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Author Topic: Click track?  (Read 1503 times)

fangoch

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Click track?
« on: March 19, 2005, 06:00:23 pm »

Hey, even though, i'm not a drummer, i'm really interested in recording drums and other percusion instruments.

What i've come across was the word "click track".
I wanted to ask you, what exactly it is, and how i create a click track!

I mean, I understand that it's used to keep the drummer on time, but how do i make a click track. And don't i have a problem, if the tempo of the song changes?

vinent
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thedoc

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Re: Click track?
« Reply #1 on: March 19, 2005, 06:23:06 pm »

A  click track is just that...a click set for the tempo of the song you wish to record.
(quarter notes for example).
These days, you could use a drum machine/sequencer to create something more like a drum track to play against.  If you do go that route,  you should be able to
program the sequence to vary tempo as appropriate.

Click tracks are used a lot in film and tv scoring where the timing of cues is
critical.  Experienced studio drummers will not have a problem playing with them.  Other drummers may resist...

Two points...
1.  Because tempo will not rush or drag, editing sections of the song around later will be easier.
2.  Beware of headphone leakage.  You do not want click leakage getting into
your soft acoustic guitar overdub.  You can use an expander/gate keyed from the
tracks being recorded to help keep that leakage down by lowering the click in the phones when the track gets quieter.  That is an old trick.  Smile
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tom eaton

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Re: Click track?
« Reply #2 on: March 20, 2005, 07:33:17 am »

Doing the kind of music I do, which is typically in the folk/roots/alt-country camp, I've found click tracks in general to be death.  Unless the players are VERY used to working with a click they tend to get a little off and then try to get back constantly...causing the performance to be about sticking to the click rather than the song (the track pushes and pulls inside measures rather than in the larger curve of the song).  Building a song in a computer can be much easier if the song is cut to a click track, but if the song has no feel, well...what's the point?  For the stuff I do, I suggest rehearsing to a metronome to learn the tempo starting point of the song, and to get used to playing to a steady tempo.  Getting used to this stuff at home is important...you do not want to be in a studio getting used to playing to a click.  With enough practice, you can learn where you'd like the songs to rush a little and pull back a little, and then record without a click on "internal" metronome.  

For many styles of music a click track or tempo map is essential, but for as many other styles of music it's one of the worst things you can do to a track.  For my money, the best results are obtained by hiring, rehearsing, and recording with a really good drummer.  

-tom

Joe Crawford

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Re: Click track?
« Reply #3 on: March 20, 2005, 09:38:00 am »

Tom – I don’t know about your area of the country, but the folk/roots musicians around here have as much, or more, trouble learning to play with a drummer as with a click track.  Dog-house bass, foot-stomp, or spoons are about the only rhythm section they’ve ever played with.

Joe Crawford
Stony Mountain Studio
Shanks, WV 26761
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Lee Flier

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Re: Click track?
« Reply #4 on: March 20, 2005, 11:04:01 am »

Joe Crawford wrote on Sun, 20 March 2005 09:38

Tom – I don’t know about your area of the country, but the folk/roots musicians around here have as much, or more, trouble learning to play with a drummer as with a click track.  Dog-house bass, foot-stomp, or spoons are about the only rhythm section they’ve ever played with.



Which is fine and dandy.  Since when was there a law that all music must be played to a strict tempo?  It's depressing.

fangoch, check out this thread for more about click tracks, before you get too far down that road. Very Happy

tom eaton

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Re: Click track?
« Reply #5 on: March 20, 2005, 05:04:50 pm »

Well, my area of the country is pretty hip when it comes to the whole singer-songwriter/roots scene.  Cambridge (and to a lesser degree, Boston) continues to be a very active community.  I still think that learning (when rehearsing OUTSIDE the studio) to play with a GOOD drummer (and there are certainly some around here) is a great thing...and I've never had to resort to a guide spoon track.  I've done foot stomps.  Actually, one of my favorite "click" solutions is to have someone with good time play a shaker in another room...results in a very subdivided, easy to follow tempo track that anyone can follow which is totally based on the original performance.  

That click track thread is great...I had no idea so many folks are as opposed to it as I am!

-tom

Joe Crawford

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Re: Click track?
« Reply #6 on: March 20, 2005, 09:34:14 pm »

Thanks Tom, I’ll have to try the shaker trick… last time I tried a click (on a Bluegrass ditty with an electric bass) I had to retime half the song.  After that fiasco, they went back to using the dog-house bass.

Joe Crawford
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King Whistle

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Re: Click track?
« Reply #7 on: March 21, 2005, 02:39:23 am »

I'm a drummer and producer/engineer. Of course clicks have their purpose, not always helpful, sometimes desperately necessary.
 
 I wanted to point out that, in my experience, having a very simple click track for a musician (especially drums) gives them the widest latitude to create the feel that they want. If you use a more complicated click track (like a drum machine beat, or 16th notes), they will likely play much differently.  Putting 16th notes in a click (shuffle or straight or whatever) dictates the feel. I don't care for that at all, others might see that as a handy trick.

 When I am recording musicians with good time, I will often give them a click for only 3-4 bars before the beginning of every take. This greatly increases consistency of tempo from take to take, making it much better if I have to cut anything up. This also lets them create a real groove with each other, not worrying about a click.

best, Thaddeus Corea.
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