Audio Engineering

Here’s why music doesn’t have to be gridded

Comments (8)
  1. Jack says:

    Wonderful song and ideas. I totally agree with the loose feel. Some songs demand it. Reminds me of Paul simon’s earlier stuff. It wasn’t perfectly in time but it didn’t have to be and if it were, then the feel would have been less. Great video.

  2. Jack says:

    The acoustic had a great tone to it. Im curious. What was the guitar and mic choice? It sounds like a KM84 with a Taylor but its probably a Yamaha with a Lewitt. LOL

  3. Dwayne Hunt says:

    Jack, thanks, you named the performer I was trying to think of (Paul Simon) that sounded a lot like this recording. I always ask someone that is getting ready to record if they are comfortable with a click track. If not, I revert to a trick I heard of long ago(it may have been Warren, I can’t remember) that had an artist that was uneasy with a click track. He heard the artist slapping time on his Levis, so he recorded the slap on the pants legs and used it as a click. The artist was then at ease with the slap track and the recording went fine. I’m sure the slap track may have been to a time that was not to the grid. It WORKS, really. We now have the “SLAP Track”…………….

    Warren, as usual, your work is most useful and I refer back to your columns time after time. Good recording and wonderful acoustic and vocal work.

  4. Eternal Music Man says:

    Warren, this video, the lesson points, and your personal shares really really were amazing! Call it what you will, but even I as a beginner was inspired and found this to be a serious keeper video! Thank you so much for the insight and share!

  5. Aaron Freeman says:

    This is great, we get so hammered into the click that it feels so mechanical when it comes out, I recorded in the same studio as a famous 80’s hair band over in Charlotte N.C. right after they were signed by the infamous Bon Jovi, The drummer let us in on there secret to the Groove, Record with a click then turn the speed up and down to make it feel more natural!! LOL.

  6. Bredo Myrvang says:

    Many musicians just misunderstand “playing to a click”.
    A steady tempo/pulse, but to swing around it with the feel of the song is
    the key (on a conscious level)…… and to shy away from editing to
    grid afterwards of corse ;)
    The click is just a pulse, to which you can play around (for some parts
    or songs a little behind or ahead)…… A steady pulse is NOT the same
    as playing exactly on the click.

    If you explain the difference to drummers unexperienced to playing with a
    click (steady pulse) and not stiff ON the click, they usually take
    playing along with a click far more easy….

  7. It is definitely BOTH on and off grid!
    Cubase has a wonderful feature called iterative quantize (which it has had for many years) and makes all of this a breeze! and a little trial and error! ♫♪♫

  8. Dik Hedlund says:

    Click tracks are used in the studio to keep commercials (radio and tv) to their correct lengths — :60, :30 and :15. They are not supposed to dictate time keeping in a live situation.

    Musicians are supposed to communicate with each other, find the pocket and make the song groove. Everyone in the band needs to feel the song the same way, have their own sense of time, and collectively make the song groove by listening to each other, not focusing and playing to a metronome. That is not what making music is all about.

    Get rid of the click track and make music by collectively listening to each other for balance, groove, dynamics and inspiration. Use your ears and make it feel right. Your time feel comes from within.
    — Dik Hedlund

    More from Sir James Beament, British scientist who studied psychoacoustics:

    To me, time is a fluid concept. It should not be metrically static. Stable, yes, but not static. Our hearts don’t constantly beat at the same rate. Throughout the day, our heart rate fluctuates according to what activities we’re engaged in. Can you imagine how listless life would be if our heart rate or blood pressure stayed exactly the same all the time? Having a margin of mobility in any given circumstance makes an endeavor more adventurous.

    “And many recent recordings of pop music demonstrate how music is killed by a metronome for they are as square as a draftsman’s T. For the convenience of recording engineers, each player has to record their part on a separate track while listening to a click track — a metronome — and the clicks are then used to synchronize the tracks while the technicians adjust them to their taste and mix them. I know talented young musicians who can’t do it; we can understand why. Nothing compares with a recording of a live performance in which the players provide each other with the time-framework.[…] if you want to kill a musical performance, give the player a click track!”

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