Online Session Drummer Jazz Track

Here at www.onlinesessiondrum.com I get asked to record all sorts of music in all sorts of different levels of readiness with all manner of different briefs.

Sometimes an artist or producer knows exactly what they want and have the beats mapped out down to the last 16th note bass drum. And no variation is required! Sometimes people have a rough guide of what they want but they also want to leave room for the drummer to be creative within their guidelines. Sometimes they have absolutely no idea what they want and they ask for my own interpretation to see where I take the track.

All approaches are a fun challenge but the more freedom there is, the more fun for me it has to be said. And this project was one with the most freedom. The brief was that a corporate film is being made and they want a jazzy funk type of feel. They then gave me a tempo and asked for a string of ideas.

The producer then took those ideas and cut them up so he could build a track around them. It meant I got to try loads of ideas for a few minutes to give grooves, fills, solos and wacky little phrases. That meant he had plenty of options to cut up and use what he wanted.

Here is the result.

So whether you know exactly what drum sound and drum part you want for your track, or if you know you want some drums but have no idea what they should be, just get in touch at info@onlinesessiondrum.com and we can talk through it to see how we can take your track to the next level.

Online Session Drum on BBC

Drum Session Recording back on TV

It's been a busy few months at the drum studio with the usual amazing diversity of projects that need online session drums recorded.

As is often the case it has covered everything from rock, pop, jazz, funk, Latin and metal right from bedroom songwriters, through corporate videos, artists working with major labels and TV music.

One fun project was a title sequence track for a new BBC show called Repair Shop which went out in March 2017. Often TV projects seem to be needed yesterday and this call came in needing the drum tracks for the following morning as the strings were being recorded at lunchtime. 

The track itself was quite easy and in the style of Coldplay's 'Clocks' so after some time finding the right snare and sound for the track it was just a case of laying down the drums over the MIDI demo that already existed. I threw in a few different fills afterwards to give the producer options in the mixing stage and the tracks were delivered well in time for the strings to be recorded.

The Repair Shop Online Session Drummer

It's that diversity of music and different projects that keeps the online session drum recording work so much fun so please do get in touch if you need some live drums no matter how big or small your project is. Because I own the studio I can take that time to find the right sounds, experiment with ideas and really get the perfect result for your music without that expensive studio clock ticking and watching the bill go up?

info@onlinesessiondrum.com 

Remote Skype Drum Session

Create A Live Recording Session With An Online Session Drummer

Many of the remote drum sessions I do from my studio are done via email with tracks being sent to me along with any relevant information. I then record the drums and email an MP3 back for review. This is a common working method for the online session drummer.

Sometimes the drum tracks are exactly right first time, but other times a creative exchange of ideas is needed to find the perfect drum part and this happens with emails going back and forth.

Skype online drum session.jpg

This works very well because the artist or producer can review the drum parts when it's convenient and take as long as they need before replying with ideas for the next drum take.

It also works well when the client is in another country whilst I am in the UK and they need the drum parts quickly. I have, on several occasions, being given a project in the morning UK time (end of the day in the producer's time zone) and I record it that evening. I send it to the client and they wake up in their time zone to find the finished drum files in their inbox. They can then stick them straight into their music project and finish the job. Amazing how technology allows this remote recording method to exist!

However, sometimes this delayed communication can be a drag. It doesn't allow the instant bouncing of ideas that is possible in a conventional session recording environment when all parties are in the same room. But with a hired studio, engineer, producer, etc come the big costs that we are trying to avoid. As you know, the remote session drummer service allows the costs to be brought down incredibly cheaply so you get top quality, professional drum tracks for a very affordable price.

BUT there is another option which I realised not many people know about. That is to use the online session drummer option but work it as a live session. I do this regularly with certain producers that want to give instant feedback and 'be in the room' as drum recording is happening.

To do this we simply arrange a time for the session and contact each other via Skype. This gives us live communications. We then run the session as we would if we were in the same room, exchange ideas, have fun and get creative.

I then bounce down and send across the finished files as normal. Viola!

So get in touch if you want drum tracks and we can work out whether an email exchange is the best method or whether a live Skype session suits you best.

info@onlinesessiondrum.com

Onlien Session Drummer Testimonial 5

Here's a lovely bit of feedback for the remote drum recording service OnlineSessionDrum

“Although you have been dealing with a numpty....  the guy who has been producing the 2 tracks I have done is far from it, and produces/writes/releases videos/ songs of his Rock band across the Atlantic....he too is suitably impressed your professionalism combined with your easy going friendly nature has been the reason I have ended up with exactly what I want and the drums do sound fantastic so thanks for all your help. Once again thank you for all your help and I am sure we will be using your excellent service again , I wish your venture all the best for the future , you deserve it . Cheers.”

Pete Tantram - Songwriter

Online session drum testimonial 3

Some more great feedback for drum tracks delivered from online session drum..........

"This is literally perfect! Those variations you have added are absolutely amazing. I cannot wait to get the individual stems and get cracking on finishing off the track."

James Rice – Songwriter

Special Offer for Online Session Drummer Tracks

Get top quality drum tracks for less

That's right, you can now get the same great service and great sounding drum tracks from online session drum for less money for a limited time.

From the testimonials you can see that this service delivers what people want for their music and as a result the drum tracks have been used for singers and songwriters home studio projects, for producers recording other people's music, on TV adverts and shows, on live performance backing tracks and on band releases for unsigned and signed bands.

And to make this service accessible for all the remote drum sessions are brought to you with some of the lowest prices on the internet.

But to make it even better for a limited time they are being offered at an even better price. For any projects agreed in May and June you can get a further 5% off the already amazing prices.

Even if the project isn't completed until later, if the enquiry was made in May or June and you quote 'June5' when first getting in touch then that discount will apply to your whole project whether it's one track or a whole album.

So get in touch today to make the most of this and get some great drums on your music.

Online Session Drum Video

Sony/ATV Music Recording

Hey producers, songwriters, and general music lovers. It's been a busy time and I haven't updated this blog for sometime. I've been enjoying the usual diversity of being a freelance online session drummer, recording for a beautiful wide range of music for producers, TV, songwriters and bands.

I've also been working a lot with a Sony/ATV band called Fears based in London. We've been doing lots of demoing and working on material for the first album, much of which has been recorded at my studio.

There's a great creative team working with these guys from the producer who is currently working on U2's new album as well as great songwriters who write for the likes of Take That and other big names.

But there is always time for the ongoing recording for anyone that wants drums on their music so do get in touch if I can help you add some groove to your music.

Here is the first offering from Fears called Squeeze.

New Remote Session Drummer Tracks

Online Session Drummer Songs

Online session drummer offers great drum recordings.

Firstly apologies to those who had tried getting in touch over the last few weeks. The website was down and took ages to fix. That’s what happens when drummers try to do something technical!

Secondly happy 2015!

Now the website is back up and there are a few new songs on the soundcloud panel so you can hear more results to come out of this drum recording service.

Remote drummer sessions are a great way to get real drums on your songs without needing expensive commercial studios and engineers. It totally breaks down geographical barriers and allows me to work with people all over the world without leaving my own studio.

In December alone I recorded for people in the UK, Russia, Switzerland, Germany and America, all without taking off my slippers of putting down my cup of tea. Not the same cup of tea obviously!

But other than the slippers and tea benefits, it means for the client they get to use a purpose built drum studio that is full of different drum kits, cymbals and drum recording equipment so everything is to hand and more time can be spent being creative rather than setting up and travelling.

It is also incredibly cost effective and the tracks recorded here have been used for various TV, adverts, corporate material, producers, and bedroom songwriters who just want a real drummer on their songs.

Have a listen through the sound examples to hear a variety of playing styles and sounds and get in touch to let me know what you want for your track.

To discuss your project click here.

Online Session Drum In Another Advert

The online session drum studio has been incredibly busy of late with a range of projects including albums, TV, online advertising and demos. The beauty of the online session drummer service is that geography is irrelevant so tracks have been recorded this month for clients in the UK, Australia, Canada, Japan, Czechoslovakia, Romania, USA and more.

The styles have obviously been very broad as well with such diverse clients but with lots of different drums and cymbals to choose from, as well as years of experience playing many styles, it is always possible to find the right drum sound for each track.

Here is one example of the work which is an Australian advertising campaign for the travel company Wotifa with sound design by SongZu.

To discuss your project click here.

What to look for in an online session drummer

Find the perfect remote session drummer for your track

So you’ve got a track that needs some live drums? You’d love to get Steve Gadd on it, or maybe Vinnie Colaiuta would be perfect, or maybe Josh Freese is your man. Maybe you’d really love Ralph Salmins, Ash Soan, Karl Brazil, Neil Wilkinson, John Robinson, Ian Thomas….the list goes on. Maybe you’d love to go to Abbey Road, British Groove, Metropolis, Westlake, etc.

But of course, these scenarios come with a huge price tag that many artists can’t afford. Luckily affordable recording technology means that many drummers are becoming online session drummers to offer recording services from their home studios. These might be in their bedroom, in their garage, or, like mine, in a dedicated building which is acoustically treated and built for recording drums.

But with so many people now offering such services it can be hard to find the right online session drummer for your project. Here are some tips and things to look out for.

Toto and session drummer, Jeff Porcaro

Timing

Obvious huh? Probably the most important aspect is great timing. As a huge majority of tracks are recorded to a click, and with remote sessions pretty much all projects are becuase musicians aren’t in the same room to play together, then the drummer needs great natural timing, as well as being very comfortable playing with the click.

Today I hear some guys talk in lazy ways where they think that Protools can solve all their sloppy playing but this just creates extra work for you and becomes a hassle. As well as that, if you have to quantise the hell out of it, you might just lose that human feel that attracted you to a live drummer over a machine in the first place.

Feel

Beyond just playing in time, check the drummers feel. Every human is different and every drummer has a different feel that might suit (or not) your track. Of course, when working with different artists every day, I get asked for many different feels. Maybe someone wants a track to sound lazy and behind the beat, someone else wants it slightly ahead, etc. So hopefully your drummer can find the appropriate feel for each track, or follow your instruction where given.

Communication

This is an important aspect of remote sessions, especially when working across different time zones as communication can waste days. Make sure your initial responses are being answered promptly and satisfactorily. You might need a track by a certain date and you want to know that your drummer will deliver by that date.

Beyond just replying quickly it is important to find communication easy when it does occur. Often different people will have different ways of explaining drum parts, whether it’s describing a fill as, “shlack-a-tack-tack,” or by saying, “It’s a drag leading into two semiquavers, a quaver and a crotchet,” or maybe even as ambiguous as saying, ” I need the fill to sound a little bit industrial,” or, “A little bit blue.” Basically, whatever the idea, colour, flavour or rhythm that the client has in their head, the drummer needs to decode that description and play something that matches the idea, or maybe even bring something better to the table where appropriate.

[pullquote align=”left|center|right” textalign=”left|center|right” width=”30%”]Steve Gadd played so consistently and with the right level of relative power between all the voices of the drum set that he delivered the finished product straight off. He basically mixed himself which saved the producer lots of time.[/pullquote]

Speed at working

This may or may not be of concern but if you do need the track by a certain time, it’s important to know if that’s realistically achievable or not. Some people are great at sticking to a schedule, and some are not. Sometimes I get asked if I can do a track TODAY and I have to be honest about whether I can rearrange priorities of recording projects to make that happen. Other times people need it in a week, two weeks, or more so it’s easy to juggle. But either way you want to know when it will be ready.

Creativity and playing for the song

Again, listening to the samples will help here. Playing live is very different to playing in the studio. Live allows a little more room for letting loose. In the studio 99% of the time the simple option works best for the track. If your drummer has sound examples with him shredding all over a song, then he might not be the right guy for your three minute pop ballad.

But creativity is harder to gauge. Sometimes an artist has programmed or notated a drum part and wants me to play it verbatim. That’s great. But often people need me, as the drummer, to come up with a drum part. That is also great. This is where you will want someone with a little creativity to bring ideas to the track that you wouldn’t have thought of.

Knowledge of styles

Any session drummer should have a great depth in knowledge about an array of popular music styles, associated drum grooves, the types of sounds and playing conventions in those styles, and the main players in those styles. This should be the case purely because someone who is really interested in music should have built up that library of knowledge in their mind just because that’s their passion. But more than that, most drummers that work as a drummer would have made the effort to be au fait with those styles and playing techniques because they are called upon to play them regularly.

In any given week I am asked to play in several different styles and that means knowing how to play the right grooves and fills, making the right stylistic decisions, and also knowing how to achieve the right sounds via drum/cymbal choices and tuning.

Sound consistency

This is a crucial aspect of being a recording drummer. Although a human isn’t as consistent as a machine, and that’s part of the charm, there still needs to be a high level of consistency. Every snare back beat should hit the same part of the snare head at the same velocity. Of course, there will be ghost notes and changes in dynamics, but the standard backbeats need to sound the same. If they are not, you will spend a long time editing your drum track later to achieve the desired quality of sound that you expect.

I once read an engineer or producer talking about the great Steve Gadd and saying how he basically mixed himself so there was no work needed on him. He played so consistently and with the right level of relative power between all the voices of the drum set that he delivered the finished product straight off.

Drum tuning/Sounds

This was touched upon with the stylistic knowledge but it really is an area that inexperienced drummers overlook. You might have the best drummer in the world recording for you but if he can’t tune drums then the resulting drum part will sound bad. If you then need to start heavy sample replacement it will take you time and brings you back to wondering why you hired a human drummer in the first place. If they can tune to get the right sounds, and also know how to play the drums in such a way that it brings the fullest tone out of the drum, then you will be sent a pleasing drum track.

Remote Session Drummer at Prism Studio

Attitude and taking direction

Being an online session drummer is obviously not a role to take on if you carry a big ego. Here the drummer should be well aware that his job is to enhance other people’s music. At the stage of the drums being recorded, often the track is nowhere close to the finished result. The drummer is likely not to know what the vision is for the finished track so he needs to follow the instructions carefully. Hopefully the drummer you choose will be good at taking instructions and won’t be too sensitive when you have to tell them that they didn’t nail it first time. That way they can work with you to quickly find the right drum part rather than having a tantrum and throwing their drum sticks at the wall.

Of course a lot of these things are not always easy to gauge when you haven’t worked with someone before, but by listening to their samples, having a phone conversation or exchange of emails, and asking the right questions, hopefully you can satisfy yourself that you have the right drummer.

Another great aspect that many online session drummers, including myself, offer is the chance to have a track demo recorded for free when you first work with them. This allows you to hear their playing on your song without any risk of losing money as you can hear the results before parting with your money. If you like it then you can pay for it. If you don’t then you can politely decline.

Get in touch to discuss your project if you need live drums.

What are your experiences of working with drummers and what do you think are the most important aspects? Add to the discussion below.

 

New AKG microphones in the online session drummer studio

Remote drum sessions just got even better

The online session drummer studio has a new resident; well two in fact. They are a matched pair of C414 XLII condenser microphones. And very nice they are too.

So many of you are studio gear heads and won’t need telling how good these microphones are for recording an array of things, not least drum kits.

AKG C414 Overhead Microphones

But for those of you that haven’t heard of the AKG C414s, here is some info about them in their recently updated incarnation.

The C414 is probably the best-known microphone that AKG make, alongside the legendary C12, but even this legendary microphone has been updated. In fact there are two new C414s, the C414B XLS and the C414 XLII, though the only performance difference between the two models is that the XLII has a more pronounced presence peak than the XLS. A slight additional lift above 3kHz gives this model a slightly more airy and open top end that is useful when miking vocals to capture a contemporary ‘crisp’ sound, or when miking instruments at a distance where the high lift helps compensate for the natural HF loss that occurs at a distance.

These C414s are large-diaphragm, multi-pattern capacitor microphones utilising a gold-sputtered diaphragm where only the front side of the diaphragm is coated, the aim being to avoid electrical shorting between the diaphragm and backplate at very high SPLs. The capsule hangs in a newly designed four-point suspension, and even the way the various pattern, pad, and filter options are selected is quite unlike anything AKG have done before. Rather than use slide switches, the mics are now fitted with soft-touch rocker switches that are linked to digital switching circuitry, status LEDs, and a non-volatile memory so that settings are retained when the mic is disconnected from the phantom power source.

Switchable Facilities

The pickup pattern can be switched in five steps to encompass omni, wide cardioid (not available on previous C414 models), cardioid, narrow cardioid, and figure of eight. A tiny system of green LEDs below the switch illuminates whichever option has been selected, and the current selection can be temporarily locked by pressing and holding the rocker selector switch for three seconds.

The pad switch now has 6dB, 12dB, and 18dB settings — as with the pattern selection, this works by changing the polarising voltage on the capsule. Because very high impedances are involved around the capsule itself, any changes made using these switches will take a few seconds to become active. The familiar bass-cut switch has also had a face-lift with 40Hz, 80Hz, or 160Hz settings, as well as off. A slope of over 12dB/octave is used for the lower two settings, while the 160Hz setting has a more gentle 6dB/octave characteristic.

Re-engineered, transformerless electronic circuitry has extended the dynamic range of these microphones to around 134dBA by maximising headroom and minimising self noise, the latter down to an impressive 6dBA. To achieve this, the mic requires a full 48V phantom power source that conforms to the DIN/IEC spec, where the phantom voltage is positive with respect to the cable’s ground screen.

During the makeover, the capsule and circuitry have been made less susceptible to humidity and temperature by locating the function switches in the low-impedance section of the circuitry, which also minimises switching thumps. Matching between microphones has been tightened as well, so there’s no need to buy matched pairs for stereo work.

Classic & Modern

AKG C414s in drum studio

While the new C414s are not cheap mics, the new design and the use of modern manufacturing methods have allowed AKG to peg the UK price, retain the classic sound, and introduce some very real improvements, both practical and technical. Furthermore, when compared with flagship mics from other companies, the cost of the C414s compares very favourably.

These new mics successfully uphold the classic C414 tradition for sound, while their extended dynamic range, greater sensitivity, and very low background noise make them suitable for the most demanding music recording tasks.

And that’s an overview of these microphones which you will have either found quite interesting or incredibly boring. But there’s no denying that these microphones are excellent for many recording applications including recording drums.

So if you need the services of a remote session drummer for your music and you want the AKG C414s, along with all the other specialist drum recording equipment in the studio, then get in touch to discuss your project.

Jeff Porcaro – Session Drummer

Remembering the Great Studio Drummer of Toto

On what would have been his 60th Birthday, I wanted to take a moment to remember one of the greatest studio drummers that ever lived. These words were originally written in the August/September 1997 issue of DRUM! Magazine

For two-plus magical decades, Jeff Porcaro set the standard. Whatever the session, whatever the stage, when he picked up sticks it was pure magic. Smooth as silk. Deep beyond all comprehension. Taste, impeccable time and attitude for days. He had it all. From his breakthrough sessions with Boz Scaggs and Steely Dan in the mid ’70s to his final notes with Toto on Kingdom of Desire in 1992, the man with the golden groove was consistently brilliant. “He was one of the best drummers in the world,” said Eddie Van Halen at a tribute held for Jeff in late ’92. “Definitely the groove master. He was just so heavy.”

On 1st April 2014, Jeff would have been sixty years old. And though he was only 38 years old when he passed away, he left behind a legacy of masterful musicianship that has yet to be equaled. Those who knew Jeff couldn’t help but be awed by his powerful presence both on and off the instrument. He was a giant. Yet he was as modest as he was mighty. Whether it was a demo date or a megabuck super-session, Porcaro gave each track his all. “He was one of the most generous people I ever met,” said Don Henley at that same tribute. “When he came to a session he would light up the room with his enthusiasm. And he didn’t care if the clock was going late. He wasn’t worried about what he was getting paid, or any of that. He was there for the music, and was there with everything he had. He really made you feel comfortable. Jeff was one of the best drummers in the world.”

Reflecting back on Jeff’s formative years, his father Joe remembers a boy who hit the ground running: “Jeffrey got started so quickly. I’d take him to rehearsals with me sometimes and let him play my drums when we were on breaks. His feet could barely reach the pedals. One time I remember Paul Humphrey heard him, and he said, ’Wow, this kid is going to be a monster.’ Being a father and all that, I thought he was just trying to be nice, but deep down I knew Jeffrey had something.”

“We all started off as drummers,” says Mike Porcaro, referring to himself and his brothers Jeff and Steve. “We used to fight over the drum set. But growing up, musically it was such a wonderful environment. I remember Dad would come home at the end of the day, lay down on the couch, maybe put on a Miles album, and we’d start playing on his practice set. We’d take turns playing the cymbal beat for him: ’Hey dad, dig my groove.’ [Laughs.] But I eventually got into string bass, Steve went on to piano, and Jeff, of course … ”

It didn’t take long for Porcaro to make a name for himself as a drummer outside the family circle. “Even back in junior high school he had that deep pocket,” Steve Porcaro remembers. “I mean, at one point in the school band they had two drummers. One was the flashy soloist, but Jeff, you know, he was laying it down.”

Joe Porcaro recalls one particular highlight during that period. “One of the proudest moments I had with Jeffrey, and there were so many, was when he was playing in his high school band, Rural Still Life. Back in those days they had the Battle Of The Bands at the Hollywood Bowl, and Jeff’s band went and auditioned. They made it, but beside that, the music director of the show would listen to the guys in the bands and pick out certain ones to audition for the stage band. He picked Jeff. When the whole show was over and they presented the winners with their trophies, they made an announcement that for the first time ever a trophy was going to be given to the most outstanding musician in the stage band. Henry Mancini, Clare Fischer, Lalo Shifrin, all these people on the committee voted Jeff as the outstanding musician of the show. That was a really, really proud moment for all of us. And, you know, right after that he was kind of the talk of the town.”

[pullquote align=”right” textalign=”left|center|right” width=”30%”]Paul Humphrey said, ’Wow, this kid is going to be a monster.’ Being a father and all that, I thought he was just trying to be nice, but deep down I knew Jeffrey had something.”[/pullquote]

It was during that period when Jeff made the fateful connection with guitarist Steve Lukather. “I remember the first time I met Jeff,” says Lukather. “He walked in and there was this aura. I mean, I’d heard about him; he was already a legend in high school. He was the cat. He was the guy. He was born the guy. He was the one who everybody wanted to be – who everybody wanted to hang with.”

Soon after, Jeff, Lukather, Steve Porcaro, bassist David Hungate, and keyboardist David Paich would form Toto, one of the most revered pop-rock groups of the era. Toto’s first three releases earned them a faithful following around the world, but it was the fourth record, Toto 4, that made the band a household name. Industry insiders also took note as Toto cleaned up at the Grammy Awards in 1983 – a night when, as fate would have it, Joe Porcaro was playing in the Grammy orchestra. “When they won their first award, the whole orchestra turned around and smiled at me,” says Joe. “And then it kept going and going. Album of the year, and this and that and on and on. I was a basket case by the end of that night, and the orchestra wouldn’t leave me alone. I was so proud of those guys.”

With Toto and countless other artists, when the red light came on in the recording studio, few humans could lay down a keeper track as quickly and as consistently as Jeff Porcaro. “Jeff was everybody’s drummer,” says Steve Lukather. “Everybody wanted him. Everybody. If you hired Jeff, you knew you were going to get a track.”

“When we did a take on a record,” David Paich recalls, “he was usually the first one to get a good take. Having grown up in a time before drum machines, I think he had the best time and groove of any drummer I’ve ever played with, but he also had the kick and power of a big band drummer.”

Jeff Porcaro touched so many lives, and in so many ways. His impact was, and is, incredibly far-reaching. “He was always a good morale booster for me,” says Richie Hayward, “a very constant friend. I loved Jeff, and I miss him.” “He was the consummate musician,” adds Boz Scaggs. “He had impeccable taste to go with his abilities. As I look back and reflect on Jeff, he’s such a mystery to me. I can’t tell you what made him burn. He carried a lot on his shoulders. He cared a lot for other people, and he did it admirably. Jeff and I did a lot of growing up together in very important and formative ways. He was a constant friend. We always connected, deeply.”

“By the time he died, he was influencing people everywhere in the world,” Jim Keltner emphasizes, “including myself. He was a legend, but he never wanted credit for anything. He was so humble, and yet at the same time so confident. I hate the fact that I’m having to talk about him in the past tense like this. It drives me crazy. I loved him dearly. But he’s still alive in my heart. He’ll always be.”

Remote Session Drummer – Less Is More

Sometimes less microphones yields better results

Often people ask me how many microphones will I use for a drum recording, and it seems that the general consensus is the more microphones the better.

But I have often found that the contrary is true. Indeed, the more microphones that are added to the mix, the more potential for phase issues and greater difficulty in mixing that occurs.

Recently I was tasked with recording a great rock tune for a guitarist. It had a real Led Zeppelin vibe going on but with a modern edge to it. So I decided to try something different. Rather than use loads of mics for a very modern, over produced sound, I opted for a very old fashioned sound as used by the likes on John Bonham back in the late 1960s/1970s.

And more specifically, I went for a method that is often credited to long time Led Zeppelin engineer Glyn Johns. Without going into too much detail (you can look it up if interested), the method basically uses just two overheads, a snare and a kick mic. One overhead is directly above the snare. The second one is equidistant from the centre of the snare, but is dropped down and positioned just over the floor tom looking back at the snare drum.

The snare and kick are positioned in a pretty standard way but the key to this sound is to get a great, natural kit sound from the overheads initially. Once this is done, you bring in bass and snare only as you need them to add punch and clarity.

[pullquote align=”left|center|right” textalign=”left|center|right” width=”30%”]Glyn Johns worked with Led Zeppelin, The Who, The Rolling Stones, The Eagles, Eric Clapton, and many more.[/pullquote]

The result was awesome. A really big, roomy, natural sounding kit sound that harked back to the power and presence of John Bonham in Led Zeppelin. And the beauty of it was that it was also very easy to mix.

Of course, it was crucial to set up big drums and tune them correctly, but once that was done, the recording process was easy.

And it just goes to show that sometimes loads of fancy equipment actually gets in the way of getting a great drum sound for a particular track. And if I get to play like John Bonham for an afternoon, then it’s even better!

Don’t forget to get in touch if you want drums record for your latest project.

Great Percussion Tracks Can Enhance Your Song

If you start analyzing your favorite music you might start to notice lots of extra percussion tracks that you didn’t realize where in there.

It might be a subtle shaker part in the chorus, a Latin infused conga part low in the mix in a verse, or a cowbell during the guitar solo.

But just because you didn’t notice it there before, that percussion track would probably be greatly missed if you took it away.

Those percussion tracks can add that sparkle to the music, creates lifts in different sections, allow the music to flow better, or simply fill gaps in the music. They can really elevate a track to the next level. But this aspect is often overlooked when producing a track as we focus on the core instruments that we had in mind when writing the piece.

Think of the castanets in the Ronnette’s ‘Be my baby’, the cowbell in the Beatle’s ‘Drive my car’ or the shaker in Lionel Richie’s ‘All night long’.

Those pieces would not enjoy such a great production if it weren’t for the added percussion tracks.

When using the Online Session Drum services, you also have access to a great number of percussion instruments such as cowbells, cajon, timbales, bongos, cabassa, congas, shakers, tambourines, castanets, bodhran, jam blocks, claves and more.

These can all be added as separate tracks that you can mix in at what ever level you want, as well as adding any processing or effects that you desire.

You might think of a great idea that you can articulate to your remote session drummer and ask for, or you might have a vague feeling that something extra beyond drums would work, in which case you can tell the drummer and let them get creative.

It might be to add something in the chorus, having a percussion feature in the middle eight, or having a full intro and outro to make an impact.

Either way, have a think about the next song that you are producing or writing and consider if percussion could enhance the overall sound.

Get in touch to discuss your project today.

Sampled Beats, Programmed Beats, Real Drummer – Combined drum tracks

When you are writing a song, or producing your ideas and realising the sonic vision in your mind, you have many various plugins, VSTs, audio instruments and processing options at your disposal, even in the most modest of studios.

Sometimes when looking for the perfect drum track, a programmed or sampled sound can fit perfectly. Other times we want a real drummer to give it the real, human feel, and also tailor the exact part to work for our song.

This largely depends on the genre of music, your budget and facilities, and also your time limitations. You can most likely programme a drum beat in ten minutes whereas booking a studio session and recording it will delay you a couple of days.

But I have found that some producers come to me as someone who is used to sampling beats but doesn’t want to be limited by finding a beat that already exists. They want to chop up and rearrange drum grooves, just like they normally do, but they want the grooves and fills to be a bespoke recording to fit their track.

This is a great way to do things.

What I usually do is find the best drum kit recording set up for their particular track. I’ll experiment with drums, cymbals and microphones and then record some ideas. Sometimes I even do two recordings with two different kits to give options.

[pullquote align=”right” textalign=”left|center|right” width=”30%”]It’s great to use the old methods of sampling and programming and mix that with the human drummer feel with beats customised for your music.[/pullquote]

I might then play the song all the way through but vary the patterns quite a bit and throw in a large number of fills. This is done in a way which would sound pretty bad as a full take but it is done with the intention of the producer then cutting the bars of drumming up and rearranging how they want it.

By varying the beats a lot and doing many fills, I give them loads of options for variation within the track, so that they have loads to choose from and to edit afterwards. I’ll also include single hits at the end to give even greater scope for editing later.

A common use is to then rearrange the beats and maybe add a little programmed part along with the live drums such as an 808 sub kick drum.

This is a great modern way for people to use their technology and create beats in the standard sampling and programming methods, but to also benefit from the real feel of a human drummer as well as having the beats, fills and drum sounds customised and written to fit their music rather than trying to fit their music to a pre-existing drum beat.

If this sounds like something that will take your track to the next level, email me at info@onlinesessiondrum.com to find out about this option.

What Gear Do You Have Mr Online Session Drummer?

Which snare microphone should I use?

When I record online session drum tracks for artists the conversation varies from client to client. Some people have the attitude of “you’re the drummer/engineer, therefore I trust you to create the best drum sound for my music” whilst others want very technical information about what equipment I use. They might wish to know which DAW I use, which preamps I have, or which microphones I use.

These are absolutely fair questions and I always make sure I answer them in full. But I also try to make a point to them which I think is important, and that is that the answer is largely irrelevant in my opinion.

My worry is that they might want it recorded in Logic and I have Cubase or vice versa, or they specifically have an idea in their head about a certain microphone and would be put off if I don’t own that mic. Sometimes their view might be based on good education and vast studio experience. But sometimes it might be based on a chat with a mate in a pub who misinformed them, or an article in Sound on Sound that they’ve taken as gospel.

The thing is that an online session drummer usually has a custom built drum recording space, he knows his own gear inside out, and he knows how to get various results from it.

In a recent Rhythm magazine article, James Hester spoke on this point saying that the recording gear accounts for only 5% of the sound. The rest comes from the drums, the drummer, and the room. So it’s funny to me that often the questions are about the technical equipment but never about me, my drums or my room.

[pullquote align=”right” textalign=”left|center|right” width=”30%”]The thing is that an online session drummer usually has a custom built drum recording space, he knows his own gear inside out, and he knows how to get various results from it.[/pullquote]

But I suppose the big thing I try to encourage people to do is to trust their ears. Does it really matter if I’ve recorded the part with thousands of pounds worth of Neumann microphones in a world class drum live room, or recorded it with two budget microphones in my kitchen? If it sounds great then does the process or equipment count for anything at all? Of course, with more gear, and better gear, I could create a greater variety of amazing drum sounds and that’s why I have invested good money over the years to build and ever growing studio set up, but I think sometimes we get caught up in worrying about technical information.

Some of our favourite drum sounds were recorded with very few microphones – think John Bonham for Led Zeppelin with Glyn Johns in charge of engineering!

So I always say to a new client to let me record for them and then they can listen, without bias or knowledge of the recording chain. Just close your eyes and use your ears. If the tracks sounds good and the playing has captured the right vibe, then who cares how it was achieved.

The biggest thing that does help me when I’m recording a drum track is guidance on the type of sound. If someone tells me they want a John Bonham vibe then that’s really helpful as I know what sound to achieve and how to play it. I can then go about finding the right drums, tuning and recording to achieve that sound.

Someone once told me that they wanted the sound of a Pearl Export steel snare and that it had to be that. Well I don’t own a Pearl Export snare, and as a mid range snare it struck me as odd. But more so because that snare can sound very different depending on which type of drumhead is on it, how it’s tuned, which room you put it in, who is playing it, which recording equipment is used, and what processing took place afterwards. I don’t know if that guy had heard a song that he liked and had read somewhere that it was recorded on a steel Pearl Export snare. But if that was the case,, it would have been much better to say to me what the song was so I had a good reference point to go away and find a method to create the same sound.

So overall, to make it as easy as possible for me to create the best custom drum track for your song, the best information you can give is a reference for a song or drummer, and then put trust in your ears to determine whether the resulting sound is good enough.

After all, for all the money we could spend on recording equipment, it means nothing without a good pair of ears through which to listen to it.