Click Tracks good?


In reference to cruiser’s question, I’ve a related one: who thinks click tracks suck?

Sure they make life easier, but subtle tempo changes are musical, and click tracks mean - no such changes. I say click tracks suck. I just can’t live without them. Yet. :)


Depends on the style of music imho. If you are doing a pushing or fast rock song I personally tink one is a must, if it’s a rolling balade or a jazz tune or something that has changes (night in tunisia), then I’d say go without. Depends a lot on musician talent too. If you are playing with some musician that have no sense of rythm you may want to program a drum track that takes any tempo differences into consideration.

Any drummer or bassist will tell you that there are some musicians that either just can’t seem to hold a rythm or push it and no matter how hard you pull back on the reigns (or in some cases drag, although i’ve found that less). Heck some can’t hold a beat with a click or metronome, they expect the rest of the band just to follow them. Worst experience was playing with my father’s group, the lead singer/rythm guitarist liked adding extra beats here and there to suite his singing style, which isn’t that bad if the song is written that way, but when it’s a cover of dave clark 5 or the likes it’s like “Come on!”

But it’s not an either or - sure, musicians who can’t control the tempo are pretty worthless, but there are alternatives to it other than metronomic. Here’s an example of straight ahead rock that wanders all over the place, and boy does it rock: Every Picture Tells a Story. Or put a metronome to God Save the Queen, or pretty much any great rock tune from the 70s - I’ll bet you ten bucks there are variations in tempo that are key to the feel - so that the song would sound tedious without them. Nope, I’d have to disagree - even for a pushing fast rock song click tracks are deadly.

Just trying to be controversial, but I really believe that this is true. :D

Sometimes a click track ins’t enough… I always try to use a simple 8-beat kick/snare pattern with an open high-hat at the end to keep me from accidently playing a 2-beat measure or going off pattern while writing songs.

I agree they have their advantages and disadvantages to music/artist.

From personal experience I’ve found clicks an essential tool when trying to collaborate with others across the internet.
But I have had a struggle putting all my songs to a click. For example if i have a song that goes from an off beat reggea tempo to straight 2/4 rockabilly beat I just pull my hair out trying to figure out the different tempos and splicing the click tracks together.
And then there’s the songs that gradually get slower on purpose to build dynamics when the fast part comes back, click track impossible!
So as I think another poster said, it depends on the type of music, and musicians involved.

Alot of those drummers from the 70’s mentioned, didn’t need one 'cause they just had natural perfect timing!IE Rolling Stone’s. That guy hasn’t missed a lick in 40 years!


As you laying down tracks (sharing files - doing all yourself - etc) or is the band playing all at the same time (getting the core rhythm tracks down at once)? Recording the band usually means no click is needed (or shouldn’t), but if you aren’t doing the band at once thing you’ll probably need a click track to keep it all together.

A click track doesn’t dictate a steady tempo necessarily, but it makes it hard to swing the feel sometimes. You can still feel good and have a rock solid steady tempo. That’s what playing ahead and behind the beat is. The tempo doesn’t need to change for that.

I’m with John. Instead of a simple tick use a drum beat, even if it’s very simple. I do that and I’m a drummer. It really helps.

AFter reading toms i have to agree with him… if I think about Chicago, there stuff is tight but changes tempo. I mean the early stuff albums (1,2 and 3 being my faves) definitely nothing after David Foster started screwing them up and they lost Danny Seraphine and the programmed drums definitely killed any feeling that group had :(. I can’t fully dis david though since he’s an extremely prolific writer (and from my home town although completely unrelated).

At the same rate I am convinced most of the music I listened to as a teen was done to click (stuff like stp and peral jam) although I could be wrong. It’s rock steady and sounds good that way. Anyone know if Rush uses clicks or is Neil Peart perfect?

It would be interesting to see which groups do use one and which don’t, I bet it would be surprising.

There are times I’ve recorded something that was “just an idea”.
I’ve then developed the song and wish I had used a click in the first place as when I go to edit it it makes it a lot harder to cut and paste things when your beats don’t line up with the grid of the project.

Also for editing using a click means that you can cut 2 bars from anywhere in the song and paste them somewhere else and it will line up.
If you don’t use a click you can pretty much guarantee that they won’t line up properly.

This doesn’t mean that you have to play right on the beat, but it means that 2 bars (or whatever) is 2 bars


…and just because you use a click track, that is not guarantee that the musicians will perform flawlessly on the beat everytime. I think of it as just a guide.

I guess that having a drummer with impecable time would also render the recording “sterile” because it was on time throughout!

Just a thought to confuse things even more… - I have made several recordings over the years using both live instruments and midi - and no click track at all. It is a bit harder to follow, sure, but it does have a lot of life and spontaneity to it. Present-day sequencer software have adequate resolution for this to be possible - just set the BPM to the same ballpark as the song, and go along with the recorded live instruments. Takes a bit of skill, but trust me - it can be done.

regards, Nils

I didn’t use a click for a long time and I started to notice problems with my time. I ain’t the performer I was 20 years ago… Then I did a series of tunes to a click and the results have been WAY better, so now I’m back to using it when I feel it’s needed. I find it’s easier for me to “groove” a click if I find a pattern that lands some bits in the “holes” left when the click ain’t there. Almost like the click is my percussion buddy, and I’m playing along with a person, not a machine. I’ve done dual drum work for years with the same guy, so maybe that’s why this works for me.

I’d guess that 40% of the work done at our studio is done to a click. I’ve had clients bring in a programmed drum machine with different clicks for each song they plan to do and we just patch it into an open channel. Some guys bring in click files along with scratch vocals or guitar that they’ve put down at home. Often a click gets built on the fly because the takes aren’t going well without it.

My buddies in Califone never use a click, and they’re not alone. More than once I’ve heard Chicago described as “not a click track kinda town”…

Yep, phoo, mostly it’s just me playing to a click. I am in such a wasteland when it comes to musicians…

Hey clava, that is an interesting idea, to play to a “click” track that is actually a counterpoint - I will have to try that - very interesting.