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  #16  
Old 09-13-2019, 12:14 PM
runamuck runamuck is offline
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Another option is to use samples but play the parts in yourself instead of using a MIDI loop. That's what I do.
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  #17  
Old 09-13-2019, 08:52 PM
jim1960 jim1960 is online now
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Originally Posted by BoneDigger View Post
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?
There's really no single answer to what you're asking. It's almost always going to come down to some combination of what the song calls for and what kind of production you're after. Some songs really can be done either way and sound equally wonderful.

Here's an example:
John Waite's hit record, Missing You, has drums throughout. Because of the arrangement of the other instruments, the drums were necessary to this production.

David Wilcox did a version of the same song but for the first half of it there are no drums. The guitar arrangement probably could have carried the song with no drums throughout, but I understand why he'd choose to use them to ramp up the energy.


As for Superior Drummer, it's an excellent program but you have to work at it. It's unlikely that just popping the blocks together is going to produce anything inspiring. When I use it, it takes hours of auditioning blocks and figuring out what part of each block to use ...and that goes for the fills as well. In the end it turns out to be a lot of cutting and pasting to make a track but you can make some very good sounding drum tracks if you're patient and have a good sense of what the song wants.
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  #18  
Old 09-13-2019, 11:20 PM
Glennwillow Glennwillow is offline
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I always try to record a song with just voice and guitar first and see if it works. Most of the time it does. But sometimes the song just needs more.

For example, last week I recorded Gordon Lightfoot's "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald." I tried the voice and guitar thing, and it just didn't sound right to me at all. The song needed those drums and that lead guitar, in particular. Maybe it's the sea chanty feel of this song that requires something else beyond the guitar and voice.

So I redid the whole thing from scratch, this time with drums, bass guitar, lead electric guitar along with the voice and 12-string guitar. I thought it came out better, so I put it up on YouTube. I used Easy Drummer.

When I use Easy Drummer, I always use pre-recorded tracks played by real drummers so that they have the feel of a real drummer. I understand the distaste that real drummers like Silly Moustache and Kerbie have for drum tracks, but programs like Easy Drummer are quite sophisticated.

I'm not sure why drums and other instruments might be necessary, but it seems that some songs are complete with just a guitar and voice. Some songs need more.

I do think many people want to hear what a person can do with just a voice and guitar, so if you can pull this off, I think it can be more powerful.

When I did Paul Simon's "Sound of Silence" I could have left it as just an acoustic song, though I did feel that the 2nd harmony voice was necessary. As it was, I added drums, bass and electric guitar once I got into the song as kind of an illustration of what Columbia did with Simon & Garfunkel's original acoustic recording but later overlaying drums, bass and electric guitar.



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Last edited by Glennwillow; 09-13-2019 at 11:31 PM.
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  #19  
Old 09-14-2019, 10:01 AM
Mr. Jelly Mr. Jelly is offline
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If the songs are of good enough quality then drums are not needed. If the songs are not good enough why play them?
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  #20  
Old 09-14-2019, 11:02 AM
runamuck runamuck is offline
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Originally Posted by Mr. Jelly View Post
If the songs are of good enough quality then drums are not needed. If the songs are not good enough why play them?
I don't think that's necessarily true. Imagine the best songs of Led Zeppelin without drums, as just one example of thousands.
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  #21  
Old 09-14-2019, 11:13 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by runamuck View Post
I don't think that's necessarily true. Imagine the best songs of Led Zeppelin without drums, as just one example of thousands.
I think any Zep song could have been played with out drums, but then it would have to be a different arrangement and this would not have been what Zep was all about. So I’m with you on this.

So it all comes down to are you willing to, if needed, rework a song so it works with out drums
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  #22  
Old 09-14-2019, 12:27 PM
Glennwillow Glennwillow is offline
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I've heard the comment over the years, "The only person who likes change is a baby with a wet diaper."

Most people get used to a song as it sounded when it was a hit on the radio. When a cover of that song is done, most people don't expect it to be a complete reproduction or clone of the original, or why bother listening to anything but the original? At the same time, they expect to be able to instantly recognize the song. There is a signature to the song as they remember it. Sometimes, part of that signature is the drums, a lead guitar pattern, a bass pattern, whatever.

Good players can always rework a song, but there is a risk to that, in that some people are going to hate the changes you've made. (Some people loved Eric Clapton's acoustic version of "Layla" and some people hated it.) Sometimes the risk is worth it if you can come up with a rearrangement that is really original and really appealing. In my experience -- because I have done a lot of this -- is that about one rearrangement in ten actually is acceptable to most listeners. If you are doing music in your living room or bedroom for yourself or your dog, where nobody else ever hears what you do, then there are no limits. But if you are playing for the enjoyment of others, it matters how your audience reacts.

Most people like what they know and don't like change. In my opinion, that's why drums in some -- not all -- songs are needed.

Regarding real vs sampled drums, I have spent a lot of time recording real acoustic drums when I worked with my son's prog-rock back in 1999 to record a couple of CD albums. It's hard, tedious work that not only requires a lot of time but requires a lot of good, expensive equipment to do it right. High quality sampled drums have already been recorded by good engineers using good equipment, and it can be a challenge to get real, acoustic recorded drum sounds to sound as good as the high quality sampled drums out there today. For most of us who are just trying to have fun with music, using sampled drum sounds allow us to get there quickly and with good overall sound. In fact, some of the drummers I have worked with had no problem, on occasion, using not only real but also sampled drums and percussion in their recordings. Their attitude tended to be, why reinvent the wheel if I've already got the sound I want right here? One drummer I worked with asked me to mix in a sampled snare drum with his own snare drum to get the overall sound he wanted for a particular song.

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  #23  
Old 09-14-2019, 12:47 PM
Nama Ensou Nama Ensou is offline
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FrankHudson made one of my favorite posts in the thread and is spot on. It's your music and you're the one that has to be satisfied with the results.

I just recorded a 12 song CD and have programmed drum tracks for all except one, and no one has even seemed to notice that there are no drums on the all instrumental song, which except for the lead solo at the end is all acoustic guitar, including the bass part.
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  #24  
Old 09-14-2019, 06:26 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr. Jelly View Post
If the songs are of good enough quality then drums are not needed. If the songs are not good enough why play them?
That's not true at all.
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  #25  
Old 09-14-2019, 06:46 PM
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Drums can also play a non-rhythmic role. The drums on this song are synth drums. I don't remember exactly what we used because this song of mine was recorded almost 20 years ago. There weren't a lot of tracks in this song... just vocals, acoustic rhythm, acoustic lead, and bass. I remember that it didn't quite sit right with me. I thought it needed a drum track and the person who was doing the tracking borrowed a studio with a kit and we spent a few hours there trying out various things, none of which felt right for the song. I liked the song but I thought it might get chucked in the bin because it was falling a little flat. Then I got the idea to use a drum track differently. Rather than have it keep some kind of rhythm, I'd use it more as a lead instrument. In this non-traditional role, I think the drums really give this song dimension.

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  #26  
Old 09-14-2019, 08:41 PM
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I was listening to this song by John Prine. The first verse and chorus have no percussion, then the rest does. I think the whole song could have been done without drums, but the percussion does add a little and make it more rhythmic.

https://youtu.be/QYxlxYSCvFg
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  #27  
Old 09-14-2019, 09:46 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BoneDigger View Post
I was listening to this song by John Prine. The first verse and chorus have no percussion, then the rest does. I think the whole song could have been done without drums, but the percussion does add a little and make it more rhythmic.

https://youtu.be/QYxlxYSCvFg
While I agree that the whole song could have been done without drums, the drums add some instrumental variety which makes the arrangement more interesting. I also appreciate that the drums remained unobtrusive, not changing the essential character of the song. BTW- towards the end of the song the drums drop out for 4 measures leaving a break with just guitar, bass and penny whistle, and then return, which is a clever way to keep the arrangement fresh for the listener.
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  #28  
Old 09-14-2019, 10:22 PM
Nama Ensou Nama Ensou is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr. Jelly View Post
If the songs are of good enough quality then drums are not needed.
I'll go ahead and complete this thought. If a song is good enough it doesn't need anything outside of the core structure and melody, but adding things like lyrics, drums, bass and other instrumentation can take the same good song and make it great.

It's not the quality of the song that determines whether it will benefit from drums or not, but rather the vision of the artist themselves.

Quote:
If the songs are not good enough why play them?
Good point, but the key is, who gets to decide if they're good enough? That is up to the individual who wrote it and many "not good enough" songs are very good, just lacking enough conviction on the part of the writer or their friends.

Most songs that are not good enough just require the attention to detail and to remove or rebuild the deficient areas.
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  #29  
Old 09-14-2019, 11:24 PM
jim1960 jim1960 is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BoneDigger View Post
I was listening to this song by John Prine. The first verse and chorus have no percussion, then the rest does. I think the whole song could have been done without drums, but the percussion does add a little and make it more rhythmic.
It's a way to build energy in a song and there was more than just drums going on there. A second guitar comes in on the back half of the 1st verse, a bass came in at the same time as the drums, background oohs came in on the 2nd verse, then switched to background vocals on the chorus. A whistle gets added on the bridge, and then the energy drops a bit only to start building again.

It's a common technique. You can hear the same kind of thing going on in this Richard Shindell song. It's just him and his guitar in the beginning. By the time we hit the second verse a piano has come in, and the song continues to add parts until the music break. Then it drops back down and starts to build up again.

This is why great producers get big money.

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  #30  
Old 09-15-2019, 12:43 AM
Glennwillow Glennwillow is offline
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Hi Jim,

I have always thought that Richard Shindell's "Wisteria" was such a touching song. I appreciate being reminded of it once more. That violin solo in the middle always gets to me...

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