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recording drums with a whole band

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recording drums with a whole band

Postby darrylportelli » Mon Jun 16, 2014 9:17 pm

Hi ..

currently we're recording drums by feeding the drummer a recorded track of the guitar + metronome in his cans and recording along with that. I would like to try recording drums with a whole live band since a drummer's performance seems to be a bit different in a whole band context ... my question is if the drummer makes a mistake somewhere in the song and you want to record over it (to comp later) how would you punch the drummer in since in a whole band situation, you won't have the metronome keeping perfect timing and a band tends to shift timing slightly to make things more musical. with the method I'm currently using its no problem, I just punch the drummer in and when he records over the mistake, I comp the takes together into a final take but how would you go about it in a whole band context??

Hope I didn't confuse any one

cheers
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Re: recording drums with a whole band

Postby Richard Graham » Tue Jun 17, 2014 6:57 am

darrylportelli wrote:Hi ..

currently we're recording drums by feeding the drummer a recorded track of the guitar + metronome in his cans and recording along with that. I would like to try recording drums with a whole live band since a drummer's performance seems to be a bit different in a whole band context ... my question is if the drummer makes a mistake somewhere in the song and you want to record over it (to comp later) how would you punch the drummer in since in a whole band situation, you won't have the metronome keeping perfect timing and a band tends to shift timing slightly to make things more musical. with the method I'm currently using its no problem, I just punch the drummer in and when he records over the mistake, I comp the takes together into a final take but how would you go about it in a whole band context??

Hope I didn't confuse any one

cheers

You would just punch the drummer in, with the tracks recorded by the other musicians playing in his monitors. You will be recording the other musicians at the same time as the drummer, right? Because if not, the recording will lose a lot of the naturalness and groove you are trying to create, in any case.
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Re: recording drums with a whole band

Postby darrylportelli » Tue Jun 17, 2014 7:13 am

HAHAHA thanks, that solution is so simple that I'm embarrassed not having thought about it !!!!!!

regarding the other instruments I plan on splitting the signal of both guitars and bass, and recording both the miced amp and a DI track that way if I don't like the tone of the finished track, I can reamp later (sort of a safety net) ...

CHEERS !!!!!
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Re: recording drums with a whole band

Postby Richard Graham » Tue Jun 17, 2014 7:19 am

Nee botha!
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Re: recording drums with a whole band

Postby tonemangler » Tue Jun 17, 2014 9:16 pm

Richard Graham wrote:

You would just punch the drummer in, with the tracks recorded by the other musicians playing in his monitors. You will be recording the other musicians at the same time as the drummer, right? Because if not, the recording will lose a lot of the naturalness and groove you are trying to create, in any case.

Wouldn't the bleed from other instruments make this tricky? I thought that unless the drums and cabs are completely isolated there is some bleed in the tracks. I'm a hobbyist so I'm just wondering here.
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Re: recording drums with a whole band

Postby darrylportelli » Tue Jun 17, 2014 10:26 pm

I've tried this already, the close mics on the drums pick up nothing from the cabs (we're using 2 guitar half stacks and a big bass rig at quite high voulmes) which shows how directional mics can be ... the overheads are where you have to be a bit careful,,, but if you angle the amps away from the drum kit and maybe put a big piece of cardboard lined with foam in front of the amps to diffuse the signal a bit you wont have too much bleed ,,, as long as the overheads pick up the kit well (that's their job) the few guitar bleed isn't going to hurt because you'll still put the recorded guitar tracks on top of it... mind you we're doing this in a small garage, a larger garage would help, however our garage is fairly sound-deadened with styrofoam blocks and acoustic foam on top of that, which prevents reflection of sound all over the room thus also helping reduce bleed to the overheads .... obviously adding a shied in front of the drummer would help even more if you have the space to rig up a shield
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Re: recording drums with a whole band

Postby Exalted Wombat » Tue Jun 17, 2014 11:13 pm

1. Rehearse band until they can perform the song without mistakes.
2. Put some microphones in front of them and press Record.
3. If someone goofs, do another take.
4. That's it.

OK, you can bend this a bit! But do get this silly idea that everything must be perfectly isolated and tracked seperately out of your head.
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Re: recording drums with a whole band

Postby tonemangler » Wed Jun 18, 2014 12:45 am

If you've tried this than you probably know better but I would think that the overheads would pick up a healthy amount of bleed in a garage.

Lets say your band does a great take. When you solo the drum track it has bleed in the overheads. It's decided that a couple of drum fills in 2 bars need to be rerecorded. Now the drummer will be recording to the guitar take in his headphones. After the overdub you have a drum track that has guitar bleed in the overheads except in the punch-in part. When you add in the guitar tracks they may sound different on the overdubbed part because there is no bleed in the overheads.

I would think a better way would be to overdub the whole band. That is have the band play to themselves leading up to the punch in. In this scenario the overheads would have bleed throughout the song.

Another idea is not to use amps and have the guitarists use direct boxes like POD or Boss just as a guide for the drummer. They would still be playing together but monitoring each other on headphones.

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Re: recording drums with a whole band

Postby darrylportelli » Wed Jun 18, 2014 6:02 am

Yes, I didn't think about that !!! the problem with punching in a whole band would be as I mentioned in the first place, the band would not be playing to a metronome so how would I punch them in ?? and to use something like a pod or modeling software in the headphones, I'd like to avoid that - the reason is that I want to be as close to rehearsal specs as possible, our drummer sort of changes his style when he has headphones .. I would like to record the band as if we were doing a rehearsal so that we get his 'natural' feel if you get what I mean ... how do professional studios record a whole band?? do they try to isolate the drummer completely ??

thanks !!
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Re: recording drums with a whole band

Postby James Perrett » Wed Jun 18, 2014 9:06 am

The way most people do it is to re-do the track until the drums are good enough all the way through. You can then punch in on any bass or guitar parts that need replacing. Some people just treat the bass and guitar as a guide and replace the whole lot but often I find it best to assume that the bass and guitar will end up on the final mix.

As a drummer, I'm not keen on being isolated from everyone else but I know other drummers that prefer to work with headphones so it totally depends on who you are recording.
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Re: recording drums with a whole band

Postby Exalted Wombat » Wed Jun 18, 2014 10:50 am

It can be amazing how consistently musicians do perform a well-rehearsed piece from take to take. It's common practice in the classical world to paste up a recording using sections from many takes. Sometimes you can hear the join. But generally only with very careful listening, after you've been told where it is. Did any of us really notice the glaringly obvious edit a minute into "Strawberry Fields" until we were told about it?

Ever asked a vocalist to double-track? Even quite unprofessional singers manage it surprisingly accurately, all you're likely to need to do afterwards is tidy up some misplaced final consonants - that's assuming you've got a vocalist who DOES diction :-)

When you get an out-of-tune singer, do try triple-tracking - that's real triple-pass recording, not cheating it with a plugin. Like violins, one sounds bad, two sound worse, three meld into an entity where bad tuning cancels out. Can sound much better than messing around with Autotune.
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Re: recording drums with a whole band

Postby tonemangler » Wed Jun 18, 2014 6:39 pm

Obviously the drummer practicing until he can play the whole song through is the best, but I thought of something you might try just in case. When recording the guitars split the signal and record a dry clean signal along with the mic'd amp. Now if you need to overdub the drums try reamping the dry signals and have the drummer play to guitars coming out of the amps the same as if the guitarists were playing live. This would solve the bleed issue. I'm not sure if this would work but I can't see why not.

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Re: recording drums with a whole band

Postby DC-Choppah » Thu Jun 19, 2014 12:34 am

You might need to learn about tempo maps, or grooves. I guess that different DAWs call it different things. That lets the tempo fluctuate organically as you process the music in a regular grid. It is much easier to punch in if your tempo is fluid like it is when using tempo maps or grooves.
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Re: recording drums with a whole band

Postby James Perrett » Thu Jun 19, 2014 8:57 am

tonemangler wrote:I'm not sure if this would work but I can't see why not.

When the drummer messes up, he often drags the whole band with him so I'm not sure that this would be particularly successful.

Remember that, in the old days, 20 or more takes for a basic track wasn't uncommon.
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Re: recording drums with a whole band

Postby darrylportelli » Thu Jun 19, 2014 2:27 pm

hey, what I was thinking was, start doing some takes with the whole band and for example if we have a good take of a 4 min song where the drummer messes a fill at the 3 min mark, I punch the whole band in (by playing the recorded bit on the PA and then I use the ''record auto punch function on the DAW'' which stops the playback once it starts recording) till the end of the song ... I don't think there's an easy way of redoing just that fill, I need to punch in and then continue till the end of the song
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Re: recording drums with a whole band

Postby Music Wolf » Thu Jun 19, 2014 3:27 pm

James Perrett wrote:Remember that, in the old days, 20 or more takes for a basic track wasn't uncommon.

I can't remember if we ever got as far as 20. Studio time was expensive, but then so was tape (for the benefit of the under 30's that's plastic tape coated with ferro magnetic particles for the purpose of analogue recording) which meant that you had to wipe over previous versions in the hope that the next one would be better. And when it came to punch-ins - no undo facility.

If it was me, unless there is one particular bit that you just can't get, I'd keep going until the drums were right. If the bass or guitar makes a mistake you can re-do them but listen very carefully to the drums to make sure that they haven't been 'lead astray' by the mistake.

If there is any doubt whatsoever - go for another take.
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Re: recording drums with a whole band

Postby CS70 » Thu Jun 19, 2014 3:50 pm

As others said, the drummer shouldn't be making mistakes You record stuff that you can play, and that means that the band rehearses until they can play the song.

Of course there's the very occasional mess up, but since it should happen very seldom, the best thing is just to re-track the entire band.
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Re: recording drums with a whole band

Postby Richard Graham » Thu Jun 19, 2014 7:29 pm

There's a problem for me with this "the drummer needs to get it right and then everyone else can take their time" thing. As a drummer I've often felt rushed to get the rhythm down, and then everyone else gets as long as they want. It isn't the way to do it, for me, because it kills the groove and feel when people start overdubbing their parts, doing everything separately. Also, nobody else is really putting in 100% when doing the original tracking, so again it kills the vibe.
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Re: recording drums with a whole band

Postby tonemangler » Fri Jun 20, 2014 2:47 am

Unfortunately for us drummers we are the "metronome" of the band. Unless we are almost spot on it will sound bad. The rhythm section needs to be tight and then guitar solos, synths, etc can be overdubbed. Depending on the song you can have a loose feel, but go too far and it sounds sloppy. I remember a quote from a book about the band Genesis, it was from a record executive after seeing the band play for the first time. He said something like this; "The first thing I noticed was how good the drummer (Phil Collins) was. You can have a great band with an average drummer and they sound average, but a great drummer will make an average band sound great."

I agree with you though, when tracking a band everyone should give 100% because musicians feed off each other, that's how the magic happens.

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Re: recording drums with a whole band

Postby CS70 » Fri Jun 20, 2014 7:32 pm

Richard Graham wrote:There's a problem for me with this "the drummer needs to get it right and then everyone else can take their time" thing. As a drummer I've often felt rushed to get the rhythm down, and then everyone else gets as long as they want. It isn't the way to do it, for me, because it kills the groove and feel when people start overdubbing their parts, doing everything separately. Also, nobody else is really putting in 100% when doing the original tracking, so again it kills the vibe.

Obviously I can't speak about you, but you definitely are right that it's not the way to do it. The best drummers I've worked with spend time (meaning personal rehearsal time) to "learn" the song. They know when it's gonna be louder, when it's gonna be quieter, which kind of emotion is attached to each part of the arrangement, when to speed up a little and then fall back (which often works wonders on a chorus). They find the rhythm pattern that suits each bit - in other words, they really take the time to get into the song. The joke goes that a good drummer knows the titles of the songs, but you know you have a great one when he knows the lyrics.

It's obvious that the same level of commitment should be expected by any band member.. but yeah, of course it's easier to do overdubs on a good rhythm base, so drummer and bass players are the ones which usually track first
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Re: recording drums with a whole band

Postby Beat Poet » Tue Jun 24, 2014 1:39 pm

Richard Graham wrote:There's a problem for me with this "the drummer needs to get it right and then everyone else can take their time" thing. As a drummer I've often felt rushed to get the rhythm down, and then everyone else gets as long as they want. It isn't the way to do it, for me, because it kills the groove and feel when people start overdubbing their parts, doing everything separately. Also, nobody else is really putting in 100% when doing the original tracking, so again it kills the vibe.


That's the same as my experiences back when I was doing originals. I accept it, though it's difficult to the next day when the guitarist is using up interminable hours figuring out his solo!
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Re: recording drums with a whole band

Postby Richard Graham » Tue Jun 24, 2014 1:46 pm

Beat Poet wrote:
Richard Graham wrote:There's a problem for me with this "the drummer needs to get it right and then everyone else can take their time" thing. As a drummer I've often felt rushed to get the rhythm down, and then everyone else gets as long as they want. It isn't the way to do it, for me, because it kills the groove and feel when people start overdubbing their parts, doing everything separately. Also, nobody else is really putting in 100% when doing the original tracking, so again it kills the vibe.


That's the same as my experiences back when I was doing originals. I accept it, though it's difficult to the next day when the guitarist is using up interminable hours figuring out his solo!


Ha ha, exactly! And guess what? I've had enough of it!

Next time I do any recording with my band, I'm going to insist that everyone plays live. If that means the guitarist actually has to work out and practice his solo ahead of time, GOOD!

Alternatively, I could just mess about experimenting with different tempos, beats and fills for days on end at the start of the recording sessions, while everyone else sits there twiddling their thumbs. See how they like it!
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