Who's behind the beat and who's on it

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AndyJPAndyJP Frets: 199
edited March 4 in Theory
Hey all,

I'm doing some recording at home and arranged all the parts for a tune. It's a Jazzy Blues number along the lines of Robben Ford.  I'm responsible for the drums, bass and guitars.

I'm trying to improve the feel of the tune and my understanding around who/what plays on the beat and who/what is behind. I understand that it can vary but I'm just wondering about what my be a good formula as a starting point?

My understanding is you need to have something straightening up the beat so that others can play behind. In this case I've got the bass straightening it up, and drums rhy and lead guitars behind.

What are peoples thoughts?


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Comments

  • AndyJPAndyJP Frets: 199
    edited March 4
    Here's the work in progress.  So far there's only some lead gtr on the intro. Otherwise it's all drums, bass and rhy guitar.



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  • vizviz Frets: 8002
    Sounds cool to me!
    Anything that isn’t pentatonic is pretentious wank -  LastMantra
    more on the strength of my ability to own a PA than to play a guitar” - ICBM
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  • octatonicoctatonic Frets: 30352
    Track sounds good but really there is no firm answer to the questions you've asked.
    The best drummers can shift between laying back, pushing forward and staying on the beat.

    I prefer recording drummers who can groove over a click, rather than sticking to it in a metronomic way.
    When I play drums (my second instrument) I concentrate on staying on time.
    Better drummers than me can do that and still mess with being ahead or behind.
    I am much happier playing ahead/on/behind the beat on guitar, as the song suits but I have 3 times the experience on that instrument than I do on drums.
    YMMV.
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  • smigeonsmigeon Frets: 147
    Sounds good to me. What I do is use the drums as a reference point (we mainly use computer-generated drums rather than live ones these days), and I line things up in an initial mix in a way that seems good to me. But then when I send the mix to the other band members they often say things like "hey, I'm behind" or "I'm in front of the beat". I then try to line it up as they hear it (after all it was them that played it). Sometimes we do it interactively on Zoom and I slide the track back and forth until they recognise it's how they felt it when they played it. 

    Sometimes it ends up quite different from the way I first had it. And it's not that the initial line-up was necessarily "wrong" or bad - it's just not how the musicians heard it. When they are all happy it usually sounds good (as you'd hope) - and there's a feeling of everything coming into focus. It's quite subtle and we're talking about small numbers of milliseconds to make a significant difference - while at the same time, there can be quite a range of milliseconds over which it sounds "OK". As Paul Simon said:

    "You can sit on the top of the beat
    You can lean on the side of the beat
    You can hang from the bottom of the beat
    But you got to admit that the music is sweet"

    Of course the whole process would be easier if they'd just hit their instrument against the beats of a count I put at the start of each track, but this often doesn't happen :-).
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  • AndyJPAndyJP Frets: 199
    edited March 7
    Hey guys thx for the tips. Forgot to mention I'm using EZ drummer 2 for drums. 
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  • AndyJPAndyJP Frets: 199
    A few people noted that I using a high hat rhythm on the snare. They said it should be done on the high hat...
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  • hasslehamhassleham Frets: 394
    The swing feel on the hi-hat is too severe IMO which is giving it a bit of a disjointed feel (although that could be what you are going for and just down to my taste!)

    I've not used EZ drummer but in Logic Pro you can adjust the amount of swing which has a big effect on the feel of the drums.

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  • AndyJPAndyJP Frets: 199
    edited March 10
    Agreed, it's defo sounds disjointed. Will take on board what ya said. Thx for the input :)

    Will post up a new version in a couple of days.
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  • AndyJPAndyJP Frets: 199
    @hassleham ;@smigeon @octatonic @viz ;

    I've got a new version of this tune for you to listen to.  It's a different arrangement. Once again I'm interested to hear you feedback about the groove.




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  • GreatapeGreatape Frets: 859
    Advice I was given was 'develop an inherent awareness of metronomic time, but do not play metronomically.' So you've got to have that paradigm well established. Then over time, your understanding and perception expand. 

    Krantz, different perspective:

    On your website, you talked about how your time wasn’t cutting it during the Steely Dan sessions. That’s pretty mind-boggling because most people consider your time to be incredibly strong. Can you explain what that’s about?
    I’ve always had good time, but that’s when I realized the difference between having good time as sort of a jazz player and having good time as sort of an R&B player—there’s a different kind of placement. I’m generalizing wildly right now, but Donald [Fagen] and Walter’s [Becker] placement is centered in the beat. It’s in the middle of the beat. It’s not in front of the beat. It’s not behind the beat, although they experiment with that. They feel the time is in the center of the beat and so does their rhythm section. The guys they hire to play bass and drums also feel the center of the beat. That’s coming from an R&B place. I wasn’t there at that point—I couldn’t hear that, I couldn’t find that place. So it sounded like the band was in one time feel and I was in another and at that moment I realized, “I need to get this,” because I like the power that rhythmic ideas have when they are dead center like that. I wondered how it would work if my ideas—which are pretty radically different from their ideas rhythmically—were placed similarly, in that middle of the beat. I started working hard on that and I got it together. So, since then, my time has gotten better.

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  • hasslehamhassleham Frets: 394
    The drums definitely sound more natural now but the guitar and bass feel like they're pulling whilst swing on the drums is still pushing.

    Out of interest, did you record the guitar and bass to a click or different drum beat before adding the current drums? It doesn't quite feel like they're following the same swing at the moment.



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  • AndyJPAndyJP Frets: 199
    @hassleham thx for listening. I recorded both the guitars and bass to the new drum beat.   I can tell you that the guitar is slightly ahead of the beat because that's how I hear it.

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  • I'd be interested to hear how the main groove sounds without the backbeat at all, and then see how it feels dropping it in every few bars rather than constantly. Provides so much sonic information and is at such a constant velocity that it feels like a click rather than a human imperfect 2 and 4. Cool playing man!
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  • koneguitaristkoneguitarist Frets: 3637
    I prefer drums to be pretty much bang on, but I prefer bass to dictate the feel, by holding drummer back and creating that tension or pushing him as he tries to stay solid. No hard or fast rules, just what suits the song. 
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  • koneguitaristkoneguitarist Frets: 3637
    My thoughts on the track is guitar sounds fine to me, but would prefer bass to hold it all back a bit more. Thicken the bass up and allow it to hang back.
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  • AndyJPAndyJP Frets: 199
    edited March 25
    Ok, thx for listening and the advice :) So play the bass behind the beat yeah?
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  • koneguitaristkoneguitarist Frets: 3637
    It’s totally up to you, but to me the guitar is pushing everything and drums are up there, I think a bass slightly dragging will add that feel you are after. 
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  • AndyJPAndyJP Frets: 199
    edited March 26
    @koneguitarist gonna definitely try that over the weekend.

    Will post it up when it's done. Working on this with a really great vocalist as part of an EP.
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