You are here

recording Rubato or with metronome

All about the tools and techniques involved in capturing sound, in the studio or on location.

Moderator: Moderators

recording Rubato or with metronome

Postby csarami@ncsu.edu » Fri Dec 25, 2020 6:48 pm

Hi,

I have a love song that is in a moderate tempo of 6/8. I want to arrange it for solo violin/string section and piano ( play chord and melody sometimes) and a singer.

I am about to start recording the piano ( as the main accompanying instrument). Would like to know, if I should record it with or without a metronome. I know this is subjective, however, would like to know your opinions. I will be recording this in Cubase and don't need a score for it at the moment.

Any help would be apprecaited.

PS. The piano player will be me and I am not a concert pianist, however, I think I can do it pretty well.
csarami@ncsu.edu
Regular
Posts: 64
Joined: Thu May 25, 2017 1:44 pm

Re: recording Rubato or with metronome

Postby blinddrew » Fri Dec 25, 2020 7:03 pm

Personally I try to play to a click but not be a slave to it.
The only time i don't use a click is if i'm recording something that will only ever be a single-take recording.
Provide a solid base and it's easier for the singer to add the necessary flex.
Others may disagree... ;)
User avatar
blinddrew
Jedi Poster
Posts: 13650
Joined: Sun Jul 05, 2015 12:00 am
Location: York
Ignore the post count, I have no idea what I'm doing...

Re: recording Rubato or with metronome

Postby CS70 » Fri Dec 25, 2020 7:07 pm

Using a metronome is important if you have to overdub many things later, as it makes the job much easier. It also makes editing easier.

If don't (or you need just to record vocals over it) and you have a good timing sense, it's fine without. "good" means musical - you may vary the tempo as you like but you must do that in a predictable, repeatable way, so that you are not surprised when singing.

I once got a piano part recorded by a singer who hadn't used a metronome and the tempo was so all over the place the she just couldn't sing over it.

Imho using a metronome is always a good idea no matter what, but ymmv.
User avatar
CS70
Jedi Poster
Posts: 7404
Joined: Mon Nov 26, 2012 1:00 am
Location: Oslo, Norway
Silver Spoon - Check out our latest video and the FB page

Re: recording Rubato or with metronome

Postby blinddrew » Fri Dec 25, 2020 7:22 pm

Oh yes, one other thing, even if you decide to record without a click, always try and practice with one.
User avatar
blinddrew
Jedi Poster
Posts: 13650
Joined: Sun Jul 05, 2015 12:00 am
Location: York
Ignore the post count, I have no idea what I'm doing...

Re: recording Rubato or with metronome

Postby Fishnish » Fri Dec 25, 2020 7:41 pm

If you're using Cubase Pro you have a few options for tempo detection + mapping - I quite often play something "freehand" and then make a tempo track that follows the recording. That way when I want to add other parts I have a metronome/click track which goes along with any tempo changes, pauses, held notes etc. It can take a bit of faffing to get it just right but it can be worth it, especially if I want to add MIDI parts, guides for the strings for instance. Or if the vocalist needs a click to follow the rubato of the piano part.

The bad news is that if you're using Cubase Artist or Elements your options for working with tempo are more limited, I believe.
User avatar
Fishnish
Regular
Posts: 149
Joined: Fri Dec 24, 2010 1:00 am

Re: recording Rubato or with metronome

Postby csarami@ncsu.edu » Fri Dec 25, 2020 10:11 pm

Thank you all.

I see the benefits of using a metronome for recording. Thanks to your responses and your suggestions, I will do this:

1) I record the piano, string, and singer using a metronome at the tempo of 90 BMP. Do a premix of the song and save this as project1_metronome.cpr ( Cubase extension). Export it as an audio file.
2) Duplicate the project as save it as "project1_rubato.cpr"
2) I record the piano rubato and set all tracks to the musical mode in Cubase.
3) Align the tempo track as "Fishnish" mentioned in my Cubase 10.5 pro
4) export the project to another audio file.
5. Other musicians and I will Judge the to exported audio files without telling them about the tempo difference.

I just found this video interesting how many ways a ballad or waltz can be interpreted in terms of timing.
csarami@ncsu.edu
Regular
Posts: 64
Joined: Thu May 25, 2017 1:44 pm

Re: recording Rubato or with metronome

Postby Sam Spoons » Fri Dec 25, 2020 11:01 pm

I'm a competent guitarist (but definitely not an expert on the recording side*) and I dislike working to a click, I find most tunes have a natural tempo and natural variations which playing with a click may stifle. Assuming you are recording the piano part first and there is no opportunity to record all parts together 'live' I'd go for it without a click and, while concentrating on keeping the tempo in check, allow the song to breathe. Playing with a click is a skill, even if you want to use the metronomic thing as a feature, and takes time to learn (and I'm not good at it) so if you do decide to go with it give it time to come together (and as fishnish suggests use the tempo mapping feature in Cubase).

* I refer you to Drew's sig, where recording is concerned it applies to me x10...
User avatar
Sam Spoons
Jedi Poster
Posts: 15235
Joined: Thu Jan 23, 2003 1:00 am
Location: Manchester UK
Still taking this recording lark seriously (and trying to record my Gypsy Jazz CD)........

Re: recording Rubato or with metronome

Postby csarami@ncsu.edu » Fri Dec 25, 2020 11:46 pm

Thank you, since there is no drum/percussion part. I suppose I will like more the rubato! We'll see.

Thanks to Cubase, I can punch in/out, if I am out of tempo!
csarami@ncsu.edu
Regular
Posts: 64
Joined: Thu May 25, 2017 1:44 pm

Re: recording Rubato or with metronome

Postby RichardT » Sat Dec 26, 2020 10:34 am

Hi Csarami,

This is a difficult one. If you adjust your vocal and string parts to match the rubato of your piano performance, the results could be quite unnatural. Partly because you’re adjusting the audio, so things like vibrato speed will be changed too, and you may lose some audio quality, and partly because musicians will play differently during rubato, eg changing Phrasing and dynamics. If your rubato is slight I suspect you will be OK, but if it’s big, you may have problems.

Is there any way you can record everyone together?
RichardT
Frequent Poster
Posts: 672
Joined: Fri Aug 13, 2004 12:00 am
Location: London UK

Re: recording Rubato or with metronome

Postby csarami@ncsu.edu » Sat Dec 26, 2020 4:53 pm

RichardT wrote:Hi Csarami,


Is there any way you can record everyone together?

Not really due to pendemic, but I can sing it myself and record string with VST's, before recording it with a real musician.

Thanks for the commnet!
csarami@ncsu.edu
Regular
Posts: 64
Joined: Thu May 25, 2017 1:44 pm

Re: recording Rubato or with metronome

Postby paul tha other » Wed Dec 30, 2020 1:19 pm

both options are good...i was against click tracks..hated recording with them..i would avoid the studios that forced my band to use them..then i was in a indie rock band so i was of the opinion that click tracks didnt make your song better and actually made the songs sound sterille...

10/15 years ago i re-recorded an album i was involved with back in the 90's..there was only 2 of us left to record the album(the singer and myself,the drummer) ..we wanted to record it all at home just for fun...we started recording all the guide guitars using click tracks ...once got the drums down and we started doing the guitars,it became clear that the click was bringing something new to the tracks..after listening to both versions i was surprised to find out the click track versions were far better untill we came to the last song to record..we tried about 5-6 times to record this track to a click always ending up frustrated because it always sounded horrid..we had to actually go into a studio and record it live with me and the singer in one room without the click, then the song worked

my point is ,both aproaches are valid only you can decide if the click is making it better.as others have said it might make the recording process for the tune easier if you need to edit a lot..

another way of looking at it... a raise in tempo can add a bit of tension..slowing down can feel like a release..
paul tha other
Frequent Poster
Posts: 665
Joined: Mon Sep 06, 2004 12:00 am
Location: scotland
http://www.myspace.com/onemanandalaptop

Re: recording Rubato or with metronome

Postby adrian_k » Wed Dec 30, 2020 2:11 pm

This is a loop I’ve been round many times and as others have said there is no one right answer.

What I tend to do these days is to record a simple rhythm track using a click. This could be a simple percussion track or even a bass line. The important thing is that it contains the feel of the song. I then dispense with the click and practice along with the rhythm track, making any timing edits I feel are needed. I then record all other tracks over my rhythm track. Once I’ve got everything down I can ditch the rhythm track and replace with something more complex if needed.
User avatar
adrian_k
Frequent Poster
Posts: 1172
Joined: Thu Jan 30, 2003 1:00 am
Location: Gloucestershire
getting better all the time..

Re: recording Rubato or with metronome

Postby DC-Choppah » Fri Jan 01, 2021 2:58 am

Here is how I would do it:

Record the piano freely.

Perform and record a quarter note click track using a MIDI percussion piece.

Derive the tempo track from the percussion track. Beat Markers.

Add a MIDI rythm track (shaker, etc.) with an interesting groove that can be heard and felt. align it to your tempo grid. It should have layers, 1/6 th notes, 8the note, triplets if it is swung. Make sure it does not just land on downbeats.

This is now your cue track for others to add to. Not a 'click track' but a piano and percussion track with a tempo that breathes and swings.

Ask people to practice playing along with it for a while so they get used to the groove.
User avatar
DC-Choppah
Frequent Poster
Posts: 1701
Joined: Fri Jul 20, 2012 12:00 am
Location: MD, USA

Re: recording Rubato or with metronome

Postby csarami@ncsu.edu » Mon Jan 18, 2021 1:01 am

DC-Choppah wrote:Here is how I would do it:

Record the piano freely.

Perform and record a quarter note click track using a MIDI percussion piece.

Derive the tempo track from the percussion track. Beat Markers.

Add a MIDI rhythm track (shaker, etc.) with an interesting groove that can be heard and felt. align it to your tempo grid. It should have layers, 1/6 th notes, 8the note, triplets if it is swung. Make sure it does not just land on downbeats.

That is very practical as IMO the best way! Thank you. I will keep that in mind!
csarami@ncsu.edu
Regular
Posts: 64
Joined: Thu May 25, 2017 1:44 pm