Monday, May 23, 2011
I was producing a session recently in which we were recording the rhythm section. We were cutting in pro tools and whenever I'm cutting live musicians I like to cut to a click track. Now this seemed to be an issue for the other musicians because they complained that it got in their way. For those that don't know, a click track is simply a metronome for keeping time while recording. Traditionally people would use a cowbell or something high pitch playing straight quarter notes as the click but that can be somewhat restrictive and hard to play with in a relaxed manner. A lot of guys would concentrate so hard on staying with the cowbell that it made the groove sound uptight and stuffy instead of loose and funky. What I suggest is programming a percussion rhythm in the feel of the song so that it just feels like you are playing along with another percussionist. This helps keep the time solid and you can play relaxed as well. Why do we need a click? These days using pro tools or any other computer based software allows you immense editing capability. It's easy to cut and paste any part of the song but if the time is not consistent, this makes editing very difficult. Cutting with a click insures that the time will be consistent throughout the song therefore making editing a breeze. Now the click is not just for drummers. It is important for the entire rhythm section to lay DEEP in the pocket so the click is every body's friend. Don't let it intimidate you. The best thing to do is to practice with a click to get comfortable with it. Remember the click track is your friend. Now go have a great session!
All Rights Reserved by Airtight Productions 2011
Thursday, May 12, 2011
I was in a session the other night and I had the most enlightening conversation with a fellow musician/producer. We were discussing work ethic and focus. He mentioned something I thought was very interesting called R. A. O. I. or Random Acts Of Improvement. As artists/musicians we are always working trying to get to a certain place but most of the time we are working in vain because we are all over the place. We will have what seems to be small instances of progress but find that this kind of progress is short lived and inconsistent because what we really lack is true focus and purpose. We are truly having Random Acts Of Improvement. This is similar to the saying "The Road To Hell Is Paved With Good Intentions". With these random acts, our intent is good but still a waste of time. We have to take time and asses what our main goals are, as a matter of fact just start with one goal and strictly focus on making it happen. This will take prioritizing, planning and consistent implementation. We have to be honest with ourselves as well. There may be a lot of things we LIKE to do but if we truly take stock, we will see that there are some things that are working for us and some that are not and we have to trim the fat. Success is not based on random acts but on concise planning and consistent effort focused in the right direction. Now go and make your plan. No more R. A. O. I.
All Right Reserved by Airtight Productions 2011
Wednesday, May 11, 2011
I get to play in a lot of situations from small venues to stadiums and one of the biggest issues is stage volume. Most people will always blame me because I'm the drummer and they will say the only reason the band is loud is because the drums are too loud. All drummers get blamed for this at one time or another. The truth is that we are not at all the culprits. Think about it, especially in an arena or large auditorium setting, we don' have amps. When the other musicians play loud we are sometimes forced to get more drums in the monitors or just hit harder to be able to control and drive the band. The remedy to this is everyone one on stage realizing what's most important. The most important thing is to sound like an ensemble in which the featured vocalist or instrumentalist is the focal point and everything else serves as support. Now most of us are mature enough to understand less is more in terms of notes but a lot of us still don't understand that it also applies to stage volume. I saw Rachelle Ferrell recently and of course the show was fabulous but what most impressed me was the fact that the band was so focused on keeping their stage volume beneath her vocal at ALL times. Notice I said the BAND. The fact that they were all tuned in to this concept as a unit made the whole presentation most enjoyable for the audience and I'm sure for them as well. Now here is the answer to the test. Stage volume usually gets out of whack starting with the bass player. The bass resides at a very dominate frequency and in a small situation if the bass is too loud then the entire band will try to compensate by playing louder. If the bass player keeps his/her volume at a low level then the drummer will also be able to play at a lower volume and can still drive the band. As for guitarist's, please be aware that your instrument resides in the same frequency range as the vocalist and you MUST always played beneath the vocalist and voice your chords and licks to not conflict with the vocalist. The same goes for the keyboardist. Be sure to keep the stage volume down. Bottom line, if you can't hear EVERYTHING going on, you are playing too loud. Keep in mind that the lower the stage volume the better the front of house engineer can make you sound out front. So on your next concert try to approach your stage volume in this manner and I guarantee that you will hear an immediate difference in you over all sound and you will also see a difference in the response of your audience. Have a great show!
All Rights Reserved by Airtight Productions 2011