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Old 09-12-2019, 10:53 PM
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Default Drums or no drums?

I have EZ Drummer and also Superior Drummer, but I'm wondering what the general feeling is on drums for acoustic folk and Americana songs at present? I listen to quite a lot of John Prine, plus Guy Clark and others. Some use drums, some don't. I often feel like preset drums kind of lock you into a drum machine sort of rhythm, which can be good or not.

I am currently getting set to record an acoustic track with just me and the guitar, or possibly with some bass guitar in the mix. Do you guys generally prefer a drum track with this sort of music, or do you prefer the free flow of just a guitar and vocals?
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Old 09-13-2019, 02:16 AM
frankmcr frankmcr is offline
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There's two options:

1) A real drummer playing drums

2) No drums
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Old 09-13-2019, 04:48 AM
Silly Moustache Silly Moustache is offline
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Electronic drums are for dance rhythms.

John Prine and Guy Clark are about lyrics.

I see no connection.
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Old 09-13-2019, 04:55 AM
RedJoker RedJoker is offline
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I see the value in both. I frequently record to a click track and then try it with or without drums and see what works. Try them both!
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Old 09-13-2019, 07:07 AM
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For the most part, I like to multitrack with a tasteful drum track, especially if there are variations and breaks in the drum track. I like the added drum track on this cut for example....
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Old 09-13-2019, 07:23 AM
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Depends on the track. Americana as a genre encompasses music as diverse as the strictly acoustic traditional old-time mountain music of The Reel Time Travelers to the drum laden, hard driving country-rock sound of Wilco.

I recently recorded a song which I considered to be a folk tune, and as such had never envisioned any percussion in the arrangement. Once I recorded guitar, voice and bass I started fooling around with some electronic percussion instruments and was pleasantly surprised to find it complemented the track very nicely. When doing any arranging it's always a good idea to keep your mind and your options open. You just never know what might sound right.
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Old 09-13-2019, 07:45 AM
Kerbie Kerbie is offline
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I've played percussion almost my entire life, but I have to admit... I'm not a fan of drum tracks. If I'm listening to a small number of guitarists, I don't think drums add much. Maybe if it's a muted "acoustic" set, hand drum, cajon, etc. But drum tracks don't do anything for me... sorry for my distaste. Can't help it.
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Old 09-13-2019, 08:13 AM
MikeBmusic MikeBmusic is offline
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It really does depend on the song!
These days I always track my songs to a drum track - I will pick a simple 4/4 beat for example, in EZ Drummer, rather than a click track. First time through, I will note if the chorus/bridge needs a tempo change, adjust the drum track accordingly, and then track the instruments. If its a pure acoustic track, EZ Drummer gets muted when I get to the mixing stage.
If its a song that I think will be good for drums, I will program the drums usually before recording anything past the initial guitar and vocal rough tracks.
'Canned' drums don't have to sound like dance loops these days. EZ Drummer 2 has great humanizing capabilities, and a little experience on how to vary drum patterns (via MIDI piano roll editing) goes a long way.
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Old 09-13-2019, 08:20 AM
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BoneDigger not sure what exactly what you mean by "preset drums"

Do you mean pre recorded multi drum loops (of analog drums) that come as complete preset "audio file" that has all the different drum parts (kick, snare, toms , cymbals , etc. already recorded ?

Or do you mean pre recorded single individual drum hit instrument sounds (or "Samples") of different analog drums, i.e. kick, snare, toms, cymbals, etc. ) that you play in as single hits with a midi keyboard , or program in manually as midi notes to trigger single note presets of individual analog drums, with individual instruments being selectable ?

There is a fairly significant difference and feel to those two completely different "presets"

And Silly the term "Electronic drums" ( which is generalized term) in this context is far too ambiguous for this thread, not to mention the type of electronic drum sounds used in Dance or Trance music, is usually very different than what this thread is about . For one thing those drum sounds are intentionally "locked to the grid" and what BoneDigger is asking about has the option of intentionally not being locked to a grid. There is a big difference.

So that being said:

For me it is not a "which one" situation, I do and like both . It totally depends on the specific song and the feel I am going for. The real beauty of digital recording is you are not locked into either you record the Guitar and vocal and you can record some drums was well and simply mute them if you like the guitar and vocal better . It is a total win win
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Old 09-13-2019, 08:26 AM
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There is always the option of percussion rather then a full drum kit. These days you can get quality loops either in midi, Rex, acid etc. Many loop sets are complete with options for verse, pre-chorus, chorus, bridges and fills for each, all played by professional players.
Once you find the right pocket you can replace hits/drums with alternate sounds such as bongos and/or timbales for snare hits, shakers for high hats and so on. I tend tend to keep a kick drum as is. You already have ezdrums and superior drummer so you already have all the tools needed as well as some sample loops.


It takes work but in the end you can come up with percussion tracks that are understated but fully support a grove. Im working on a project now we’re I'm doing just that. Hope to be down in about a month.
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Old 09-13-2019, 08:41 AM
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For home recording, I do think quality drum loops can be a huge benefit. They've come a long way. Most good loops today area actual recordings of pros playing. So it's real. For home recording, you'd be hard pressed to get a recording of a real drummer in your basement that a) played as well as the pro and b) got you the sonic quality of the pro's recording. You just have to then have a good ear and technical skill to put it all together so it fits the song and has enough variety to it so it doesn't too repetitive.

I've played in live projects where drum loops were used. There are plusses and minuses, but I would rather have no drums than play with drum tracks live. It kills spontaneity…

But real live percussion adds a lot in my opinion. Depends on what kind of music you're playing I suppose. I do a lot of pop/rock, so it adds. I play with a singer who plays various percussion shakers, tambo, etc. Big plus. We also sometimes add a buddy on cajon. His set up include a little splash and a kick trigger. Sounds great to me and adds a lot.
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  #12  
Old 09-13-2019, 09:45 AM
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BoneDigger BoneDigger is offline
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For the purposes of this discussion I am primarily talking about multi drum loops like found in EZ Drummer's browser library. These include all of the drum parts set to varying patterns. I am getting better at adding fills, etc., but I'm just trying to figure out if these types of drums really contribute significantly to an easy arrangement of singer and guitar, or if it's just not a positive addition in general for folk music?
Quote:
Originally Posted by KevWind View Post
BoneDigger not sure what exactly what you mean by "preset drums"

Do you mean pre recorded multi drum loops (of analog drums) that come as complete preset "audio file" that has all the different drum parts (kick, snare, toms , cymbals , etc. already recorded ?

Or do you mean pre recorded single individual drum hit instrument sounds (or "Samples") of different analog drums, i.e. kick, snare, toms, cymbals, etc. ) that you play in as single hits with a midi keyboard , or program in manually as midi notes to trigger single note presets of individual analog drums, with individual instruments being selectable ?

There is a fairly significant difference and feel to those two completely different "presets"

And Silly the term "Electronic drums" ( which is generalized term) in this context is far too ambiguous for this thread, not to mention the type of electronic drum sounds used in Dance or Trance music, is usually very different than what this thread is about . For one thing those drum sounds are intentionally "locked to the grid" and what BoneDigger is asking about has the option of intentionally not being locked to a grid. There is a big difference.

So that being said:

For me it is not a "which one" situation, I do and like both . It totally depends on the specific song and the feel I am going for. The real beauty of digital recording is you are not locked into either you record the Guitar and vocal and you can record some drums was well and simply mute them if you like the guitar and vocal better . It is a total win win
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Old 09-13-2019, 10:01 AM
Brent Hahn Brent Hahn is offline
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Maybe it'll help to think of it in terms of rhythm and groove, rather than what you use to make it. Sometimes all a recording needs is some picking and strumming, sometimes it needs more. The more time you spend recording and experimenting, the closer you'll come to figuring out what works for you.

I think this is interesting -- it's a live recording done for a radio show, with a couple singers, a quiet fingerpicked guitar, a pedal steel... and a percussionist just barely grazing a snare drum with his fingertips.

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Old 09-13-2019, 10:58 AM
Silly Moustache Silly Moustache is offline
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Nah, electric drums etc., no good - they always slow down!
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Old 09-13-2019, 11:43 AM
FrankHudson FrankHudson is offline
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As to what I read as your main question, about if it's appropriate to use drums with acoustic guitar music: you've absorbed an important principle involved here when you noticed "Some use drums, some don't."

Some drums in some arrangements work great. Some drums in some other arrangements don't. Some genres have a tradition of no drums (bluegrass, gypsy jazz)--other styles almost expect them.

You're the arranger it seems. You decide, and your decision may vary from song to song. Some will disagree with you, no matter which option you select.

There's now a side discussion of the various methods to include drums which don't involve recording a real drummer playing acoustic drums, which brings in other opinions on other issues.

My opinion, my practice, is that some arrangements nearly require drums though I rarely have had access to a full drum set player for decades now. For some things (note, I'm not saying all things, and for some people's music it this doesn't come up at all) I'd rather have the flakiest fixed drum loop than no drums. I say this even as a lover of good drumming, of the music and timbre of acoustic drums.

Luckily these days there are a great many things that one can do without mic'ing a real acoustic drum set. That's a huge subject. Just a few:

You can play your EZ/Superior Drummer drums with anything from one of those rack mounted "electronic drum sets" to your fingers or keys or finger pads. You can add your own hits over a pattern and alter a pattern before or after you've recorded it. You can add your own "real" mic'ed percussion to a track, even something as small as shakers, tambourine, or the like. You can gate/duck your drums with another instrument. Volume and tempo automation functions in DAWs can add variation and follow the rest of the arrangement.

Like I said, the "how to" is a big subject. But as to the OP's original question: for some things drums (even if they aren't "real" drums) are a plus, for other things they aren't. You have to decide for yourself.
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