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soul&folk
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« on: January 05, 2005, 03:48:27 PM »

When I sit down to start working on a song, I often find getting the click track right very time consuming.

I've been using the metronome in N, which takes me too long (maybe it's just me...), or creating a drum track in some freeware and exporting to N (which is also time consuming - especially since if the timing is too fast or too slow, you have to start the whole process all over again)

Last week I tried something different. I used the zoom ps04 (which is a drum machine and a 4 track handheld multitrack recorder) and just went straight from the headphone out into my mixer. All of a sudden I had flexibility of manual immediate adjustment of tempo and rhythm types  -- much more than a click track, and many will argue too much. -- Leaving that question aside, it just occured to me that perhaps I could just buy a tiny metranome and use the heaphone out in the same way? I just checked some out and I see they go for $25. Not a bad solution to something that's been such a pain for so long, I think.

Anyone out there do that?  Anyone with a better idea?
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« Reply #1 on: January 05, 2005, 04:09:02 PM »

Let's flashback to the days of the analog tape recorder first.  


What I used to have to do was record an electronic metronome to a blank track via DI and then use that for the rest of the project.  


Sound familiar?  

When I was a kid with his first sound-on-sound setup I used to tap on the one mic I had with a pencil.  Don't laugh, I learned to keep dead even time and meter from that experience, learned to judge BPM by looking at my writswatch's second hand, it is the trial and tribulation that tempers.  Sometimes having to do something every way but the right way due to lack of funds and materials has its merits over a lifetime.  


Even with the embedded Midi metronomes of today's sequencing softwares I will not leave it in the Midi domain if I'm adding audio tracks to the click, I convert the Midi Click Track to an Audio Track and mute the Midi.  This pre-emptively eliminates any timing or lag issues between my handful of hardware midi synths, software synths, soundfont cards and players and also my audio soundcard stuff.  Wav times off of Wav and when I'm working only in the Midi domain, Midi times off of Midi.  

Being able to view the graphic waveform of an audio click track can make for extremely simple marking points at editing time, too.  You can see exactly where every beat starts.  


Your newly discovered old method should prove to work quite well for you.  

Those who may be wondering if they are making a mistake using the Midi click need not worry either.  

Only those who are trying to record multiple tracks at different times are the ones who are going to have the dreaded timing problems in the finished work.  Of course, they will stand behind the oft-mentioned "breathing" that music is supposed to suffer from.  When any three or four or more instruments are supposed to initiate a note together and instead we hear the telltale "t-t-t-" at the beginning of the note, that's not breathing, that is someone fighting for air.  

If it works, use it.  


--Mac
« Last Edit: January 05, 2005, 04:19:58 PM by Mac » Logged
soul&folk
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« Reply #2 on: January 05, 2005, 04:16:37 PM »

I hear you.

I wonder if anyone has written a program just for click tracks. I think it would be great to have someting that has the look of a simple metronome, but you can dial in various standard rhythyms and tempos. Plus it would need to be very easy way to blend a few rhythms sequences together, so that you could set up an entire song as one track without needing to work on your click track past that initial setup. Is there such a program?
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« Reply #3 on: January 05, 2005, 05:00:03 PM »

I use MIDI and a VSTi for all of my click tracks, but I render them to wav. This way the click is always consistant. I usually just make a measure of cow bell hits and copy and doa multiple paste. The only time this gets weird is when there are tempo changes and a few quick tweaks take care of that. I would never bother with the N metronome personally.

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I wonder if anyone has written a program just for click tracks. I think it would be great to have someting that has the look of a simple metronome, but you can dial in various standard rhythyms and tempos. Plus it would need to be very easy way to blend a few rhythms sequences together, so that you could set up an entire song as one track without needing to work on your click track past that initial setup. Is there such a program?

If you use MIDI all you have to do is change the tempo of the song. No big deal.
« Last Edit: January 05, 2005, 05:00:55 PM by bubbagump » Logged

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« Reply #4 on: January 05, 2005, 05:08:52 PM »

As usual, about Midi bubba has it nailed, you already have a great metronome in your sequencer software in the Midi metronome.  

However it will not make syncopated beats and such, of course and you may not believe this, but you should, you are a drummer, the best way to do any syncopations, any ahead of or behind the beat stuff, any polyrhtythms, is to learn to do 'em to the simple metronome click.  


If you do a search on google you can bring up scads of freeware/shareware desktop metronome proggies, many have way too many setting options for real learning, but hey.   I like an old one called "DAmetro.exe", simple and effective for having a metronome handy on the screen for practicing, trying things out, pinpointing the BPM of an audio file, any time you don't want to have to open and set up the sequencer just to have a click.

I also bought a handful of those little credit card sized electronic metronomes once when MARS was going out of business, at five bux apiece I couldn't resist, now one lives on every piano and keyboard in the house, in my guitar and trumpet cases and often in my shirt or coat pocket, too.  Great for starting songs on a gig on those occasions when you just aren't sure of the proper time for tune, also great at band rehearsals for finding the true BPM of a song they want to take off a disk, I usually jot that info down first.  


--Mac
« Last Edit: January 05, 2005, 05:11:14 PM by Mac » Logged
Gary Batchelder
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« Reply #5 on: January 05, 2005, 05:13:41 PM »

Here is a page full of software metros. There are also free ones and online ones if you Google "metronome'.

I have always wanted to take the time and record a huge folder full of every concievable click track. I will when I get a round tuit.  Gary  
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Bubbagump
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« Reply #6 on: January 05, 2005, 05:14:31 PM »

The thing is with MIDI, you do the click track once and change the tempo for each song. It is so quick and easy. N now can draw tempos, so there is no excuse to not be able to easily do ritards, fermatas, etc and just reuse the same old MIDI click file as your base. Make a click file for 4/4, 3/4, and 6/8 and that will cover 98% of all of your bases and import the same file over and over into a new N-track song. Tweak the tempo, render to wav, and you are done. This is one thing you guys need to think about with MIDI, reuse the code! Why sequence or do stuff over and over? Have a pile of files ready to canabalize off of. Over the years you build a heck of an arsenal. Just like good programmers have their custom libraries and classes they use over and over, with MIDI, be lazy, do it right the first time and use the same thing over and over.
« Last Edit: January 05, 2005, 05:31:16 PM by bubbagump » Logged

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« Reply #7 on: January 05, 2005, 05:48:19 PM »

I use the midi metronome in N as well...

I work out the temp first using TapTempo from Analogx (www.analogx.com)
Set the temp in N
I route the metronome to my external midi keyboard

I then arm the audio input from the keyboard and record that

I usually record the click track at the same time as I record my first take or scratch track or whatever.

ie. Get an idea, work out the tempo, setup metronome, arm keyboard input and also mic/guitar, record click track and guitar track or mic input at the same time (monitoring click through headphones so it isn't picked up by mic).

I usually let the click run a bit longer if I don't play for too long. If I need to I just copy and past the click wav onto the end of itself to extend it.

This doesn't take that much extra time to record the click track as you are doing it at the same time as what you were originally going to record to get your idea down. Longest part is probably just working out the tempo which is dead easy with taptempo.

As usual, what works best for one person may not work best for someone else..

Rich
 
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« Reply #8 on: January 05, 2005, 06:24:49 PM »

I do exactly what you suggested and it has worked great for me. I have a small battery powered metronome (I think it was about 30 bucks) and I work with the drummer to set the correct BPM and just record the output from the headphone jack. If there is a tempo or timing change in the song we record a stretch of the other tempo and put them together in the same track at the appropriate point.

I like simple.
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learjeff
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« Reply #9 on: January 05, 2005, 06:32:04 PM »


Soul&Folk, I recommend against doing it using an external MIDI device's timekeeper.  If you do, you'll have a lot more trouble using the grid in whatever DAW you're using.  And a properly aligned grid is extremely handy!

If you use an external device as the timekeeper but don't feed that clock information to your soundcard when you make the recording, then the resulting audio won't be synchronized with the built-in sense of time.  While you can compensate for that by dragging the audio track to line up, the frequency will be off too, and you'll have to carefully compensate for that.

I think it's a lot easier to use the n-Track metronome and a VSTi like Bubba says.  (Actually, I usually use the metronome and an external MIDI synth, but that takes longer and is subject to more kinds of problems.)  Of course, that way you're limited as mentioned above (ONE two three four) unless you use the tricks Bubba mentioned, changing the tempo.

Frankly, though, if you want "nonstandard" metronome tracks (like 2,4, one of my favorites) you should be able to do it pretty easily with any good looping program.  I think it'd be pretty easy to have a few different metronome beats you like stashed away, and you just set the tempo and quickly build an audio track and import that into N.

If N had the concept of looping a MIDI segment, it would be even easier.  But let's not go into that here!
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« Reply #10 on: January 05, 2005, 06:35:56 PM »


8th note, you haven't SEEN simple until you've figured out how to use the grid!

Either that, or you're just lucky that your clicker's clock is close enough to your soundcard's clock that you haven't noticed the sync problems.  Definitely don't try to do a very long song that way!

 
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« Reply #11 on: January 05, 2005, 08:23:27 PM »

learjeff's right, and I should have brought that up when talking about editing to the waveforms and all.  Since I start with the Midi click and convert, the grid is there for me.  

One does not necessarily need the grid to do the job, but if you get into any editing of tracks like cutting and pasting, the whole idea of the sequencer and the metronome settings is to establish that grid first to make your job easy to do later.  


--Mac
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soul&folk
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« Reply #12 on: January 06, 2005, 12:46:38 AM »

learjeff,

not sure what grid you mean... I've been using wav files as my click track not MIDI. I'm assuming that MIDI generates this grid... Just last night, Pasher advised me to fix up a song I'm working on with crossfading. It wasn't that big a deal to figure out how to line things up, but there was a fare share of trial and error.

I can see how having a click track with a grid would help.

So... does there exist a program dedicated to generating click tracks that would be QUICK to set up rhythms on the fly - and would be able to create a string of different rhythms onto one track (which would use the computer's clock) ? - Or is there nothing out there like this and now I've got to either stick to my prehistoric metronome headphone jack idea or learn MIDI??
« Last Edit: January 06, 2005, 12:49:55 AM by soul&folk » Logged

KingDon
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« Reply #13 on: January 06, 2005, 01:56:34 AM »



Here's what I do, I have leaf drums, and one file I built called "CLICK-FILE" took me 2 minutes.  It's a base kick pattern, that's all it does.  When I need a click track, I open it up, find the tempo of the song I'm writing, and when I get the right speed, I save it as a wave and open it in N.  Lay the guitar, then the bass, scratch vocals and then I can hear how the drums would fill.

This works for me, it's just habit now.

 :thumb:  
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« Reply #14 on: January 06, 2005, 06:52:39 AM »

long ago i used the demo of fruity loops to generate clicks.  i then went to the free version of acid.  now i use acid 3.  

i find a working tempo with studiocalc,  then i either use a drum loop that fits or a stick/wood block sample set on the count for 1 or 2 measures.  this has led me to setting up the drum reference and recording scratch guitar tracks in acid.  then i import the click/drum & guitar reference into ~N~ and take it from there.

once details are worked out, i go back and either rework a more detailed drum track with intro, fills and ending in acid, or i record a live drum track in my room.

either way i gotta have a good click to work off of.

later...
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« Reply #15 on: January 06, 2005, 07:11:19 AM »

Quote

So... does there exist a program dedicated to generating click tracks that would be QUICK to set up rhythms on the fly - and would be able to create a string of different rhythms onto one track (which would use the computer's clock) ? - Or is there nothing out there like this and now I've got to either stick to my prehistoric metronome headphone jack idea or learn MIDI??
ACID


possibly Frooty Loops, not sure about that one.  



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soul&folk
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« Reply #16 on: January 06, 2005, 11:43:15 AM »

what about the grid? am I missing something here? do these click files fit into the grid  -or have the grid - (still don't know what grid I' m talking about...) or is that only if it's a MIDI track?
« Last Edit: January 06, 2005, 11:43:59 AM by soul&folk » Logged

Bubbagump
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« Reply #17 on: January 06, 2005, 11:53:17 AM »

The grid is directly linked to MIDI. If the MIDI file is set to 4/4 120 bpm, then the grid will align with that. N-track uses MIDI for the grid parameters. They are the same thing. So if you use a MIDI file for the click and chenge the BPM, the grid will change and line up automatically. Using the grid and MIDI clicks in this way makes editing sooooo easy. For instance, pop over to the music review part of the forum and listen to my Christmas song O Come Emmanuel. You hear the female vocals kick in on the chorus. That is the exact same take over and over. Being that I used the grid, I just dragged the left edge of the take to a grid line, did a copy and paste, and moved the pasted parts to the correct place in a matter of a minute or two becuas the grid kept everything aligned. I do this with drum fills, drum beats, reoccuring rhythm tracks (same bass line for every chorus, just use the grid to put it every place and record one good take once.) back vocals, anything I can reuse over and over. It saves a ton of time and is very quick and easy.
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« Reply #18 on: January 06, 2005, 01:02:09 PM »


About the grid.

First off, I'm now talking only about n-Track.  I presume other DAWs have some kind of "snap to grid" feature, but I'm only guessing.

In n-Track, there is a grid you can use.  Configure it by pressing shift key and clicking on the toolbar button that looks like a grid.  I always set it to "always show", and I frankly can't imagine working without it (even when I have "snap to grid" turned off, I still want to see where measures start.)

In addition to the things you configure on the screen mentioned above, the grid is also slaved to the MIDI timeline, which is controlled by the time signature and tempo.  (Unfortunately, Flavio calls the signature "tempo" and the tempo "bpm".  Hopefully you know what I'm talking about, though.)

You can set the grid to show a line every measure or every beat, etc.

When working in the MIDI piano roll, having the time base set up correctly really helps, because instead of seeing a bunch of notes floating in space, they're put into a context of measure & beat.  So, it's easy to see if I'm rushing or lagging, and compensate.  It's also easier to handle it when I'm adding a part to an existing back track (build by collaborators) and they're rushing or lagging a bit.  When a collaborator's tempo is all over the map, sometimes I take the trouble to build a tempo map to match the track, other times I wing it and the grid isn't any help.

The grid is also very helpful in the timeline view.  If I need to copy MIDI measures, it's easy to turn "snap to grid" on (lines on the toolbar button are yellow), drag to select the measures to copy, copy, drag to select the destination measures, and paste.  Bingo -- works even if the measure begins with a rest.  (Notes that begin before the fist measure have to be handle differently, because they're ignored.)

It also makes copying, pasting, and dragging audio parts around a lot easier.  Sometimes, though I wouldn't say this is conducive to the best music, I'll record a single verse for a particular instrument, and copy/paste that part to build the other verses.  Really easy with the grid on, and never causes any timing problems (unless the song has tempo changes, of course).

I'm tempted to write a little metronome builder program.  You'd build a text file containing your favorite patterns (each with a name of your choice), specifying the wave files to use for the hits and the timing in a simple language.  You'd run the program and pass it a pattern name, tempo, and duration, and bingo it would build a click track lickety-splitly.  It'd be better with a GUI, of course, but I haven't done GUI programming since 1986 or so.
 
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soul&folk
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« Reply #19 on: January 06, 2005, 02:06:05 PM »

thanks  bubbagump and learjeff. Now I get it.

writing that program would help many and my guess is there would be a market for it too. Lots of people doing home recording and everyone needs to insert a click track. It would be ideal if the program could create the metronome patterns as either .wav  or MIDI files. That would be the best of both worlds. And while I'm already putting in my order , Tongue , have it look just like a basic simple metronome with dials or faders that allow for quick change of tempo and rhythm patterns... hey it don't hurt to ask...
« Last Edit: January 06, 2005, 02:08:06 PM by soul&folk » Logged

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