Unit 12: Research

I had the role of a session drummer for this last unit, therefore i spent time researching certain drummers that have either inspired me, or relate to the style of playing i have been doing during this unit. 

Clyde Stubblefield

Image result for clyde stubblefield james brown bandeld

One of my main influences for this unit or even before this unit is Clyde Stubblefield. He is known for playing for James Brown from 1965 up till 1971. There is a lot of controversy with the argument that he is the most exploited man in modern music. This is because of James Brown’s famous song ‘Funky Drummer’ and the fact that the drum beat ‘Clyde Stubblefield’ played has been sampled in 1446 songs..and he didn’t receive any royalties or credit for it.

 

He is well known for his style of playing which involved accenting certain notes on the snare and using ghost notes (these notes are played, very softly between the ‘main’ notes most often on the snare drum). He would also emphasize certain notes by opening the hi- hat. These are elements that i tried to enroll into my playing during for the final major project. Even though i didn’t play on any Songs that were remotely similar to James Brown, unless you count ‘Sun and Air’ which is heavily influenced by James Brown but mainly just has a funk feel to it, my style of playing was an attempt to use some of Clyde’s famous trademarks but in my own way of course. Two songs that would be the best example to use was ‘Crushed’ and Rory’s song, which are in terms of genre are probably the two songs that are furthest away from James Brown. However, if you listen to drums in the verse of ‘Crushed’ the whole drum beat is a very much sped up version of a  ‘Clyde Stubblefield’ type drum beat; it consists of a lot of ghost notes and then accenting one of the notes with the snare and use of opening the hi hat to emphasize and the kick drum was just playing the same consistent part. In Rory’s song i used a lot of ghost notes, however in a different way. Where ‘Clyde Stubblefield’ would play ghost notes in between his hi hat and on the off beats, for this song i would play the ghost notes as double stroke rolls and at the same time as the hi hat.

 

 

John “Reni” Wren

Alan John “Reni” Wren is an English rock drummer and member of The Stone Roses. Th  Stone Roses are an English rock band formed in Manchester in 1983. They were one of the pioneering groups of the ‘Madchester’ movement that was active during the late 1980s and early 1990s.  Their first album titled ‘The Stone Roses’ was a breakthrough success for the band and garnered critical acclaim, with many critics regarding it as one of the greatest British albums ever recorded. 

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‘Reni’ taught himself drums when he was young and is considered as a naturally gifted musician Reni, this is because he is also adept at playing the guitar, bass, and piano. ‘John Robb’ in his 1997 book: ‘The Stone Roses and the Resurrection of British Pop’ notes that Reni could “play guitar almost as well as he plays drums.” However, it is his drumming abilities that made him stand out, he has a very unique style of playing, where his playing is quite loose but still tight at the same time.His laid-back style of complex, off-beat rhythms was influential in bringing about the blend of indie and dance music.

I don’t really listen to ‘The Stone Roses’ a lot however, i can not deny that ‘Reni’ played the biggest role in my playing for this unit. This is because the majority of the songs i played on were Jacob’s and ‘The Stone Roses’ are one of his favorite bands, also when him and me had conversations on the type of drumming he wanted on his songs, he always referred to ‘Reni’. If you listen to Jacob’s songs on which i had played drums for you can hear the influence, especially with playing on the off beat rather than on the beat, a good example would be on ‘Denches by Twenty, Dead by Thirty’ , on the chorus i play a straight 4/4 drum beat with ride, but on every offbeat hit the hi hat whilst opening it.

 

Eric Moore

Image result for eric moore jr drummer

‘Eric Moore’ isn’t as well know in the mainstream media as the previous two musicians i have talked about, but he is a well known drummer on social media (which is how i find him) and has played for some well know artists. For example; he was a member of  ‘Suicidal Tendencies’ from 2009 till 2015, played for ‘Infectious Grooves’  from 2008 till 2014, from 2005 till 2008 he toured with Grammy award winning R & B artist ‘Bobby Brown’ and he was the founder of the ‘Gospel Chops movement’ (2004). 

 

Eric Moore’  started playing drums at the early age of 18 months and by the age of 4 he was playing for a church full time. He is well known for playing really crazy gospel grooves and on his social media he does several videos of him playing in different time signatures and playing quite complex chops. This is what really attracted me to his playing and inspired me, especially during this unit. For example, when i was playing Rory’s song, the verse is in 7/4 timing and i had never played in a different time signature than 4/4 or 6/8, therefore i struggled a lot at first trying to figure out how to play and what to play for this. Watching some Eric’s videos really helped give me an idea on what to play and made me realize that it isn’t as complicated as i had thought. 

                          (video showing grooves in 7 timing)

Also when playing Jacob’s song ‘Saxon Sound, it involves playing a 16th not drum beat but in the beat it has a sequence of single stroke rolls played as 32nd notes. In the recording of ‘Saxon Sound’ the drums are very minimalistic, however, when performing the song live i added many more elements to the song to add to the craziness. This involved moving quickly around the kit and some complex fills. This was probably the song i struggled to play the most, because it made me feel physically worn out. 

                   (Video showing techniques on out how to play quickly)

 

Warm up techniques and how to speed of your playing

Warming up before playing drums is really important. Depending on what you are playing  and depending on the drummer, you can get away with not warming up. However, i find it really effective in terms of having more control over my playing, less wrist pains and being able to play quicker.  For this unit especially, i was playing songs that involved more complex drum parts. Mainly for songs such as ‘Crushed’ and ‘Saxons Sound’.

                  (Useful video on wrist movement)

‘Crushed’ doesn’t involve overly complex drum parts, however when playing it live we would tend to play it at a faster pace and there is not one section when the drums don’t play at all and therefore it was very full on the whole time. I remember when would rehearse it i would always make mistakes and my hands would cramp up during the verse when i would try play all the ghost notes, it wasn’t until the week before the gig in which i researched different warm up techniques and how to avoid wrist and hand pains that i was able to play the song all the way through without making any mistakes. Warming up and using proper technique makes a huge difference and it made it more comfortable for me to play and i found myself enjoying it a whole lot more. 

https://makingmusicmag.com/5-warm-up-rudiments-for-drums/

As i mentioned before playing the fast single stroke rolls in ‘Saxon Sound’ was really hard to get used to and no matter how many times i attempted to play it, it still ‘killed’ my wrist. I don’t think i ever fully mastered the technique,  because i simply didn’t give myself enough time to adapt to it. However, after following the advice from this video, i remember my playing became much tighter in general, and i was able to play at a faster pace. This video below played a huge part in helping me play my single stroke rolls at a faster pace.

 

 

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Christmas gig (Birley Centre)

The Christmas gig at the Birley Centre was interesting. Overall it went quite well, however, not exactly to plan. I feel like our performance was tight and none of us messed up badly (or that I noticed). I had missed quite a few rehearsals leading up to this gig and therefore we hadn’t practiced together as a group a lot. Personally however, I was quite confident that if everything went to plan, it would be a really good performance.

This was the first live performance that I’ve played to a backing track and a metronome, which comes through a pair of headphones that I have to wear on stage. Therefore everyone is relying on me to stay in time with the backing track. Playing to a backing track can easily go wrong, because if i fall out of time then that means everyone else is more likely to fall out of time and then the backing track will just be playing completely out of time with the live instruments, which will ruin the whole performance. However, with this performance in particular, i had set up midi cues to let me know when to change to certain sections, as there were several different sections to the track and it was hard to remember when exactly to change each time.

The performance was really good. However, the track started and i couldn’t hear the metronome.. there was nothing i could do, as this was it, the final live performance. It made me completely nervous, but we managed to pull it off. I completely ignored what all the live instruments were doing, and just listened in to the guitars on the backing track to keep me in time. Luckily the cues were still loud enough for me to hear when to change. There was one part in the last section of the song which is more energetic and i started getting into it and sped up, however, i just tried listening back in to the backing track and managed to sync back in time. Next time if i was to play to a backing track live, I’d just make sure all the levels were on point and everything was coming through clear, especially the metronome.

Unit 12: Week 12

This was the first week back after the Easter half term and the goal was to try and finish all the recordings by the end of this week and get ready to start mixing.

In the Thursday lesson i engineered for Jacob as he recorded vocals for ‘Sun And Air’. Him and Joel also did vocals for ‘Denches By Twenty, Dead By Thirty’. On Friday we finished the rest of the vocals for the Dub song and ‘Punk’s Dead’. We used a Rode NT1 for all the vocal recordings, they all turned out well and this was the last of the recordings done, and ready to start mixing for next week.

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Unit 12: Week 11

This week was the last week before half term, therefore it was very busy as we still had quite a lot to do. Joel, Jacob and me spent the whole day on Wednesday doing the live recordings in the performance hut for the other songs. It took a long time to set up, we had the guitar amp in one of the side rooms, the bass in the other and then the drums just in the main room.  For the guitar, we used an e606 and an SM57,  for the bass we used a D112 and then for the drums just a D112 and then two NT1’s using the recorder man technique.

 

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Overall this was a really progressive session and although it took along time setting up and getting levels, the end result made it worth it. We recorded three songs, which turned out really great. The guitars and one of the bass was a bit off, however, that didn’t matter as we could just re- record it, the important part of this whole process was mainly the drums.

Recording drums in the performance hut overall was a really good experience. I found it much better than recording in studio one for several reasons. First of all, because it wasn’t a tiny room, where i would be trapped in and overheating whilst recording, secondly the sound of the recording we got was much better and the kit we were using wasn’t the best, therefore i was surprised with the good sound we got. Finally, recording live is less nerve racking and feels more natural, i found that i don’t mess up as much when playing alongside other people, rather than alone in the studio. Recording in the performance hut is something i am definitely planning to do at some point again, even if it is for outside work. received_2063868890491456

 

On the Friday Jacob, Victor, Joel and me were in studio four. Victor had come up with a new bass riff, i got a hi hat and snare and took it in there, Joel and Jacob were playing guitar. We just improvised over it and then after a few times running through, we came up with a simple structure and then recorded it. It was a bit random, however, was something that turned out really cool.

 

 

Technically this was meant to be the last week to finish all the recordings, but we still had a few more guitar parts to record and hadn’t started on vocals. However, besides that, this week was quite progressive and we experimented Twice. Which was when we recorded in the performance hut and in studio 4 on the Friday.

Unit 12: Week 10 (& Reflection)

This week was interesting. On the Thursday i was helping Rory record guitars for his song. We used an NT1 as a room microphone, an E606 and SM57, we sent it to the 5001 pre-amp and then through the 5021 Compressor. Which wasn’t really necessary, as the 5021 Compressor has a built in pre-amp anyway. After along time getting levels, we got a really good sound and he did several takes, however this took up the whole lesson but we still managed to get a few takes down.   DSC_0482

Later on in the day i was asked to record drums for a university student which goes alongside the role of being a ‘session drummer’. It was quite straight forward, we used the recorder man technique, as it was the easiest to set up, a D112 on the kick and then a Shure SM7B on the snare, which i had never used before. As well as this, i was using really nice cymbals, alongside a nicer drum kit, which i could really tell the difference from using the main kit i use. I had never heard this song before, however, it was very straight forward, and we did it in the first take. This wasn’t the first time i have recorded for University students, and i really enjoy doing it.DSC_0483.JPG

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Reflection

These past two weeks have been really productive and i feel like we have got quite a lot done. With Jacob and me spending all of last Wednesday recording drums for his songs, and then engineering for the other recordings alongside it, i think we did an alright job. However, next time i would make sure i had access to good drum equipment, as we spent a long time trying to tune the snare and not getting anywhere with it. With the role of a session musician, i should technically have my own equipment to use for recording, but it is harder with a drum kit. It’s made me realize that i should at least have the basics to use, which are; snare and cymbals.

Recording for the university students was an interesting experience as it was outside of the final major project, but also backed up the role that i had as a session musician. Also using better quality equipment made a huge difference, the cymbals especially were much nicer and sounded really professional. I also got to use the SM7B microphone for the snare whereas usually i would be using an SM57, which was a much better version of the SM57, the larger housing of the SM7B allows for more volume behind the cartridge, which extends its low-end response.

Unit 12: Week 9

This week i got quite a lot done. On Wednesday Jacob and me spent the most of the day recording drums for his songs. We were using the recorder man technique alongside a D112 and SM57 for the kick drum, and an SM57 on the Snare. One thing that was different from the last time we were trying to record, was we weren’t aloud to use the nice cymbal and snare this time and it was really making a different this time. The crash cymbal we were trying to use had a crack in it and was making it not sound nowhere near as nice. The snare had a really bad ring to it and there was no moon gel, we tried taping it and tuning it, however, it wasn’t making it sound any better. But at the end of the day, you have to make do with what you have. DSC_0474

We spent a long time setting up and trying to get levels. we were mainly having problems with the D112 on the kick drum, we weren’t getting a good sound so we tried several different positions with the microphone. First, inside the kick drum, however it was sounding too muddy. so we then tried the kick outside the kick and facing the middle of the kick (as shown below), it made the kick sound really nice but was picking up a lot of the room sound and bleed. We then placed the kick just outside of the hole and it was a good sound

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We then just did recording after recording, to make sure we got as much done as possible. We ended up getting four different drum tracks for Four different songs, it was quite tiring because trying to get each song sounding good without mistakes, however the end result was a success.DSC_0469

On Friday i was then helping Jacob record the bass for all the songs him and me recorded drums for on Wednesday. We used a D112 and DI box, we also used a different bass (i don’t actually know the name) then usual, which made a huge difference. Usually the bass we use always picks up a clicking sound and always gives us problems with levels, however, the one we used this time had no problems. We spent the whole Friday lesson recording, we got a really good sound and good takes.DSC_0475

 

Unit 12: Week 8

Performance lesson – 5/3/18

This lesson we just rehearsed the songs as usual.

Midi lesson – 8/3/18

This lesson i was recording drums for Rory’s song in studio  1. We were using the recorder man technique (Rode NT1), alongside micing the kick drum with an SM57 and a D112. Luckily we had Luke who helped up set up the levels and the compressor. However, Rory was producing and rather than doing it all in one take, he decided to record different parts, and drop me in at different parts. Which later on caused problems. As by the end he had over 40 different takes which were playing at the same time and he didn’t know which one was the good take.

Recording lesson – 9/3/18

This lesson we were going to do the live recordings in the performance hut. However, it was only Jacob and me and with only us two, we wouldn’t of had enough time to set up and record. So Jacob and me were just in the performance hut running through parts of the tracks that i was struggling with or hadn’t figured out drum parts for yet. We planned to record drums in studio 1 all day next Wednesday.

 

This week was fairly progressive, when recording for Rory’s song we got quite a good drum sound and even though we lost the tracks in the end. It showed me why recording in one take rather than doing each section separately is better, but it then again felt like a waste of a lesson, which was the same as last Friday when we spent ages setting up and getting a decent sound and then in the end it was a waste.

Unit 12: Week 7

Performance lesson – 26/2/18

This lesson was the same as usual. I rehearsed Jacob’s songs with him and Joel. They’re still sound quite rough when we play them. I also rehearsed Rory’s song with him as usual.

Midi lesson – 1/3/18

This lesson i was in a couple of different studios. I spent half of the lesson with Jacob and Joel in studio 3, Jacob was showing me a dub track we were going to record. However, i still didn’t know the structure. The second half of the lesson, i was in studio 4 with Rory. Whilst he recorded finished recording a guide guitar track for me to then later on record drums to. We also changed the ending/middle eight. We added a few more bars to the middle eight, but in 7/4 timing. We then finished the song with a really calm guitar riff with lots of delay.

Recording lesson – 2/3/18

This lesson didn’t go amazingly. We were recording drums for most of Jacob’s songs. We used the recorder man technique, alongside micing the snare with an SM57, the toms with D40’S  and kick drum with D112 and SM57. We spent a long time getting levels and trying to get a really good sound, which in the end we ended up getting a really good sound, we also used a different snare and cymbal, which helped us get a really good sound. However, by the time we had finished setting up and started recording, we were told that college was closing due to the weather conditions. Therefore, we didn’t actually get any recordings done, which was really frustrating.

 

This week went quite well, besides Friday. Thursday was really useful, even though we didn’t record anything, it was useful to sit down with Jacob and plan out certain drum parts with him and also working on Rory’s song with him and giving him feedback on guitar ideas, such as what tone to go for and the structure of the song overall. However, Friday was quite a setback. Due to the last week before not being very progressive, we were anxious to get in the studio and on Friday we had got a really good drum sound, but then not being able to record was just quite frustrating.

Unit 12: Week 6

Performance lesson – 19/2/18

This was the first lesson back after half term and this term is only five weeks long, meaning we don’t have masses amounts of time to get things done. As usual we just rehearsed the songs this lesson. However, i could really hear them progress, especially working on Rory’s song with him, from where it was to now, it has improved completely.  Also in this lesson, i ran through Joel’s song for the first time, i had heard it before but never knew the structure or tried playing it.

Midi lesson – 22/2/18

Not much went on in this lesson, i spent time in studio 4 with Joel and Jacob planning on which songs were the most important and choose the ones we were going to focus on recording out of 12 demos. We narrowed it down to 4 songs we were really going to focus on more.

Recording lesson – 23/2/18

There wasn’t a lesson on as college was closed on this day.

 

This week wasn’t very progressive, as we didn’t really get any recording done. However, it was hard to figure out where to start as we had so much to work with

 

Unit 12: Week 5 (end of pre-production/reflection week)

Performance lesson – 5/2/18

This lesson i finally played through a few of Jacob’s songs live with him and Joel. I had played them before in the studio, just never live. We only did a couple of the songs and only ran through them quickly.

Midi lesson – 8/2/18

This lesson i spent a bit of time in the studio with Jacob, as he was showing me some more potential song demo’s. He had wrote a dub song, which we talked about drum parts for. However, i mainly spent time with Rory in studio 4, getting down a demo guitar track for me to then play drums to. We also changed the ending completely, instead of going back into a chorus after the middle eight, we decided have the song end with the middle eight fading out. We also decided that half way into the middle eight, to change it to 7/4 rather than 4/4 just to change it up and, then end the song by  fading it out in 4/4.

Recording lesson – 9/2/18

This lesson was spent just rehearsing Rory’s song with him in the performance hut, especially with the change it 7/4 in the middle eight. I really struggled with playing this part and even after several times running through it, i kept messing it up. However, i knew when i did get it, it would sound really good. I also spent time in studio one with Jacob and played along to some new demo’s that he hadn’t had the chance to show me yet. We talked about which songs are more important to get one first when we come back from half term.

Reflection of pre-production phase

Reflecting back on this pre-production phase the majority of the time for me was spent figuring out drum parts and recording lots of demo’s. One of the mistakes that we made during this phase was working on so many different songs at once with Jacob. It’s good that we have all these demo’s, however, for me it was hard to just focus on one thing and try to get it amazing. I also wish i had added my own songwriting to the project, because this would have been the last chance i would have had to do this. Because after this week, it is the end of pre production. However, all i can do now is focus on the upcoming recording phase that is coming up in the next few weeks.