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Thread started 09/25/18 4:47am

drfunkentstein

Drums: Early Records vs Later Records

Just a quick question + thought: Why is it that P seemed to play drum kit on For You and Self titled but then around the time of Dirty Mind forward you begin to hear mostly programmed drum machine figures? An aesethetic choice that no doubt was artistically sound, but if he had that ability why wasn't he let loose ot slam those skins more often on record going forward?

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Reply #1 posted 09/25/18 5:33am

databank

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drfunkentstein said:

Just a quick question + thought: Why is it that P seemed to play drum kit on For You and Self titled but then around the time of Dirty Mind forward you begin to hear mostly programmed drum machine figures? An aesethetic choice that no doubt was artistically sound, but if he had that ability why wasn't he let loose ot slam those skins more often on record going forward?

I'm not sure I understand your question since you seem to have answered it yourself. Musicians don't use drum machines because they don't have the ability to play live drums, they use them because they provide a different sound patette and offer different possibilities.

Besides, there's only live drums on Diry Mind and Prince kept using live drums a lot throughout his career.

[Edited 9/25/18 5:34am]

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Reply #2 posted 09/25/18 6:30am

ufoclub

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He would mix live percussion with the drum machine many times. And some songs had real drumming hitting electronic drums.

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Reply #3 posted 09/25/18 7:51am

TrivialPursuit

drfunkentstein said:

Just a quick question + thought: Why is it that P seemed to play drum kit on For You and Self titled but then around the time of Dirty Mind forward you begin to hear mostly programmed drum machine figures? An aesethetic choice that no doubt was artistically sound, but if he had that ability why wasn't he let loose ot slam those skins more often on record going forward?


Seriously? Read a book. Him being enamored with the Linn is documented ad nauseam.

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Reply #4 posted 09/25/18 9:57am

soladeo1

I don't think Prince used drum machines until Private Joy on Controversy. Everything else before that was live drums (and over-dubbed percussion, when needed).

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Reply #5 posted 09/25/18 10:28am

ufoclub

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TrivialPursuit said:



drfunkentstein said:


Just a quick question + thought: Why is it that P seemed to play drum kit on For You and Self titled but then around the time of Dirty Mind forward you begin to hear mostly programmed drum machine figures? An aesethetic choice that no doubt was artistically sound, but if he had that ability why wasn't he let loose ot slam those skins more often on record going forward?




Seriously? Read a book. Him being enamored with the Linn is documented ad nauseam.



To be fair EVERYONE was using it. He just turned it up, made it funky, and compressed and detuned it, and hit hard with the stick (clave?).
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Reply #6 posted 09/25/18 11:38am

TrivialPursuit

ufoclub said:

TrivialPursuit said:


Seriously? Read a book. Him being enamored with the Linn is documented ad nauseam.

To be fair EVERYONE was using it. He just turned it up, made it funky, and compressed and detuned it, and hit hard with the stick (clave?).


Agreed. the Linn was very popular and in every other song on the radio back then. But to the OP's original question as to why Prince used it so heavily, all he has to do is read a book. Read DMSR by Per Nilsen, or an interview with a band member at the time. The material available is plentiful.

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Reply #7 posted 09/25/18 11:46am

luvsexy4all

wish Graffitti bridge album had actual drumming

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Reply #8 posted 09/25/18 1:19pm

TrivialPursuit

luvsexy4all said:

wish Graffitti bridge album had actual drumming


The title track does, doesn't it? LOL

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Reply #9 posted 09/25/18 1:33pm

PeteSilas

drfunkentstein said:

Just a quick question + thought: Why is it that P seemed to play drum kit on For You and Self titled but then around the time of Dirty Mind forward you begin to hear mostly programmed drum machine figures? An aesethetic choice that no doubt was artistically sound, but if he had that ability why wasn't he let loose ot slam those skins more often on record going forward?

we had a thread recently on this, but it was more along the lines of why he abandoned them. after the mid 80's he used mainly live drummers, he'd still have electric beats but usually it was traditional drummers like michael bland. The mid eighties, maybe he realized that he could do more working alone than getting a band together, maybe he also realized that tinkering with the then new drum machines, he could create his own sound which would set him apart, he said later that he threw out his machines once everyone started copying him and copy they did. The Linn drum machine was a key part of his vintage minneapolis sound, 1999 wouldn't be the same with a normal drum section, neither would when doves cry.

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Reply #10 posted 09/27/18 8:44am

steakfinger

Prince has stated that he liked to work fast and the drum machines saved him a lot of time. I can take hours to set up, mic up, tune up, and record a drum set. Certainly the different sounds affored him were a bonus, but the main concern was productivity and consistancy. Prince was unsentimental about sound quality. He liked to get things done fast. Working in a studio can be demoralizing if you're writing as you record. There are many delays and technical issues. In normal recording situations there can be tremedous downtime while perfectly normal technical considerations are handled.

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Reply #11 posted 09/27/18 10:08am

databank

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steakfinger said:

Prince has stated that he liked to work fast and the drum machines saved him a lot of time. I can take hours to set up, mic up, tune up, and record a drum set. Certainly the different sounds affored him were a bonus, but the main concern was productivity and consistancy. Prince was unsentimental about sound quality. He liked to get things done fast. Working in a studio can be demoralizing if you're writing as you record. There are many delays and technical issues. In normal recording situations there can be tremedous downtime while perfectly normal technical considerations are handled.

That, too. I didn't quote this argument because I had forgotten it was the set-up and I was wondering how can it be longer to play the live drums than to program the drum machine, but yeah, it was the set-up, thx for reminding me.

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Reply #12 posted 09/27/18 11:19am

Cinny

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steakfinger said:

Prince has stated that he liked to work fast and the drum machines saved him a lot of time. I can take hours to set up, mic up, tune up, and record a drum set. Certainly the different sounds affored him were a bonus, but the main concern was productivity and consistancy. Prince was unsentimental about sound quality. He liked to get things done fast. Working in a studio can be demoralizing if you're writing as you record. There are many delays and technical issues. In normal recording situations there can be tremedous downtime while perfectly normal technical considerations are handled.


This is exactly right. In reading Duane Tudahl's book, the engineer (I think it was Susan Rogers) said that setting up the drum kit for recording took the longest because most drummers who sat in the sessions (Morris, Bobby Z) were right handed but she would have to take it all apart and redo it for Prince who was left-handed... SOMETHING LIKE THAT. Anyone, for the sake of getting his musical ideas down fast and recorded, programming a drum machine was always faster.

I used to program drums and as someone who looked up to all types of people (eg. J Dilla), Prince is right up there with the best, even when he is just programming a damn machine!

I like his seventies albums too, of course.

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Reply #13 posted 09/27/18 11:23am

Cinny

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When I saw The Revolution this summer, Bobby Z was playing those tracks live with a real kit but often triggering electronic sounds, so they didn't have that rigid quantized feel.

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Reply #14 posted 09/27/18 11:53am

databank

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Cinny said:

When I saw The Revolution this summer, Bobby Z was playing those tracks live with a real kit but often triggering electronic sounds, so they didn't have that rigid quantized feel.

Honestly I think Bobby sounds like a friggin' robot on the PR tour. A little too much to my taste. Not that I don't like drum machines (I love' em), but I felt on that specific tour having live drums that aimed to sound like drum machines didn't really work.

[Edited 9/27/18 11:53am]

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Reply #15 posted 09/27/18 12:03pm

PeteSilas

databank said:

Cinny said:

When I saw The Revolution this summer, Bobby Z was playing those tracks live with a real kit but often triggering electronic sounds, so they didn't have that rigid quantized feel.

Honestly I think Bobby sounds like a friggin' robot on the PR tour. A little too much to my taste. Not that I don't like drum machines (I love' em), but I felt on that specific tour having live drums that aimed to sound like drum machines didn't really work.

[Edited 9/27/18 11:53am]

but if it didn't sound like the records that would have been kinda bad, generally, in the business you want to sound close to the record.

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Reply #16 posted 09/27/18 12:21pm

databank

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PeteSilas said:

databank said:

Honestly I think Bobby sounds like a friggin' robot on the PR tour. A little too much to my taste. Not that I don't like drum machines (I love' em), but I felt on that specific tour having live drums that aimed to sound like drum machines didn't really work.

[Edited 9/27/18 11:53am]

but if it didn't sound like the records that would have been kinda bad, generally, in the business you want to sound close to the record.

Yeah I realize that but ironically I feel the drum machines on the record sounded more organic than the live renditions. No big deal though, they were playing with new tool and a new sound, and some of it didn't work so well IMO, but I certainly won't blame them for trying.

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Reply #17 posted 09/27/18 12:43pm

steakfinger

databank said:

Cinny said:

When I saw The Revolution this summer, Bobby Z was playing those tracks live with a real kit but often triggering electronic sounds, so they didn't have that rigid quantized feel.

Honestly I think Bobby sounds like a friggin' robot on the PR tour. A little too much to my taste. Not that I don't like drum machines (I love' em), but I felt on that specific tour having live drums that aimed to sound like drum machines didn't really work.

[Edited 9/27/18 11:53am]

Bobby did very little playing live aside from cymbals. The kick and snare were programmed and he played cymbals and persussion over them. He is credited on Ultimate Prince as percussion, not drums. Others like Michael B. were credited as drummers. Bobby played live drums previously, but not much later. That's been discussed before. He had the option of triggering the pads and playing the elctronic drums, but often the beats were programmed and he did minimal stuff. The beat to When Doves Cry, for example, was not played by Bobby live. When the beat was recycled for use on whatever that track is on the First Avenue birthday show you hear him speed it up by turning the tempo knob. The drums on the tour sounded robotic because it was a robot playing them. The LinnDrum was used live as opposed to the LM-1 which was used in the studio.

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Reply #18 posted 09/27/18 12:48pm

PeteSilas

databank said:

PeteSilas said:

but if it didn't sound like the records that would have been kinda bad, generally, in the business you want to sound close to the record.

Yeah I realize that but ironically I feel the drum machines on the record sounded more organic than the live renditions. No big deal though, they were playing with new tool and a new sound, and some of it didn't work so well IMO, but I certainly won't blame them for trying.

generally, nothing works as well live, the first time i saw the PR live show I thought "he can't sing" compared to what I'm used to hearing, he sounded horrible. Our ears get accustomed to different things, nowadays, i've heard so many live shows, I know if someone just "can't sing" or they are just singing live which is never perfect.

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Reply #19 posted 09/27/18 12:49pm

steakfinger

Cinny said:

steakfinger said:

Prince has stated that he liked to work fast and the drum machines saved him a lot of time. I can take hours to set up, mic up, tune up, and record a drum set. Certainly the different sounds affored him were a bonus, but the main concern was productivity and consistancy. Prince was unsentimental about sound quality. He liked to get things done fast. Working in a studio can be demoralizing if you're writing as you record. There are many delays and technical issues. In normal recording situations there can be tremedous downtime while perfectly normal technical considerations are handled.


This is exactly right. In reading Duane Tudahl's book, the engineer (I think it was Susan Rogers) said that setting up the drum kit for recording took the longest because most drummers who sat in the sessions (Morris, Bobby Z) were right handed but she would have to take it all apart and redo it for Prince who was left-handed... SOMETHING LIKE THAT. Anyone, for the sake of getting his musical ideas down fast and recorded, programming a drum machine was always faster.

I used to program drums and as someone who looked up to all types of people (eg. J Dilla), Prince is right up there with the best, even when he is just programming a damn machine!

I like his seventies albums too, of course.

Bobby and Prince played right handed (normal). Morris is left-handed and plays his drums that way. Jellybean also plays left-handed.

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Reply #20 posted 09/27/18 12:56pm

PeteSilas

prince did like to work fast, sometimes i wonder how he'd deal with the shitty equipement most of us have to deal with, I did my whole album, painstaikingly with just a keyboard and the very first digital recorder to come out. It was slow, frutstrating, the only thing harder was making film. also, as I said, the drums and the whole one man approach was because he learned early that he couldn't rely on anyone, and even still, he mentions in the 85 RS article how he still got depressed over people's laziness. It's true, I'm paying 100 bucks for anyone who can get me any shitty gig, any, so 100 per gig but people are so lazy they just run their mouths and nothing happens. I hate dealing with the business, I hate being talked down to which these club owners often do, so i need help. can't do it all.

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Reply #21 posted 09/27/18 3:18pm

Musician9

soladeo1 said:

I don't think Prince used drum machines until Private Joy on Controversy. Everything else before that was live drums (and over-dubbed percussion, when needed).

Wrong, Sexuality is clearly a drum machine, and Dirty Mind sounds like one, there were drum machines around since the mid 70's. But frankly, many of those songs would've been better with a competent drummer, his drumming was boring and rudimentary.

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Reply #22 posted 09/27/18 3:37pm

PeteSilas

i thought dirty mind sounded like machines to me, don't know if they were the linn or not but it sounded like the linn's that i got used to hearing.

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Reply #23 posted 10/01/18 11:29am

Cinny

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steakfinger said:

Cinny said:


This is exactly right. In reading Duane Tudahl's book, the engineer (I think it was Susan Rogers) said that setting up the drum kit for recording took the longest because most drummers who sat in the sessions (Morris, Bobby Z) were right handed but she would have to take it all apart and redo it for Prince who was left-handed... SOMETHING LIKE THAT. Anyone, for the sake of getting his musical ideas down fast and recorded, programming a drum machine was always faster.

I used to program drums and as someone who looked up to all types of people (eg. J Dilla), Prince is right up there with the best, even when he is just programming a damn machine!

I like his seventies albums too, of course.

Bobby and Prince played right handed (normal). Morris is left-handed and plays his drums that way. Jellybean also plays left-handed.


Yeah! That's what it was.

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Reply #24 posted 10/01/18 12:43pm

jjam

Musician9 said:

soladeo1 said:

I don't think Prince used drum machines until Private Joy on Controversy. Everything else before that was live drums (and over-dubbed percussion, when needed).

Wrong, Sexuality is clearly a drum machine, and Dirty Mind sounds like one, there were drum machines around since the mid 70's. But frankly, many of those songs would've been better with a competent drummer, his drumming was boring and rudimentary.

There are many non-acoustic drum elements on Sexuality but the main basis of the beat is from a drum kit as far as I'm concerned. And I have to disagree bigtime with your take on his drumming.

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Reply #25 posted 10/07/18 3:10pm

ufoclub

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jjam said:

Musician9 said:

Wrong, Sexuality is clearly a drum machine, and Dirty Mind sounds like one, there were drum machines around since the mid 70's. But frankly, many of those songs would've been better with a competent drummer, his drumming was boring and rudimentary.

There are many non-acoustic drum elements on Sexuality but the main basis of the beat is from a drum kit as far as I'm concerned. And I have to disagree bigtime with your take on his drumming.

hmm... just listened to it. The drum track sounds acoustic (mic'd and tuned disco style), the handclap/air shot sounds synth.

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Reply #26 posted 10/07/18 5:45pm

jjam

The tempo also slightly wavers occasionally. That's some erratic drum machine that Prince used, then wink

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Reply #27 posted 10/08/18 8:27am

bonatoc

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Musician9 said:

soladeo1 said:

I don't think Prince used drum machines until Private Joy on Controversy. Everything else before that was live drums (and over-dubbed percussion, when needed).

Wrong, Sexuality is clearly a drum machine, and Dirty Mind sounds like one, there were drum machines around since the mid 70's. But frankly, many of those songs would've been better with a competent drummer, his drumming was boring and rudimentary.


I think "minimalist" is the word you're looking for.

The Colors R brighter, the Bond is much tighter
No Child's a failure
Until the Blue Sailboat sails him away from his dreams
Don't Ever Lose, Don't Ever Lose
Don't Ever Lose Your Dreams
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Reply #28 posted 10/08/18 8:46am

bonatoc

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jjam said:

The tempo also slightly wavers occasionally. That's some erratic drum machine that Prince used, then wink


The Linn had individual swing settings on every drum instrument channel (kick, snare, etc.).
It's the swing factor that makes Prince's Linn patterns so alive. Some drum sounds fall on the beat, other a little bit behind, others slightly ahead. But in the end, good luck reverse-engineering the swing factor on each (although, nowadays...)
Prince also sent individual sounds through drastic FX processors, an integral part of his sound.

It's a combination of getting songs out of his head faster (what I read was that Prince got tired with Bobby not being there to record an idea at 4 AM), and using a creative tool to build a sound, when sounding like a machine was a thing.
Except nearly all of Prince's programmings sound organic.

But the Linn was everywhere:

[Edited 10/8/18 8:58am]

The Colors R brighter, the Bond is much tighter
No Child's a failure
Until the Blue Sailboat sails him away from his dreams
Don't Ever Lose, Don't Ever Lose
Don't Ever Lose Your Dreams
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Reply #29 posted 10/08/18 8:51am

bonatoc

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You can read about the importance of the swing factor in drum machines in this interview of the creator.

Keep in mind that not only Roger Linn created the drum machine that defined the eighties sound,
he also massively defined the sound of the following decade with his Akai MPC60.

Roger Linn is the Enzo Ferrari of the drum machine.

Swing – applied to quantized 16th-note beats – is a big part of it.

My implementation of swing has always been very simple: I merely delay the second 16th note within each 8th note. In other words, I delay all the even-numbered 16th notes within the beat (2, 4, 6, 8, etc.) In my products I describe the swing amount in terms of the ratio of time duration between the first and second 16th notes within each 8th note.

For example, 50% is no swing, meaning that both 16th notes within each 8th note are given equal timing. And 66% means perfect triplet swing, meaning that the first 16th note of each pair gets 2/3 of the time, and the second 16th note gets 1/3, so the second 16th note falls on a perfect 8th note triplet.

The fun comes in the in-between settings. For example, a 90 BPM swing groove will feel looser at 62% than at a perfect swing setting of 66%. And for straight 16th-note beats (no swing), a swing setting of 54% will loosen up the feel without it sounding like swing.

Between 50% and around 70% are lots of wonderful little settings that, for a particular beat and tempo, can change a rigid beat into something that makes people move. And unlike the MPCs, my new Tempest drum machine makes it very easy to find the right swing setting because you can adjust the swing knob in real time while the beat plays. I first introduced swing – as well as recording quantization – in my 1979 drum machine, the LM-1 Drum Computer.

[Edited 10/8/18 9:00am]

The Colors R brighter, the Bond is much tighter
No Child's a failure
Until the Blue Sailboat sails him away from his dreams
Don't Ever Lose, Don't Ever Lose
Don't Ever Lose Your Dreams
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