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I'm quite new to recording and best practices. At the moment I'm enjoying learning through recording existing songs I'm playing myself.

One song is in 8/4 (in my opinion) but has an extra (loose) half beat at the very end of the bar that's just silence, like a quick breath. This only occurs for the first few bars when it's just a single acoustic guitar and vocals.

When I play this song on guitar without recording, it feels easy to incorporate this into playing. It's just a natural timing choice that adds feeling to the song. But I've no idea how to approach this with recording? I'm learning to play along with the metronome in headphones and I miss this pause when I stick to a strict bar count. It feels like I'm rushing into the next bar. But, as I said, it's loosely done and not a case of adding an exact count into my DAW. In the original recording, after a few bars it disappears and sticks strictly to 8/4 when a full band comes in.

What is the best way of approaching this? I'm wondering if this type of recording usually forgoes a metronome as it's too unpredictable, even though the majority of the bar is on count.

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    Generally, for this type of structure you'd have to set up a Master Track with the changing time signatures or do it as tempo changes perhaps [plus a couple of bars count-in]. Knowing what the song is & your DAW might help for more specific answers. – Tetsujin Apr 10 '20 at 15:37
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    Is the recorded track going to be combined with another sequenced track? Like a drum machine. You can use software to just record your playing without click tracks or any sequencing, more or less like it was tape. – Michael Curtis Apr 10 '20 at 15:48
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    I'm curious. Why do you think it's in 8/4 rather than 4/4? – Old Brixtonian Apr 11 '20 at 1:01
  • What's the piece you're trying to record? You mention it's an existing song...maybe we can confirm whether it's in 8/4? – Dekkadeci Apr 11 '20 at 8:44
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    @Dekkadeci Sophia by Laura Marling. I was actually going to ask this as I know it's an unusual time sig. The reason being that if I recorded it in 4/4 I'm using 8th and 16th notes and at a tempo of 176. To me it feels like a tempo of 88 and I thought it was better arranged with eighth and quarter notes. Like I said, I'm very new to recording so this might sound like madness. But it felt like the song didn't breathe as well when written in 4/4. Would love to hear thoughts. – biscuitstack Apr 11 '20 at 11:22
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Both of the first two comments offer excellent information and advice. I would suggest splitting the difference between them and record the first section without click or with the click muted. When the time starts and the band comes in play to the click for the rest of the song.

If you prefer to program the loose last beats most every DAW has a tempo list or something similar. This is how I would do it assuming the song is in 8/4 at 100bpm and slows to 90bpm and I want to program bars 2 and 3:

Tempo List

Bar/Beat Tempo

1 1 100

2 8 90

3 1 100

3 8 90

4 1 100

I have had success programming these types of tempo changes but when the time is fluid it is usually better to just play it how you feel and not try and line up to a grid.

  • That's useful advice, thanks John. I'm going to look into it now in Logic. I'm quite dilammed between abandoning the click track. I find I'm playing the tempo and tone nuances better on guitar without it. But it's causing me grief with aligning repeated takes and bringing in a band later. I also need to hand it over to a vocalist. The acoustic guitar anchors the tempo of the whole song. – biscuitstack Apr 11 '20 at 11:32
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    You’re in luck, Logic has a tempo list just like I mentioned. In version X it is under edit>tempo>show tempo list. Hit the plus sign to add individual tempo changes. If you put the cursor where you want them first they will be in that exact spot when you add them but they’re easy to change after the fact too. Then adjust the tempos themselves. You can also record the first section with no click and treat both sections as 2 separate songs and edit them together later if you really want to keep that loose feel. Let me know what you decide and how it works out. – John Belzaguy Apr 11 '20 at 15:39

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