Keeping time isn't important!

caddywumpus

Platinum Member
Very true. Pushing and pulling is more evident against a click, where it would probably be imperceptable without a click.
You can tell when somebody doesn't have much experience with a click by how much they "correct" themselves when they stray from the click. They're like a person first learning to drive. It takes concentration and bigger, jerkier movements to keep between the lines on the road. In time, however, the corrections occur much more rapidly and are much more subtle, and the driver starts to do them without thinking about them. The result is a smoother feeling ride. It takes a lot of practice to get to this point, just like it takes a lot of time playing with a click to make it sound natural and not "forced".

Also, some people tend to hug the driver-side line, others hug the passenger-side line, and some others are able to drive perfectly between the lines (...does anyone catch this metaphor?).
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
Anybody ever record to a click along with the other musicians?
I was at a session once where we tracked bass, piano and drums to a click. The piano player kept rushing, really noticeably, and she swept the rest of us right along, it was a mess.
Laying the drum tracks down alone to a click is much easier. I don't know any other musician besides drummers who practice to metronomes, and when you have to fight bad timing from the other musicians...it really sucks all the good energy from the track. It's hard to rise above that.
 

Alex949

Junior 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.
For me im the exact opposite. Initially i was intimidated to play with a click, that it would expose how good or bad my meter is. But after playing to a click live and in recording sessions for the last 6 years it's hard for me to play without it. I don't look at it as a crutch but as one less thing to worry about. I do agree with other fellow drummers who feel playing to a metronome takes away from the feel of there playing and how mechanical it can be, but now i don't have to concentrate more on my time, but rather more on my actual playing.
 

mrchattr

Gold Member
I found a lot of the talk in this thread to be humorous. As has been said, the key is to be able to record with or without clicks, depending on what the producer wants the song to sound like. This isn't a big kit/small kit style debate. To be successful as a studio musician, and get as many call backs as possible, you need to be able to do both.

Anybody ever record to a click along with the other musicians?
I was at a session once where we tracked bass, piano and drums to a click. The piano player kept rushing, really noticeably, and she swept the rest of us right along, it was a mess.
Laying the drum tracks down alone to a click is much easier. I don't know any other musician besides drummers who practice to metronomes, and when you have to fight bad timing from the other musicians...it really sucks all the good energy from the track. It's hard to rise above that.
I have had to do that. It stunk. I was going insane, because the other musicians didn't have the click, just I did, so they were pushing and pulling like woah. Eventually I just tuned them out and got my part down, and they had to do so many overdubs, that it was almost as if I had just recorded the drums seperately.
 

mrchattr

Gold Member
Here is an interesting article about click tracks. A lot of reading, but it shows great examples in modern music of how clicks do and don't get used:

http://musicmachinery.com/2009/03/02/in-search-of-the-click-track/?rss

It's amazing to see how some current artists like Britney and Breaking Benjamin use a click, while others like Metallica and Weezer don't. It's also really amazing to see how much tempo fluxuation there is in the Zep tune they looked at.
 

kwolf68

Senior Member
I can't believe your guitar player didn't care if you slowed up or sped up. That's amazing to me.

If I want to aggrevate the musicians in my band, changing the tempo of the song will always do it.
 

JENGLISH817

Senior Member
Here is an interesting article about click tracks. A lot of reading, but it shows great examples in modern music of how clicks do and don't get used:

http://musicmachinery.com/2009/03/02/in-search-of-the-click-track/?rss

It's amazing to see how some current artists like Britney and Breaking Benjamin use a click, while others like Metallica and Weezer don't. It's also really amazing to see how much tempo fluxuation there is in the Zep tune they looked at.
Lars really should look into getting a click track haha.

I honestly think that if Zeppelin (and Bohnam) had used clicks their music probably wouldn't have sounded as good. Their music was very real feeling. Many of their songs have tempo changes, dynamic changes, etc. Clicks would have made them sound robotic and kinda boring in my opinion.
 
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I think in most situations time-keeping is important. But it usually must not be too accurate.
I feel concerning timing, the most important thing is that the audiance and the musicians can easily follow and predict the timing as a whole.

Furthermore, one can play with the listeners prediction and surprise him. Also speed-ups, slow-downs can add to the music if it is done right.

If you are interested in analyzing your timing without metronome, feel free to check my application (runs on windows - in realtime).
 

Pollyanna

Platinum Member
I tried using a click at practice tonight. Apart from having hassles getting the volume right, I had that same issue of the keyboard pulling waaay ahead and I was trying to stay with the click.

I had to stop and take out the ear plugs. It was like trying to deal with two people talking at you at once.

Also, I'd set the click bpms to recordings where everyone was happy with the tempo. However, when I started a couple of the songs at the click tempo everyone was saying, "No, too fast" or "No, too slow". I think we really do hear tempos differently from day to day, depending on our moods, energy levels etc. Adrenaline at gigs often speeds things up.
 

Fiery

Silver Member
For me im the exact opposite. Initially i was intimidated to play with a click, that it would expose how good or bad my meter is. But after playing to a click live and in recording sessions for the last 6 years it's hard for me to play without it. I don't look at it as a crutch but as one less thing to worry about. I do agree with other fellow drummers who feel playing to a metronome takes away from the feel of there playing and how mechanical it can be, but now i don't have to concentrate more on my time, but rather more on my actual playing.
I feel pretty much the same about playing to a click.

For recording, I like the idea of recording the drums to a click, with all the pushes and pulls where the song asks for them, and then recording all the other instruments to the drum track only, without the click. This way you get a solid time throughout the song, but avoid the robotic feel.

It's amazing to see how some current artists like Britney and Breaking Benjamin use a click, while others like Metallica and Weezer don't. It's also really amazing to see how much tempo fluxuation there is in the Zep tune they looked at.
Metallica has recorded to a click on all albums except maybe the first couple as far as I know. The thing is that they programmed all the slight tempo changes into the click track, with variations as small as 2 bpm between parts.
 

rogue_drummer

Gold Member
I'm also going to side with the no click track guys. Um.......whatever happened to music being soulful, played with feeling, having raw energy, played with passion?

Do you think waaaaay back when Elvis, Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash, the Beatles, and all the other greats of byegone days, they played to a click? Did the Rolling Stones, the Who, Cream, the Kinks, Led Zepplin, start playing to a click? Try telling Keith Richards or Charlie Watts, or even Ringo to play and use a click track. How about BB King? Ray Charles? I'd hate to hear the answer!!

I was laying down some Djembe tracks last night and NOT ONCE used a click track. The other musicians: fiddle, bass guitar, rhythm guitar, piano DID NOT ONCE use a click. And guess what???? The tune sounds great! Played with feeling, passion, finese, and soul. The CD may not sell well, but at least it's played rightous, honestly, and with heart.

In my humble opinion, the jerks and suits running the production and studios do the best they can to kill the mood by trying to make it "perfect". It's gotta have that "corporate" sound. Bull!!!!!
 

Skitch

Pioneer Member
I always prefer to use a click track, studio or live. Nothing robotic about it at all - I am the only one who hears it! This settles many arguments such as "Well, we played it faster/slower last time." from other members.

And nothing pisses me off more than to have spent my entire playing career developing good, solid meter than to have one guy one side of the stage screaming "You're dragging!!" and a another guy on the other side of the stage screaming, "Slow down!!!" (your basic pissing contest of "NO- I'M THe REAL LEADER OF THIS BAND, NOT HIM!)This has happened recently and my solution was from that point on, clicktrack. Result - no more arguments!

If the tempo on song X was 91 bpm last night, that is what it will be tonight and tomorrow night and the night after. My experience has been that most people who are against a click track can't play to one and quite possibly never have tried.

Also, there sems to be quite a bit of the singer wanting to drastically speed up/slow down after the song has started. I witnessed this one night watching a friend's band and from a friend on a cruiseship as well. My response - our job as drummers isn't to speed up and slow on your whims; our job is to define the time and you must adjust, Mr. singer.


Mike

http://www.mikemccraw.com
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Skitch

Pioneer Member
I'm also going to side with the no click track guys. Um.......whatever happened to music being soulful, played with feeling, having raw energy, played with passion?

Do you think waaaaay back when Elvis, Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash, the Beatles, and all the other greats of byegone days, they played to a click? Did the Rolling Stones, the Who, Cream, the Kinks, Led Zepplin, start playing to a click? Try telling Keith Richards or Charlie Watts, or even Ringo to play and use a click track. How about BB King? Ray Charles? I'd hate to hear the answer!!

I was laying down some Djembe tracks last night and NOT ONCE used a click track. The other musicians: fiddle, bass guitar, rhythm guitar, piano DID NOT ONCE use a click. And guess what???? The tune sounds great! Played with feeling, passion, finese, and soul. The CD may not sell well, but at least it's played rightous, honestly, and with heart.

In my humble opinion, the jerks and suits running the production and studios do the best they can to kill the mood by trying to make it "perfect". It's gotta have that "corporate" sound. Bull!!!!!
Actually, Ringo has almost perfect time and quite a few of the drummers back in the day DID practice to the old metronome which rocked back and forth. It is exactly what Gary Chester (you remember him - Charles Bronson of the drums) said - "No, a clicktrack doesn't swing or have soul. What you play to it should!" This is from his book, New Breed.

Every recording session I have played on, we have used a click - it keeps the raw amateurs in their place. You know how to tell who they are, right? They usually call themselves the lead singer, but have the least musical experiance in the building. But because they have a microphone in front of their mouth (communicating in a lower form of language than the rest of the band), they think they know the most. There is quite a bit of this going around right now, so beware!

This is what I tell my students - "No, reading music doesn't guarantee you a success. No, playing to a click doesn't guarantee you a success. No, knowing how to read number charts doesn't guarantee you a success. But not knowing how to do these things guarantees you a failure when you have to do it at the most crucial time - when you're in the studio and the producer hands the music out or starts the click." The attitude by everyone in the room will be "Next, please!!" Please have them call me - I want the work!!!

I mean, are you a professional and want the paying job or not? This isn't the time for on the job training!

Mike

http://www.mikemccraw.com
http://www.dominoretroplate.com
http://www.patentcoachmike.com
http://www.youtube.com/drummermikemccraw
http://www.myspace.com/drummermikemccraw
 

Inchron

Junior Member
A wise musician once said,"A poorly played note well placed is better than a well played note misplaced" and well placed notes make for a solid groove.
 

JPW

Silver Member
As musicians we should be comfortable in whatever crazy situation we get ourselves into. Click or no click, you should sound stable. If you are good enough the click CAN'T suck the soul out of you. Personally I prefer to play without one, gives me more room for expression, but I can enjoy myself in a click environment. Both work but have different flavour.
 

Andy

Administrator
Staff member
I've worked both with click & without. I can do the click thing, I really can, but I can't get the soul into my playing when using one. I suppose that's my failing. Working with a click, but having the total detachment to regard it only as a guide, is a development stage I never attained. Any work I've done with a click is accurate, but to the point of sterility. Wish I'd used one on my last recording though. When things aren't going well, a click can add some stability. I prefer recording without a click when everything else is falling into place. As for live, I believe a click has no purpose other than to interface with digital sources such as sequencers or video. If you can't keep good time live, get off the stage until you can. If the band has a starting tempo issue, better to use a digital metronome as a first passage reference, leaving the rest of the number to benefit from that beautifull push & pull that differentiates live music.

Using a click successfully live, very much relies on all the band musos buying into the deal. If just one player breaks ranks, it's muddy muddy time. I like the idea of eye contact / body language tempo & micro timing control. To me, the band sets the live vibe and machines have little part in that process.
 

toddy

Platinum Member
i thought i better clarify before people think i'm crazy. in my opinion it depends what kind of music you play live. if you're playing anything like this then you will have a click track - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ABqh9N-Mw5E

that said i personally play everything to a click. practice, studio, live. i mean i can play without one quite easily, but i like the click track. i like that it ticks 1,2,3,4 and accents the one, i mean it's just reasurring, it means i don't have to count out loud. obviously i can edit the click track for the show before hand for any tempo/time changes quite easily, i can even make it automatically change tempo based on what i am playing.

all i do know, is that anyone who ever recorded with me/for me would have to play to a click track. if i was about to record a band and the drummer turned round and said 'sorry i can't play to a click' then i would phone up another engineer/producer, leave the studio and go and do something else. unless they're kids, then it's fine and i'll help them out.
i mean it's not that i think all music not played to a click is terrible, a lot of it is amazing, but for the genres i record? no thanks, i'd rather not waste my time.

we differ here KIS. in my opinion the drummer should be a metrenome. but that's only because the music i'm into calls for it. but, that said there is no problem with not using a click, and i can understand why some people may find it difficult to play with 'soul' when using one. to each their own! :)
 

JPW

Silver Member
i thought i better clarify before people think i'm crazy. in my opinion it depends what kind of music you play live. if you're playing anything like this then you will have a click track - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ABqh9N-Mw5E

that said i personally play everything to a click. practice, studio, live. i mean i can play without one quite easily, but i like the click track. i like that it ticks 1,2,3,4 and accents the one, i mean it's just reasurring, it means i don't have to count out loud. obviously i can edit the click track for the show before hand for any tempo/time changes quite easily, i can even make it automatically change tempo based on what i am playing.

all i do know, is that anyone who ever recorded with me/for me would have to play to a click track. if i was about to record a band and the drummer turned round and said 'sorry i can't play to a click' then i would phone up another engineer/producer, leave the studio and go and do something else. unless they're kids, then it's fine and i'll help them out.
i mean it's not that i think all music not played to a click is terrible, a lot of it is amazing, but for the genres i record? no thanks, i'd rather not waste my time.

we differ here KIS. in my opinion the drummer should be a metrenome. but that's only because the music i'm into calls for it. but, that said there is no problem with not using a click, and i can understand why some people may find it difficult to play with 'soul' when using one. to each their own! :)
Also, if you are using anykind of loop live, you most likely are going to need a click. I have had many battles with our guitarist who has a loop pedal but it hasn't got a midi sync option. So guess how much _that_ sucks the soul out of me whe I have to somehow try to dig the (non stable) pulse out from the mix somehow and middle of all that try to improvise my drum parts. Gahhh... I hate it. But no worries, the sync is coming.
 
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