Time for some reality and drums.

Discussion in 'Recording/Live Sound' started by Scott Peterson, Jul 11, 2004.

  1. Scott Peterson

    Scott Peterson Staff Member

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    If you know me or have known me online at least, you know I was a pretty deep convert to loops. Not so much for electronica, but for "real" sounding and feeling grooves and such. I built a solo album around such tools that I put out in 2001.

    For the last year I have been working in collaberation with Marilyn Mack again, her and I were members of the Marilyn Mack Group from 1995-2000 and we parted ways till this past year.

    We are working together on a new recording project and at first I went to the loops and did some really good stuff.

    Then I ran across Brian McRae at www.drumoverdubs.com and decided to give him a go at a few songs. His price was incredible for what he was offering me - up to 12 tracks (or more if needed) of top notch drums played by him to my demo. He works with you once he gets your track and you give him direction. He then does some takes and mp3's you the results. The guy has chops, taste, ears, feel, groove, and he offers ideas and his kits and rooms *REAL!* are killer sounding. His finished tracks are outstanding on a engineering level to boot.

    He turns things around very fast (when he isn't out touring, and he is very upfront and honest about when he can turn things around) and I have to say this - loops are for kids.

    Nothing touches what a real top notch totally pro player brings to the table.

    The results on my demos thus far (Marilyn and I have been on hiatus for a few months due to work situations and scheduling difficulties) is nothing short of inspiring and - honestly - just takes things to a different level.

    I have read a lot of "how do I get good drums...." threads lately and have bit my tongue, but I have to come clean. Loops and midi just don't cut it in real life. Use them to work your arrangement out; cut the thing with a real drummer once you get there. Trust me on this.

    And to boot, Brian is a really cool guy. If you check him out, tell him I sent ya. :D
     
  2. GaryNattrass

    GaryNattrass Member

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    Praise be to real drummers!

    I feel the same about Midi I think it sucks the life out of creativity and makes everything sound to accurate.

    I play all my keyboard parts and indeed all my drum parts too, they may not be the most technically brilliant but they are at least what i have in my mind about the feel of a song.
     
  3. LSchefman

    LSchefman Member

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    >> Loops and midi just don't cut it in real life. Use them to work your arrangement out; cut the thing with a real drummer once you get there. Trust me on this.<<

    Unless you're doing a style of music where loops and MIDI are part of the vibe, this is very good advice.

    Now I'm going to go one step further:

    Drums by long distance are a lot better than loops and MIDI, but it's not all that hard to cut drums in your own home studio, and there's nothing like face-to-face communication. There's nothing like having the artist, the producer, the engineer, and the drummer sit together and talk about what's needed. There's nothing like a great drummer doing a few takes while you listen, so you can talk about what's going on measure by measure.

    In fact, if the bass player and the drummer can be together at the session, so much the better, especially if they are used to working together.

    As for drum mics, all you really need is one mic if you're as brave as Basso, but for the rest of us, kick, snare, and overheads do nicely.

    The cost? You can get a good set of drum mics, kick, snare, overheads, for around $500. I generally do not compress drums while tracking, it makes them sound plunky. Sometimes a limiter is a good idea, but I haven't found it necessary. Mic preamps can be what you have on hand - hey, these are drums, not vocals.

    Just a suggestion.

    Bottom line: it's more about the performance than the engineering chops or gear. You can do it!
     
  4. Bassomatic

    Bassomatic Silver Supporting Member

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    Hey, it was just a coupla tracks for a certain vibe, hardly my usual MO (usually a 5 mic guy).;)

    As for the rest of it, i agree with you, although i appreciate that Scott wants to get this particular project sounding great now. There's also some real wisdom in learning to do it yourself, or finding a local room/player where you can do it for reasonable loot and learn as you go with a good drum engineer by your side.

    As far as dismissing the whole notion of loops and MIDI wholesale, there are entire genres that beg to differ. There's room for lots of approaches at this huge buffet we call modern music.
     
  5. Scott Peterson

    Scott Peterson Staff Member

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    One thing I'd like to clear up is that I was NOT and am NOT dismissing midi or loops at all; just pointing out that for real drums against music like *I* do, you cannot dismiss what a real artist brings to the table.

    So don't read me wrong, that was not my intent.

    Brian charges *extremely* reasonable rates that make Les's recent mic purchase look expensive in comparison. The costs are similar.

    Check Brian out, that is my intent here. Nothing more or less. Much like Les does when he finds something cheap and cool, he shares it. That is where I am coming from.

    And Les, it is also sort of silly to assume others have access to a) a killer room, or even a half decent one; b) a killer drummer, producer or engineer, well, even a half decent drummer that'll track for free; c) enough mics or preamps to record drums properaly, or even improperly, at all.

    The reason loops and midi are used as much as they are in home recording is simply because 99.99% of musicians lack one or all of the critera you accept as the norm. :D
     
  6. matte

    matte Senior Member

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    Define real. Squarepusher, Mark Bell, Splatt and myself might have a very different definition.



    Why do you believe this?




    I'm from the both/and school. Whatevers clever.



    Peter Gabriel, Massive Attack, Aphex Twin, Splattercell, Amon Tobin, Squarepusher, Nelee Hooper, Timbaland, The Neptunes, Trevor Horn, etc. seem to get by with MIDI and loops.
     
  7. Scott Peterson

    Scott Peterson Staff Member

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    Matte,

    All true, but you are all on a tangent that circumvents my actual point. I was talking about real drums for music like *I* do; note my followup post above yours.

    Don't misunderstand me - I am not prone to generalizing nor to dismissing anything out of hand; I am pointing out that you can now track with a killer drummer - **If that is your desire** - for a real affordable price. That was never the case in the past.

    I had Ariel cutting solos on my stuff in 2001 from Argentina; long distance collaberations are possible and real. And for those of us without producers or killer rooms and enough even decent equipment to track drums at all, this is an extremely attractive alternative.

    I have no problem with folks using midi or loops; it is a great learning experience and if you are good and they fit your gig, all the more power to you.

    But many many many folks using this stuff at home are trapped by them or cheesy drum machines and desire real drums, but cannot pay session fees or rent a studio to do them.

    This is an alternative.
     
  8. Bassomatic

    Bassomatic Silver Supporting Member

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    Scott-

    Points well taken.

    Please understand that folks can get heated pretty quickly when terms like "mickey mouse" are applied to their fully pro methods of working.
     
  9. matte

    matte Senior Member

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    In my world, the responsibilty for making music always falls on the musician and not the gear. Messiaen's first performance of Quartet For The End Of Time was performed in a concentration camp. The Cellist only had three strings. Somehow the point was still made.

    Years ago, Jerry Marotta played me an Indigo Grils track. It was recorded in a dressing room in the midst of a tour, by Tchad Blake. He had a Mackie 16 channel mixer and an Adat. You know what? It sounded incredible.
     
  10. Scott Peterson

    Scott Peterson Staff Member

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    Splatt - exactly so and well said.

    My choice of words look bad out of context and obviously from everyone's reaction they were taken in a different spirit than I meant, implied or was trying to convey.

    I was talking about *MY* music. Or music in the same spirit, genre, catagory.

    Not the stuff that demands programming and loops. Not at all.

    Just as some things cry out for loops or samples, other stuff cries out for real human drumming. Like my "Rainshine" CD did. I was basically trying to emulate a real drummer on most of it; and was caught many times compromising the material because I didn't have the proper fill or mood on hand though I had over $3000 worth of source material on hand. Not good..

    And in the rock stuff I do, working with a real drummer means everything to the life in the music.

    On this current project, I recut all my scratch tracks from demos back over the drummer's grooves to create that human tension that in my view creates the feel.

    For trippier stuff or loop based stuff it is a different approach. And I honor that.

    I wasn't trying to dismiss anyone's tools, just pointing out that for stuff *like* mine, there is an alternative.

    Dat's all.

    :D
     
  11. GaryNattrass

    GaryNattrass Member

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    Is it me or did Scott have to defend his own choice here? He was expressing a new way of bringing life to his art and I felt he was flamed for now reason.

    It is up to anyone to choose if they want to use MIDI Drum loops or whatever to create whatever music they want.

    In my opinion though if you choose to only loop and sample via MIDI (Musical Interface Destructive Isn't it?) you are missing a whole creative structure that has been marketed out of music purely because of the quest for perfection and the way the record companies demand the same old drivell that the charts are full of!

    It is not the way to be creative to sit in from of a computer and quantise old loops and pitch change to make things as perfect as possible.

    Some may call it creative and art but it is just laziness to earn anther buck for the record companies.
     
  12. matte

    matte Senior Member

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    It's you. Your extrapolation bears absolutely no resemblance to my musical reality(or that of any of the people I know and or work with).

    Perhaps instead of projecting your view of what others might do, you might/could examine your own particular issues with MIDI, which seem to me to be quite reductionist and ultimately self limiting. My relationship with MIDI is quite inner directed(concerned with what I'm seeing)and not outer directed(concerned with how I'm being seen). It's just a language.:)
     
  13. GaryNattrass

    GaryNattrass Member

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    I think you are probably right there Matte I've spent too long being frustrated by MIDI to be subjective about it. It just doesnt do it for me.

    I still don't think that most people use it creatively though and the temptation to quantise everything into perfect time and pitch is just too easy.

    Here in the UK a lot of music is so quantised and polished that it sounds manufactured and artificial.

    I have a good friend Steve Barney Chase who has worked in the music industry for a lond time and now hates it and has passsed over to the TV post side. He did Claptons Journeyman and has worked on lots of things including most of Tina Turners stuff.

    He told me a story about Hearsay the first pop idol type winners here. He spend over six hours pitch correcting their vocals on pro tools. Whats the point in that and does it make the resulting music any better?

    I'm sure there are a lot of great MIDI programmers out there but how may of them have actually worked with a real drummer and bassist?

    I'm probably getting too old and bitter and twisted! Pass me my hearing aid!

    :D
     
  14. matte

    matte Senior Member

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    THE guy who comes to mind immediately is Squarepusher, who is a baddass bass player and drummer. He manipulates samples which he plays. Splatt is another example. Terry Bozzio, Matt Chamberlain, Zack Alford, Ben Perowsky, Abe Laboriel Jr, are on the short list of drummers with whom who DT has played. Jack Bruce, Tony Levin, Mick Karn, Percy Jones are just a few of the bassists with whom DT has recorded and performed.
     
  15. LSchefman

    LSchefman Member

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    >>And Les, it is also sort of silly to assume others have access to a) a killer room, or even a half decent one; b) a killer drummer, producer or engineer, well, even a half decent drummer that'll track for free; c) enough mics or preamps to record drums properaly, or even improperly, at all. <<

    Scott: 1. You don't need a killer room. I don't have one, and I cut real drums a lot. 2. Killer drummers are not hard to find. I can recommend several to you. 3. For chump change you can get a Mackie that has 4 mic preamps. None of the mics I have been cutting drums with lately cost more than $125. 4. It doesn't take much experience to cut drum tracks.

    So it's not silly. It makes as much sense as anything else.

    Besides, you have the stuff it takes, in terms of both gear and engineering skills, and I was responding to your post, not to anyone else's.

    >>i certainly feel that there are some pieces of music/approaches/arrangements that truly require real drums; to qualify that even further, of those pieces, the vast bulk of them (for me, of course) also seem to want for actual real-time interaction with said drummer, not just the drummer's (isolated over-/under-dubbed) playing and the magic of the 'air in the room'.<<

    This is the point I was trying to make, said far more eloquently.

    >>I'm sure there are a lot of great MIDI programmers out there but how may of them have actually worked with a real drummer and bassist? <<

    I program drums with MIDI a lot, I use cheezy drum machines, and I often work with real drummers and bassists. Triple threat, I guess. ;) For me, it depends on the vibe I want. I often use midi or loops PLUS a real drummer.
     
  16. Unburst

    Unburst Member

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    Well, Hearsay are more toward the "industry" side of the "music industry" so making their music "better" probably wasn't the objective, making it more palattable to a mass market was.

    Midi, loops, digital editing etc. are tools, nothing more.
    You can use it to make great art or you can churn out lifeless, soul destroying pap.
    As a musician that choice is entirely in your hands.
     
  17. Scott Peterson

    Scott Peterson Staff Member

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    Ahhhh, poop guys.

    This wasn't supposed to be a pissing contest. I was trying to hip you all to a wicked good drummer doing killer stuff for cheap.

    Nothing more.

    And Les, I will put up Brian's tracks for you against any I have ever done and trust me, it is night and day.

    I am a loop junkie, though never much for midi. I love the stuff and use it all the time, you have not heard the stuff I am doing lately. It is leaps and bounds away from the stuff I was doing before.

    Brian's stuff is so damn killer... that was my point.

    Not to argue about Mackie preamps or comment on whether midi sucks or not.

    Ahhhhgggggg!

    :eek:
     
  18. LSchefman

    LSchefman Member

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    No problem, Scott, it's all good.

    Just wanted to point out that I wasn't being silly is all.

    Glad the guy is good.
     
  19. Scott Peterson

    Scott Peterson Staff Member

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    I was just goofin on ya Les, it wasn't serious. You are in fact silly though, don't deny it. Don't forget, I have read your poetry. :D:eek:
     
  20. LSchefman

    LSchefman Member

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    I love being silly. But I wasn't being silly that one time.
     

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