar
The advantage of nowadays DAWs is that you have a visual feedback on what has been recorded (be it a waveform for audio, or the piano roll for a midi based track). I recently recorded a track where I wasn't able to 'map' it to a certain tempo in the DAW. I decided to record the piano track (in midi) first and then add the other instruments using the visual feedback in order to determine when I had to play the other instruments. If I missed to play in time I would re-record it or afterwards do some edits. Worked very liberating for me because you break away from the tempo based DAW recordings and have total control over slowing down, speeding up the tempo of the song.
Old 13th October 2013
  #7
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That last Fireman record is spectacular. And most of the lyrics were just made up on the spot.

Ridiculously talented.

It's weird because even though it wasn't a "hit" it did ok, but did significantly better in the US... Odd.
Old 13th October 2013
  #8
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on his first solo album, there isn't much that has drums. With "momma miss america", it sounds like he laid the drum track down first since he does some lead-in fills. It's just a standard 12-bar blues thing, so wouldn't be hard to remember where you were. On all the other songs he probably does acoustic guitar first.
Old 13th October 2013
  #9
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Jazz Noise's Avatar
I'd guess on tracks like Temporary Secretary from McCartney II that he set up the sequencer pattern and played everything else around that. Whatever was the founding element of the music was probably what became the first track he laid down. Not a bad idea, in my opinion!
Old 13th October 2013
  #10
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macle's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by TheBrightSide View Post
I'm not sure about other DAWS, but later versions of Cubase has "Beat Detection" which calculates the varying tempo of a track and sets it globally.
Is that the sort of thing you meant?

Tutorial: Tempo detection in Cubase 6 - YouTube
Hey there Mr. Brightside.

Like that, except where it follows me live while I'm playing the drums. I think that can only track it after it's already been recorded.

I'd like to be able to start with the drums and I sort of want to get away from click tracks. But playing the drums along with nothing is sort of weird and like I said, I get lost!

So I was thinking maybe I could record a midi version of an outline of a song, and listen to that while playing the drums, but have it follow me instead of the other way around.

Of course, I could try and get actual people to play with, but I don't know, that sounds like a nightmare.
Old 13th October 2013
  #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jdsowa View Post
on his first solo album, there isn't much that has drums. With "momma miss america", it sounds like he laid the drum track down first since he does some lead-in fills. It's just a standard 12-bar blues thing, so wouldn't be hard to remember where you were. On all the other songs he probably does acoustic guitar first.
I think there's quite a few. Every Night, Maybe I'm Amazed, Oo You. Most of them I think.

On That Would Be Something, at one point he's doing the drum lick with his mouth (the original beatboxer?). My guess is he was telling himself what to play on the drums.

I suppose trying to do an acoustic track or piano track first, and then putting the drums on may be the way to go. Will just have to practice. I'm really sick of click tracks!
Old 14th October 2013
  #12
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TheBrightSide's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by macle View Post
Hey there Mr. Brightside.

Like that, except where it follows me live while I'm playing the drums. I think that can only track it after it's already been recorded.

I'd like to be able to start with the drums and I sort of want to get away from click tracks. But playing the drums along with nothing is sort of weird and like I said, I get lost!

So I was thinking maybe I could record a midi version of an outline of a song, and listen to that while playing the drums, but have it follow me instead of the other way around.

Of course, I could try and get actual people to play with, but I don't know, that sounds like a nightmare.
Hey Macle,
Yes I see what you mean now, but not sure if Daws can do that yet. Give it time though!
I think it's good to free yourself from the dreaded click track if you feel it's not for you. Probably will take some practice though.
Yes working with other musicians can be a nightmare, especially if you are used to doing it all yourself. You can get lucky and find people on the same wavelength, but that can be hard. I'm not sure you need others, when you can manage it all yourself so well though.
By the way, I've been listening to Jellyfish a lot the past few weeks, which I love. It really reminds me of your stuff, both songwriting and production. Great stuff!
Old 14th October 2013
  #13
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nomoneymoproblem's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by macle View Post
Hey there Mr. Brightside.

Like that, except where it follows me live while I'm playing the drums. I think that can only track it after it's already been recorded.

I'd like to be able to start with the drums and I sort of want to get away from click tracks. But playing the drums along with nothing is sort of weird and like I said, I get lost!

So I was thinking maybe I could record a midi version of an outline of a song, and listen to that while playing the drums, but have it follow me instead of the other way around.

Of course, I could try and get actual people to play with, but I don't know, that sounds like a nightmare.
It's not gonna follow you live,nor would I expect it to. You can easily get DAWs to follow you after you record, but... Not live.
Old 14th October 2013
  #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by macle View Post
I think there's quite a few. Every Night, Maybe I'm Amazed, Oo You. Most of them I think.

On That Would Be Something, at one point he's doing the drum lick with his mouth (the original beatboxer?). My guess is he was telling himself what to play on the drums.

I suppose trying to do an acoustic track or piano track first, and then putting the drums on may be the way to go. Will just have to practice. I'm really sick of click tracks!
In all those other songs, it sounds like he added drums near the end. They just come in occasionally and play along. They're not the foundation of the arrangement, as they are in "momma miss america". The time seems pretty solid on some of them at least. It's entirely possible that he could've recorded a metronome to use as a click and erased the track later once he laid down the basic tracks.
Old 14th October 2013
  #15
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Virgil's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by macle View Post
I think there's quite a few. Every Night, Maybe I'm Amazed, Oo You. Most of them I think.

On That Would Be Something, at one point he's doing the drum lick with his mouth (the original beatboxer?). My guess is he was telling himself what to play on the drums.

I suppose trying to do an acoustic track or piano track first, and then putting the drums on may be the way to go. Will just have to practice. I'm really sick of click tracks!
On Maybe I'm Amazed piano was recorded first. I don't know if he was playing to a metronome, probably not. Then he overdubbed drum track, which has perfect timing and groove. Plus he did it all in one go!

Maybe I'm Amazed - Drum Isolated - YouTube

Yesterday has him singing and playing acoustic guitar, no click track at all. Then on top George Martin could record four players of a string quartet.

Definitely a whole arrangement can be built on top of a guitar/piano, but it has to be rock solid. I suspect this was easier to pull of with a swiss made Studer than with a computer based system nowadays, even with low latency and plug in delay compensation. I myself have had a lot of troubles in the past with latency/plug in delays. I thought it was me who couldn´t play in time whereas in fact it had more to do with the few miliseconds delays/latency the system introduced.
Old 14th October 2013
  #16
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macle's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by TheBrightSide View Post
Hey Macle,
I'm not sure you need others, when you can manage it all yourself so well though.
By the way, I've been listening to Jellyfish a lot the past few weeks, which I love. It really reminds me of your stuff, both songwriting and production. Great stuff!
Thanks, I really appreciate that!
Old 14th October 2013
  #17
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macle's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by nomoneymoproblem View Post
It's not gonna follow you live,nor would I expect it to. You can easily get DAWs to follow you after you record, but... Not live.
I found some things that can supposedly do it.

There's something that works with Live called B-keeper, and another thing called InTime.

Circular Logic | InTime™ - Realtime synchronization, beat tracking and tempo mapping.

I may or may not try these things out.
Old 14th October 2013
  #18
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macle's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by jdsowa View Post
The time seems pretty solid on some of them at least. It's entirely possible that he could've recorded a metronome to use as a click and erased the track later once he laid down the basic tracks.
I've wondered about that.
Old 14th October 2013
  #19
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macle's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Virgil View Post

Definitely a whole arrangement can be built on top of a guitar/piano, but it has to be rock solid. I suspect this was easier to pull of with a swiss made Studer than with a computer based system nowadays, even with low latency and plug in delay compensation. I myself have had a lot of troubles in the past with latency/plug in delays. I thought it was me who couldn´t play in time whereas in fact it had more to do with the few miliseconds delays/latency the system introduced.
Oh man, I know what you mean. I really hate, and am really sick of, all that junk. As I said before, it has totally messed with my head.

How insane is it that on one hand, you've got this miserable rigid click, and then you are battling it with messed up latency and lousy midi sluggishness. It's no wonder most people just quantize everything.

I wants to get my groove back! If I've got one. I sort of feel like even if my timing is a sloppy mess, I'd probably like it better anyway. I wants to get out the box!
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