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Toontrack presents: Studio Pass

Lesson 5 of 26

Tracking and Comping Drums

Ulrich Wild, Brendon Small

Toontrack presents: Studio Pass

Ulrich Wild, Brendon Small

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Lesson Info

5. Tracking and Comping Drums


  Class Trailer
Now Playing
1 Class Introduction Duration:06:20
4 Songwriting Q&A Duration:26:32
5 Tracking and Comping Drums Duration:27:24
6 Editing Drums Duration:16:25
7 Drums Q&A Duration:31:15
8 Micing an Amplifier Duration:25:09
9 Rhythm Guitar Tones Duration:18:52
10 Tracking Rhythm Guitars Duration:34:13
11 Tracking Bass Guitar Duration:23:34
12 Bass Q&A Duration:21:45
13 General Q&A Duration:16:30
  Class Trailer
Now Playing
1 Tracking Vocals Duration:18:27
3 Vocal Mixing on Galaktikon Duration:24:37
4 Vocals Q&A Duration:17:50
5 Mix Prep Duration:34:45
6 Mixing in Logic Pro Duration:42:03
7 Mixing Blazing Star Part I Duration:27:14
10 Mixing Blazing Star Part 2 Duration:19:34
11 Mixing Blazing Star with EQ Duration:30:09
12 Final Q&A Duration:24:12
13 Closing Thoughts Duration:11:22

Lesson Info

Tracking and Comping Drums

We are going to talk about what happens after brendon has his main idea and his main song that usually ended up in a tv show. Okay, how we're going to make that into a recording? Two released on an album? Awesome. It is the way the first order of business is, uh, going in and fleshing out the song if it hadn't been fleshed out already, that usually involves brendan coming in, and, uh, you know, if it's just a forty five minutes, forty five seconds snippet that he had, uh then it'll be fleshed out into, like, a full blown song for five minutes long, perhaps what we'll do sometimes is that I'll take that forty five second piece, and I'll go into pro tools if I if I have the time and if I have the ideas which I, which I have no choice but to have, um, I will I'll take that old session or I'll take my stereo at it, and I'll chop it up and right around it, like maybe there's more of a thing here, maybe there's a thing here and here's an out show, and maybe, or maybe we duplicate this area o...

ver here where verse bridge chorus, first bridge, well, first parade, first men's chorus. Uh solo section odyssey section the sometimes and then an out true and it could be quite discombobulating could be like a stereo mix and then a guitar riff with a click and then back to the story a mix and then you know more superior drummer with just base or whatever is exact mostly guitars more I'll take I'll have like oh, it was really funny in the first record remember mermaid er it was a song that existed just as mermaid or mermaid her mermaid or just just like the three courts going up and that was it and then I thought for some reason like through online and through whatever fan websites, whatever people wanted to hear that whole song and so I thought, what do I do? I've got so I went through that whole episode I gathered other parts land that they get it they're going to get a ticket when toki is being lowered into the trench and I'm not about to get a ticket out of this thing happened three one two you have a three things so but they can kind of live in the same tempo if we so we kind of found a temple that was here downtown don don don don so doing a triplet thing on top of that then slowly building a slowly building and just going back and forth and sitting with chaining trying to make that all work together but taking I had all my clues to be sure to make that song a song so that's one way we do it and then some signs, so I let it go in, and I'll have an idea. We'll combine some different part of the songs I remember another one that was an interesting thing where we took bloodlines, the song blood lines with the big kind of drum thing, that kind of, uh, tribally thing, a little more tribal kind of thing, the simple tour kind of sure survive. And and there was that donate on and on and on and on the noon and then there was a big harpsichord piece that was somewhere in the episode two I thought that that would be a great breakdown. Forget breakdown when nathan explosion's, great grandmother is telling the story this lustful story of her in this native over this harpsichord peace, live it's, more of like a traditional harmony and kind of with figure base and stuff wouldn't be great for broke down and that got back in. And then again, all the clues were in the episode, so it's going. Other times I have a guitar and an amp set up and then genes in the other room and that's that's kind of that's, the more organic way, more kind of with a lot of people write songs I think yeah that's that's the band in the room thing that's what we all came from that's what van halen did you get there you know so and so at that point you've already miked up the kit correct the yeah I mean the kid gets miked up in pretty standard fashion it's it's ah you know kick snare mike's tom mike's couple overheads um the fewer mike's really the better because uh more mikes you have the more you get into phasing issues between the various mikes so I'm a fan of keeping it simple and and getting things done um mostly for ease off operation but also sonically um but more mikes on a drunk it does not necessarily mean better drum sound that has been proven with led zeppelin back in the days and on dh look again you know mohr options more choices mean uh more decisions to be made later and it gets in the way and gets in the way the work flow just it's like a song right now go what I was saying the song writing that's why I work and I work well together because we don't want to believe or something we want to get it done and the more options you have the more options the more things to drive you insane later on so you want to keep your options pretty open so what is the most standard way that you can like a kid um thie especially for for metal we just close my kicks uh it's it's ah for me it's an atm twenty five inside the drum and uh you know off you go then this fifty seven on the snare I use the optics d two's on the toms uh where's the defour's under remembers the little ones um that's the ones that they made for the times and then ah, the overheads you know traditionally you have ah you know, like some kind of condenser microphone uh you know if your choice but I've learned over the years that I'm actually better off with a dynamic mike for overheads because of how it just shaves off the high end a little bit which is what people have been complained about the pro tools in all this digital world sounding sounding like brittle and bright so well fix it you know change the recording technique you don't need to like try to emulate with what they did with back in the analog tape days and so I use a condenser my used dynamic makes for overhead sometimes warmer yeah because it's traditionally what you're saying is that old anna long days you would record the drums first recording a little brighter than you need them to be because the natural aging and wearing of of the tape would warm the whole thing up absolutely right tape this was a was or is in perfect medium right? And you have like when you clean the tape as for all the old schoolers out there that's your high end it's literally being shaved off the tape and so you goosed ten k on everything to tape because you knew it was gonna wear off a little bit and he would try to, um, keep your noise floor and check with that you know you'd work the use you would you would accommodate the medium right? And then if you would just transfer those recording techniques through to digital, you would have something within the way too bright right? Here's the speech super high hissy yeah, like what sounds brittle and brides that well, fix it. So the senate technique ideas that recorded how you want to hear yeah, exactly and accommodating its accommodate this medium not there with the old medium got you, you know, on dso that's basically we're doing it is a pretty standard drum set up um, that I'm going for the really the most important thing for drum tracks or having an amazing drummer it's it really you can have the best microphones in a crappy drummer and hope she's gonna know he's gonna like like it um and so the the important thing is to tune the drums right, have new heads on dh have a guy who knows how to make make the drums saying make him make him sound good and it's in the wrist that's how you hit the drums how you play your instrument jump back one step this is the recording philosophy that I think you and I both agree on that I think is probably the first thing we should have said is the ultimate recording technique you can have is right a cool song and try to play it well there you go that's you know that's the little thing ultimately try to grab it had recorded have something to show you might start backwards that's help is important but what a cool song which can happen I know that's why I say that because I'm not good at this but write a cool song and try to play it well is the most important recording philosophy you can have absolutely because you can you can you can record a great song inside of a garbage can and people will love it and there's still be a great song it'll still be a great so you can have an awful song and the best of recording techniques is not going to fix that limply played by terrible musicians is not going to sound very good but even a great song limply played by terrible musicians will be sound great as long as the song is still good so if the temples going everywhere as long as the song is this good as long as it speaks to the audience um wait up the drones we've set up the drums and you and jean have talked about parts and he is learning the song he's usually gets but least portions of um and the email to wrap his head around from early on not always but whenever whenever we can write and so he has ideas when he walks in and you guys were talking about parts and fleshing them out and it's time to practice this thing um what I get from you um especially in this last album that we did the doomsday record was actually fully arranged peace with everything in place and there was no deviating from it at all because never temple was said like length was said everything was said short of like two or three minor edits correct but we were glued to a timeline because that was what we were animating two for one hour long special. So so that s so I had to do an entire full our demo just by myself sitting in a room and recording and telling the story and doing all that stuff and seeing all the parts and and replaying all the guitars and doing the keyboards and stuff and arranging all the first take of arrangement of horns and all that stuff and all the big brass that we would later record of fifty piece orchestra for and then this song this song is the one song that did not exist in the rock opera, but was a derivative piece which I knew I wanted a single and wanted a real death clock single out of this hole rock up or where the characters are actually singing everyone from, you know, from the cfo teo teo pickles too. Well, well, what's that abigail abigail has a beautiful lullaby that she sings, but but what I want to do is almost take that mermaid, er style thing is like, and I knew when I was kind of putting the horns together for the opening piece, I one of those big jesus christ superstar style overture, and I knew that as I was writing this, this is the theme of the of the whole piece. I'm going to take this, and I'm going to make a death clocks on out of this this thiss harmony in this melody, and that was where I start pulling out pieces from there and kind of putting him into this session and then starting to kind of arrange that after I finished the other piece. So how can I grab parts of the actual rock opera and put them in here and have you remember all you probably basically ideas in a perfect world even listened and watched the whole rock opera? And then you hear this song that reminds you of everything that just happened. It's almost like a flash forward of the whole thing. Just a really remote trailer musical training kind of abuse. But we would have also, at this point would have a fifty piece orchestra. We would have everything. We'll have the guitars, they have to fifty feet. Organs would have nathan explosion. And then we have the melody idea from, like, whoever sing it it's all mean but it's pickles, in this case singing the versace, um, or the bridges, whatever section we want to call them and and that's the arrangement of this particular piece. So so I think I'd arrange enough of this piece to think this was a way we could have done if this was all pretty much arranged when when it came to my house. Yeah. And just to give you an idea of what? This what? What? We're getting here, um uh, right here we have the rendering of the superior drummer bounds and that's. Basically, what do you have? A media that's, that's. What you had written to and and then we have ah, base. That you had done? Yeah, and we see some audio twenty with distributed regions. Yeah, and then we have my style like this because this probably the superior drummer midi, that we bounce yeah, there were on. Yeah, and some more rhythm guitars left and right that's cool lead guitars with some leg muted regions again. Yeah, um, the more lead guitars like we like him and an audio twelve, thirteen, fourteen, fifteen. Otherwise, I'd like to say all those muted read when I was talking about in section one or I'll record too much have too many ideas. We'll just simply mute them if we're like. You know what? Or I'll make a decision. I record this, it doesn't work, I don't like it, I don't care. I don't think the song needs it to exist and I'll mute them all out. But you don't hate it enough to throw it out that I lied your way with me. Exactly. And so I went in there somewhere finally and so way have some more audio. Oh, you see that's quite a lot. See that those fades. Yeah, do that those air probably guitar harmonies, one with their audio for harmonies and ready for whatever that is so yeah, so we're guessing his guitars because wait don't have a lot of vocals on the vocals I think I did some background vocals on this I wanted this to be a little bit more vocally melodic that's entirely possible but as you can see this's our song but there's a whole slew of other stuff attacked on back here that we absolutely don't need anymore right it's a bunch of guys remember how I said I don't like to throw things it's like musical jack that the reporting you know it's just it's the end and so my this is what I first get in so start cleaning it up and I'm going safe as a new session as you can see right here is my numbering system have the song title and then I put in a dash zero zero one zero zero two zero zero three it just lets me know which one is the most current number it's the one at the bottoms the highest number it's always that um so you get the idea very organized very fast organized file management orient terry you know but you're very smart file manage me well, you got to get things done in one way I got to get things done in another way but he's menace you read my encryptions and find a way to make all that stuff makes sense but go ahead yeah and so aiken tag on a like a little a little note at the end of the of the file name of zeroes here too here's jeanne I'm ready for jean um here are our uh drumm er drum tracks of drum channels as you can see uh, way have ah, the main cake on the alternate kick ana snare the rack, tom uh another act on floor toms overhand left overhead right over its center. I opted for an extra overhead mike on this one high hat he's got a closed high hat on this one yeah, I think he's certainly here because of you I may be I don't know if it's I mean and put a cow bell on his kid what you've never done but that's on galactica yeah, but he makes use of it too in a way that you never heard a metal drummer you make use of it really but and he he's he has to write symbols he's that's one of his signature things so not only busy and he's one left and one right and their pitch differently and that he could do some really cool feels that way. And so we have another way have a china mike and two room makes and that's about it so it's still, you know it's a pretty standard set up a little bit about fourteen tracks of drums, okay I want to ask I think we did it on making the last this record the doom star requiem and galactic on oh no maybe not collect our two thousand three where jean and this is something not everyone knows about metal drumming is that, um oftentimes the kick that they use on the recording is not is not the final kick sometimes will replace that with it trigger or sound that sounds like a very um like it's it's example wasn't like a solid sound solid sample you take where the drummer has already played and you replace it with the thing and he's gonna get in that but I think in the last album or two didn't we also bring in a line for his triggers? Yeah that's the d m five track that is sitting right up on top here he has on a lot of drummers do for live they have triggers on there so they drunk enmity triggers are basically these little things hover on the top of the shells of the of the double kicks and they just they're sensitive to any kind of hit that happens. So lie when I when I play with jean live in fact we just played at the big tenacious d festival and during our sound check like ten a m that day his gm five took a nose dive, the one that he borrowed for me way yeah and so we had to track one down and you know basically we can play you play that sounds cool doesn't sound it's solid and doesn't sound is consistent well I mean you really can like put a gate in a compressor and all kinds of stuff and you can make that happen yeah, but it's easier with this it's brutal on dh that's where a lot of the you know that it's gone from just sound replacing kick drums and snag drum to just programming drums entirely for exactly you know it's almost really gone like all the way over to the other um but with with that no matter how well you program drums you can still tell that they're programmed even if a drummer programs and because there's just something about it that just sounds a little too perfect and it's the imperfections that make life beautiful um and so we weird we're always trying to keep the drums like really like his live as possible despite the fact that we're competing with all this other death metal production that's out in the world there's a lot of very precise production out there and so in order for him to track we opted to track this d n five which is an old alisa's box of drum module box with this triggers things for him to listen on dhere what he's playing and so after um you know, talking with brendon and a cz you can see the session has been cleaned up there's nothing any more at the end there's still a few muted are muted regions don't throw those away but the end there's been cleaned up but uh you know, so we start tracking and it's it's it's tracking slash rehearsal s o that I keep the first um you know, I said it all up with my beautiful names they're all nicely labeled no audio ones but at least the first one opened and instantly duplicate my track list on my play list and because I know that I'm going to later use this one as my main comp more on that later but here we are we uh we have these on aiken complaints on this you can hear that just sounds very different it's very wrong and it's very much uh, you know, like a learning process for jean program drums and that's the whole point so we get when we do as you can see was but eleven takes here of drums and they keep getting progressively better because jean is learning the song he's putting in his fills that he's like we're hearing that thiss fleshing out his parts is being a musician and a drummer and uh you can see that here we punched in he's made it up to whatever location ten and so he punched in and we'd work our way through the song and learning improving until we have our eleven takes this one, apparently probably what happened was we started a beginning, but this was a duplicate thing. We cleaned it up, so when you get confused later also one one different thing about the recording of this session is that I think I had record all my guitars already because I didn't have time to go in and do I had to do it all earlier, so sure normally you would record all the drums first, and then I would play to the drunk there's a little bit of a nudge or thing that happens or he has a cool phil that I need to grab, um, like he'll do it, phil, sometimes like, well, you know, I'll work and I'll sit and go, what can I do over that that would accentuate that fill that makes us play together like a band because we're not playing, we're not recording like live like van halen, wood or something. So in this case, everything was recorded, all the guitars I had to get my job done long before, so I'm there just listening in the room, just making sure that that everyone is on board with the same idea and we've already recorded gets harder, so he has to play to my guitars pretty much which is very rare it doesn't happen it's very rare but is liberating for him because he already knows what the music it's already plotted out you know he can actually be musical with this fills as opposed to just kind of guess wouldn't it be cool, right? You know and you're working around him he was able to work around you so now that we have eleven takes we've live ahh you know we've listened terrific salmon we've we think we got what we need to assemble this thing so it's time to come drums together, which means that we're just picking the best parts for each section that we have and compile um into a new master playlist um the way I do it is again have all these groups together my only a drum uh on the drum tracks and I when a change playlists they all follow each other and so I would select let's say you know this first bit and used a general command tio command see for copy go over to this other playlist I love theatrical company but to a new blank playlist and paste that in very simple is since you have all those different playlists you have one extra blank one and you're just selecting each part that works the best exactly and you're comping all in a new play lists and that could be why I haven't done that yet that's a million you actually just get a new track on every time when you can go right over, you know, go until I've got it yeah, you know that's that's the other way of doing it and again so like this this could be an entire section or an entire first half of a song or it could just be the tiniest for example, like a second section from track five better than tracked six and there's exactly. So you're so for the third section, you can go from what the deployment is not to do blindly like I'm doing it right now you listen each of you actually listen to it, but you could just go like, you know, actually just like like these two hits, much better off it take five then I did off whatever the previous one was take uh, take four. So just put that right in there and that's how you and of compile compiling the whole thing and that's basically what you're looking at right here with, uh, my contract you can see there's several edits um it's pretty pretty, like the way we have large sections that we like, you know, there's thiss first did it, and then I guess we like this that that tom phil way ugo and we sometimes we have to maybe duplicate a couple of sections. If we need to remember whatever you have to make it work to conferencing together. But then he has to keep the musicality and the kind of life feel. Yeah, exactly like this. This is this is where the drummer would be playing. This is like the perfect rendition of the song. As far as gene is concerned, you and then this is about the time the gene takes a rough mix home, listens to it. Yeah. And, uh, and the sides, whether or not, uh, he's happy with everything, and if he's not, he will tell us. It's, it's, it's a rare thing they have. I mean, I'm sure other people do it, but he really cares about how his drums come across. He really wants people. He wants to have the best version of his drums on the record. So so he can sometimes since he's a drummer and he's very particular about what he does, he will notice a few things that maybe we thought was ok. Or on that. Isn't it picky with drums, but he'll notice a couple things. Like, for example, you know, like a bell hitters. Yeah. You know, the yeah, the get fussy on you sometimes, you know, like that I'm not playing the bill on the ride the way I wanted it to or like, you know, I'm doing it on a different ride than I mean deploying here's like a snare cater something, yeah, like, you know, like the like the beat. I'm missing, a snare hit that we should put in there. Whatever. I think it's it's, they get it gets very but that's what you want, someone who cares, yeah lately, and it makes a better clue really care about their work as long as we're not talking about o c d, where it's, really crazy american happened to have had a guy once who could not tune a guitar for under three hours. It was like he's, you know, on, you know where the time just to and the strings or dead again. You guys always attitude. It doesn't mean it's never going with our when our well tempered system it's never gonna work exactly.

Class Description

Adult Swim's Metalocalypse is a cheeky parody of metal culture — featuring the shenanigans of a cartoon band called Dethklok. In Toontrack Presents: Studio Pass, you'll get a closer look at the creative process behind this mesmerizing metal powerhouse-turned-TV-series.

Brendon Small is the creator and primary musician driving Dethklok’s music, including its four full-length albums. In this installment of Studio Pass, Brendon and producer Ulrich Wild (Pantera, White Zombie, Slipknot, Deftones) will show how they compose, engineer, and mix the music of Metalocalypse – explaining the recording techniques used for Dethklok’s drums, bass, guitars, vocals and effects.

The music behind the hilarious spectacle that is Metalocalypse is no joke. Join Brendon and Ulrich for Studio Pass and learn about the unique creative process behind the music of Dethklok.


John Thaxton

I love Brendon. He has always treated fans super well. There's so much wisdom to be gained from listening to him about workflow and music in general. Great class!

Aaron Thurtell

Being someone new and looking into recording songs, I found this class very informative and in a way essential, the idea of recording seemed over whelming and I had no idea where to start, being a fan of Brendon small and Ulrich Wilds work on Dethklok and Galaktikon I found it very enjoyable and must for any fans of Brendon small looking into how he goes about making a record