Your approach to the metronome. - Gearspace.com
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Your approach to the metronome.
Old 11th February 2014
Gear Maniac
Richard Salino's Avatar
🎧 15 years
Your approach to the metronome.

Hi Sylvia, thank you so much for spending your time and sharing your knowledge with us.

I would like to know how you approach the metronome in your work. Do you require bands track to a click, or does it depend on the project?

Do you come across drummers who are incapable of playing to a click? What do you do in those instances?

Any tips on helping people nail tight performances? Psychology?

Thanks again!
Old 22nd February 2014
Radiant Being
SylviaMassy's Avatar
🎧 5 years
The use of a click can be challenge for both drummers and those who record them.

The Tool music is full of tempo changes and slight fluctuations, nearly impossible to program into a click without completely ironing out all the feel of a performance. My solution was to document the tempos in the entire song, then "play" a drum machine live during the recording. The drum machine, an Alesis SR-16, was programmed with a cowbell click that I would set with the first tempo of the song, and as a mapped tempo change was approaching I would turn off the machine, changing tempo quickly, then drop the machine back in on the downbeat of the next section with the new tempo. Some of the Tool songs had 5 or 6 changes, so I was kept real busy during tracking. If we missed a section we would play that section's tempo on the click, the band would track to it, and I would cut that section into the master (2" tape, baby!).

I still use the Alesis machine on occasion when there are multiple tempo changes in a song and I want to keep that live energy. I have yet to find a way that I can "play" the click out of ProTools so it hits on a downbeat. Sometimes on songs with multiple tempo changes and fluctuations, like on the aggressive Americana Patchy Sanders project, I'll have the band play an entire song "freewheeling" (without click), then record each section separately using the ProTools click. After getting the desired performances for each section, I'll string them together using the transitions edited in from the "freewheeling" performance. Big tedious project, but well worth it.

On the other hand, I've been surprised by some drummers who do not use a click at all. Steve Ferrone is one such drummer. During the recording of Johnny Cash "Unchained" no-one was playing to a click. In fact, it was just Johnny with Tom Petty, Mike Campbell, Benmont Tench and Howie Epstein sitting around in a circle, playing songs. The drums were put on later. Steve Ferrone listened back to the multitrack and played along to it. His performance tied it all together. Amazing. It sounds like everyone was playing to a click. That is why those cats are "professionals".

"We don't need no stinking click!"

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