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  #1  
Old 09-18-2014, 03:29 PM
Elliot Elliot is offline
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Default How do I get this weird sound? Simon and Garfunkel's "The Boxer"

I'm playing drums for a one-off Simon and Garfunkel tribute show next month, and I'm trying to get the sounds as close as possible to the recordings.

One problem I've come across is the sort of gunshot-type sound in "The Boxer."

Here's a link to the version I'm referring to; the sound first enters at about 2:10, then comes back through the end of the song starting at 3:18:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l3LFML_pxlY

The easiest solution I thought of is just ask the sound guy to crank the reverb on the snare for that one song, as the main beat is just the bass drum pattern. I'm always a little reticent to include a sound guy in a performance, but I know this guy and he's very good and accommodating.
Can any of you forum members think of a better way to get that sound?

Other ideas we thought of include:
- Hang a sheet of aluminum behind me, hit with a 2x4.
- Bring sheets of glass and break them one by one (this seems perfect, except the venue is on the 2nd floor and I don't want to carry 30 or so pieces of glass upstairs ;) )
- Bring an actual gun or starter pistol and shoot blanks (I would have to reload on "...3, 4, 1..." Not out of the question.

Thanks for any help guys!
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  #2  
Old 09-18-2014, 04:32 PM
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Default Re: How do I get this weird sound? Simon and Garfunkel's "The Boxer"

Floor Tom + some thin trashy cymbal struck simultaneously ?
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  #3  
Old 09-18-2014, 04:46 PM
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Default Re: How do I get this weird sound? Simon and Garfunkel's "The Boxer"

This is where a sample-playing pad would be ideal. Once you determine the sound you need, load it into the pad and play the part.

As for the sound, a loose-y snare with a wet but short reverb will work nicely.

Bermuda

PS - or try this noisy sample, you can EQ, add verb, and pitch up/down as needed
Attached Files
File Type: wav boxer_hit.wav (55.1 KB, 19 views)

Last edited by bermuda; 09-18-2014 at 04:56 PM.
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Old 09-18-2014, 07:56 PM
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Default Re: How do I get this weird sound? Simon and Garfunkel's "The Boxer"

I would find a very hard walled room with no parallel walls (drywall works/could be a parking garage and a guerrilla shoot) , put a large diaphragm condenser up about 20' from the snare and begin to chase after the correct amount of decay and distance by moving the mic around.

This would be the sort of approach during that period.
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Old 09-18-2014, 08:14 PM
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Default Re: How do I get this weird sound? Simon and Garfunkel's "The Boxer"

Yes a sample would sound great. As its a live show, if you don't want to do that I would think a loud trashy china would work. If you don't have on of those, than a cymbal stack could do.
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  #6  
Old 09-18-2014, 08:37 PM
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Default Re: How do I get this weird sound? Simon and Garfunkel's "The Boxer"

You could replace the intent of the sound by playing pretty much anything low-pitched and noisy. A big china, a gong, a marching bass drum.

The actual noise is a low-tuned snare with loose wires, recorded from a reasonable distance and either in a big room or with reverb added on later. Shiny McShine nails it.
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Old 09-19-2014, 12:02 AM
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Default Re: How do I get this weird sound? Simon and Garfunkel's "The Boxer"

"In an effort to fulfill his love of big natural reverb, producer Halee rang up session drummer Hal Blaine, who eventually found himself standing alongside a large empty elevator shaft inside Columbia’s East 52nd Street studio building on an otherwise quiet Sunday afternoon."

“There we were with all these mic cables, my drums, and a set of headphones,” says Blaine. “When the chorus came around — the ‘lie-la-lie’ bit — Roy had me come down on my snare drum as hard as I could. In that hallway, right next to this open elevator shaft, it sounded like a cannon shot! Which was just the kind of sound we were after.”
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Last edited by con struct; 09-19-2014 at 01:00 AM.
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Old 09-19-2014, 12:36 AM
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Default Re: How do I get this weird sound? Simon and Garfunkel's "The Boxer"

Just holster a .38 caliber pistol and use it during those parts. If you lose an audience member or two during the performance, at least they went to the great beyond for the music, right?

I'm kidding - it's just a joke - lighten up - I'm not serious - jeez! ;-)
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Old 09-19-2014, 01:06 AM
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Default Re: How do I get this weird sound? Simon and Garfunkel's "The Boxer"

Quote:
Originally Posted by Elliot View Post
- Bring an actual gun or starter pistol and shoot blanks (I would have to reload on "...3, 4, 1..." Not out of the question.
Jesus. What is it with you Yanks and yer bloody guns? Is there honestly no situation where your first thought is NOT to just start blasting away at something? :-)

Seriously, if you trust the sound guy I'd roll with the heavy reverb options for the snare hits. If he has half a clue it shouldn't be too difficult for him. I've heard that exact option used before on this song at a live gig. Sounded great
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  #10  
Old 09-19-2014, 02:13 AM
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Default Re: How do I get this weird sound? Simon and Garfunkel's "The Boxer"

Do you have an extra snare? See if you can get a channel on the mixing desk for just that snare, and load it up with reverb. When the "lie-la-lie" starts, whack the piss out of that snare and there's your effect!
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Old 09-19-2014, 02:27 AM
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Default Re: How do I get this weird sound? Simon and Garfunkel's "The Boxer"

Since you trust this sound guy, I'd just have him patch a very wet reverb in on your snare mic channel for the one song.

Con struct mentioned earlier, that's how Hal got the sound in the first place, hit the snare hard with a massive amount of reverb.

As you say, the rest of the drum part doesn't involve much snare, so you can just have him turn the big reverb on for that song and then turn it off for the remainder of the set.

Before the next song, take an experimental tap on the snare to make sure he really turned it off!
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Old 09-19-2014, 03:00 AM
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Default Re: How do I get this weird sound? Simon and Garfunkel's "The Boxer"

Quote:
Jesus. What is it with you Yanks and yer bloody guns? Is there honestly no situation where your first thought is NOT to just start blasting away at something? :-)

Well, since most American studio drummers are already packing a gun on their way to and in the studio, that suggestion makes sense.

Most American clubbing drummers usually have a piece in their gig, or cymbal bag.
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Old 09-19-2014, 01:47 PM
Elliot Elliot is offline
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Default Re: How do I get this weird sound? Simon and Garfunkel's "The Boxer"

Wow, great suggestions, all! Thank you!

Quote:
Originally Posted by bermuda View Post
PS - or try this noisy sample, you can EQ, add verb, and pitch up/down as needed
Thank you, bermuda, for doing the work for me! I am going to try and come up with a sampler pad in time for this show. I'm doing another the week before that I need 808 type sounds for, and I think it's just time to pull the trigger (pun intended) on this purchase. I am trying to sell gear right now to fund the purchase of an SPD-SX.

However, my preference might still be to create the effect with the snare and the sound guy. With a sound like that, I think it can be important for the audience to see something actually making the sound so it doesn't seem like it's just coming out of nowhere.

SO, ideally I will have the sampler with this sound loaded by then, but the snare/reverb solution will work out anyway and sound great.

Quote:
Originally Posted by con struct View Post
"In an effort to fulfill his love of big natural reverb, producer Halee rang up session drummer Hal Blaine, who eventually found himself standing alongside a large empty elevator shaft inside Columbia’s East 52nd Street studio building on an otherwise quiet Sunday afternoon."

“There we were with all these mic cables, my drums, and a set of headphones,” says Blaine. “When the chorus came around — the ‘lie-la-lie’ bit — Roy had me come down on my snare drum as hard as I could. In that hallway, right next to this open elevator shaft, it sounded like a cannon shot! Which was just the kind of sound we were after.”
Wow, that is really interesting, where did you find that?

As for the large China suggestion, ironically I have one up on ebay right now (see the Gear for Sale page for the link) and this is the first time since a studio date that I would be able to use the thing haha!
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Old 09-19-2014, 03:14 PM
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Default Re: How do I get this weird sound? Simon and Garfunkel's "The Boxer"

I would just have a 16 and 18 floor tom and strike them together but with a slight flam.
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Old 09-19-2014, 04:07 PM
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Default Re: How do I get this weird sound? Simon and Garfunkel's "The Boxer"

Quote:
Originally Posted by con struct View Post
whack the piss out of that snare
One thing I absolutely can't stand about this forum is when you nerdy drummy types start coming out with your techy, clever, mumbo jumbo.

:-)
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Old 09-19-2014, 04:37 PM
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Default Re: How do I get this weird sound? Simon and Garfunkel's "The Boxer"

It's just soaked with reverb. This is why drummers should learn to run sound. All the guitar players you know use effects pedals to create their sound or to emulate the sounds they hear in recordings. They hear a wah-wah they like and they go out and get that sound. By the same token, most drummers are clueless about the sounds they hear in recordings. Some understand it in a vague way, knowing that drums are effected and compressed, but having no idea what effects or how they are used or combined. What a compressor actually does to a sound and when and how to apply it. If a guitarist played without any effects and went to the studio or live event expecting the producer or sound man to apply these to his sound we would think it strange, yet drummers do it all the time. Most struggle just to learn how to tune their drums and then never learn another thing about their own desired sound.
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  #17  
Old 09-19-2014, 04:42 PM
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Default Re: How do I get this weird sound? Simon and Garfunkel's "The Boxer"

Quote:
Originally Posted by Elliot View Post
Thank you, bermuda, for doing the work for me! I am going to try and come up with a sampler pad in time for this show. I'm doing another the week before that I need 808 type sounds for, and I think it's just time to pull the trigger (pun intended) on this purchase. I am trying to sell gear right now to fund the purchase of an SPD-SX.
You're welcome, and there is a much simpler, and much less expensive sample player than the Roland - it's the Alesis SamplePad, $199 (or less if you have a buddy at a store!) Apart from playing your samples, it has 25 onboard sounds including 808 sounds (Electro Kick 8 and Electro Snare 8.)

The key differences are, the Roland ($799) has 2gb ram, plays stereo samples, and has 9 pads and 2 trigger/pedal inputs. The Alesis ($199) has 14mb ram, plays mono, and has 4 pads and 1 trigger/pedal input.

Unless you need stereo samples, extra pads, and longer sample memory, the Alesis is the smart way to go. It's easy and intuitive (I don't think I read the manual at all) and does something handy and obvious that the Roland doesn't: the SamplePad allows instant, non-destructive pitch changes on samples (the Roland makes you copy the sample first and decide on the pitch, which is then saved on the copy.)

I highly recommend the SamplePad for your basic sample triggering needs.

Bermuda
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  #18  
Old 09-29-2014, 07:23 PM
Elliot Elliot is offline
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Default Re: How do I get this weird sound? Simon and Garfunkel's "The Boxer"

Thanks for the recommendation Bermuda! I had been trying to scrimp and save for that SPD-sx for a while, but I think you're right and it's just more than I need. I was interested in it for the metronome function (you can run a click from it to your monitor mix, something I've been looking into) as well as all the other functions, but I am not sure I'll ever use all of that.
Samples and an external trigger I could use right now, so I just sold a snare to pay for the Alesis SamplePad on you're recommendation. I think it will do everything I need it for, and I didn't even have to mortgage my kit! Looking forward to receiving it later this week, thanks again!
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Old 09-29-2014, 07:30 PM
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Default Re: How do I get this weird sound? Simon and Garfunkel's "The Boxer"

FWIW, my band plays this song and at that part I just hit my 19" long sustaining crash. Audience members won't take points off for the tone, as long as the hit is there.

The rest of the song for me is just bass drum on the quarters and hi hat chicks on the "ands".

It is a little minutia-ish, but I like your work ethic.
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Old 09-29-2014, 08:02 PM
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Default Re: How do I get this weird sound? Simon and Garfunkel's "The Boxer"

My favorite sound in that song is the bass or baritone harmonica played throughout. Just love that sound.
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Old 09-29-2014, 11:44 PM
Elliot Elliot is offline
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Default Re: How do I get this weird sound? Simon and Garfunkel's "The Boxer"

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Originally Posted by GRUNTERSDAD View Post
My favorite sound in that song is the bass or baritone harmonica played throughout. Just love that sound.
Yeah! I had no idea that was a harmonica until I started learning the tune. One of my bandmates told me it was definitely harmonica, I had assumed it was a baritone sax or two. I have never seen a harmonica like the before, but great sound!

Quote:
Originally Posted by larryace View Post
FWIW, my band plays this song and at that part I just hit my 19" long sustaining crash. Audience members won't take points off for the tone, as long as the hit is there.

The rest of the song for me is just bass drum on the quarters and hi hat chicks on the "ands".

It is a little minutia-ish, but I like your work ethic.
Trust me, if it were a normal cover gig I'd be happy with any number of options, including playing an entirely different beat (as I've done on this tune in the past), but this is a unique kind of show. It's a sort of fake "battle of the bands," with cover sets from two groups, alternating song for song. Verisimilitude to the original recording is pretty key to these shows. I always love playing in this series because it's a great learning opportunity for me, and a one-time commitment.
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Old 09-29-2014, 11:58 PM
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Default Re: How do I get this weird sound? Simon and Garfunkel's "The Boxer"

Quote:
Originally Posted by Elliot View Post
Trust me, if it were a normal cover gig I'd be happy with any number of options, including playing an entirely different beat (as I've done on this tune in the past), but this is a unique kind of show. It's a sort of fake "battle of the bands," with cover sets from two groups, alternating song for song. Verisimilitude to the original recording is pretty key to these shows. I always love playing in this series because it's a great learning opportunity for me, and a one-time commitment.
I like the premise, 2 bands doing a song each and so on. I assume 2 completely different sets of gear each? So you want to be more prepared. I get it. Given the choices of hearing a sample or at an attempt at a real acoustic recreation of it with reverb, I'm going with the latter, only because it seems more real. Perfection lacks imperfection. Sorry, total Captain Obvious there, but the imperfections are what is so great about acoustic tones. JMO. Acoustic always trumps sampled in my mind, but whoever is judging it are the people you need to consider.

I need some help with your versimilitude word. Where is SmartJim when you need him? Sure I could google it but I much rather would hear SmartJim basking in all his glory, informing those less mentally fortunate than himself, so they receive the never ending stream of pearls of wisdom that oozes forth and seeps from his perfectly functioning pores.
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Old Yesterday, 12:07 AM
Elliot Elliot is offline
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Default Re: How do I get this weird sound? Simon and Garfunkel's "The Boxer"

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Originally Posted by larryace View Post
I need some help with your versimilitude word. Where is SmartJim when you need him? Sure I could google it but I much rather would hear SmartJim basking in all his glory, informing those less mentally fortunate than himself, so they receive the never ending stream of pearls of wisdom that oozes forth and seeps from his perfectly functioning pores.
Verisimilitude: noun The act of this dude making it sound just like that dude.

Hope that clears things up.
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Old Yesterday, 12:11 AM
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Default Re: How do I get this weird sound? Simon and Garfunkel's "The Boxer"

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Originally Posted by Elliot View Post
Verisimilitude: noun The act of this dude making it sound just like that dude.

Hope that clears things up.
HAHA that was great. Crystal clear now.
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Old Yesterday, 12:18 AM
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Default Re: How do I get this weird sound? Simon and Garfunkel's "The Boxer"

Congrats on the purchase Elliot, I know you'll find the SamplePad to be super-simple, and the best bank for the buck. Although it only plays mono samples, the sounds pan L-R for a stereo spread. So, you can send your sample(s) to both channels (send the Left to the house) and send a click via another pad to the right output, just for you. The sample of the click should be at low res - maybe 16/11,025 - to conserve ram. At that resolution, a 3-min sample will be roughly 3.8mb.

One other thing, the SamplePad likes a cheap, small SD card. I use an Ativa 2gb card, and it works perfectly, but not all cards do for some odd reason.

Have fun!

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