Last night, while I was recording a drum track for my friend, Bob Reynolds, I had an epiphany of sorts. No, I wasn’t struck on the head with an apple and I didn’t find Jesus in a potato chip. I did, however, realize that the scrolling Logic session to the left of my hi hat was “my new drum chart”.
Traditionally, session musicians are handed sheet music (aka “lead sheets” or “charts”) prior to recording in the studio. These charts act as a road map for the musicians, guiding them through the arrangement of the song. They can vary from being highly detailed (telling you exactly what notes to play at any given moment) to just supplying the melody and chord changes (a typical jazz chart). For drummers, these charts are crucial in detailing the form of the song, but often provide us with a lot of information we don’t really need (is that G# augmented chord in bar 7 really going to dictate what groove I play?). Especially in a a pop setting, my main priorities are simple: Know the form and make it feel good.
Go ahead. Insert dumb drummer joke here:__________________________
With the Logic session scrolling along as I record drum tracks, I’m able to see detailed intricatcies of the song that a traditional “drum chart” simply can’t provide. It allows me to not only view the form of the song, but it also shows me the actual instrumentation in real time, much like a full conductor score. For example, before I even get to a chorus, I can visually anticipate what instruments will be added and thus, adjust my drumming accordingly. If I see a lot of layering coming up, I might switch to the ride cymbal or open up the hi hats. I can even make out the rhythm of the bass by looking at the MIDI information. With just a glance at my MacBook, the Logic session provides me with great insight into the structure and arrangement of a song. Much more than a sheet of music with a few chords and slash marks ever could.
Of course, this “new drum chart” approach only applies to drummers who are recording themselves and have a computer monitor next to their kit. And in certain genres, where very specific melodic and rhythmic information is needed by the drummer (ie. a big band chart where the drummer needs to “set up” horn hits), a lead sheet will still be a necessity. But for now, in my happy little pop world that I mostly live in, looking at the Logic session will do just fine.
Today’s loop is an outtake from the session I did with Bob. In order to completely ruin the pristine sound I worked so hard to achieve for the original track, I turned on the bit crusher and smashed things up for you guys.
Download the Logic session here. (60MB)
Get the .wav file here.