Tricks of the Trade from The Voice's Nate Morton
There aren’t many, if any, drummers in the world that play to more fans than Nate Morton does on a weekly basis. On Monday and Tuesday nights alone, at approximately 8/7c, Nate shows off his monstrous chops and heavy pocket to millions and millions of viewers, performing and providing the drum tracks for NBC’s hit show The Voice. This TV sensation, which has gained so much notoriety that it airs on 2 consecutive nights, consists of an elimination- style singing competition that shows the world’s finest unknown singers taking on and performing today’s hottest chart topping tracks in a live concert setting. Behind and in control of it all sits the longstanding Pearl artist and extraordinary drummer, Nate Morton, who shares the stage and completes the team of other incredibly talented musicians known as The Voice Band.
Although The Voice only airs twice a week, Nate and The Voice Band spend their off-camera time racking up countless hours rehearsing and recording versions of the hit singles performed on the show, often tracking 10-12 songs each day, in their entirety. These recorded tracks feature the competitors of the show and are launched on iTunes shortly after they make their debut. Throughout the 4 season of the show Nate and The Voice Band have released over 500 singles on iTunes, with several of them reaching the No. 1 position on the Charts.
Given the short turnaround time and very, very high demand, the band is constantly relied upon to provide a pristine sounding product in the shortest time possible, forcing these renowned musicians to rely on their signature tricks-of-the-trade methods to efficiently produce the tracks in a timely manner. For Nate, it comes down to a series of pluses, dashes, initials and numbers to map out each track, serving as a roadmap that guides him through the song as easily as possible. Nate’s guide to notation is as follows:
“I am often asked about charting tracks for the show or for tracking. At this point, I have developed a short hand of notating the road map of these tracks. It's super simple and based around using initials for sections, and numbers for numbers of bars... and at times, just plain old words. The initials are as follows:
I denote different sections with dashes (-), or if one section is a continuation of the previous, I'll use a plus (+). If there's an 8 bar chorus that ends with an accent on the and of 4, I would write that like this, "C8(4&!)" OR, if there's an 8 bar Verse with a stop on the downbeat of bar 4 then the groove continues, I would notate that like this, "V4(stop1)+4" There are certain things that I may already know intuitively from just knowing the song, such as the basic groove or a particular figure that recurs... but using my shorthand, I can generally create a road map that works.”
Here’s an example of what Nate’s method looks like when put to the song “Raise Your Glass”, by Pink. To listen along, please check out the video of Nate recording the track in The Voice studio, which can be found below.
Pink- "Raise Your Glass":
Simple enough, right?
In the video, Nate is slamming away on his Reference Pure drums in Natural Maple (102), topped with a Reference Brass snare drum. Offering the same innovative design and individuality found in the Reference Series line of drums, which Nate uses for his live performances on The Voice, the thin-plied shells of the Reference Pure line offer more openness and resonation, serving as an ideal choice for the drummer who requires a wide tuning range without sacrificing tone. Nate’s specs for his studio kit are as follow:
Natural Maple (102)
24x18 bass drum
14x14 floor tom
16x16 floor tom
14x6.5 Reference Brass snare
To catch Nate’s drumming superiority in action, tune into the hit TV series The Voice on Monday and Tuesday nights at 8/7c. To keep up with Nate Morton and his hectic schedule, and to learn more tips and tricks from one of the world’s best, please be sure to follow him on his personal Facebook page, which can be found here.