142: How To Identify Time Signatures And Note Values (Every Producer Needs To Know This) – With Thomas Krottenthaler


We got the following question from our coaching students:

“How do you identify (drum) time signatures and note values? I want to get better and faster at figuring this out mainly for drum editing and adjusting my grid. Sometimes it takes me a while to identify if something is in triplets, for example."


Book a free feedback call with Benedikt, the host of the show!

We love the question, because this (and music theory in general) is something that isn't talked about a lot, but many struggle with it.

And it's absolutely necessary as a producer to know at least the basics here.

Without that basic knowledge, even simple tasks can be super time consuming and frustrating. Think editing, programming drums, getting delays right, importing multitracks into a session and setting it up properly, etc.

But, to be honest, at first it was kind of hard for us to give good advice here. It comes pretty natural to us, so we didn’t really have a process for it, other than some tapping and counting that we do automatically.

So we invited Thomas Krottenthaler to the show!

Thomas is our podcast editor, but more importantly, he has been working as an engineer with Benedikt, at his studio Outback Recordings, since 2019. Thomas has done a phenomenal job editing countless songs there AND he's a professional drummer / drum teacher, too!

So, we couldn't think of any person more skilled and better equipped to help us on this topic than Thomas. ?

Let's go!

Mentioned On The Episode:

The Rhythm Pyramid (just google this ?)

Automatic Episode Transcript — Please excuse any errors, not reviewed for accuracy (click for full transcript)

TSRB Podcast 142 - Automatic Episode Transcript — Please excuse any errors, not reviewed 

Malcom: kids of all ages can dance to really complicated rhythms. I think everybody's got that somewhere in them. It's maybe a little less developed, depending on your exposure to, music growing up. But it can be developed. it's a lot easier than it seems. 

Benedikt: Hello and welcome to the Self Recording Band podcast. I am your host Benedict. If you are new to the show. Thank you for joining us. Thank you so much for listening. This is where we teach you how to make records from your jam space, from your home studio, wherever you are, DIY style. If you are already a listener, thanks for joining in again. If you get any value out of the past episodes that you might have listened to, please go to Apple Podcast or your podcast platform of Joyce and leave us a review there. This would really help us reach more people like you. A five star review would be, Widely, appreciated, greatly appreciated. Um, really helps a lot. And maybe a couple of nice sentences about the show. Please do that. Thank you so much. And if you need help with your next recording project, if there is a record you wanna make, or if it's your first single that you wanna produce and you're not sure where to start, if you feel overwhelmed, if you need personal feedback, uh, a plan, step by step plan, personal guidance. Then I want to offer you my personal help. If you want that, you can go to the self recording ben.com/call and book a first free one-on-one coaching call with me. You get a rope map, you get feedback, you get a step-by-step plan. If it works out, we can work on your next record together I can be your coach, I can be your guide. if it doesn't work out, you have, a plan, a step by step roadmap, but that you can just take and implement your. Either way, I love to talk to you about your music, so go to the self recording band.com/call. Now today, I'm here as always with my friend and co-host, Malcolm Owen Flood, and with the amazing Katata. I've just pronounced it the German Way, I don't know how to say that in English. Uh, Thomas Croton, Tyler, whatever. he, he's my, my partner, uh, At the studio at Outback Recordings, my mixing studio. We've been working together for a while. He helps me with, preparing the mix mixing sessions. He does part of the mixing now, um, placing samples in the sessions, Reaing guitars. Um, he does all of the editing, for all our projects here. And he's also. Professional drummer and drum teacher, and that is the main reason why we brought him on to this episode today. So welcome Thomas and Hello Milk? Um, yeah. Hello, Malcolm, right? Malcolm. Is your name 

Thomas: Hey, hey. 

Malcom: Hey Thomas, 

welcome to the show, man. We're so happy to have you here. 

This has been a long time coming 

Thomas: Yeah. So happy to be here finally. 

Benedikt: Yes, we absolutely need you for this episode because this one is about, um, drum stuff, and this is about a topic that I at least, I can only speak for myself, but I didn't know exactly how to, to explain that or how to come up with a system for what we are gonna talk about today. So I'm very happy that you took the time to do this with us and, and, uh, show you how you would approach this. But first I wanted to, I wanna ask. Both of you, like, how are you doing? And uh, how was your weekend? Because we always do that before the episode. So no exception today, 

Malcom: my, my weekend was fantastic. Uh, I'm, I've been working on developing some video skills and making some YouTube stuff like that, so people should be excited about that because it's all gonna be educational, DIY recording stuff, which is fantastic and exciting. but, uh, I want to hear all about Thomas. I know so little about you, man. Other than that, you're a fantastic, podcast editor. That's really the extent of my knowledge, 

Benedikt: I totally forgot. Thomas is also editing these podcasts. Yeah, I didn't even say that. 

Malcom: Yeah. Yeah. Thomas has been the reason we sound even remotely smart for a long time now. Um, so listeners, we, we all owe Thomas a huge round of applause. He is the glue that holds this thing together, 

Benedikt: absolutely. Absolutely. 

Thomas: guess, what I'm doing right after recording this podcast today, 

Malcom: fixing this podcast, 

Thomas: Yeah, probably

Benedikt: Yeah, 


Malcom: awesome. 

Thomas: so yeah, Benny said, I'm Thomas. I'm 27 right now, and I've been working with Benny since 2019, I feel like almost 

Benedikt: of two. End of 2019.

Thomas: it's been a blast. I've probably edited your songs if you worked with us already. And I'm also a drum teacher, and I have about, let me think about 25 students every week. that's exactly what I'm doing in a music school here 

Malcom: awesome. 

Thomas: yeah, my weekend was pretty relaxed. didn't think of work at all. 

Benedikt: that, that's great. You're even, you're also on vacation this week. I know. So I brought you, I made you do this, this podcast, even though you're actually on vacation, so I appreciate you taking the time 

Malcom: Thank you 

Thomas: But I'm so happy to be here. you know 

Benedikt: Cool. 

Malcom: 20 or late 20 nineteens when you started with Benny. That's, that's kind of blowing my mind. We've been doing this podcast for a while, 

Benedikt: Yes.

Malcom: approaching the, the later part of 2022. Now it's like, holy cow. That's awesome. 

Benedikt: yeah. Absolutely. Still, uh, surreal. Surreal to me too. Um, but I feel like we're just starting because we always update like our processes and we always. There's always so much happening here that, that it feels like we're just starting, but we've actually working together for, for three years. Yeah. It's crazy.

Um, totally. 

So 25 students a week and you, you teach them, is it like total beginners? Is it in immediate drummers? Is it like who, who are those people and what you teach them exactly at the music school?

Thomas: You know, I have like real beginners from HS three to four pretty young children as well

Benedikt: Three to four years 


did you mean? Three. Oh, okay. 

Thomas: we don't do like notation and stuff like that. We make it with pictures and we're training rhythm and you know, nailing the first drum eats 

That's pretty cool. I'm working also with, adults, from beginner to like advanced, I would. 

Benedikt: Cool. So this topic today, I don't know that that's probably something for, for beginners, but also for advanced people because this is actually coming from a question that I got from someone who's actually advanced. He's already, This, this came from one of my coaching students. I could say this and it, and those people obviously know a thing or two about music already. So, the question was, how do you identify drum time signatures and note values? So the question was, I want to get better and faster at figuring this out, mainly for drum editing and adjusting my grid. Sometimes it takes me a while to identify if something is in triplets, triplets, for example. So that was the question. So the, and I sort of had some, some follow up questions to that and, It seems that more people have this problem. I was talking to a couple of people about this and other, uh, people in the coaching program upvoted this topic sort of, and wanted, also wanted an answer to this, and I kind of had a hard time answering it because, to be really honest, when I import drums into a mixing session or when I get a a prep session from you, Thomas, And, um, so I have, first of all, I have the luxury that the grid is already there because you did that . And then the other thing is, even if I do it from scratch, it's not that I think about it or that I have a system, I just hear a drum groove and I count sort of, and I kind of, it comes natural to me be probably because I've been, uh, I had piano lessons when I was a, a small kid and I always, like, my whole life was just music and I, I, would have proper sort of teaching. Also music theory and all of that. And so I feel, I feel like I just hear a rhythm or a beat and I can pretty much tell immediately what it is unless it's like very complex and advanced. so I don't really have a system for that because I just count and and figure it out. And pretty quickly I'm there, but I realize it's a problem for many people. So how do you identify run time signatures and note values? And just to give some context, um, listeners, You need that because if you want to edit your drums in an efficient, fast way, you wanna set up the grid of your doll accordingly so that you can say, quantize this two quarter notes or this fill is like triplets. So for this section, we need a different grid and we need to quantize this to triplets. Or even if you do it by hand, you wanna have the visual reference and you wanna set it correctly and set the time signatures in the tempo correctly, because this will. Make your life so much easier when you're added and you ha you have the visual reference. You can do automatic things like that. And if you don't have that, you can just go by ear and by feel. And this can be misleading sometimes. We sometimes think it's correct, but it's actually pretty far off. So, I, I even though. I think I have pretty good rhythm. I still want and need this visual sort of reference and the ability to do things automatically. And this is why you need this, this is why you need to be able to figure it out. So unless the person you you're working with tells you exactly what the time signature is, and maybe there is changes throughout the song, but unless you, you get that info, you have to figure this out yourself and we wanna help you do this and, and be quicker at this. So I hope Thomas, that you have some sort of systematic way for us to, to learn. Time signatures, subdivisions, things like that. So let's talk about this.

Thomas: So first of all, you said something that's very interesting, so you just count along 

Benedikt: Mm-hmm. 

Thomas: and. That's basically the most important thing of all that you find a steady pulse. So if you take like a, a beat, like everybody knows like boom, boom, jack, boom, boom, Jack, no, everybody knows this song. And you first of all have to find a steady pulse to identify anything if it's time signature or if it's subdivision and. Part of their question was how you identify triplets 

Benedikt: That was an example. He said basically, I guess that the thing is you have a song that's like. , whatever time, uh, like a standard sort of groove, but then there's this one triplet fill and then the quantization of, or the grid doesn't work anymore and he has to figure out when it's actually triplets or when it's like a dotted note or something else, you know. 

Thomas: triplets or 16th notes and eighth notes and stuff like that, that's all subdivision, you know. Um, time signature is like a framework, like building these bigger blocks and to find out the time signature, you have to find a steady pulse. So, Just clap or, or count along that song. And that's the most important thing. So if you take like this, the, that example of boom, boom, check, boom, boom, check, the steady pulses would be boom, boom, jack, boom, check. And you have to find that, no matter what song it is. It sometimes gets pretty complicated if you have like, rock, rock, metal, stuff like that. but then also you have to find this steady pulse. Try to count along and listen to the music because it, it's always like in phrases and you'll come back and feel the one this heavy, heavy one just try to count along and try to figure out when the music lands on one again. 

Malcom: When, when the phrase repeats, 

Benedikt: Yeah, so, so you typically count to four or to three. These are the, the most common times, times interest where it's 1, 2, 3, 4, 1, 2. So you land on the one again, or it's 1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3. And so these are like the typical ways of counting of that steady pulse. Typically in threes or fours is. What you do for most songs. Um, there's others too, but like I would say these are the most common ones. so that's the, the main pulse. And then you got sort of the time signature. You know that there is four beats per bar, for example. and then everything else, like you said, like 18, uh, eighth notes or 16th notes are subdivisions of that, which means in the same bar, you now don't count to four, but you count to eight. If you wanna have eight, eight notes or to 16, if it's 16th. For example, right? So you have that mainframe, these four beats in a bar, but then everything else is subdivisions of that. But you have to figure out that main thing first, right?

Thomas: Yeah. right? And it, that main thing. Figure out with a pulse. so That's that's the first thing. I would, advise you to 

Malcom: I think that like if anybody's still unclear about the pulse, it's pretty intuitive usually. like it's normally what you probably naturally start nodding your head to while you listen to a song that's probably the pulse or tapping your toe kind of thing, where it's pretty ingrained in us at this point. So if you find that you're probably on the pulse, so now you can just count that out and. if the phrase rep repeats after four or five or three, that gives you your time signature essentially.

Thomas: what times Ignite actually means because you have a top number and a bottom number. So the top number is like how many beats you have inside of one bar. Inside of one of these blocks. So if you have four, four, you have four beads inside of one bar, and the bottom number gives you the value of the beads. So you have four ordinates. It also could be something like seven, eight. So you'd have seven beads with the value of eight notes, so that's time signature, right? And the most common time signature out there is four. Four As Benny. Sometimes three, four, sometimes six, eight and six, eight and three, four are actually two different things. even if it's mathematically the same thing, try to count six, eight and you'll come up with something like 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. Whereas three, four is 1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3. And if you put that over a beat, like. boom, boom, check, boom, boom, boom, check. That's clearly a six, eight groove because you have 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. If you'd count, like if, if that, steady piles would be three, four, you would come up with some sort of poly rhythmic stuff already. It's 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, Boom, boom, Chuck, so that doesn't match, you know? and that's clearly a 

Benedikt: it. 

Thomas: eight there. 

Benedikt: Okay. It's, again, back to the policy. You have to figure out when the, the one phrase one, the one thing is finished and gets back to one again, and then you just divide that by whatever makes sense. If it feels natural to count to four, it's probably four. Four. If it feels natural to count to six, it's probably six eight. Again, goes back to when it starts over again and everything else could work. But then it's like, as you said, poly rhythmic things. So always start with the, the simple thing that gets back to the one and you have a logical rep repeating, pattern basically.

Thomas: exactly. 

Malcom: I really love that you like taught, like you're teaching kids so young because I, I totally wish I took drum lessons as a younger person cuz I, at like, when I was like 11, I started playing with a metronome for the first time I think. And I like, it made no sense to me. It could have, it, just seemed like random beeping to me. I was, my meter was so terrible. and it took a lot of practice to like get that ingrained and start picking up the kind of the musicality of just being able to find a pulse. so getting on it early, very helpful. Also just taking drum lessons totally recommended for any musician out there. I think that, I think every musician should take, so singing in lessons, even if they don't plan on being a singer in their band, and some take a bunch of drum lessons, even though they'll, if they have no intention of buying a drum kit, it is so helpful to just have an understanding of rhythm. 

Benedikt: Yeah, for sure. And I, and also piano is something I really, I can really recommend. That's something that I have learned and, and I think I, I've never had drum lessons, but I think my ability to play at least a little bit of drums, um, I'm not a good drummer, but I, I can play drums, but so I think my ability to, to do that comes from me. Having had like piano lessons because I learned how to do separate things with my two hands basically left and right differently. So that is something that you learn the coordination part of it. And then, the other thing is we did, at least the way I learned it and the way I now teach it to my daughter, for example, also is we did a lot of clapping exercises first before like. We learned the notes, but we also learned rhythm by just doing clapping exercises, and that was part of the piano lessons in the beginning. So before I even started playing my first simple song on the piano, we did a lot of clapping and we did a lot of music theory learning these like what a quarter note and, and, and all that is. and I, that's just the foundation for everything I've done later in life. And I think that's the reason why I, these things come sort of natural to me and why I can play drums now at least a little bit and why I can teach myself all kinds of instruments. This all comes from, from this piano, um, thing. I think for me at least, 

Malcom: I found that when I was producing more bands and going to the studio with bands, if I was recording a guitarist, then they weren't very good at playing two a click. I could like guess if they had been a p if they had had piano lessons as a kid,

Benedikt: Yeah, 

Malcom: if, if they had piano lessons as a kid, they're usually pretty darn good at rhythm. Um, and the ones that didn't are the majority of guitar players who just started with guitar. And we all have that uphill battle on rhythm 

Benedikt: Yeah, it's 



Thomas: Uh, rhythm is a big part in music. You know 

that there's no music without rhythm, 

Malcom: I used to teach guitar and to show my students how important rhythm was. I would play smoke on the water, uh, with the right timing, but the wrong notes and they would still know what song it is. And then I would play the same timing of Smoke on the water, but, uh, or sorry, the, the same notes that smoke on the water, but the wrong rhythm. And they would have no idea what I was playing. So it's like, it's, it's more important to be in time than to play the right notes. Even 

Benedikt: Yes, 

Yes, yes. absolutely true. This is something we talked about when, uh, we had band practice with my band a week ago, last weekend, and we don't jam really often or like at all. We rarely practice because everybody lives in a different town. And we only practice when we really have to, like, like right now our first couple of shows are coming up, so we have to, practice and everybody practices at home, and then we come to get together once in the jam space and play the songs together. And then we had this discussion where we were like, it's probably not gonna be perfect at our first shows, just because the lack of practice, I hope we'll make it as perfect as possible, but we'll see. But we agreed that as long as we were all together on time, and if, as long as the, the impact of each part and like the groove of certain important parts, as long as that works, it's fine. It works. And it's much less important to like when somebody, for whatever reason, place the wrong note for, for, you know, when I, and on the base, like I. Say I, whatever, can't remember a part correctly, and I'm still in time, but I might play the occasional ought note or something that's not as important. But if I don't know the groove of the part, or if I'm late when, when the part begins, or that sort of stuff, that is far more important or far worse for the performance. So nobody cares if there's the, the a tiny mistake, I mean, Would be better to not have them. But a tiny mistake, playing the wrong note for a second or so is less dramatic than not being in time, not having the groove, not being in the pocket. And it's, it's when it's like a, a mess when it comes to rhythm, that's way worse. we've figured that in the, in, in this, in this, uh, yeah, this practice that we had, We noticed that all the parts where the rhythm was not really tight, these sounded really terrible and amateur, and the ones where the rhythm was tight, but somebody might have, uh, played the wrong note here and there. This wasn't as bad, so 

Malcom: Yep. 

Thomas: You know, there are so, so famous bands out there who play like simple stuff, but are so tight, so everybody likes how that sounds, you know? 

Benedikt: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah, 

Malcom: yeah.

Yeah. you can just think of jazz. They're playing wrong notes all over the place, but 

they're tight 

Thomas: Yeah. 

Benedikt: yeah, yeah. Exactly. Exactly. And you're right. That's the first thing you say when you wear the concert and you go, you go home and you talk to somebody about it. The first thing, if it's a really good show, one of the first things, at least we musicians that we say is This band was really tight or something. We never 

say like, We expect them to play the right notes, of course, but if there was a mistake or so, this doesn't really matter, but we notice if they are really tight or not. 

Thomas: and, and if you play a wrong note, do it twice. It wasn't purpose. 

Benedikt: Yeah. Exactly. It's on purpose. yeah, Okay. 

Malcom: As long as it's in time. 

Benedikt: exactly. 

Thomas: I have a short little exercise for you, Benny. So what's the, time signature of, mission impossible. Bump bump, bump, bump, bump, bump, bump, bump.

Benedikt: Yep. 

Thomas: So maybe just find the pulse. first of all, and 

then try to count along. 

Benedikt: it's five four, 


Thomas: Right. 

Malcom: Is it? 

Thomas: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 

Malcom: totally.

Thomas: Yeah. and that's, that's stuff you can do. All day. You know, just listen to music and try to count along. Try to figure out what time signature it is. So it could also be five eight. Don't know how it's written, but it's in five 

Benedikt: yeah.

Thomas: Yeah, we have to pause. and the next step is a pretty big, you know, understanding subdivision. let's say you have four. Speeds. In one bar, you have a four, four time signature. Now you can subdivide these quarter notes to anything you want basically so, you can make eighth note triplets Out of one quarter Note, you can make two eighth notes out of one quarter. Note. You can make four 16th notes out of one quarter note, and that way you can build pretty complex rhythms. And there is a thing out there that's called Rhythm Pyramid. That's basically a sheet where you can see, which note values fit into one. The biggest one would be a whole note. Then two half notes, half note triplets, quarter notes, quarter note, triplets, eighth notes, eighth note, triplets, 16th notes, Quin tablets, six tablets, SEP tablets, and 32nd notes and so on. And understanding that and knowing how that sounds, and how that feels to play is. Really important, I feel like. So if you want to identify that stuff, you have to know how it sounds and how it feels. just practice that. That's my advice here. Practice that on whatever instrument you are able to play or just start like finger drumming. Try to figure out how these subdivision sound and feel like. 

Benedikt: it's important that you say that it's a feel thing because I sometimes have to count, but most of the time, you're right, most of the time I hear it and I immediately know it's triplets. Just because triplets feel a certain way. Um, it, yeah, you're totally right but how to, just to explain the, the, the example of the triplets real quick. It's when you have a pulse, like 1, 2, 3, 4, and then every, let's say it's four four and you count to four, and then it starts over again. A triplet would be if you can fit three exactly three hits in one of these quarter notes. So when you have 1, 2, 3, 4, triplets would be. Where you have three hits per quarter note. So it's 12 for the whole beat. So if a drum beat, it's like a standard four, four, whatever, um, drum beat, and then you have the tutu type of fill. Then these are triplets. It's like three, hits per beat, and they have a certain feel. I feel like triple. Most of the time, at least when it's a four, four sort of beat and then drummer does dress triplets. When it's a fill, for example, um, it feels like it's, dragging a bit or like slowing down a little bit. At least that's the way many drummers play this, where it kind of, you have this, this driving groove before the fill and then the triplet fill comes in and it's sort of. Yeah, I mean, it's almost like stepping on the brakes a little bit and then picking it back up again. That's how it feels to me. And so I immediately kind of know that it's triplets. But that comes from, I think, the experience at the practice. And if you're unsure, just find that pulse. And then if you, if you discover a part where it's, three hits per beat all of a sudden, then you know, it's triplets. If it's five hits per beat, it would be Quin tops and you know these subdivisions. 

Thomas: sometimes it's not that obvious, You know, 

Um, especially at certain tempos. If you if you get like real fast, there's sort of a gray area between like eight notes and triplets or 16th notes and triplets. 

Benedikt: Because they didn't play it that tight. Right. Because you sometimes you don't know if it's meant to be eight, eight notes or triplets, for example, if, if they are not

really tight. 


Malcom: the clapping lessons you used to do as a, as a, when you were taking piano lessons, Benny, that, that like, is something that totally made it all click for me as well. My band, back in the day, we used to do like band clapping sessions kind of thing. So if somebody was struggling with the rhythm of a part, we would just determine a pulse, either throw it on a metronome in the room with us all, or just somebody was keeping that, um, with like, you know, maybe the drummer was just doing it on a high hat or something, and then we would all clap the. Under that pulse kind of thing. And that really like helped us as a band get on the same page with Mcle for all these different parts we had. it, it was kind of a progressive band, so this was pretty crucial. 

Benedikt: Yeah. 

Malcom: getting that Right. was just kind of the whole thing. but it made such a huge difference in my like, Musicianship, Um, just being able to like, Oh, grasp all these different rhythms. And then once you learn them, it's kind of like learning a new word. It's, Oh, you hear it, you're like, Oh, I know that word. so once you hear it again in a song, you know, it's, you're probably gonna pick up on it that it's something you've done before. And, and it, like you said, you hear triplets and you can kind of just know how that feels. Um, it, it's, it's just gonna come to you. 

Benedikt: Yeah, totally.

Thomas: the same thing with subdivision too, like think of one quarter note, and you can make four 16th node out of that. Now, there are a few like blocks you can build with eighth node and 16th node combinations. Like you have two 16th node. One quarter note is bam, bam, bam, bum. You. One eighth note and two 16th. 16th note is bam, ba ba or you have one 16th note eight note 16th. Notice ba, ba b. That's sort of three like blocks you can have. And every time you hear that again, you know it, you know how, how it's, how it's, uh, looking on paper and you know how it's owning. 

Benedikt: and I think also the, back to the, to the, the use case here, this example of like importing drums into the doll and then wondering what the time signature is and whether it's triplets or whatever, um, else it could be. I think what also helps is. I would start, as Thomas said, by finding this, this basic pulse that goes through the majority of the song typically, and then, or that goes through the whole song and then there's maybe the odd field or something. So I would start with that set the, the tempo and the time signature first. So, um, maybe if there, if you really don't know what the tempo is, you can tap the tempo. there's always a tap tempo feature in it all. Or you can open up. Tab on your browser. There's free websites where you can just tap the tempo and it tells you what it is, or a phone app or whatever, and try to figure it out as as, as precisely as possible. Then set this tempo, then figure out the basic time signature, which is usually as we said, like four four or three, four or six, eight, something like that. And then, When, when you have that, it feels, to me at least, it helps when there is a fill or a part where it seems to change or it's not like quarter notes anymore or, or whatever I have on my grid. It's not, it doesn't fit that anymore. It helps to zoom in on that one, fill or that part, look at the grid you have, and then count the number of beats or whatever you have there. If it's a fill, for example, And if, again, if you have a grid of 1, 2, 3, 4, and you see that there are three scenario three, Tom hits whatever per beat. Visually, it's probably triplets. You're right. You see like there's 1, 2, 3, and then the next one is on the next grid thing again. So you might not have the grid for the triplets, but you see that it's a group of three that fits exactly in one quarter note, for example. Then this is an indication. It could be, uh, triplets. It's probably triplets. Or if all of a sudden. You count, but the one is not the one anymore. on the grid visually and, and on the click. Then it might be that, that they have changed to a different time signature. It might be that, that now it's like from four four to three four or that they added. One beat. Sometimes it's just one bar that's different where they have a four four type signature, but then there's this 1, 5, 4 bar in there, and then it gets back to four, four again. So sometimes if you're not sure if, if you, you will at least notice that something's different. Then you can zoom in. If you can't count it, you can zoom in and then see where the next one is. Look at your grade. And if it's, if the next one is beat two of the next bar, then they probably just inserted a diff another beat, and you can extend that one bar and then you're back on on track again, basically. So, All I'm saying is once you have the basic pulse and the basic time signature, you can also use the visual reference to help you there because you might discover certain repeating groups of hits like triplets, or you might discover that it has shifted one beat or something, or that one beat is missing, or and, and then you can, you can adjust it and, and then once you've adjusted, you can, check again, and hopefully it works.

Malcom: Yeah, I, I use that all the time. Just like if I have. no idea what some complicated part is, I'll just kind of click through my different grid options and one of them will kind of line up and I'll be like, Ah, I think it's this. Let's try counting it like that. And, and that usually solves the problem pretty quick. So use your, your, your do as a tool. It's, it's pretty helpful. And then of course, Hopefully this is something you're aware of, but if there was like a time signature change in there, you wanna update that in your timeline and then just kind of build through the whole song that way. 

Benedikt: Absolutely. So. 

Thomas: song that comes to mind here. I love rock and roll Joint chat, I think says ba ba ba ba ba ba ba, bu later in the part, and you have that 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, and then three, four time signature. 

Malcom: Another system that I use, just like when I'm like driving in my car, listening to the radio, when a song comes on and I notice that something isn't in four four, that's like, if it's not in four, four or 34, that my brain kind of is like, What's going on here? And then I wanna count it and make sure I can figure it out. And I just use, if you're watching the video of this, I just use my fingers and I just like literally tap them down on my leg one at a time, keeping the other fingers up until. I get to the number and it's, hopefully it lands on one hand, but you can use both hands kind of things. So you just Go like 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 1, and you're like, Oh, okay. Well that took five fingers. I know that. That's like the root of my pulse now. Real, really 


Benedikt: That's a good one actually, with the fingers. Yeah, totally. 

Thomas: five and seven can always be divided into groups of threes and twos, 

and most of these like phrases sound like that. 1, 2, 3. 1, 2, 1, 2, 3. 1, 2, 

1. You have that mission impossibles thing? 

Malcom: And some people like I, I haven't encountered drummers that do count that way, So they like bring in a custom click 

Benedikt: Yeah. 

Malcom: they're like, It's just my, my brain works with it this way. And it's like, All right, that'll be fine. 

Benedikt: Some songs could have been written that way, actually. Like instead of four, uh, of five four, they could have used 3, 4, 2, 4, 3, 4, 2, 4 would work just the same way. You would just have to write it differently.

Malcom: Yeah. 

Thomas: Right. But as long as the, the Metron. Inside of your d a w is. Right. Who cares? 

Malcom: totally. 

Thomas: That's the thing. 

Malcom: There's, there's even drummers I've used that. just turn off the accent. So It's, just a you know, an un accented metronome beep the whole time. And then they just, they know how like the part sounds and how to play it kind of thing. So they don't really care where the one is. that's crazy to me. But if it works for you, 

Benedikt: Yeah,

Thomas: there's actually a few things you can do with the metronome while, while practicing. for example, you could like train your Stuff to the metronome, but let the metronome be at Or, or the metronome is not on quarter notes, but on half notes or just on the. 3, 4, 1,

Malcom: Yes. 


Thomas: It's a bit nerdy but it pretty cool and pretty heavy to do. 

Malcom: Yep. Very, very tricky to do. But yeah, like the, the best of us do it, you know, It, it's, a skill to develop for a reason. Having great meter is so imperative to kind of being a great musician, I think. 

Benedikt: Yeah. totally. And it's, it's totally, uh, apparently it's totally subjective too, where, like you said, some drummers bring in their customs clicks or, or make you set the click to some. Weird way. Um, because they will, they can track to it like that. Only, uh, I've, I remember tracking a metal drummer once where on some songs it was just a normal click that I I would've been able to play to, to as well. But then there were other songs where he. We had fast double kicks in, like with 16th notes or something, and then he wanted the actual 16th note click to that. And I was like, seriously? Like how can you, you, know, it was like, so, so annoying. Be like, you know, like this sort of speed with the click. And he wanted that and I'm like, how do you, anyway, uh, you do you, you know, whatever you want. Uh, but yeah, or some, some fill some triplet parts where he wanted the actual. the way he played it, he wanted to click that way, and it was sometimes super fast and very annoying, but it worked for him. And then there were other parts where he did the thing that you just said, Thomas, where he just wanted the one, or maybe the one and the three, but not the two and the four and things like that. And I don't know why that is, but that's just the way he wanted to have it. And so it's pretty objective 

Malcom: I I have a long term client. Um, he's actually, he's like a multi-instrumentalist instrumental artist kind of thing, but he plays everything at the same time live. So he is got like a Slack guitar stomp pad, did redo harmonics, some percussion stuff, all. It's pretty wild. But, um, the. He has recorded to a click for our entire time working together. He's my longest client, actually, uh, and friend now Adam. but he records with the, the accent on the last beat of the bar. So it'll be 1, 2, 3, 4, 1, 2, 3, 4, and, and they . That's how he's done it forever. That's how he wants it. 

Benedikt: Why though? Like who, Who's taught him that that way, or 

Malcom: I, I think he taught himself that. I think it's just kind of like worked for for him and just cues him to remember like, Okay, that's the end. And . Yeah, it's pretty wild. And . he is constantly in changing and weird time signatures, so building his cliques. Every session is kind of like part of the, part of the, gig.

Benedikt: Yeah, whatever you, whatever you, uh, need in order to perform well. Totally. All right. So, uh, Thomas, back to your, to what you've, um, taught us today and explained, uh, us today. Is there, is there anything else to this? So we have the basic pulse. We know how to. that we can like, find these subdivisions and the way, like all these different things that we've, we've now talked about, like the way different ways to count and, and use the five fingers and use the grid as a visual reference. Is there any other hack or technique or anything you have for us, uh, or anything that's, anything more to that system? 

Thomas: if you have a hard time like playing that stuff, you could use, a free scoring software where you just ride riding rhythms basically. and you can't be wrong there because, Because the software won't let you like put too many triplets in into one bar and you can listen to that and so that way can also figure out how it sounds. 

Benedikt: you say you write something and then you listen to what that sounds like and then you can see if you've written it correctly or if that's, So if you want to write, if you want to learn what triplets sound like, you try to write triplets and then hit play and. Listen back, Yeah, you can, Yeah, that's right. You can do it with scoring or if you don't know notes, or if that sounds overwhelming to you or confusing because you might not know how to write like yeah, notes or don't have music theory background. You can just do it with mini notes too. You can just set up a grid in the doll, make a four, four time signature, and then just draw in three mini notes per beat. For example, set the the grid to triplets, but have a four, four time signature, and then drawing those mini notes. Listen to what those, what that sounds like, Draw in five and you know what Quin templates are. You know, that would be the same thing basically. 

Malcom: ultimately learning, learning the, skills to actually like understand it and feel it is, is really the best bet here. So if you are constantly finding yourself using your do to figure out even like the, like the most basic of time signatures, then I think investing in, in some drum lessons or, or piano lessons cuz there's so much musicality built into that training as well. And it's a rhythmic. it's just like a, a no-brainer investment. You want to just really kind of like have it have the skill set inside of you kind of thing. Cause it's way quicker than, than trying to like, pull up software and, and learn it that way and, Sometimes things are complicated. , you know, if you're trying to learn a mahu song that's trickier than, than what you hear on pop radio every time Um, .so so there's like obviously times where you're gonna wanna break out whatever tools you can to figure something out, but if if you're just struggling with like figuring out 3, 4, 4, 4 whatnot, invest in some, you know, rhythmic training sure.

Thomas: Yeah, one exercise that's really helpful is having like, a, quarter note click playing quarter notes, playing eight notes, eight note triplets. 16th notes and 

Benedikt: Mm-hmm. . 

Malcom: So you keep it, you keep the metronome at the same, and then you 

Thomas: Yeah. 

Malcom: clap the other rhythm,

Thomas: Yeah. Let me show that actually. 

Malcom: please. 

Thomas: if you have like a metronome like that, quarter notes first. Eight notes, triplets, sixteens, and back. 

Malcom: Yeah, 

Thomas: It's actually pretty hard to do if you've never done that 

Malcom: I bet. Yeah. 

Thomas: So in that way, you train, you're in a hearing, you're in. For that 

Malcom: yeah, you'd be able to subdivide it in your brain kind of thing and just, Yeah. It, it, it's like a, it's a transforming skill. If it's not something you already have inside of you, you'll, you'll be like, How did I make it this far without being able to do this, 


Benedikt: yeah. 100%. Right. So is there anything more We have to, we have to tell people. Oh, can we wrap it up so that, because part of it might, might be a little confusing or seem overwhelming when it's actually not. So how could we wrap this up or sum it up for, for people? Um, again, give them like a step by step quick instruction on how to, how to learn this or what to do when they import, uh, drums the next time to their session. Is there. Sort of summary, Thomas, that you could give people what you would do if you, let's say somebody again, imports drums, is not sure where to start, what the time signature is like, what would you do step by step real quick?

Thomas: Okay, first of all, just listen. Then find a pulse. Try to count along that. Find out the time signature. Then think of subdivision, what it could be. Is it eight notes? Are There changes in subdivision? Do you hear like triplets from time to time? And try to find out when it's starting again. when it's on a one. So listen, Paul's subdivision and And you're good to go. I think.

Benedikt: Okay, 

Malcom: There you go. 

Benedikt: There you go. Yeah. It's really something you need to practice more than anything. but I think it's, it's totally doable and it's, it's, it all comes down to counting. It all comes down to counting and practice, and it's a little Sort of a basic sort of musicality in a way has to be there. You have to, you know, you just have to be able to not do a song or clap to a song And then that's, that's sort of, yeah, just necessary. That's something you can't really teach, but when you can do that, and then you can just count and figure it out over time. And then also the, the trick with the fingers, I think is, is one hack that really, that can be really helpful, where you just count with your fingers and then you. Whatever the last finger it was before you went back to the first one is your top number. So it could be three or four or five or six. So how many fingers did you need to get through one bar? Basically, if you're just tapping along.

Malcom: Yeah. I I've been recording drummers like all over the world. Sometimes I got to like be in environments where like the, the children of that, area were also there for the drumming and . Kids of all ages can dance to really complicated rhythms. Just automatically, I can assure you, nobody taught them these time signatures and rhythms, but they just feel it and react. And I think everybody's got that somewhere in them. It's maybe a little less developed, um, depending on your exposure to, to music growing up. But it can be developed. You just gotta go dig it up and, and work on it. Um, and it, it's a lot easier than it seems. 

Benedikt: Yeah, totally. That's something that's also, that's fascinating. You say that, that uh, you can absolutely. See that in kids that they, just, without thinking about it, they immediately sort of pick it up and and, move to it and, have this 

Malcom: It's human 

Benedikt: for it.

Malcom: It's built into us. 

Benedikt: Yeah. Fascinating. Cool. Well, Thank you again for taking the time to do this, Thomas. I think this is very helpful and I, I think if there is follow up questions, I, I'm sure we can just, I can just forward them to you and, uh, we can answer people's questions there. Uh, I, I can already say, by the way, we don't have a date for when we will put it out, but I can already say by the way, that there will be a full drum editing course that Thomas did entirely for the surf recording band. We already tested that and used that for the surf recording syndicate, our coaching program where people already went through that course and loved it. So, um, we know that it works. It's really, really awesome, Really detailed. It's like a step by step, guide that you can, even if you if you've never edited drums in your life before, you will absolutely know what to do and you can absolutely follow along with that. 

Malcom: Awesome. I 

can't wait to check this out. 

Benedikt: this is really, really, really well done. It's bite size, short chunks explains every single step of the, of the process. Different ways to do it, like slip editing, time, stretching, uh, even like explaining basically part of what we did today is like also part of the course where you explain in the beginning, Um, that you have to, like, how you have to listen to things, how you have to figure out what it is that you're editing before you can actually edit it and stuff like that. So it's a really comprehensive course that starts basically at zero and walks you through the entire thing all the way to the ex. More advanced techniques. Uh, I can't wait, for that to be, to be released to the public. And, uh, thank you Thomas for taking the time to do, uh, this today. This is really, really,

Thomas: Yeah. 

Malcom: Yeah. 

man. Great having you on 

Thomas: And there are some triplets in this course too, 

Benedikt: I bet there are. 

Malcom: It's like a warning on the side of the box, 

Benedikt: exactly. It contains triplets. Triplets, yeah.

Malcom: Oh, fantastic. 

Benedikt: Totally. All right. Well, um, I don't know. This is one of these episodes where, it's fascinating to see you talk about, about it and to see you do it more than anything like the, the demonstration that you just did because, yeah, you obviously, it's obviously something you do every day and it's kind of, it's fascinating to talk about it and it's cool to hear how you explain this whole process. But on the other hand, it's also something that's so hard to communicate through a podcast, I feel like. So, I, I, I just. Practicing is, is more important than anything here with this. Now you have the basic tools and instructions now, and you just have to, you have to prac practice it. There's no way around that.

I realized that while we were talking about it, that it's so hard to explain something like that really well, but I think we gave you everything you need to know and now you just have to do the things. Let's wrap it up then.

Malcom: Yeah. Thomas, thanks again for coming on. It's a pleasure to actually meet you. Um, and one day we're all gonna get together in person for the first time. It's gonna be crazy

Thomas: that would 

be awesome. 

Benedikt: That would be really, really awesome. Yep. We'll do it

Thomas: In SBI or Canada?

Malcom: Yeah, yeah, I am, uh, quite frankly looking up, how far you guys are from Amsterdam, cuz there's some cheap flights there right now.

Benedikt: that's doable. It's doable.

Thomas: Yeah.

Benedikt: For sure. Yeah, we need to do that at some point. Definitely.

Malcom: definitely. That'd be so, so fun.

Benedikt: Yeah. All right, let's wrap it up now. And thank you for listening. Uh, talk to you next week and, uh, thank you Thomas again.

Bye bye. 

Malcom: Thanks Thomas. It's like nine hours. That's not doable.

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