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Metronome Why's....


zujo

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So Ok so many producers and band leaders take us to the limit of the groove in the studio in order to be on time with the freaking click track but...

 

Have you noticed that you just can never sync a metronome to a live music CD for more than one or two bars?

 

Why is that?

 

Didn't these people record to a click track as well? :confused::confused:

"Word to your mother"
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When you set your metronome to say, 95bpm, are you sure it's hitting exactly 95bpm? Maybe the one they used in the studio wasn't either.

 

You remember the old wind-up metronomes, right? The ones in a pyramid shaped box with an upside down pendulum and you adjusted the tempo by sliding a weight up and down. Until the digital age those things were used to keep time for a couple of hundred years and still are today, but I doubt they're very accurate. Now we're in the hightech digital age and one would think that electronic metronomes are perfect, but let me ask you this...how accurate is the clock on your PC? :)

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I think it may have something to do with the way the music "breathes" as a group of musicians play off of one another's feel... The band I am about to join uses loops for live show electronic/sample sounds, and the drummer plays with the click track in his headphones, but there is still a bit of a timing interaction between the other instruments, and the singer... :)

"Suppose you were an idiot ... And suppose you were a member of Congress

... But I repeat myself."

-Mark Twain

http://artists.mp3s.com/artists/63/condition_1.html (my old band)

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I think the key to this is "live". Like Jason explained, in a live situation, unless you are playing to sequenced tracks, there rarely is a click. It's very difficult to get everyone to hear a click in a live situation, it would have to be blasting through the monitors. But a sequence is music, not clicks so you can blast that, it's part of the song.

 

I hope this answers your question...

I'm trying to think but nuthin' happens....
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zujo: Have you noticed that you just can never sync a metronome to a live music CD for more than one or two bars?
Some of the other reasons have already been discussed in this here thread. But one that's been missed that I've experienced many times while synching/flying in various recording audio and video-derived sources (because time code was not available or practical) is that unless you are ABSOLUTELY LOCKED to the exact BPM to the microsecond or two and start at gnat's ass spot-on exactly the same time with both sources (in this case one being a click or metronome) they will appear to be synched for awhile until the incremental difference finally makes it apparent by crossing a perceptual threshold that one of the sources is slightly falling behind or walking away from the other.

 

This is something one also encounters when working with long sampling loops, using unclocked longer delays with a higher feedback setting, or spinning turntable segues DJ-fashion.

.
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Well, personally I hate it that producers want musicians to record to a click, and then everyone acts as if perfect time is a great thing. IMO, it ain't! There are certainly a lot of benefits to PRACTICING to a metronome but I feel it just becomes a straitjacket when actually performing (whether on stage or in the studio), because music naturally "breathes" in time to the way the musicians are feeling the song. You can't program a tempo map to behave the way musicians naturally physically respond to the music. Since when is "perfect time" such a hard and fast requirement anyway? Certainly not in any of the thousands of years music has existed across hundreds of cultural boundaries. You can put on most studio recordings from 30 years ago and they won't match up to a grid either - yet no one argues that a James Brown record, for instance, doesn't have a TIGHT groove.

 

To me, asking musicians to play to a click track is like asking a couple to have sex to a click track. :D With a bit of practice it might still turn out to be fun, but what's the point?

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Yeah, that's pretty lame all righty! Unless there needs to be some absolute synch in a live situ to be subservient to sequenced material or long delays, or for video film scoring purposes (tie-ins! tie-ins!) it's just not as cool as the living, breathing, blood-pumping grooves of the greats.

 

{Shouldn't we be having sex instead of talking about it? ; }

 

 

<-- greenboy ---<<<<     safe sex isn't just about condoms anymore - it's about carefully orchestrated click-track-merging ; }

.
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Everything greenboy said.

 

As far as digital metronomes being accurate, and the comparison to a PC clock, both are usually very accurate, probably to within a second an hour or even better. You just notice a cumulative error after several days on your PC. A good digital metronome is more than accurate enough for a click track.

 

Older songs, of course, were recorded on analog tape. The really older ones were flanged--which got its name because the recording engineer would put his finger on the flange of the tape reel and slow it down, FYI.

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Originally posted by Bill C from Nashvegas:

[QB]Everything greenboy said.

 

As far as digital metronomes being accurate, and the comparison to a PC clock, both are usually very accurate, probably to within a second an hour or even better. You just notice a cumulative error after several days on your PC. A good digital metronome is more than accurate enough for a click track.

 

QB]

I was just using the clock on your PC to demonstrate that hi-tech doesn't equal perfection. If you take two electronic metronomes and try to sync them manually, even if they're only a millisecond off, they won't stay sync'd for long.
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Depending on which hardware and which OS one is using, the absolute computer clock can be damn accurate. It's the relative, derived clock that may be off. It can often be set by a specific calibration utility or "learns" this as one resets the value they see at the desktop GUI level. The OS then notes that it has been slightly galloping or footdragging and tries to recalibrate accordingly.
.
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& the answer is:

 

Originally posted by greenboy:

zujo: Have you noticed that you just can never sync a metronome to a live music CD for more than one or two bars?
Some of the other reasons have already been discussed in this here thread. But one that's been missed that I've experienced many times while synching/flying in various recording audio and video-derived sources (because time code was not available or practical) is that unless you are ABSOLUTELY LOCKED to the exact BPM to the microsecond or two and start at gnat's ass spot-on exactly the same time with both sources (in this case one being a click or metronome) they will appear to be synched for awhile until the incremental difference finally makes it apparent by crossing a perceptual threshold that one of the sources is slightly falling behind or walking away from the other.

 

This is something one also encounters when working with long sampling loops, using unclocked longer delays with a higher feedback setting, or spinning turntable segues DJ-fashion.

Took the words right out of my keyboard. :D
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Yep...click track recordings can sound very constrained and clinical. It's much nicer when the song starts and finishes at the same tempo, but is allowed to swell and breathe inbetween.

 

When we are in the studio, we use a metronome to reference the tempo before each take, and let the drummer handle it throughout. Assuming you have a good drummer who can keep solid time, I would argue with anyone that this is the preferred method of attaining tracks with a much more natural feel, rhythmically.

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Originally posted by Edendude:

Yep...click track recordings can sound very constrained and clinical. It's much nicer when the song starts and finishes at the same tempo, but is allowed to swell and breathe inbetween.

 

When we are in the studio, we use a metronome to reference the tempo before each take, and let the drummer handle it throughout. Assuming you have a good drummer who can keep solid time, I would argue with anyone that this is the preferred method of attaining tracks with a much more natural feel, rhythmically.

I think that, in the same way that each hit by drummer & bassist can swing or flam a bit (that's really the essence of funk vs. disco, for example) that playing to a click is also something that can be allowed to "breathe" a bit.

Also, sync tracks can be designed to allow a slight tempo cahange between verse/refrain/etc (if the programmer has thought about & planned the "feel").

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in my experience, click tracks are rarely used. music in PERFECT time from beginning to end winds up sounding sterile and inhuman. refer to our thread about drum machines to see what happens. the only time i've seen a click track used on something i did was when the guitar player couldn't get his shit together for an intro, and it went away as soon as the drummer and i dropped in.
Eeeeeehhhhhhhhh.
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Well, I play & compose a lot of all sorts of music & I still think they can be an excellent way of (1)holding tempo while other instruments come in/out (2) allowing for varied approaches to recording & (3) handled & responded to in a way that allows the music to still be non-metronomic---all it takes is the realization that the click is to help keep time not dictate it but, hey, that's just me.
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