MIDI Lesson: First Two Weeks ( 21st and 28th September)

We spent the first lesson deciding on what videos to would be good to use. We wasted quite a bit of time on this, as initially we were all just showing each other videos that we feel would be ‘cool’ to use, not even thinking what we would do musically with it. Then With Ben suggesting that we think about what type of music we would want to play and then think of a video that could work well with that. They all suggested SKA and even though i don’t listen to SKA, i have no problem playing it and would enjoy it at the same time. Then Jacob also suggested funk, which i completely loved the idea. As my drumming tends to naturally be quite funk influenced. Therefore, we agreed on the type of music. Then Joel had the idea of using a scene from the TV show ‘Rick And Morty’. The idea was great and we could all see it working. However, we had to see if we had the teachers permission. As their was some doubts on whether it was appropriate enough for the audience we will be performing to. Luckily, they were okay with the video and we are allowed to use it.

 

Second Week (28/9/17)

Objectives: Get a simple DI bass recording for the sound to picture song. – Run through the song and figure out possible different drum parts, to be able to record next lesson.

This lesson Jacob recorded the demo parts such as guitar and bass. For me it was about figuring out what i could play and figuring out the structure. I wanted to play along with the track but the studio with the drums was already being used. So i booked it out for after the lesson and waited. I then spent about 45 minutes in the studio.  I spent twenty minutes listening to the song and writing down ideas:

Intial ideas (may not make sense, however, it helped me remember different parts/ideas).

I ran the logic track and then went in the drum booth with the sheet. Listening to it through the headphones, i played along and tried different variations of beats and fills. I only ran through the track about three times, as i didn’t feel the need to run through it more times. I already knew what i was gonna play and was confident to record it the next day.

Overall, this lesson was really useful. As i got to run through the track without any distractions and play along. Therefore i had met the objective set at the beginning of the lesson

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Recording: First Week (29/9/17)

Session Objectives:    Consider backing tracks  –Develop A/V (Audio visual) project with recording focus  -revise recording techniques 

Even though this wasn’t officially the first Recording sessions back. It was the first one for me and the first one where we had actually used the studios. Either way, this was such a productive lesson.  Our aim was to just use the whole lesson to record drums for the sound to picture song. Whilst Jacob re-recorded a bass demo using the D.I. box, i set up the drums for me to record on. Joel got all the microphones, stands and cables. It was quite a simple set up. I used a D112 for the bass drum as well as having an SM57 inside the Bass drum . I feel like having the SM57 adds to the sound of the bass drum, whereas just having the AKG D112 gives you quite a flat sound (depending on what type of drum you’re using). For the overheads, i used two C430’s, and had them quite spread out to get a good stereo sound. I had two D40’s for the Only two toms i was using, and then two SM57’s, one for the snare and then i wanted to mic the hi hat.

Even though usually people don’t use a microphone for the hi hat as they feel like the sound is picked up by the overheads anyway and it tends to bleed. However, as the type of drummer i am. I feel like it is important as it captures certain accents that gets lost with just using the overheads, then when it comes to mix it, you can’t just increase the Hi hat volume, the whole sound gets turned up. Therefore, even if when you use a microphone for the hi hat and it makes it too loud, you can just cut the track out. We run the Bass drum mic’s through the top TL Audio Ivory-series Compressor, The overheads through the Focusrite pre-amp, we decided to experiment with the focusrite, as it gives you quite a sharp sounding recording. Then the snare and toms just through the bottom TL Audio pre-amp.

I didn’t get to learn massive amounts of how to to get a great sound from all of these and how to setup the  patch bay, as i was in the booth playing for Jacob to set up the levels. Initially, Joel was in there, as i wanted to be outside the booth to learn setting up. However, again it depends on the type of drummer you are recording and i went in the booth instead of Joel. I am quite a hard hitter; therefore, if we had setup levels for how Joel plays drums, we may get a great sound with compressors and what not. but when i would go in to record, the levels on logic would most likely peak as he was hitting the drums differently. However, our aim is to not waste time and just get it down and there will be plenty over times that i will be able to learn and improve my skills on the producing side of things.

The recording session went great. As i had already ran through the track once before the day prior, i already had an idea on the structure and what i would be playing on the song. To help me out i also added in simple midi drums a bar before the song would change. This was so i knew when the song was about to change to the next section, i did this because the song has different styles of music. Such as; ska, funk etc,etc. Therefore, i have to change my style of playing several times in the song. This helped me massively during recording.

Recording drums would not actually take as long as they would in the first year. We went through the song once before getting the final take. The drum was all in one take, rather than recording the different parts separately. We got a good sound that fits well with the track and once all the other instruments are recorded, it will work really well with the video.

 

Performance Lesson: MY First Week (2/10/17)

Technically, this is the third lesson back, but i missed the first two lessons as i was ill. However, i was still up to date with all the work and knew what was going on. This lesson was quite straight forward for me. As it was mainly for Joel to figure out guitar and vocal parts with the rest of the group. Even though i could sit around and help figure out parts, from working with them before. I feel like they do a great enough job adding their creativity to whatever project they’re working on, that I’d rather focus on learning my parts and trying to play it to the best possible.

Especially with this track, as it is sound to picture. Everyone can be trying to add all their ideas into the mix and the whole aim of the objective gets lost and the sound and picture don’t end up working together. But mainly because i already loved the way the song was heading and didn’t feel the need to add anything.

Anyway, the main part of the lesson was running through the song live with the video, in the performance hut. Toby played the track through logic, but just muted the drum recordings and bass. So all that was playing was the video and the metronome. Jacob played the bass, Joel was figuring out guitar parts and i was on the drums. We ran through the track times and i found it really useful, as it is quite a diverse structure and  even though i remember what the changes are, it is hard to remember when they are. Therefore, running through it live helped give me an idea.

Unit 8:Research

Inspirational Musicians

As my role during unit 8 has mainly been recording drums for a variety of different people, i have been watching different videos or reading interviews of some of my favorite drummers. Even though the genre didn’t really have anything to do with what i had to record. At the beginning of the unit i was really into the band ‘Machine Head’, one of the main drummers i have been looking at is ‘Dave Mcclain’. I watched the ‘Making of Unto The Locust’ (album), in the DVD  it shows Dave recording drums for the album, what drums he used, what type of tonality he was going for (The link for the 20 minutes documentary is down below).I also read an old ‘Rhythm Magazine’ i had found, which has an interview with Dave, where he talks about certain Microphones he uses and different factors that contribute to a good drum recording.

 

One of my favorite artists period is ‘Kendrick Lamar’. As well as doing computer based music, he also uses a lot of live instruments in his recordings and performance, he is very Jazz based in a lot of his music. As i am a huge fan of his music, I’ve researched a bit into his drummer ‘Tony ‘Rico’ Nichols’ by watching videos of his playing and talking about his set up and what cymbals he uses.In the videos Rico doesn’t actually play any Kendrick’s songs. 

 

Even though there are a lot of Hip Hop artists that use live instruments. I appreciate the fact that Kendrick has brought Jazz music more into the mainstream world. Jazz has always played it’s influence in the genre, however, i feel like with the new age of technology and modern equipment that can be used to create thousands of different sounds, Hip Hop has taken into that direction. However, even though Kendrick isn’t the only artist who does it, but he is the most well known to do it. He has used the key elements of jazz to create his music. In some songs you can even say he is rapping over Jazz music. This is key in songs like ‘How Much A Dollar Cost’. If you listen to his album ‘To Pimp A Butterfly’, you will hear the Jazz elements alongside the modern day hip-hop and it works really well.

 Improvements compared to previous unit

During unit 5 when i recorded there were certain aspects that i wanted to improve. For example, when i recorded for Jacob, we didn’t record drums for the whole song. We’d copy certain parts such as the verse or chorus, instead of just recording a different take. We only did this to save time as we had more things to do, with only a short amount of time left. Jacob and me both agreed that this was a lazy way to do things and either though it does work, it is better to either do another take or just record the song in one.

In all the recordings that we did before Unit 8, we could never seem to get a great bass drum quality during recording. It always seemed too come out quite flat. Therefore this time instead of just using an AKG D112, we put a Shure SM57 inside of the bass drum. This worked out really well. We got much more of the sound and it gave the bass drum much more of a punch at the end of the recording. Also instead of sending the inputs through the pre-amps and then straight into the desk. We decided too run the bass drum and the snare through the pre-amps and then through the compressor. The compressor helps tain the recording, in other words meant that the it kept the levels fairly equal.

Drum Tuning

The Pearl drum kit in the studio isn’t tuned very well and tuning drums is not as easy as tuning a guitar. I haven’t done as much research as i should have for tuning. However, after i had recorded most of my drums i found a page on drum tuning by Pearl (link below)

http://pearldrum.com/media/education/drum-tuning.pdf

For the future i am definitely going to make sure i spend more time on tuning drums. During recording throughout the year, i realized how important it is to make sure the drums a tuned. It always depends on what type of drum sound you are looking for. However, if the drum skin is too loose it is going to make the drum sound very flat, and if it is too tight it can be quite off key in compared to the other instruments, Or it may just not sound nice in the mix. The main drums i seem to have problems with tuning is the high and mid toms, they seem to be the ones which sound off tune compared to the rest of the kit.

Instead of excepting how the drums sound, next time i am going make sure i can get a very tight and clean sounding recording.

Drum sounds/equipment

With choosing drum equipment, it always down to preferences for every different drummer. I’ve used both Zildjian and Sabian cymbals, I enjoy using either one of them. Personally, I’ve enjoyed and got a better sound from using Sabian, however, this is a bit of a biased opinion as i have used much more Sabian then Zildjian. But judging on the Zildjian cymbals i used (can’t remember which series), i didn’t like the sound i got from them as much.

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In the studios their are two kits that are set up, which are, The Pearl Export studio kit and then the Yamaha in the performance hut. I enjoying playing the Yamaha kit more then the Pearl, because of it having a much more of a live and punchy sound. Where as the Pearl kit sounds quite flat overall, meaning we have to mic it and produce it quite a lot to get a decent enough recording to use. I’d rather prefer getting the most natural sound of the drum kit for recording, this also beneficial for playing live, as it would sound more similar to the recording. However, this is again down to preference on what you prefer as a drummer. I have not yet recorded with Yamaha kit, as i haven’t had the chance, due to not having enough time and it being used by other students.

thgm-6

 

In the future i am definitely looking forward to record with Yamaha kit and see how great of a recording i can get.

Drum technique/ Rudiments

Drum technique is something that i find very important for playing. Personally, i think each drummer has their own technique and they should focus on improving their own technique and be influenced by various different musicians, rather then imitating other drummers. This is what defies the difference between a good drummer and a not so good drummer. For myself i think it is important to play as tight as possible and play clean, meaning not sounding messy and sloppy.  For every drummer i think that knowing your rudiments is important, as it is a basic technique that is very diverse for playing. You can use rudiments in almost anything you play and all i takes is practice. Rudiments are mainly what i base most of my playing off, you can use it both hand and also mix it up with foot technique.

There are so many different rudiments out there. The main ones being Paradiddles, flams and single and double stroke rolls. Their are different variations of each of these rudiments. Simple-Rudiments

 

paraRudiments4

Unit 8: Week 6 & 7

I ended up missing the week before the gig, as I had personal problems to deal with. This then left the week of the gig to finish everything off for me. Initially my plan was to spend that week just rehearsing for the gig, but I didn’t know that I had one more song to record. This was ‘Nervous Breakdown’ by ‘Black Flag’. However, the song is very simple and therefore it was quite easy to catch the groove and play along too. We spent the Monday evening rehearsal, playing the song and I learnt it then, alongside rehearsing all the others. Then in Tuesday’s MIDI lesson we set up the drums in half an hour and then ten minutes to check the levels. We then had one run through of the song and then did the song in one whole take. However, as I kept messing up it took about three takes until we got a perfect take.

The gig turned out to be better then the Christmas gig. I run through one song in the sound check, which was “From First To Last’ with Jacob and Hallum. The gig then went pretty smoothly for me, considering we only had two rehearsals before hand. We played all the songs quite well and I kept in time through out all my performances. I felt like the two bar drum roll at the beginning of ‘Nervous Breakdown’ was much tighter and played well compared to during rehearsals. However, as a drummer I aim for perfection with my performance and I felt at certain points during playing, my technique was slacking and I noticed mistakes in my playing that others might not have noticed. Some being during Happier I failed to perform the ‘Four Stroke Roll’ (Drum rudiment/technique). I felt like it didn’t sound as good as it should, with a good level of dynamics. It was mainly little things like that, or hitting the crash when it wasn’t needed. Even though it may sound a bit petty I like to have a structured performance and if I am going to add something I didn’t do in rehearsal (fill, extra crash) then I want to make sure that it sounds tight and won’t affect the performance. Besides that I feel like the gig was enjoyable and went well. In the end we also never ended up playing ‘Breakup therapy’ as it was Joel’s song and he didn’t feel like it was ready enough to be performing.

Unit 8:Week 5

The week after I had to record drums for the song ‘Blush’ by ‘Wolfalice’ (link down below). This was Jasmine’s choice to cover and I didn’t know until the day we recorded. The recording process took quite a long time. We set up in under an hour and got all the levels right. However, as I didn’t know the song, I was going to play to the backing track, but the original wasn’t recorded to a metronome and the tempo changes throughout. Therefore, we spent quite a long time trying to see if we could find the right tempo or make it fit with the metronome but it just wasn’t working out and was taking too long. After running through the song a few times. We decided to record. We did it in one take instead of several as the drums just come in halfway through the track. Therefore, it wasn’t a long recording. After about two recordings, we kept the last recording as it was the best out of all of them.

Unit 8: Week 4

The following week most of the recording for ‘Happier’ were done. However, the mix was sounding a bit messy and the drums were falling out of time at certain points.. As Jack was producing he decided that he wanted me to re-record the drums. However, this was on Tuesday evening and we didn’t have as much time too record as we had planned other things to do.  In the end, it ended up working out perfectly. I set up drums in  around half an hour, whilst Jack was helping others. Then we checked levels, which took around 10 minutes. This was because i didn’t need the whole drum kit, and only set up four microphones. A D40 for the floor tom, SM57 inside the bass drum and a D112 and then a C1000 as the overhead for the cymbals. As i already recorded the song before, i knew the structure much better. Therefore, we did the whole song in one take, on time. It took less then five minutes, The recording was strong and in time. We then just recorded extra cymbals on certain parts which only took 2 minutes, then i was down with ‘Happier’.

Unit 8: Week 3

The week after half term I recorded drums for Jacob’s song ‘From First To Last’. We recorded the song in several different takes, instead of one take as I did for “Breakup Therapy’. This is because I didn’t know the full structure of the song. We ran through the different parts as we recorded. For example, we he would show me the intro several which was an 8 bar intro with the same beat. Then he’d show me the verse and then chorus and so on. We finished recording in around 2 hours, with good, strong recordings. The song was based of ‘The Libertines’ song ‘Horror Show’ (link down below). Jacob was not going for the most clean recording, therefore it didn’t matter if the take came off a bit messy. You can hear this most at the end of the recording. For the rest of the week I engineered for other people, helping them setting up amps, microphones and stands.

Unit 8: Week 2

During week two, we proceeded to record drums for Breakup Therapy on the Monday. Rory, Joel and me spent about twenty minutes running through the song, so that I have an idea on what to play. We then spent around just over an hour setting up the drums with microphones. Instead of just recording the drums through the pre-amps, we sent them through the compressor to give it a more punchy sound. I also decided to put an SM57 inside of the bass drum to get more of a punch on top of the D112. After sorting out levels, we ran through the song a few times. Then recorded drum on the third run through and it came out with a good strong sound. However, i felt like the structure of the song was very odd and too repetitive. Therefore, We agreed to cut out the third verse as it wasn’t need and the last chorus. We ended it with just a double chorus instead.

Unit 8: Week 1

During the first week of Unit 8, we had a pre production meeting to discuss the different roles that people would take, how many songs would be on the album, what songs and who will be taking part in each of the songs. Georgia decided to get started on the cover of ‘Happier’ by ‘Ed Sheeran’, so in the morning of that session Jack recorded a rough version of the guitar track. Then later during the evening, we decided to record drums. However, the song has orchestral drums, so I had to improvise. I used the bass drum, floor tom and a crash cymbal. As we only discussed doing that song in the morning, I didn’t have time to prepare for this recording. Therefore, I had to think outside the box and decided to se two bass drum beaters as sticks to get that orchestral sound, even though it wouldn’t sound as well as a real orchestral instrument. The floor tom still managed to get a good enough sound. I used a D112 on the bass drum, D40 for the floor tom and a c1000 as an overhead. I got my recording finished in around an hour and a half.

Tuesday wasn’t a very productive day. Our aim was to record drums for ‘Breakup Therapy’ a song that Joel and Rory wrote, however, I had never heard the song before and as it is more complex then ‘Happier’ I struggled to play along to it. We wasted three hours out of our four trying to set up to get the best sound, however, in the end this did not give enough time for me to learn and record the song in full. We used the full rhythm pack (D112,D40’S, C430’s) alongside a Pro- Series on the HI-Hat