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 Post subject: click tracks
PostPosted: Mon May 06, 2013 12:04 pm 
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Lone Star

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I have noticed in SOS (mag) some artists/producers have mentioned that they do not use a click track. i would like to be reminded who they were, if anyone knows, as 'search' doesn't seem to do it.. likewise if anyone has any success of recording without one, be interesting to hear about it. I have friend/client who is insisting that it is impossible to get radio play without using one (she thinks they serve some kind of radio production sync tone or something (unknown to me), but for my own material I have a feeling that I would like to develop working without one, and don't they slightly suck the life out of things?


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 Post subject: Re: click tracks
PostPosted: Mon May 06, 2013 12:26 pm 
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Robbie The Botkiller
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Hi jdrp,

Sometimes I use a click track, sometimes I use a guide track (for instance playing/singing along with an original and removing the original later) and lots of times, I use nothing at all. It depends a lot on the project.

On a number of projects I started by recording the drums (mostly from a drum machine), so one could wonder whether or not this counts as a click track (I think it does).

I've heard recordings (by others) that were so spot on, timing wise, that it's impossible to do without a click track (but I may be wrong), but in my opinion it didn't suck the life out of it, on the contrary. But again, that also depends on the project.

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 Post subject: Re: click tracks
PostPosted: Mon May 06, 2013 3:20 pm 
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Former Computer Geek
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A click is not required technically... but to get a tight performance, you have to have your crapola together and a solid drummer. If you listen to old recording studio stuff, you just hear the drummer count off and off they go!

As far as the radio goes, they would never know if a click was used or not as it doesn't get printed to the recording. They would know if your timing sucked and you didn't use one..LOL

I've found that the best, most organic sounding recordings for me come when I manually play the drums to the click first, then lose the click and record to these slightly imperfect drums. Once it's all recorded if I put the click back in to listen, it's not locked in like a machine, there's a little give and take. Getting the drums right like this is pretty time consuming for me though so I only do it when I really want that feel.

-= Beer

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 Post subject: Re: click tracks
PostPosted: Mon May 06, 2013 3:32 pm 
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Marker Magician
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Clicks make the difference, for us amateurs, between an "open mic night" sound and a "this performer has it together" sound. Remember, recordings are forever, and no one wants to have repeated listens to something that just doesn't have a "groove" or a "synch" factor. Admittedly, some songs, because of their character, suffer from the regiment of a click. But they are the exception rather than the rule.

On top of this, editing is so much easier with a song structured to click. I am with Robbie though, in realizing a "guide" track is sometimes what is needed, For both timing and structure. As long as the down beat is accurate on the first bar of the "line" ( 8 bar, 12 bar etc.), and you haven't dropped or picked up a beat during the line, you will have good success building your song's structure

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 Post subject: Re: click tracks
PostPosted: Mon May 06, 2013 4:23 pm 
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Spaminator Extraordinaire
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You don't need a click track if you can keep a beat. That's really up to each individual. when I work on my annual Beatles parody, I noticed my click track would line up nicely at first and then it quickly would lag behind. I would just find a happy medium. I doubt The Beatles used a metronome.

So it's what works for you.

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 Post subject: Re: click tracks
PostPosted: Mon May 06, 2013 7:14 pm 
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Marker Magician
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Some of us fall into the trap of increasing/decreasing tempo, attempting to give our performance dynamic character. But it is really volume/forcefulness/ articulation/ emotion that impart dynamic quality. Tempo and arrangement/structure are the framework into which we impart the song's dynamic qualities. Click tracks help us establish that structure, but as said, they are not absolutely necessary if you can maintain that steady beat without the click.

Have a listen to early Hank Williams recordings. Not necessarily the famous ones, but rather the more obscure ones included in complete anthologies. Such songs may have only been played once (or a few times) for the recording, but check out the tempo -> spot on throughout. If the timing was inconsistent, Hank himself would have sounded like all the other bands who play his tunes at local dances etc. I doubt he used a click though.

Tempo is King!!!

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 Post subject: Re: click tracks
PostPosted: Mon May 06, 2013 11:32 pm 
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The General

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Stu Copeland, drummer for the Police can not play to a click. He's an amazingly tight and technical drummer.

Rayzor hates playing to a click. He calls it "the restrictive click". We didn't use a click for any of our tunes.

I'm with Byron on clicks making editing much easier. Makes it much easier to compile multiple takes.

I like Beero's view on the matter. Allow me a little creative interpretation of his post....."clicks should be more of a guideline than a rule." Interestingly, I pretty much live my life by the "guideline rather than rule" philosophy. :D


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 Post subject: Re: click tracks
PostPosted: Tue May 07, 2013 1:02 am 
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I use the process of playing to the click ( or a drum loop of some kind) to establish the exact BPM to which I would like to record. A single or a couple of BPM can make a huge difference to the overall feel of the song.

Sometimes one player will play all the way through to the chosen tempo, but other times just one verse and a chorus etc and then a guide track can be "assembled". Once I have a guide track of some kind (could be piano, a guitar or bass or even just a kick drum sound), at desired tempo, the annoying click (or canned loop) gets turned off and the players lay down their tracks using their own feel for the song as it evolves. eventually (usually quickly) the guide track gets turned off too, and the session players end up playing to a rough mix of the actual tracks that will make up the final mix. At this stage you want to have sounds in the ear that drive or are faithful to the emphasis within the beat. I am thinking here that it is sometimes useful to turn off vocals etc., during repeated takes of instuments, once the player being recorded is confident of the song's structure.

trying to get a whole band to play to a click in a "live from the floor session" is an exercise in futility.

If you expect to required editing/ assembly of multiple takes, having the song played to a specified tempo is of great help. also, a steady, fixed tempo really helps in the establishment of delays that will synch, whilst you are building/tweeking your mix.

My opinions, for what they are worth.

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 Post subject: Re: click tracks
PostPosted: Wed May 08, 2013 3:08 pm 
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Tinhorn

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jdrp wrote:
I have friend/client who is insisting that it is impossible to get radio play without using one (she thinks they serve some kind of radio production sync tone or something (unknown to me)..


I totally agree with most ideas and answers here (won't repeat them), but I'm surprised why nobody asked you what kind of music are you talking about? What type of radio station is this?
I can imagine lazy radio people storing some kind of techno/electronica/dance music files under 120BPM or 140BPM folders and just play music in following order for hours (in sync). It's great for dancers or desperate housewives practicing aerobics :D , but not for me (and many others). Plenty of other radio stations out there without sync/click needed. Classical music stations would be extreme example I guess.


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