Photo courtesy of Money Munni
March 4th, 2009 – It’s no secret that almost all artists use click tracks for recording in the studio. Besides the obvious time keeping aspect, recording to a click serves a couple other important roles. For one, many musicians record separate instruments in the studio. Since many different performances need to sound like one cohesive one, the click helps all the parts keep on track. This also allows the engineer who’s putting it all together, to have an accurate guidline to build the song.
Cutting and re-arranging of the song’s parts requires the use of a click track. Imagine if you wanted to cut a guitar part from the first chorus and play it again as the third. If you hadn’t used a click, you would probably lose “energy”. A band that understands how to manipulate their audience will instinctively play faster as the song goes on. You might think that this would be an amateur trait, but bands like Queens of the Stoneage purposely use this technique. Watch any of their live performances to see how effective this can be.
In the studio, unless the recording is done all at once “live off the floor”-style, changing tempos is a headache for the engineer. That’s why almost all sessions use a click. This is also why a lot of people complain that some bands aren’t accurately “captured” by a studio album. Energy can be lost by quantization. Also, when focusing hard on keeping time, it’s hard to be creative or keep the emotion going.
MusicMachinery has an analysis of recordings of some famous drummers. I’m not surprised by any of the findings, but they’re fun to look at nonetheless. I, for one, always use a click track when I record. It makes it easier for me to punch-in overdub corrections (in situations where I’m not recording MIDI), and I’m pretty finicky about accuracy. When playing live, I don’t like the idea of using a click, unles there’s a need to sync to pre-prepared loops or video effects. What are your feelings about click tracks?
MusicMachinery via MusicRadar