Rick Beato on quantising in rock music

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  • digitalscreamdigitalscream Frets: 13931
    Watched that this morning...his central assertion is wrong, though. Computers didn't do anything; people did, by abusing the tools available to take the path of least resistance.
    "Mains is ouchy if you get it up you" - Sporky
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  • octatonicoctatonic Frets: 21326
    Agree with Lee.
    Gridding is a choice and when producer/engineers work with good musicians they can choose not to grid the fuck out of everything.


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  • monquixotemonquixote Frets: 8931
    The problem is the existence of the tech creates a pressure to use it.

    You can get slick sounding records faster by approaching things that way so record companies are going to push producers and bands to work like that because it's cheaper.

    Unless you are indie, or big enough to do what you like you may not get a choice.
    Handsome_Chris said: Like white Nile Rodgers. 
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  • octatonicoctatonic Frets: 21326
    The problem is the existence of the tech creates a pressure to use it.

    You can get slick sounding records faster by approaching things that way so record companies are going to push producers and bands to work like that because it's cheaper.

    Unless you are indie, or big enough to do what you like you may not get a choice.
    It is a bit like the loudness wars- we had to go to 'peak loudness' before people got sick of it and then started to make quieter records.
    Same with gridding- everything in the 00's was totally gridded but we are starting to see records that preserve the timing of the players.

    I haven't looked but I'd be surprised if any Clutch records were gridded- Jean-Paul Gaster is such a monster drummer that it is just unnecessary and counter-productive.


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  • I've never hard-gridded any of our stuff. Slip edited yes, but I'd make certain choices whether a beat would be before, on, or after the beat in order to impart or enhance a particular feel.
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  • digitalscreamdigitalscream Frets: 13931
    The problem is the existence of the tech creates a pressure to use it.

    You can get slick sounding records faster by approaching things that way so record companies are going to push producers and bands to work like that because it's cheaper.

    Unless you are indie, or big enough to do what you like you may not get a choice.
    True enough, but there's almost a movement amongst some of the older and more influential producers against computers in the recording process, blaming them for all the ills that have befallen rock music; that's patently ridiculous to me.

    Yes, there was a pressure to use Beat Detective and autotune, but that's mainly because there was a pressure from the record companies at the time to produce ever more releases with as little money as possible. As he showed in that video, these tools save masses of time. Not only from the perspective of tracking, but also when you want to make wholesale changes to the music itself. That actually gave the labels more control over the end product - they could literally change drum beats and song structures to make them more radio-friendly after the fact with almost trivial effort (and they'd be paying one person to do it instead of paying the whole band plus engineers to re-record it).

    Sure, blaming the existence of the tools is quick, easy route to success (and it always gets a ton of YouTube views), but that's as much of a fallacy as the over-use of the very thing they're complaining about. The real cause, for me, was actually the initial conditions which made the use of these plugins a necessity; top-down pressure from the business side of the music industry. The labels simply wanted to chuck as much cheaply-produced music at the wall to see what stuck. That cheapness then became the benchmark for all subsequent releases...and boom! Sanitised rock music everywhere.

    The hilarious part is that he's trying to address rock music here, where there's another place it's even worse - the Nashville country factory.
    "Mains is ouchy if you get it up you" - Sporky
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  • stickyfiddlestickyfiddle Frets: 11202
    I agree with all of the above, pretty much.  

    The issue isn't the existence and/or use of the tech on a conceptual level, it's the reliance on it to "make product" quickly and cheaply, to the detriment of the ultimate quality of the music. 

    As for Nashville country, there is a growing movement away from the awful sugar-coated generic pop nonsense, but it'll be a long time before that stuff has gone away.
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  • robertyroberty Frets: 1225
    Quantising the drums just makes it easier to edit later on, and you don't have to spend ages in the studio listening to every minute detail and doing drop ins. It won't sound much different if the timing was good to start with
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  • guitarfishbayguitarfishbay Frets: 7516
    Tasteful editing can improve things. Plus it’s possible to do a small amount of editing and for it to be almost completely invisible.

    Tools aren’t inherently evil, and usage of them isn’t necessarily equally skilled either.
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  • robertyroberty Frets: 1225
    Tasteful editing can improve things. Plus it’s possible to do a small amount of editing and for it to be almost completely invisible.

    Tools aren’t inherently evil, and usage of them isn’t necessarily equally skilled either.
    Yeah the examples in the video are major label radio pop rock, extremely processed as a production decision
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  • mixolydmixolyd Frets: 388
    He has a point when he asserts that the technology killed rock music: by the time it had been used for a few years in the noughties the market for rock collapsed and record companies stopped funding new acts.  Now rock is just a niche genre and without that massive funding it may never return to the mainstream.
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  • digitalscreamdigitalscream Frets: 13931
    edited April 15
    mixolyd said:
    He has a point when he asserts that the technology killed rock music: by the time it had been used for a few years in the noughties the market for rock collapsed and record companies stopped funding new acts.  Now rock is just a niche genre and without that massive funding it may never return to the mainstream.
    Only in as much as the record companies discovered that tech had advanced to the point where it was much faster, cheaper and easier to produce pop music with generic backing and hire a singer to croon over the top of it than it was to manage a rock album through to release and beyond. Prior to that point, the simplest way to make a recording was to have musicians play their parts; now, though, it could all be done by one person in an afternoon (given the right tech resources). Basically, it did for music what production line automation did for manufacturing.

    Thus 95% of the music released was nothing to do with rock (and its associated genres) - and the marketing was easier too, because it focused on an individual.

    This is precisely the point where music became a commodity, leading to the situation today where there's a glut of music around, worth almost nothing, treated by most young folk as something to have on in the background while other things are happening as opposed to something to focus on and enjoy in itself.
    "Mains is ouchy if you get it up you" - Sporky
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  • GrumpyrockerGrumpyrocker Frets: 1264
    It's not the fault of tech, it's what people choose to do with it.

    I use Easy Drummer 2 for my meagre recordings and it has a humanise feature to avoid hard gridding. Makes the beats sound so much more natural.

    That said, there's a time and place for being absolutely bang on - Megadeth did it deliberately on the Countdown to Extinction album and the whole album sounds like a relentless marching army of metal. 

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  • guitarfishbayguitarfishbay Frets: 7516
    I've never hard-gridded any of our stuff. Slip edited yes, but I'd make certain choices whether a beat would be before, on, or after the beat in order to impart or enhance a particular feel.

    This is where it's at for me.

    Editing gives you the choice to present your music as you intend.  And I maintain that a lot of people can't tell unless the editing is bad, the performance was so bad that the editing can't feasibly sound good (so the raw probably didn't either), or it's deliberately trying to sound 'edited'.
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  • Arktik83Arktik83 Frets: 337
    edited April 15
    I could see his point about it was OK if a rock song was loose but the whole idea that rock music was killed by tech was far reaching and I personally believe his actual opinion would probably be a lot more measured but that wouldn't get views on the youtube so he has to have a polarizing opinion to set of discussion and interaction. 

    I like the presentation of his videos and knowledge that he has but I think rock music isn't in the mainstream anymore because it's mostly homogeneous and everyone sounds the same.  I think rock music today, is more about the experience of hearing it live and the energy of that than it is listening to it on Spotify. 

    The example he used of Halestorm is a great example in my eyes, I bet if you went to their show it'd probably be a blast but would I listen to an entire album of their stuff?  No thanks.  I think rock music producers, bands etc. should look at how they can sound more distinctive rather than blame beat detective for the reason they're not making platinum records anymore.
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  • guitarfishbayguitarfishbay Frets: 7516
    Arktik83 said:

     I think rock music producers, bands etc. should look at how they can sound more distinctive rather than blame beat detective for the reason they're not making platinum records anymore.

    Actually I think it's more than just the music, I agree with Finn McKenty on this.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eCHj2GHEhOo
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  • robertyroberty Frets: 1225
    Arktik83 said:

     I think rock music producers, bands etc. should look at how they can sound more distinctive rather than blame beat detective for the reason they're not making platinum records anymore.

    Actually I think it's more than just the music, I agree with Finn McKenty on this.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eCHj2GHEhOo
    The world has changed too.  Music reflects the environment and big noisy machines like jumbo jets and marshall stacks are not new any more like they were in the 60s and 70s. The new technology now is miniature and personalised and highly precise, people listen to precise beeps and clicks and feel a connection with an individual rather than a group. Everything these days is processed in some way too, food, photography, vocals
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  • FreebirdFreebird Frets: 1831
    The problem is the existence of the tech creates a pressure to use it.

    You can get slick sounding records faster by approaching things that way so record companies are going to push producers and bands to work like that because it's cheaper.
    The person who invented the metronome needs to be shot!
    “When you strike at a king, you must kill him.” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson
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  • I use Easy Drummer 2 for my meagre recordings and it has a humanise feature to avoid hard gridding. Makes the beats sound so much more natural.
    I've done a fair bit of research in this area as part of my job, and basically all any of the software packages are doing is adding some gaussian noise to the note start position in order to simulate humanness.

    But that actually isn't what humans do when they're playing music. 

    "People often perceive perfectly timed computer-generated
    beats as artificial and lacking a human touch. Professional
    audio editing software therefore offers a humanizing feature
    that artificially generates rhythmic fluctuations. However,
    those built-in functions are essentially random number generators
    producing only uncorrelated fluctuations—white
    noise. The result is a rough ride: a rather bumpy, jerking
    rhythm. As an alternative approach to humanizing music,
    one could more closely imitate the human type of imperfection
    by introducing rhythmic deviations that exhibit LRCs.
    To test how humanized music is received by listeners,
    our group, in collaboration with a recording studio, edited a
    pop song into two different versions—one humanized with
    white-noise fluctuations, the other humanized with LRCs.
    Asked for their preference, respondents significantly chose
    the LRC version over its white-noise counterpart."
    Source: https://physicstoday.scitation.org/doi/pdf/10.1063/PT.3.1650


    An LRC is a long-range correlation. It's basically a description of how a drummer adjusts their synchronisation with the rest of the music over time. This affects the perceived humanity of the performance.
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  • FreebirdFreebird Frets: 1831
    edited April 16
    I've done a fair bit of research in this area as part of my job, and basically all any of the software packages are doing is adding some gaussian noise to the note start position in order to simulate humanness.

    But that actually isn't what humans do when they're playing music.

    ----

    Source: https://physicstoday.scitation.org/doi/pdf/10.1063/PT.3.1650

    An LRC is a long-range correlation. It's basically a description of how a drummer adjusts their synchronisation with the rest of the music over time. This affects the perceived humanity of the performance.
    It would be nice to have a system where you could set the BPM per bar or section, with algorithmic control over the rate of increase/decrease.
    “When you strike at a king, you must kill him.” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson
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  • robertyroberty Frets: 1225
    Freebird said:
    I've done a fair bit of research in this area as part of my job, and basically all any of the software packages are doing is adding some gaussian noise to the note start position in order to simulate humanness.

    But that actually isn't what humans do when they're playing music.

    ----

    Source: https://physicstoday.scitation.org/doi/pdf/10.1063/PT.3.1650

    An LRC is a long-range correlation. It's basically a description of how a drummer adjusts their synchronisation with the rest of the music over time. This affects the perceived humanity of the performance.
    It would be nice to have a system where you could set the BPM per bar or section, with algorithmic control over the rate of increase/decrease.
    You can set tempo and time signature changes in Pro Tools, and most DAWs I expect
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  • StuckfastStuckfast Frets: 542
    Try the timing correction in Melodyne 4 if you ever get a chance, it's amazing what it can do while retaining a natural feel.

    But recording to metronomic beats has been around since the 1970s at least. It's pretty much the sound of disco at least from the Bee Gees onwards.
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  • FreebirdFreebird Frets: 1831
    roberty said:
    Freebird said:
    I've done a fair bit of research in this area as part of my job, and basically all any of the software packages are doing is adding some gaussian noise to the note start position in order to simulate humanness.

    But that actually isn't what humans do when they're playing music.

    ----

    Source: https://physicstoday.scitation.org/doi/pdf/10.1063/PT.3.1650

    An LRC is a long-range correlation. It's basically a description of how a drummer adjusts their synchronisation with the rest of the music over time. This affects the perceived humanity of the performance.
    It would be nice to have a system where you could set the BPM per bar or section, with algorithmic control over the rate of increase/decrease.
    You can set tempo and time signature changes in Pro Tools, and most DAWs I expect
    Yeah, you can, but I'm thinking about something much better than that which mimics a real drum player  :)
    “When you strike at a king, you must kill him.” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson
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  • FreebirdFreebird Frets: 1831
    edited April 16
    roberty said:
    Freebird said:
    I've done a fair bit of research in this area as part of my job, and basically all any of the software packages are doing is adding some gaussian noise to the note start position in order to simulate humanness.

    But that actually isn't what humans do when they're playing music.

    ----

    Source: https://physicstoday.scitation.org/doi/pdf/10.1063/PT.3.1650

    An LRC is a long-range correlation. It's basically a description of how a drummer adjusts their synchronisation with the rest of the music over time. This affects the perceived humanity of the performance.
    It would be nice to have a system where you could set the BPM per bar or section, with algorithmic control over the rate of increase/decrease.
    You can set tempo and time signature changes in Pro Tools, and most DAWs I expect
    Yeah, you can, but I'm thinking about something much better than this. A fully controllable intelligent algorithm which can mimic a real drummer, and can recreate the timing, energy and velocity changes of a real live performance.
    “When you strike at a king, you must kill him.” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson
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  • StuckfastStuckfast Frets: 542
    I actually think the idea that quantising is the problem is misplaced. A good studio drummer is perfectly capable of playing bang on the click to a pretty high degree of precision, without quantising. Gridding things is only really necessary for sloppy musicians or when you actually want it to sound unnatural.

    For me the real problem is that people stopped making rock records by recording a band playing together. Instead they got into this thing where the drums would be tracked first and then everything else got built up through overdubs.
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  • WiresDreamDisastersWiresDreamDisasters Frets: 1851
    edited April 17
    Stuckfast said:
    I actually think the idea that quantising is the problem is misplaced. A good studio drummer is perfectly capable of playing bang on the click to a pretty high degree of precision, without quantising. Gridding things is only really necessary for sloppy musicians or when you actually want it to sound unnatural.

    For me the real problem is that people stopped making rock records by recording a band playing together. Instead they got into this thing where the drums would be tracked first and then everything else got built up through overdubs.
    But even in the 1960's music was made in a multi-tracked fashion. You couldn't say that The Beatles for example were ruined by their multi-track approach.

    Asynchronous multi-track recording dates back even further, to the 1940's. Les Paul apparently was the pioneer of that approach.

    Point being - there definitely has been an increase of relying on editing to fix sloppy musicians, and there definitely has been an increase in relying on the tools for tightness.
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  • FreebirdFreebird Frets: 1831
    edited April 17
    Stuckfast said:
    I actually think the idea that quantising is the problem is misplaced. A good studio drummer is perfectly capable of playing bang on the click to a pretty high degree of precision, without quantising. Gridding things is only really necessary for sloppy musicians or when you actually want it to sound unnatural.
    A good drummer can absolutely play on the click, but a lot of the time they don't want to. They like to drive the song by speeding up and slowing down using techniques such as dragging and rushing, and they also do stuff like playing off the beat, etc. If you load some old songs into a DAW you can see how far they drift off the click.
    “When you strike at a king, you must kill him.” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson
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  • StuckfastStuckfast Frets: 542
    Well, exactly -- if you have a good drummer you can choose whether you want that person to play in a metronomic fashion or in a freer way. The invention of quantising made it easier to do the metronomic thing but by itself it isn't responsible for a lack of 'feel' in modern records. There are rock records that are deliberately metronomic and sound great, like some Krautrock stuff for instance, or early Devo. One of the earliest uses of a drum loop in a pop hit was on the original version of Step On by John Kongos, which is an ace record and has a ton of feel.

    Also, I don't think the Beatles made many records entirely through overdubbing, did they? Most of them started with a band performance to which vocals, bass and some other overdubs would be added later.
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  • robertyroberty Frets: 1225
    Stuckfast said:
    Also, I don't think the Beatles made many records entirely through overdubbing, did they? Most of them started with a band performance to which vocals, bass and some other overdubs would be added later.
    Yeah the default way of recording rock is everyone tracks together to get the vibe and then you throw everything out except the drums

    Tom Morello posted this in IG the other day, looks like RAtM did record live in the studio:


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  • PolarityManPolarityMan Frets: 4661

    I use Easy Drummer 2 for my meagre recordings and it has a humanise feature to avoid hard gridding. Makes the beats sound so much more natural.
    I've done a fair bit of research in this area as part of my job, and basically all any of the software packages are doing is adding some gaussian noise to the note start position in order to simulate humanness.

    But that actually isn't what humans do when they're playing music. 

    "People often perceive perfectly timed computer-generated
    beats as artificial and lacking a human touch. Professional
    audio editing software therefore offers a humanizing feature
    that artificially generates rhythmic fluctuations. However,
    those built-in functions are essentially random number generators
    producing only uncorrelated fluctuations—white
    noise. The result is a rough ride: a rather bumpy, jerking
    rhythm. As an alternative approach to humanizing music,
    one could more closely imitate the human type of imperfection
    by introducing rhythmic deviations that exhibit LRCs.
    To test how humanized music is received by listeners,
    our group, in collaboration with a recording studio, edited a
    pop song into two different versions—one humanized with
    white-noise fluctuations, the other humanized with LRCs.
    Asked for their preference, respondents significantly chose
    the LRC version over its white-noise counterpart."
    Source: https://physicstoday.scitation.org/doi/pdf/10.1063/PT.3.1650


    An LRC is a long-range correlation. It's basically a description of how a drummer adjusts their synchronisation with the rest of the music over time. This affects the perceived humanity of the performance.
    I could pretty accurately predict where my drummers inaccuracies would be and simulate him...not sure that would help though :)
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