One of the things that drummers get in the habit of when playing live, is the idea of playing softer in some parts. When entering the studio this isn’t always what is needed though. When going for a more honest recording obviously playing with dynamics and hitting the drums softer in some parts can help with a natural vibe. However, in todays modern rock vibe the volume you hit the drum at often becomes more about a consistency in tone, since the engineer will often achieve the dynamics with faders, compression and other mix tricks. Follow me to the jump and I will show you what I mean.
One of the first tracks that ever made this impression on me was
Nirvana’s “Marigold” where Dave Grohl did his usual pummeling of the
drums despite it being one of the most gentle, whispered vocal songs I
have ever heard. Growing up as a drummer this sounded very wrong to me
because I was used to the natural sound of myself and others playing
live. As I grew up and into a producer for a living, I started to hear
the appeal of the consistent tone and the control I could wield behind
the board and clarity I could get from the mix from having the drummer always hit hard. I can recall years
later hearing New End Original’s “14-41″ and being freaked out by the
lack of dynamics in the drum hits. Now I hear a crisp annunciation and
clarity I know as an engineer that is achieved from well annunciated,
hard drum hits.
Before you begin to record a song this is an important
consideration for the approach of any drum track. Be sure to figure out
which vibe you want for your next quiet track.