Drum Machine

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Drum Machine

Postby fosterol » Sat May 26, 2018 7:37 am

Could someone tell me which drum tracks Rog did not play acoustic drums on. I understand the need to adapt and get different sounds and I don't put the reason down to laziness, but simply serving the song. Im guessing Hot Space really kicked it all off. cheers dears
 
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Re: Drum Machine

Postby The__KingOfRhye » Sat May 26, 2018 12:32 pm

I think Fun It has electronic drums, doesn't it?
 
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Re: Drum Machine

Postby cmsdrums » Sat May 26, 2018 3:02 pm

The__KingOfRhye wrote:I think Fun It has electronic drums, doesn't it?



Yes, but that’s still Roger physically playing the parts on electronic pads, whereas I think the original post refers to actually programmed parts not played by a real drummer. Eg Body Language.

Another One Bites the Dust and Dragon Attack are also both songs that feature Roger only playing a few bars which are then copied and looped to create the full drum track.
 
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Re: Drum Machine

Postby Kes » Sat May 26, 2018 3:18 pm

Pretty much.

Hot Space, as far as proper songs are concerned, kicked it off, and I think they feature on every original Queen album after that. As technology moved forward, so did the sound of them, and the closer you get to now, the more real they started to sound.

Sebastian's pretty good with this stuff, hopefully he'll provide a more insightful input, than I can.
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Re: Drum Machine

Postby WeeMann » Sat May 26, 2018 7:13 pm

I've just had a quick listen and I reckon the following tracks are either programmed or played on digital drums:

Hot Space
Staying Power
Dancer
Back Chat
Body Language
Cool Cat

The Works
Radio Ga Ga
I Want To Break Free
Thank God It's Christmas

AKOM
A Kind Of Magic
One Year of Love
Pain is So Close To Pleasure
Friends Will Be Friends

The Miracle
My Baby Does Me

Innuendo
I Can't Live With You
Delilah

Made In Heaven
Mother Love

And the following are a mixture of digital / programmed and live drums:

Fun It
Action This Day
Put Out The Fire
Machines
Don't Lose Your Head
Headlong
These Are The Days Of Our Lives
A Winter's Tale

I have nothing but my ears to back this up and some tracks could be live drums processed to sound digital (I'm not totally convinced I'm right about Winter's Tale, for instance).

One trick I do like is one they used on Machines and Headlong, where the song begins with programmed drums then mixes into live, but it's so well done you barely notice unless you're listening for it.
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Re: Drum Machine

Postby fosterol » Sat May 26, 2018 7:49 pm

thank you folks great info
 
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Re: Drum Machine

Postby cmsdrums » Sat May 26, 2018 10:33 pm

WeeMann wrote:

One trick I do like is one they used on Machines and Headlong, where the song begins with programmed drums then mixes into live, but it's so well done you barely notice unless you're listening for it.


I really like the 12” instrumental mix of Machines because you can really here the acoustic drums come in on top of the programmes parts.
 
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Re: Drum Machine

Postby cmsdrums » Sat May 26, 2018 10:36 pm

On a related point, can anyone please tell me if Roger’s real drum take on ‘I Can’t Live With You - Rocks Retake’ version were only recorded in 97 specially for that version, or were they from the Innuendo sessions but just replaced by Brian with the programmed parts?

Thanks.
 
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Re: Drum Machine

Postby WeeMann » Sat May 26, 2018 11:54 pm

I believe the live drums were recorded for the later version, once Roger felt he could do justice to the song.
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Re: Drum Machine

Postby sebastian » Sun May 27, 2018 11:56 am

When 'Rocks' was being promoted, they (either Brian or Roger, or both) said they'd include the 'original' version of that song. You know how publicity goes... a few years back I'd taken it as confirmation that the drums came from 1990 and they'd simply re-mixed them or something. Now, I'm more inclined to think they meant the original 'idea' was to have that 'kind' of drums, and that at some point after 'Innuendo' (and probably after 'Made in Heaven') Roger gave it another go.

Now, as for the thread, it's obviously a bit muddy and messy as songs would go through different stages. It's important to understand there's a difference between:

- Live drums as part of a live backing track: Roger, John and either Brian or Frederick (or both) played together, as if they were on stage, but with different mics picking up the different sounds so they'd go to different tracks and could be mixed. Bits of those backing tracks would be then muted for the final mix (such as the initial count), everything else would remain. The advantage is that it sounds way better and more natural. Risks include making mistakes and not being able to easily repair them, any or all of them getting ever so slightly off beat once in a while, tempo not being steady (which is often an asset in my book).

- Live drums recorded over a metronome or click track: Probably more precise, but also tad robotic, which works for some songs, but not for others.

- Live drums looped over the song: As mentioned above, that was a common approach for 'The Game' album, including 'Coming Soon' and 'Rock It' as well.

- Drum machines (technically, drum computers): They'd be programmed and used to synchronise everything else, or sometimes as a guideline by the composer of the song, either to give Rog an idea of what they wanted, or simply as a placeholder until Roger replaced them with his human drumming. Of course, that wasn't always the case.

- Synth-generated drums: Similar to drum machines, but using a keyboard synthesiser to programme them. The best-known case is obviously 'I Can't Live with You', for which Brian apparently first sequenced a midi and then ran it through the keyboard.

- Electronic drums: As mentioned earlier, actual drum pads which Roger hit and generated sounds. Those could be imitations of acoustic drums (snares, tom-toms and stuff) or new, more 'exotic' sounds.

To be continued...
John hated Hot Space. Frederick's favourite singer was not Paul Rodgers. Roger did not compose 'Innuendo.' Witness testimonies are often inaccurate. Scotland's not in England. 'Bo Rhap' hasn't got 180 voices.
 
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Re: Drum Machine

Postby sebastian » Sun May 27, 2018 12:10 pm

Part II:

Confirmation bias and hindsight bias are not to be underestimated IMO. Our ears can be tricked by our brains, and our brains can be tricked by what we've heard or read about what we're listening to in detail.

Had 'Dust', 'Fun It' or even 'Best Friend' been released in 1982 or afterwards, most of us would probably think those drums were programmed and that perhaps Roger overdubbed a few fills here and there, but we know with circa 99% certainty they weren't. Likewise, had 'One Year of Love' or 'My Baby Does Me' been issued a decade earlier, some of us would probably think they were definitely live and that their peculiar sound was owed to the way mics had been placed or the way the engineers had EQ'd them, etc.

A more scientific approach would be to get some drum experts (actual drummers, programmers, engineers, producers) who'd never heard of Queen (or at least didn't have too much exposure to their music) and have some sort of double-blind trial, playing them bits of different songs in random order and getting them to decide whether those drums were human, programmed, looped, electronic, acoustic, or any combination thereof.

Keep in mind said blends were not unusual: sometimes they'd use the computer to loop a basic beat Roger had played, or Rog would have some pads around his otherwise acoustic set and hit them accordingly.

My (admittedly flawed) thoughts are as follows:

- Everything before December 1981: Live, though loops obviously took place here and there. That'd include 'Cool Cat', by the way, which sounds to me like acoustic drums which may have been copied and pasted (a la 'Dust'), rather than John (or Roger, or Frederick) using a Linn computer.

- 'Staying Power': Completely programmed, either by Roger or Frederick - or perhaps even Mack!

- 'Dancer': Basic beat is likely programmed, and perhaps the tambourine as well, but on the chorus the drums are real.

- 'Back Chat': Programmed, except for the e-drum solo, of course.

- 'Body Language': Programmed, except for the 'knock me down for a six' section, where it seems Rog added some live cymbals to complement the machines.

- 'Action': Programmed, but perhaps there are some overdubs here and there (mostly on e-drums rather than acoustic ones).

- 'Ga Ga' and 'Break Free': Programmed. Roger played them live on stage and the sound was quite different. As Roger didn't sing backing vocals on the studio version of 'Break Free', it makes me wonder if he's even in that song at all - it'd be odd (though not entirely unheard of) for a single, and for a piece which was reportedly his favourite out of John's compositions... yet, that's what the evidence tells us (unless, of course, he programmed the machines instead of John).

- 'Xmas': Programmed. Roger, reportedly, only played (as in, didn't just programme) the synth, and sang backing vocals.

- 'Machines': First programmed, then live, then a battle between those two. That was Brian's idea for the song, anyway.

- 'Keep Passing the Open Windows': That one's a bit odd, as some of the more synth-led bits sound like there could be sequenced drums behind them, instead of or together with the acoustic parts. No idea, to be honest.

To be continued... again!
Last edited by sebastian on Sun May 27, 2018 12:51 pm, edited 2 times in total.
John hated Hot Space. Frederick's favourite singer was not Paul Rodgers. Roger did not compose 'Innuendo.' Witness testimonies are often inaccurate. Scotland's not in England. 'Bo Rhap' hasn't got 180 voices.
 
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Re: Drum Machine

Postby sebastian » Sun May 27, 2018 12:19 pm

- 'One Vision': We see Rog recording them... but, then again, a lot of what that 'making of...' shows us is staged and doesn't necessarily reflect the takes and tracks that made it to the final version. I'd suspect a lot (but not all) of the drums to be acoustic (probably played to a metronome, as we don't really see him recording simultaneously with Brian, only rehearsing). The interlude has the famous part Frederick is shown instructing Rog how to play, but the basic beat seems to be either looped or machine-generated (or machine-generated by looping something Rog had recorded).

- 'A Kind of Magic': There's a bit of a snare roll near the end, and it sounds human to me. Still, it'd be quite easy to sample something like that and have it in a sounds library, even back then. The basic part is obviously programmed, especially when you compare it to the live versions, which clearly had live drumming on an acoustic kit.

- 'One Year of Love': Programmed, which makes me wonder if Roger's even in that song at all. Probably not - Brian's not there, either, as his solo was wiped out and replaced by Steve Gregory on sax.

- 'Pain Is So Close to Pleasure': I suspect both drums and bass to be computer-generated up until the vocal enters, then it's a mixture of real and machines IMO.

- 'Friends Will Be Friends': The break - just before the guitar solo - sounds more Roger-esque (as in, played live, probably recorded over the machine/midi bit from the demo), everything else is quite clearly programmed. Again, Roger didn't seem to have done much on this song then, other than singing backing vocals.

- 'Who Wants to Live Forever': A combination of his live drumming, the live drumming from the orchestra's percussionist(s?) and some programmed bits (more noticeable before the solo).

- 'Princes of the Universe': Mostly live, but I wonder if some of the fast bits may have been programmed. Not that Roger couldn't do it (of course he could!) but the way they sound makes me think of 'I Want It All', which David confirmed to be programmed (the double-time part).

- 'Gimme the Prize': Not only are drums there completely real, but this is the last Queen song to be synth-less. Quite a milestone.

- 'Don't Lose Your Head': I'd say the main part is either programmed or looped (no clear distinction in its results). Roger probably focused more on producing it and either playing synths or telling Spike how he wanted them. And recruiting Joan, of course.

TBC...
John hated Hot Space. Frederick's favourite singer was not Paul Rodgers. Roger did not compose 'Innuendo.' Witness testimonies are often inaccurate. Scotland's not in England. 'Bo Rhap' hasn't got 180 voices.
 
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Re: Drum Machine

Postby sebastian » Sun May 27, 2018 12:27 pm

- 'Party': We know for a fact that he wasn't there when the song first arose, which strongly implies they used programmed drums at least at that point. Did he then replace them? Probably, probably not. He sang backing vocals, for sure, but no idea if he played any instruments.

- 'Khashoggi's Ship': Sounds live to me. Now, around the time they were making the album, Roger was quoted as saying they were doing a lot of 'live' backing tracks without synths (and with a bit of piano), I wonder if this was one of those from those jam sessions / spontaneous recordings which made it (but without piano, of course).

- 'The Miracle': Drums sound live, with that Roger-esque hi-hat thing, but near the end, when the bass ostinato enters, there's a bit of a click-track. My theory (and I've no way to support it): that was taken from a different recording, which may have had programmed percussion to keep everybody in time. Of course, once Roger's snare enters, everything's live again.

- 'I Want It All': Mostly live, except for the double-time part, which Dave confirmed to have been programmed. Which, again, makes me wonder, as I could've sworn it sounds live - it goes to show, my ears are not to be taken too seriously.

- 'Breakthru'': Programmed, defo!

- 'Invisible Man': Programmed and/or looped. Perhaps some rolls were live, but that was it.

- 'Too Much Love Will Kill You': Live.

- 'Rain Must Fall': Programmed. The conga overdubs were probably live, but the drums per se were not.

- 'Scandal': Live, though perhaps they were also mixed with some programmed and/or sampled bits in order to reinforce the sound, as it happened with the bass.

- 'My Baby Does Me': Programmed. Roger didn't seem to have done anything for this particular song, and he didn't write or co-write it either.

- 'Was It All Worth It': Reportedly played live from the casino.

TBC...
John hated Hot Space. Frederick's favourite singer was not Paul Rodgers. Roger did not compose 'Innuendo.' Witness testimonies are often inaccurate. Scotland's not in England. 'Bo Rhap' hasn't got 180 voices.
 
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Re: Drum Machine

Postby sebastian » Sun May 27, 2018 12:39 pm

- 'Innuendo': Live, and some of you have heard it in far more detail I'd ever dream of doing. Though perhaps some bits in the middle may have been programmed. Recording handclaps is a tricky business, and instead of spending a couple of hours getting them right, they could've just pulled a sample and pasted it where needed. Same for the triangle and stuff. I wonder if the timpani are real or sampled (also on 'Worth It' and 'People'...).

- 'Slightly Mad' and 'Ride the Wild Wind': My theory - the basic beat was sampled from Roger's actual playing and then triggered or modified slightly to fit the desired tempo. Some of the overdubs sound programmed. Those of you who attended the event with Noel and Justin: was anything said or played regarding 'Slightly Mad'? I know some recordings were played which had Frederick on synths, but what about the percussion?

- 'Headlong': Brian did the demo with synth-drums but then Roger replaced (some of) them with his live playing. The final result is a bit of a pastiche.

- 'I Can't Live with You' (album version) and 'Delilah': Completely, or at least chiefly, programmed.

- 'Don't Try So Hard': Drums sound live to me, though probably comp'd - not that there's anything wrong with that!

- 'All God's People': Most of them are programmed (probably by Mike), Rog seems to only be playing during the guitar solo and then that slightly bluesy section. And he sings backing vocals, of course...

- 'Days of Our Lives': Now, that's a tricky one as well. The only live version that I know of which features Roger playing drums (as opposed to just maracas or whatever) is the 1992 Tribute. He plays it quite differently to what sounds on the record, which leads me to think drums are entirely(or at least chiefly) programmed, as are the congas (the latter confirmed by David Richards).

- 'The Hitman': Live, but I wonder if some machines from the demo survived. Sometimes it sounds like it, especially when the synths kick in.

- 'Bijou': Most likely live, just overdubbed on top of everything else. John seems to be the only one not present for this song.

- 'The Show Must Go On': I know the Noel/Justin event showed only actual live bits, but the final version also has a programmed bit (you can clearly hear it via isolated stems). My theory: Brian used programmed drums when developing the song, and Roger recorded his actual drumming on top of that. Brian then decided to use them both.

- 'Mother Love', 'You Don't Fool Me' and 'A Winter's Tale': Programmed, at least the basic parts. Some overdubs may have been copied and pasted from elsewhere, or played live, or simply programmed as well.

- Everything else on 'Made in Heaven': Mostly live, but as ideas came and went it wouldn't surprise me if a few programmed things were used at some stages and even survived in some form.

All the lists above are open to comments (unless they're rude), corrections, discussion, etc.
John hated Hot Space. Frederick's favourite singer was not Paul Rodgers. Roger did not compose 'Innuendo.' Witness testimonies are often inaccurate. Scotland's not in England. 'Bo Rhap' hasn't got 180 voices.
 
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Re: Drum Machine

Postby The__KingOfRhye » Sun May 27, 2018 1:59 pm

Dang, a lot of info there! Nice.

I think that's actually pretty clever how Machines is part programmed and part live, since the song is basically about "machines vs. humans." Also, I never knew this before, but I recently listened to the bonus commentaries from Absolute Greatest, and Brian and Roger said Machines and Radio Ga Ga were originally one song they were working on together, but it eventually got split into two. Like One Vision/A Kind Of Magic, or maybe you could call it the opposite situation of A New Life is Born/Breakthru (two songs merged into one)
 
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