Kim Lajoie's blog

Click tracks

by Kim Lajoie on September 1, 2014

The debate about click tracks has always raised passionate responses. Are they killing music? Do only really overproduced artists use them? Or are they just like vegetables – really useful, healthy and important but totally bland?

If you’re new to this, a click track is an electronic metronome helping artists to keep time while recording their instruments. The click track lines up with the timing grid in your recording software. It helps you see very clearly if the musicians are playing on time.

Recording to a click track can be very helpful to you need to do a lot of post-production editing and overdubbing. If you need to adjust the timing, a click track helps locate where the notes aren’t aligning together on the grid. Click tracks can rescue you from having to spend more time and money on re-recording tracks if you make a lot of mistakes.

Having said that, recording to a click track can seriously kill the mood. Nothing in life, art or music is perfect, so small deviations in tempo shouldn’t really cause you too much grief. If you have good musicians who practice, listen to each other and generally make amazing music together, you won’t be relying on a click track to fix up timing mistakes later on.

-Kim.

2 thoughts on “Click tracks

  1. Neo Anderson says:

    A click track has both fervent opponents and eager supporters. I’m of the opinion that it’s just a tool, and as with every tool you simply need to think when to use it, if ever. Moreover, it can’t only be a producer’s decision – even if the music or a composition calls for it, you can’t tell an artist he or she has to record to it. Although this may not be an issue for an instrumentalist who usually plays along the drums (which make a kind of metronome by themselves), a drummer who’s never practiced with a click track will horribly fail if made to record with one.
    Generally, I think that a good musician should be able to use this tool if the composition is supposed to sound better. On the other hand, a free-flowing ambient piece may sound so much better if it’s not restrained by a strict tempo (of course, this doesn’t exclude an ability to creatively build a varied-tempo click track).

  2. Adi says:

    I guess they do have their place sometimes, but not really a fan of click tracks. However, I got a pretty good laugh from your possibly comparing them to veggies.

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