Keeping time isn't important!

Jonesy

Senior Member
I'm going to play devil's advocate here and say learning how to play along competently to a click is VERY IMPORTANT, especially in today's musical climate. A lot of the songs you're playing to may be more forgiving if it's a traditional rock band/ three piece jazz, whatever, where tempo ebbs and flows all in the natural course of a track, but consider the following.



For studio :

Sure there are programs like beat detective and audiosnap out there to manipulate your tempo, but if the recording is intended at some point to sync up with samples or loops, then there may be considerable tweaking involved on the engineer's side. Have fun integrating that 180 bpm loop with the clickless track you just recorded!

Live:

Perhaps even more importantly, what if you're asked to play along to sequenced parts in a LIVE context, which is becoming more and more commonplace nowadays? You have to able to lock in with the sequencers or loops, no escaping it or sugarcoating it.

I totally agree that sometimes it's beneficial to be able to break free from the constraints of a click every now and then, but I would hope no one comes away from a discussion like this thinking "I'll never need to play to sequenced time, because the music just needs to breathe!". In a perfect world it would be the case, but in all practicality it should be considered a high priority to learn how to play in tandem with a click.
Of course every drummer needs to be able to play with a click, but the point of practicing with the click is that you'll eventually gain the ability to play on time without it.
 

bobdadruma

Platinum Member
When I practice alone I use a click and I set it at different tempos so that I can work at different speeds. I never use one while playing and recording. I don't count my bands in for every song so it wouldn't always work. Both bands that I play in play the songs at different speeds sometimes depending on our moods, The vibes that we are getting, And the venue that we are playing at. We like to try our songs at different tempos from time to time. Because I practice with a click my timing is pretty good. I don't vary the speed much during a song. I pretty much hold the tempo that the song was started at. I like it when I am told that the song was slow or fast by one of the band mates and I reply "You started the song!" The answer is usually "Oh Yea!" Like drumguyWI said, Let the song breath a slight bit. I do notice that ads for drummers frequently ask for a drummer that can play to a click so it is good to be familiar with playing to one. It is also good to practice with one to learn steady tempo skills. And yes, Recording software fixes tempo issues very well now-a-days!
 

drumbandit

Silver Member
If you're in a band and don't use a click then im almost 100% that you aren't just gonna be uninvited to the next band meeting and subsequently told not to come to the next recording. I read that Steve Jordan doesn't use a click when recording and the list of artists he's worked with is amazing.

Tom
 

bobdadruma

Platinum Member
I envy you guys who refuse to play to a click, and can pick & choose your gigs. I'm a slave to my own career and have to take every gig that comes my way, click or not.

FYI, I walk into the bank at 122bpm. :)

Bermuda
Yea, I guess that when you are a pro you have to give the devil his due!
122bpm's is a comfortable speed for most songs. It is my favorite speed to play. I'm a Former Drum Corps player! It has been driven into my head!!
I did a little experiment just now. I picked a comfortable tempo, I tapped it out for one min and I came in at 124bpm's, pretty close!
 
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T

TFITTING942

Guest
I envy you guys who refuse to play to a click, and can pick & choose your gigs. I'm a slave to my own career and have to take every gig that comes my way, click or not.

FYI, I walk into the bank at 122bpm. :)

Bermuda
FYI, I walk into the bank at 122bpm. :)
Bermuda, that is so funny. I wish I made a living that I could apply that to also. Maybe I drive to work at 122bpm....nah, not the same thing.
 

eddiehimself

Platinum Member
not necessarily.

first if all, I personally have absolutely no use for a click. it just throws me off. my band records all at once (minus the vocals), so I have no problems staying on beat without a click. I just watch the other guys playing their instruments, just like I do at shows. it works great. on the contrary, when I try to play to a click, I get so focused on playing to the click that I forget to play along with the other instruments. basically, what we do in my band is we record as close as possible to how we play live. and if you can get good takes, there's no need to edit the crap out of a recording and make it sound unnatural. music is art, not science.

and second of all, I'm not a "session" guy. I record with the punk band I'm in, but our main focus is live shows anyway.

if you have good rhythm, you don't need a click track.

Yeah well it's funny is this because i started playing along to a click track and as soon as i did i realised that all my other recordings were very out of time. But yeah i suppose being in a punk band your probably not very bothered about sound or anything.
 

Boomka

Platinum Member
If you're in a band and don't use a click then im almost 100% that you aren't just gonna be uninvited to the next band meeting and subsequently told not to come to the next recording. I read that Steve Jordan doesn't use a click when recording and the list of artists he's worked with is amazing.

Tom
I imagine that Steve Jordan uses whatever he's asked to use. You don't have a successful pro career without being willing and able.
 

Boomka

Platinum Member
I envy you guys who refuse to play to a click, and can pick & choose your gigs. I'm a slave to my own career and have to take every gig that comes my way, click or not.

FYI, I walk into the bank at 122bpm. :)

Bermuda
Exactly. And for me my envy doesn't stop at the clickless wonders. I'm jealous of all the cats out there who don't read, don't use clicks, and have no need for technical nonsense like double strokes and yet can make a steady living from their drumming. I must've missed something, because I can't seem to make it go otherwise.
 

Pollyanna

Platinum Member
I used to play in a band where the guitarist used a fair bit of digital delay. We had to play to the delay unit's setting or the guitar would go out of synch. I was always a bit on edge for those numbers but when I listen to the recordings the stiffness I felt it imposed on me while playing didn't seem apparent in playback.

Still, it was 80s rock so all the drumming had to be a tad stiff :) Oh, for the good old days of Mitch Mitchell and Ginger and the It's about The Vibe, maan approach!
 
B

Big_Philly

Guest
You need to be able to play to a click when asked... but practising to a click will reduce the necessity of a click over time. Without a metronome your timing will never be perfect but it will be consistent enough to let the song breathe as the OP suggested.
I am no session drummer, but I would not show up at a studio without a metronome in my pocket (pun).
 

Ethan01

Senior Member
could be the reason why I can't listen to any music that's come out in the last 10 years, save a few bands

I'm going to play devil's advocate here and say learning how to play along competently to a click is VERY IMPORTANT, especially in today's musical climate. A lot of the songs you're playing to may be more forgiving if it's a traditional rock band/ three piece jazz, whatever, where tempo ebbs and flows all in the natural course of a track, but consider the following.



For studio :

Sure there are programs like beat detective and audiosnap out there to manipulate your tempo, but if the recording is intended at some point to sync up with samples or loops, then there may be considerable tweaking involved on the engineer's side. Have fun integrating that 180 bpm loop with the clickless track you just recorded!

Live:

Perhaps even more importantly, what if you're asked to play along to sequenced parts in a LIVE context, which is becoming more and more commonplace nowadays? You have to able to lock in with the sequencers or loops, no escaping it or sugarcoating it.

I totally agree that sometimes it's beneficial to be able to break free from the constraints of a click every now and then, but I would hope no one comes away from a discussion like this thinking "I'll never need to play to sequenced time, because the music just needs to breathe!". In a perfect world it would be the case, but in all practicality it should be considered a high priority to learn how to play in tandem with a click.
 

dairyairman

Platinum Member
i'm no click snob. i don't care. i'll play to a click or not to a click and i'll make it sound good either way. whatever the powers that be want. actually in the studio i kind of like the click because the pressure is off of me. i don't have to worry about screwing up the song by varying the tempo. when it's done no one can say i played too fast or too slow or whatever.
 

bonzolead

Platinum Member
Click tracks are a good teaching tool but there comes a time when your internal clock is what really matters.

It's kinda like a crutch, or training wheels LOL

I'm not against click tracks but great drummers have great meters with or without click tracks.

Bonzolead
 

jer

Silver Member
Slight pushes and pulls - if they occur at all - should be imperceptable. And they can't really be deliberate, they should just occur naturally. Or not. Sometimes shifts don't sound right, sometimes perfect tempos don't sound right. It's always a song-by-song basis.

Bermuda
This is pretty much how I feel. I cite the example of a band I play with that is currently in pre-prod for our next album. I've grown to feel strongly about going over the songs in rehearsal to a click, audible to everyone. I find this helps identify parts that do push or pull and allow us to decide how to approach in studio.

When we play a song to a click for the first time, it quickly becomes obvious where we do push or pull or where we have been playing consistantly all along. Songs that we play with and have no trouble keeping to the click get recorded with a click. We pre-determine the bpm in rehearsal, record it and listen back to guage if we're happy with both our performance to that click and the tempo itself - when we've come to an agreement, we commit to that bpm and that song is ready to take to the studio.

If upon the first time playing to a click we notice the push or pull, we'll do one of two things. First, we try and figure out if the parts would work to a constant click. We go back and try the song again, making sure we play to the click, from there is becomes easy to figure out if the part in question would work or not. If it works fine and we are happy playing the part at it's new speed, we move ahead like I stated previously. If it doesn't work, we then try to figure out why. Maybe the part is just to different from the rest of the song, maybe it needs revision.

One of the tunes we worked on had one part that felt really fast to the click, a bit of a transition part that ran for about 8 bars. The part of the song before and after it worked fine, it was just this 8 bar section. We ended up re-writing those 8 bars so there wasn't a perceptable shift in tempo and we move forward to the studio.

When it doesn't work to play the parts to the click, we then decide if it's best that we play without a click. Of 12 songs, we've got 2 that when played to a click, just doesn't match our vision of what the song should be - in one of the songs, there are a series of notes that get held quite a bit longer than a click would allow - we are trying to create tension by holding this note longer than would be expected and simply decided that we'll record those parts with out a click, simple as that.

When we don't play to a click, we pay special attention when tracking to these parts. For me, it's easy to know if I've played may parts right to a click, 'cause you simply listen back and make sure you're on time. When there is no click, we listen to the playback more carefully to ensure we got the "feel" right before we move on.

I share 'cause this approach works for me.
 

bermuda

Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
Staff member
You need to be able to play to a click when asked... but practising to a click will reduce the necessity of a click over time.
No matter how good the the drummer's time is, it unlikely he'll ever be asked if he wants a click or not. Practicing with a click to develop timing, and working with a click in today's music business, serve different purposes.

Bermuda
 

caddywumpus

Platinum Member
Playing with a click is easy! Being able to play with a click and make it sound like you're NOT is where the challenge lies...

I've had tons of studio gigs where I had to play to a click. I've had tons where I didn't. It's usually the sessions where you are recording your drum tracks alone that you play to a click, I've noticed in my experience. When you track with an entire rhythm section or with the whole band minus vocals, that's when the breathing tempo can be felt naturally by the people laying their tracks over it, so the "perfect time" isn't necessary then.

To the people who are opposed to playing with a click: it's usually the higher-profile sessions that demand that you play to a click. If you're content with doing what you're doing right now and don't want to go "big time", then your position is justified, as long as it's what you want. If you're wanting to advance in your career, and be an in-demand studio musician, then you HAVE to be able to play with a click, and do it well.

Playing to a click is like reading music in this respect: It's not totally necessary, but it opens more doors for you. If drumming is a passion for you, why not try to do the most with it that you can? Learn those difficult Latin beats, figure out how to play in 5 and 7 comfortably, learn to read, learn to play with a click, figure out how to get the most out of your gear, study and emulate the great drummers and then incorporate a part of them into your playing, know the rudiments inside and out, learn something new each day.........
 

drumguyfromWI

Senior Member
But yeah i suppose being in a punk band your probably not very bothered about sound or anything.
But yeah i suppose bashing punk rock isn't helping you prove your point or anything.

this is off-topic... but you're dead wrong. just because punk is often descried as "simplistic", doesn't mean it isn't good music. since when did being "more complex" automatically make something better?
 
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bermuda

Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
Staff member
Playing with a click is easy! Being able to play with a click and make it sound like you're NOT is where the challenge lies...
Very true. Pushing and pulling is more evident against a click, where it would probably be imperceptable without a click.

Although saying to a producer "let's not use a click because if I stray it will be noticeable" is the same as saying "I'll just play a simple part because I'm not good enough to play the more intricate part the artist asked for." Those kind of excuses aren't acceptable in musical situations where repeat calls - and success - depend on what the player can and can't do.

Bermuda
 

G123

Member
A guy walks into a bar at 122bpm...
seriously, for tracking alone in the studio, especially without a (or just a basic) scratch track, a click helps LOTS. I feel as if I have good time, however my perception of a tempo can vary by a few bpm from day to day. 122bpm doesn't feel like 122 all the time. Any one experience this as well?
 

bermuda

Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
Staff member
A guy walks into a bar at 122bpm...
seriously, for tracking alone in the studio, especially without a (or just a basic) scratch track, a click helps LOTS. I feel as if I have good time, however my perception of a tempo can vary by a few bpm from day to day. 122bpm doesn't feel like 122 all the time. Any one experience this as well?
Playing and hearing a given tempo are different experiences for many musicians. This is best illustrated with anyone who has heard a recording of themselves, and thought 'this is faster than I thought it was when I was playing it...' Specific tempos aside, I always recommend playing things where the feel is just slightly lazy, and that's probably actually a great tempo for the listener.

Bermuda
 
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