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Tracking Order

Discussion in 'Recording' started by darkblade1782, Jan 22, 2003.

  1. Hey guys,
    I've finally got a home studio pretty completed (mics, equipment, software, computer) and am about ready to start laying down tracks.
    I am probably going to be doing acoustic-rock type stuff, with some blues or funk leanings as inspiration strikes .
    I've never really done multi-track recording before. We will most likely be working with a limited number of musicians playing multiple instruments. I have a ST Audio C-Port.. which means that I have a total capacity of 8 simultaneous tracks. But it only has 2 XLR inputs and 8 1/4" input (I don't have any external preamps or anything) so I need to do some funky cabling to get any more, unless I'm missing something.
    What would you guys suggest as a 'recording order'?
    Should I lay down drums first, and have him play to a click, and then start building from there?
    Should I make a scratch track of everybody jamming together (which will be somewhat hard because of the limited musicians) and then use that as the recording base?

    What do you think?

    Thanks,
    Tim
     
  2. Tore Nylund

    Tore Nylund Guest

    Well... some drummer can really play with just a click-track... others don't. This is what I would do: If you have a sampler or a drum machine, record a good drum-track with that, then add some other basic intstruments (bass, guitar keyboard) .
    Then you can probably record the real drums with a very good result. This is what I would do if a very steady BPM is required.
    You could try to record the same song different ways and see what works best for you and your musicians.
    Good Luck
     
  3. joeq

    joeq Guest

    Some people have a hard time with a click track. I believe that every professional musician should learn how to play to a click but some people will never learn.

    Another way to do the drums is to set up the drum mics and have the guitarist and bass player plugged directly into the drummer's headphone system. No guitar or bass sound in the room. Then the drummer can play along with a live "feel" and his hits and fills will match the structure of the song when later on, you do the bass and guitars "for real"
     
  4. Good Texan

    Good Texan Guest

    I agree with JoeQ. I would add a slight variation that always works for me. Go direct with guitar and bass and lay it all down while you record the drum tracks. Once you get the keeper, you have a reference to draw from for your other parts. I've found that the feel of a song changes during tracking. You find some ideas that you had don't work and vice-versa. One other thing I was taught was to flip the phase of every other track when recording in the same room, as bass build-up tends to occur.
    For example:
    You track drums in the room. Flip the phase when you start a vocal track; and again for another vocal track. And so on.
    I hope this isn't too confusing. I've got the idea right in my head, I'm just not sure if I'm communicating well. hehe
    Of course, this is something that someone taught me, so let me know if it doesn't hold any water. I have a lot to learn myself.

    Jason
     
  5. Axeman32

    Axeman32 Guest

    I agree with the Good Texan especially if you usually play as a group. It's about capturing the magic and intensity. You never know when you might catch something great. Roll Tape. If you do not play well as a group let those who have the best chance of pulling it off work together and overdub the others. If it is a new song scratch vocals can help. I as a guitar player try to memorize the words and sing them in my head while laying down the track.
     
  6. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    ??? Hmmm.? I don't know about that. It's the first time I have ever heard that (and I thought I had heard everything). In the case of doubles it would be very weird, as they would tend to cancel each other out ... It sounds wacky enough to work but it also sounds wacky enough not to work. Hmmmm ???? Anyone else got any thoughts? ...... Fats
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Tannoy, Dynaudio, Blue Sky, JBL, Earthworks, Westlake, NS 10's :D , Genelec, Hafler, KRK, and PMC
    Those are good. …………………….. Pick one.
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------
     
  7. Good Texan

    Good Texan Guest

    Fats,
    I wouldn't use it in a case like doubling. Just if you were trying to make three guys sound like a whole choir. Like I said, it was taught to me by a "mentoring" engineer. Everyone has their little quirks, right??!! Let me know how you all do things like that. A little fresh insight is always appreciated.
     
  8. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    Jason,
    To do “3 guys into a choir” I track 3 of each voice, 3 times . 9 tracks. Bring those down to 3, left, middle and right. If you want it really huge do it twice for 18 voices. Its called “stacking” or “stacks”. Variations on the theme are acceptable. Like all three parts (1st, 3rds & 5ths) at once on one track (air mix) .. 3 times .. (If it’s CS&N) or you can cut individual tracks so you can pitch correct, process dynamics like key gating, compression and adding electronic doubling. … Fats
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Tannoy, Dynaudio, Blue Sky, JBL, Earthworks, Westlake, NS 10's :D , Genelec, Hafler, KRK, and PMC
    Those are good. …………………….. Pick one.
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------
     
  9. Good Texan

    Good Texan Guest

    Nothin like makin my own life difficult, huh!? hehe
     
  10. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    Yeah, it's pretty old school but you'd be surprised how fast it usually goes. A lot of times you just need 2 sets of them, at the top and at the end with a hook or outro thing, but unless there's a modulation you can usually fly the first set into the second and third verses and down the line. You may need a bridge part too. But it usually only takes and hour or two. I always check phase to insure compatibility. Using phase to create stereo spread can be dangerous in terms of mono compatibility. If somehow the end playback system is/goes mono, there goes half of your vocals. Fats
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Tannoy, Dynaudio, Blue Sky, JBL, Earthworks, Westlake, NS 10's :D , Genelec, Hafler, KRK, and PMC
    Those are good. …………………….. Pick one.
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------
     
  11. Well, my view is that drums should always be tracked live along with bass (the bass can be D/I and then reamped later..)you can track drums with a couple of overheads, kick and snare mic or kick and overheads too and get a great sound.

    Click tracks are god awfull to listen to and, speaking as a drummer, to have to play to. Clicks don't swing, rock, or do anything but lay there .. matter of fact I've made it a point to offer click track to clients that don't come though the console, only through their particular headphones so I don't have to listen to them!

    As far as extra inputs, you could certainly get a small mixer, and send a group of muliple mics out via a bus on that mixer to your setup, and get around that issue.....

    Bottom line, to me, is that bass and drums must be first and solid, or the rest never really comes out the way it should. I have only seen a couple of drummer who can overdub drum tracks with any success, so that idea would either fail or take too much time and fun out of things. If the session is made to feel "live" the resulting mixdown should too.
     
  12. RecorderMan

    RecorderMan Distinguished Member

    Yes...and the opposite is equally valid.
    Clicks are a referrence, and you can swing against them; pushing and laying back as needed..the click should just be there to guide everyone to "one"
    ....Sometimes it's much easier to lay the drums dead last so that you really know where to lay the cymbals and toms, so as not to step on the vocal & to lock into the bass part...or to do the bass after the drums to lock the bass to the drums.
    These ways are very viable if you don't have enough channels and gear and rehearsal time to do a great live track.
     
  13. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    Usually i will track drums and bass live with a guitar scratch and a vocal scratch...this is if we are all there to record together...when i'm doing my own stuff i will play the basic guitar to click and then build from there, sometimes a kick and snare track only or if the drum programs are complete i'll put those in...i always do my solo stuff to click...like has been said its a great referance that you can push and pull to the whole track..on the solo stuff i'll put the bass down last after the vocals...just like the beatles......
     
  14. lwstudio

    lwstudio Guest

    click does have it's advantages though.

    much easier editing, editing in beats and bars can be very handy sometimes. but for me, the main thing is syncing effects up with Midi Clock.

    using click depends on the song and the drummer really. it can keep the song in good tempo or totally kill the feel of a song...
     
  15. RecorderMan: I have tracked a couple of sessions done to click without drummers being available .. and it does certainly work, provided the musicians are used to it and know exactly what they want. So, on the time side, it held together. On my end as an engineer, I've noticed that it resulted in great concentration on what the players were describing to comprehend the sound quality that would match what the drummer was "going to expect and add later". My years as a drummer came in handy as they made me question a couple of things being tracked and those comments helped the clients in each case. It also added a few more takes to the sessions and therefore more time. My thought was that they should have waited for a time when all were avialable.

    When the drum tracks were laid down I then discovered that I was asked many questions about where things were at during the original tracking so the drummer got a bit more perspective .. not a big deal, but, again, more time wasted. If I had to guess, I'd say the sessions ran about 30% to 50% more cost as a result. These were great musicians too.

    As for a click tracks, and as a drummer since '64, I can, and have played to tons of them, and I can do what I want over them. HOWEVER (!!), my personal experience is that they limit the creative fills, and absolute fun of "wandering off, and trying it all back together, in time and the end" ...

    In defense of click tracks, and since I'm not great on my guitar playing time, they might help some build that instinct for being on time .. for me on guitar ... it ain't ever gonna happen! I've proved it. On drums I never needed it, I play on time in my sleep .. which is why I refuse to call myself a guitar player.
     
  16. RecorderMan

    RecorderMan Distinguished Member

    Hi K-Sound. good discussion.
    I'm blessed in that I tend to work with really amazing players. So my experiance I must say is a 180 on what you describe. But your advice carries alot of weight in that the calibre of musicians-that engineers looking to forums such as these- is probably at the level where:
    1. A click could break there vibe.
    2. Since there's no one in the situation that has the confidence & experiance to get the player(s) moving along as is needed.

    That said..it SHOULD be easy to play to a click..with tons of vibe & feel. AND to overdub after the fact. If you having trouble doing it, I respectfully submit that the term "great" musician is over used...(and it is outside of heavy rotation session palyers &/or geniuses).
     
  17. Alécio Costa - Brazil

    Alécio Costa - Brazil Well-Known Member

    playing drums since 64? cool man!!!!!! Lots of groovy licks!!!!!
     
  18. Recorderman ! Great musicians ... I know that term from somewhere! I'd say vetern session players can nail things no problem with a click, and for some complicated mulit-session work, where the end result may be a bit more complex than the inital view seems .. they can save the day. However (!!) I think that the most usefull thing a click track can be used for is to establish the tempo. I've worked in Atlantic, CBS, Columbia, K-Sound Studios ( a hefty pulg there, eh?!), and a bunch more .. the drill is pretty much the same .. it should be someone's job to understand IF a click is helping or just being used because it's supposed to be used.

    Anywho, I stand by the thought that drums should be in the initial tracking, and never, never, never overdubed.
     
  19. droog

    droog Active Member

    my problem with a click is that, like a vibrato-less tuned vocal, it lacks spontaneous meaningful variation that only a human can provide

    now, if a click is laid down in real time and with feeling, that would be ok, but you might as well use a drummer (and a base player, and a guitar player)

    and you can still overdub cymbal crashes/snare rools after the event

    imo, this will be known in history as the era of metronome cliks and tuned vocals
     
  20. droog

    droog Active Member

    my problem with a click is that, like a vibrato-less tuned vocal, it lacks spontaneous meaningful variation that only a human can provide

    now, if a click is laid down in real time and with feeling, that would be ok, but you might as well use a drummer (and a base player, and a guitar player)

    and you can still overdub cymbal crashes/snare rools after the event

    imo, this will be known in history as the era of metronome cliks and tuned vocals
     

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