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#2901018 - 01/09/18 11:03 PM Who of you play to a click?
JimboK Offline
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So my guitar and bass player banded together to talk myself, drummer and singer into playing to a click. I knew we had some occasional tempo issues, but never bugged me much. Drummer was amiable so I programmed all my combi's (Kronos) to push a metronome to an assignable out. We ended up putting them in everyone's in ears.

Wow, turns out I love it! Tightens up the whole band significantly. No "excitement speed" issues. Songs have room to breathe. Vocals are never rushed. Even my key parts seem easier.

Had to go get a midi solutions foot switch controller so both drummer and I can mute the click (well he mutes as needed with pedal, I run the click start/stop).

Anyone else do this or are we cheating horribly?
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#2901021 - 01/09/18 11:17 PM Re: Who of you play to a click? [Re: JimboK]
RudyS Offline
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We play with a click in 80% of our songs. Also because there are backing tracks. The click is only send to the drummer though..
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#2901024 - 01/10/18 12:07 AM Re: Who of you play to a click? [Re: JimboK]
MathOfInsects Online   content
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Originally Posted By: JimboK
No "excitement speed" issues.


I don't see this as a bad thing.
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#2901026 - 01/10/18 01:12 AM Re: Who of you play to a click? [Re: MathOfInsects]
GRollins Offline
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While I can see using a click track while recording, I'm not sold on the idea of using one live. It's your band and your performance--if it floats your boat, go for it.

Grey
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#2901027 - 01/10/18 02:18 AM Re: Who of you play to a click? [Re: GRollins]
ksoper Offline
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In one artist gig I did the drummer played to a click that no one else heard and we played to him. It was awesome. Another artist gig the drummer used the blinking light of a drum machine as a click. He sucked. He was in time as long as he watched the light but when he played a fill his time went to hell.

In the studio I prefer using a click and making the parts feel good around it. Live, it depends on the drummer.

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#2901029 - 01/10/18 02:31 AM Re: Who of you play to a click? [Re: GRollins]
I-missRichardTee Offline
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I am old enough to share this.

I recorded with the big boys in NYC as a sub bassist. I recall when there was no such thing as a click.. and then I recall when one day I had that click in the phones .
(I generally only used one ear in the phone , the other in the atmosphere of the studio.)

Not sure what to say about it that is definitive. But I am experienced and opinionated based on those many experiences .. so I will try.

There are a few things I can say such as, for jazz or blues or gospel, or Latin music, it would be kind of verboten,,( not cool, for those of you who are not German) to use a click!

Playing in perfect time has two meanings, one with the click, but another .. the way musicians played for millennia ( a really long long time with no dumb click ), with the natural heart pulse. Based on simple arithmetic, most music is click less.

I think the click was introduced because vast majority of drummers sucked at tempo.
But that blame could be said about the rest of the band.

Another comment... It is indelible in my mind, the day a new singer subbed for our regular singer. The profound effect the new singer had on the groove... if you had asked me this, I would have said, no way, can a singer influence groove the way a bass or drum can., but that sub singer showed me I was naive.. a melody person, has a huge effect on groove. Think your average tempo deficient singer,than fast forward to Sinatra or James Brown.

I am obsessive about tempo change, thanks to the good news bad news of working with top session guys who had the best control of tempo and groove ever in my experience.

The mixed blessing of being super sensitive to tempo has dogged me my whole life.
I would give anything to play with a great drummer or great rhythm guitar and great drummer.. the stuff that great bands are made of.

Now, I have been kind of "forced" to play with a drum machine.. and I can comment on that.

it is difficult to perfectly breath with a click. I have rarely accomplished perfect sync with a drum machine.. the few times I did accomplish perfect melding with click, it was a magnificent high.
But so is matching up with a drummer sans click!

You lose out with click playing, because you lose the natural speeding up slowing down that is natural to musicians.
Learning how to play perfectly with a click is good for you
But one should not solely depend on it.. you have to develop your own clock too.

Any questions? rimshot
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#2901030 - 01/10/18 02:31 AM Re: Who of you play to a click? [Re: ksoper]
Throbert Offline
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doesn't need to be a click, a beat with subtle cues for reference can help keep things more life like.
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#2901033 - 01/10/18 02:47 AM Re: Who of you play to a click? [Re: Throbert]
mcgoo Offline
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I do both, depending on the band, the style of music and even the song. One advantage to playing to a click, is that you can safely use an arpeggiator live.
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#2901043 - 01/10/18 04:57 AM Re: Who of you play to a click? [Re: I-missRichardTee]
Synthoid Offline
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Originally Posted By: I-missRichardTee
I think the click was introduced because vast majority of drummers sucked at tempo.

I would give anything to play with a great drummer or great rhythm guitar and great drummer.. the stuff that great bands are made of.

You lose out with click playing, because you lose the natural speeding up slowing down that is natural to musicians.

Learning how to play perfectly with a click is good for you
But one should not solely depend on it.. you have to develop your own clock too.


All of these are excellent points. And looking at number one... I've been extremely fortunate to play in bands with above average drummers. It provides a great rhythmic foundation.

However, a couple months ago I played with a drummer who just couldn't create a decent groove. It was almost excruciating at times. I eventually stopped playing and explained what we needed... adding some verbal noises and "clicks."

That helped. Sort of.

He's really a great guy and has played for years. Not sure what happened. frown

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#2901051 - 01/10/18 06:10 AM Re: Who of you play to a click? [Re: I-missRichardTee]
Bobadohshe Offline
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Originally Posted By: I-missRichardTee

I think the click was introduced because vast majority of drummers sucked at tempo.


Another reason people track with a click is because it makes DAW editing after the fact so much easier. I cut my entire album to click even though it was a funky jazz album and had great drummers including our mutual friends Tee: Zak Najor (and his brother Jake). This made it so much easier to edit everything even though those guys don't need one.
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#2901054 - 01/10/18 06:25 AM Re: Who of you play to a click? [Re: Bobadohshe]
drawback Offline
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^^
This. Most recording projects I’ve been involved with use a click for punch ins & edits.
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#2901060 - 01/10/18 06:48 AM Re: Who of you play to a click? [Re: Bobadohshe]
MorayM Offline
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We use one for all but three tracks (guess which three!) in my Floyd band. But it's more for logistical reasons than anything else. Mostly it means we can sync videos, lights, and sound effects to the performance but also because we're often very spread out across the stage it's difficult to "feel" the tempo changes like you do in a smaller space.
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#2901095 - 01/10/18 08:14 AM Re: Who of you play to a click? [Re: MorayM]
ElmerJFudd Offline
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I also used to do this to keep band size small to keep pay higher for a quartet. I sequenced keys string and brass parts on an MC-50mkII and threw a U220 in a rack. I played guitar and we had vocal bass and acoustic drums. The band was tight with or without the songs that used the click (which was sent to drummer over headphones). And this was a pop rock band covering stuff that is recorded to click to begin with. So it was fine.

That said, no play in tempo is lame for many styles of music that were not created with the computer grid to begin with. You can fall into a rut playing the same songs in the same order the same way all the time. You do add an added element for a tech glitch. And sometimes the energy in the room calls for a different song a different tempo another time around on the chorus or solo etc. So it’s great for some stuff but not for others in a nutshell.
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#2901104 - 01/10/18 08:30 AM Re: Who of you play to a click? [Re: ElmerJFudd]
Theo Verelst Offline
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Remember that (early) Steinberg Cubase (Pro 24) sound coming from the computer" BLIEP bliep bliep bliep, BLIEP ....

My problem with a click track is that the phases of the subsequent clicks/bips get a rhythm meaning, and even a percussive meaning in terms of their relative phases playing through a real or virtual reverberation setting. So without work and specific tempi they even sound crude and unnecessarily rude as a tempo as well as the ensemble coming from the envelope of the click instrument usually is extremely limited as rhythmic indicator with space for human interaction.

So, many years, in fact a few decades ago, I practiced with click and Drum Computer to raise my awareness of rhythmic steadfastness, turning on being able to set a reasonable rhythm as imitation of simple drum patterns, and finally I got to the point of feeling self assured at various types of rhythm keeping as player or practicing songs.

Then, after listening to and playing Jazz/Fusion, I can be too easily bored with a Rock rhythm from bad drum computer or computer track that doesn't acknowledge anything from playing style mapped to the click instrument to sampling issues that I hear through any reasonable reverb tail as highly annoying.

T.

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#2901107 - 01/10/18 08:56 AM Re: Who of you play to a click? [Re: Theo Verelst]
wineandkeyz Offline
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I used to fill in with a band that used IEMs and played to a click and backing vocal tracks on every song. It worked pretty well in that tempos were always spot on, etc. The singer had even inserted little cues to help keep track of where we were ("Guitar solo ends in 4... 3... 2... 1...").

The thing I found strange -- or at least I wondered if anyone in the audience noticed -- is that the two-bar count-in was in our ears; No one gave a four count or whatever. So, we'd be standing there doing whatever and all just coincidentally start each song at the same time.
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#2901109 - 01/10/18 09:01 AM Re: Who of you play to a click? [Re: Theo Verelst]
Reezekeys Offline
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If you use a click on a live gig because you need help keeping the tempo from shifting, then I don't know what to say. In my experience, with the bands and players I work with, a click is almost always used only by the drummer and for just a few specific reasons: 1) to synchronize with a pre-record that the band is playing with, or 2) the song needs to be played at a very specific tempo and the drummer (or whoever counts it off) must be as accurate as possible in counting off the song. In that case the click is only used to help with the count-in, after which it's shut off. This is what I've seen anyway.

In the studio of course it's a different story. I've played to a click track occasionally and the reason is that it's usually a pop tune that's gonna get worked on in a DAW and having the live playing line up with the bars & beats helps greatly for editing and laying in new stuff.

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#2901111 - 01/10/18 09:11 AM Re: Who of you play to a click? [Re: JimboK]
davedoerfler Online   confused
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Originally Posted By: JimboK

Anyone else do this or are we cheating horribly?


good thing you asked us this, Jim, and not Warren Haynes. laugh

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#2901118 - 01/10/18 09:39 AM Re: Who of you play to a click? [Re: davedoerfler]
Moonglow Online   content
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Our drummer plays to a click, the rest of us can’t hear it. I have our sound guy turn up the high hat in my monitor, which the drummer keeps going through most of our songs, especially during sections where there are no drums. I really like it and find that it helps keep me locked in.

I like the OP’s “excitement speed” reference, never heard that term before. Last year we had a gig at a large festival (approx. 2000 people) and we briefly huddled after our first set and everyone, except our drummer, felt the tempos were seriously dragging. Our drummer said something like, “no guys, we were right on tempo.” A few days later when we listened to a recording of our performance we discovered he was correct. Turns out we were so jacked up we felt everything was slow. We were fortunate that he reeled us in.


Edited by Moonglow (01/10/18 06:52 PM)
Edit Reason: Added content.
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#2901124 - 01/10/18 10:05 AM Re: Who of you play to a click? [Re: Moonglow]
Delaware Dave Offline
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My B3 has key click, does that count?
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#2901136 - 01/10/18 10:53 AM Re: Who of you play to a click? [Re: I-missRichardTee]
area51recording Offline
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Originally Posted By: I-missRichardTee

Another comment... It is indelible in my mind, the day a new singer subbed for our regular singer. The profound effect the new singer had on the groove... if you had asked me this, I would have said, no way, can a singer influence groove the way a bass or drum can., but that sub singer showed me I was naive.. a melody person, has a huge effect on groove. Think your average tempo deficient singer,than fast forward to Sinatra or James Brown.


I share this opinion.....to me the biggest mistake vocalists (and horn players for that matter) make is forgetting that they are as responsible for the groove as the rhythm section....

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#2901159 - 01/10/18 12:35 PM Re: Who of you play to a click? [Re: area51recording]
harmonizer Offline
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Our covers band has occasionally done rehearsals to a click, back when the drummer we had was not as good at keeping a steady tempo. If we used the click for just half the songs in a rehearsal, we would notice the benefits to the band during the next rehearsal, even if the click was not used at that next rehearsal.

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#2901160 - 01/10/18 12:38 PM Re: Who of you play to a click? [Re: area51recording]
harmonizer Offline
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Originally Posted By: area51recording
....to me the biggest mistake vocalists (and horn players for that matter) make is forgetting that they are as responsible for the groove as the rhythm section....


During rehearsals when we used a click, we noticed that the click slowed down when we got to the 3-part harmonies in the chorus of songs. Previously we had no idea that this was happening.

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#2901184 - 01/10/18 01:40 PM Re: Who of you play to a click? [Re: harmonizer]
The Real MC Offline
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Originally Posted By: drawback
^^
This. Most recording projects I’ve been involved with use a click for punch ins & edits.


I use a click track for recording for the same reason.

But never used one or needed one for live music. Never been in a situation where I needed backing tracks.

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#2901189 - 01/10/18 01:51 PM Re: Who of you play to a click? [Re: The Real MC]
timwat Offline
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Most (but not all) recording sessions where I've laid down rhythm section tracks are laid to click for reasons mentioned above.

Only one live act I sub in uses click - a tribute act with backing tracks (occasional orchestration and background vox).

In my anecdotal opinion, for live use it would depend greatly upon 1) caliber of musicians, as generally the better your bass & drummer, the better the internal sense of time, and 2) reliance upon tracks.
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#2901229 - 01/10/18 04:09 PM Re: Who of you play to a click? [Re: JimboK]
CowboyNQ Offline
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Originally Posted By: JimboK
Anyone else do this or are we cheating horribly?

We use a click for some songs in both my bands. In our case, it's either to sync with video or an arpeggiator. Only the drummers can hear it.

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#2901232 - 01/10/18 04:17 PM Re: Who of you play to a click? [Re: CowboyNQ]
David Loving Offline
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One band, the drummer uses a click. The other band, the drummer is a human click track.
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#2901243 - 01/10/18 05:32 PM Re: Who of you play to a click? [Re: David Loving]
KeyMoe Offline
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Our country band uses a click but only to the drummer. Keeps tempos correct.
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#2901246 - 01/10/18 05:46 PM Re: Who of you play to a click? [Re: harmonizer]
PianoMan51 Offline
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Originally Posted By: harmonizer
Originally Posted By: area51recording
....to me the biggest mistake vocalists (and horn players for that matter) make is forgetting that they are as responsible for the groove as the rhythm section....


During rehearsals when we used a click, we noticed that the click slowed down when we got to the 3-part harmonies in the chorus of songs. Previously we had no idea that this was happening.


Exactly! I play gigs with a singer-drummer who always speeds up when he starts to sing. His perspective, I suspect, is that we get slower during those sections.

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#2901247 - 01/10/18 05:47 PM Re: Who of you play to a click? [Re: KeyMoe]
hardware Offline
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Many of us grew up playing to a blinking silent red light on a metronome in the dark.
Clicks to drummers ears are fine if they don’t care.
A great modern method is Audio/click to a 128 LED Monome.
You can see colored subdivisions, it is easier to groove and drummers turned me onto this ten years ago.

Set it up like a monitor wedge.
Lots of fun doing ritardandos too.
I used Reaper and Cubase and it worked great.

Visual brings back days of Chopin and Bill Evans studies.
The Conservatory I went to had red light pyramids in every room.
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#2901269 - 01/10/18 07:09 PM Re: Who of you play to a click? [Re: hardware]
JimboK Offline
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Interesting comments all. Good to hear all the ways they are (and aren't) used.

I thought for sure that having click in anyone but the drummer's ears would be an issue but lead guitar and bass really wanted them. We have IEM's with individual mixes, so no biggie to accomplish. I added some to my mix and I love it. When the drummer is playing, the click is drowned out. However, when I start a song, I can play to the click and the rest of the band falls in effortlessly.

So far, so good.
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#2901328 - 01/11/18 05:49 AM Re: Who of you play to a click? [Re: JimboK]
Nadroj Offline
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Depends on the gig. For most of the gigs I do, no. A lot of the time you're just following the drummer anyways - there's just less of an opportunity to jam things out of someone misses a cue.
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#2901329 - 01/11/18 06:09 AM Re: Who of you play to a click? [Re: JimboK]
BEMcCut Offline
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Playing live I have never used a click. When I record I have a good friend that has been a pro drummer all his life. He plays to a click and puts down all the precussion and I play and sing to his recording without the click.

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#2901392 - 01/11/18 09:10 AM Re: Who of you play to a click? [Re: BEMcCut]
ProfD Offline
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I understand how we have gotten to the point of using click tracks. But, I think as musicians we should be mindful of the extent of our reliance on such technology especially during live performance.

IMO, the reason DJs and EDM performers are so popular nowadays is because listeners have grown accustomed to the sound of mechanically produced music.

I'm thankful having grown up in an environment and era where great drummers were solely responsible for keeping time. cool
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#2901397 - 01/11/18 09:20 AM Re: Who of you play to a click? [Re: JimboK]
Steve Nathan Offline
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Quote:
I'm thankful having grown up in an environment and era where great drummers were solely responsible for keeping time. cool


I was on a session once with the great Larrie London, when a producer came on the talkback and said "Larrie, you're a little ahead of the beat" shocked , to which Larrie responded "I AM THE BEAT!
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#2901401 - 01/11/18 09:26 AM Re: Who of you play to a click? [Re: Steve Nathan]
Steve Nathan Offline
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Seriously, I've been around studios before and since the click became a constant. It's now necessary for most studio work because of the way nearly everything is done in Post. Even Nashville is becoming a place where linear recording is less and less frequent.
However, I will say that one of the marks of a good studio musician is an ability to play with a click without sounding like you're playing to a click! And I've often said it's much easier to get tight players to play loose than the other way around. laugh
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#2901494 - 01/11/18 07:42 PM Re: Who of you play to a click? [Re: Bobadohshe]
HSS Offline
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A drummer for one of the bands I play with (an old-school soul / jump blues act) was fired a couple of months ago after a gig because he relied too much on a click. Due to the audience vibe at the gig we were playing, just a couple of days after the mass shooting here in Vegas, the band leader in real time on stage changed the order of the songs on the set list for which the drummer had already programmed his "click / beat machine". As a result the drummer had to FK around with his beat machine on stage and the delays between songs became too long.

The drummer was a "younger" dude in his early 30's and was used to playing gigs with tracks in his other classic rock cover band, hence his reliance on clicks. The band leader has since hired an older, more seasoned drummer who rehearses with clicks but plays live without them.

Due to situations as described above, I generally prefer not to play with drummers relying on clicks when playing live. Having said this, for reasons stated previously in this thread, I've used clicks when recording in the studio and also for demo videos with bands.
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#2901511 - 01/11/18 11:10 PM Re: Who of you play to a click? [Re: HSS]
GRollins Offline
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Why are so many people so terrified of a variation in the beat when playing live? Since when has this become a problem? Do you honestly think the Beat Police are going to come arrest your sorry ass if you play a little fast, a little slow, or (gasp!) vary a little both ways during the course of a single song?

In the same manner that the dynamics of a song can add to the excitement, small shifts in the rhythm can do the same, communicating to the audience that this part means something different from the last. When did this become a crime?

What do you do when confronted with a song like Stairway To Heaven, where Jimmy Page expressly said that he wanted the song to speed up from beginning to end? It was a bold experiment and it worked, becoming one of the most revered of rock anthems.

Good musicians create mood by working ahead of or behind the beat. Take vocalists: Diana Krall routinely sings behind the beat--she creates a sense of languor or sadness. Listen to Stevie Nicks singing Edge Of Seventeen--she creates a sense of urgency by singing way ahead of the beat. Ditto for Jon Anderson of Yes on the early stuff. It's when he started singing with the beat that Yes became boring (yes, some will try to argue that, and there were other factors as well, but still...).

What do you do when the tempo on the sheet says "Freely?"

Is it any wonder that music has become so bloody boring?

Jeez, guys, live a little! Show some courage. Be the first on your block to actually express yourself with music instead of meekly reciting it.

Harrumph!

Grey


Edited by GRollins (01/11/18 11:12 PM)
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#2901522 - 01/12/18 02:55 AM Re: Who of you play to a click? [Re: GRollins]
MorayM Offline
Platinum Member

Registered: 09/05/13
Posts: 1444
Loc: Wilts, UK
PSA: "Click track" != "metronome"

Just because there's a click doesn't mean that you can't do the pushes and drags. We have a click track for Dogs where every verse and every chorus is at a different speed, before you even get to the spacey breakdown in the middle! It just takes a little preparation, that's all.
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#2901547 - 01/12/18 06:27 AM Re: Who of you play to a click? [Re: Steve Nathan]
Dave Weiser Offline
Platinum Member

Registered: 06/30/09
Posts: 1291
Loc: Boston, MA
Originally Posted By: Steve Nathan
Seriously, I've been around studios before and since the click became a constant. It's now necessary for most studio work because of the way nearly everything is done in Post. Even Nashville is becoming a place where linear recording is less and less frequent.
However, I will say that one of the marks of a good studio musician is an ability to play with a click without sounding like you're playing to a click! And I've often said it's much easier to get tight players to play loose than the other way around. laugh


My thoughts exactly, but better than I could have said it!

Also, I've seen instances where a band rehearsing to a click can be hugely helpful preparing for live performances where click is not used.

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#2901571 - 01/12/18 07:31 AM Re: Who of you play to a click? [Re: HSS]
Reezekeys Offline
MP Hall of Fame Member

Registered: 02/07/11
Posts: 2539
Loc: NYC area
Originally Posted By: HSS
A drummer for one of the bands I play with (an old-school soul / jump blues act) was fired a couple of months ago after a gig because he relied too much on a click. Due to the audience vibe at the gig we were playing, just a couple of days after the mass shooting here in Vegas, the band leader in real time on stage changed the order of the songs on the set list for which the drummer had already programmed his "click / beat machine". As a result the drummer had to FK around with his beat machine on stage and the delays between songs became too long

This happened on one gig and he was fired?

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#2901609 - 01/12/18 09:05 AM Re: Who of you play to a click? [Re: Reezekeys]
hardware Offline
Platinum Member

Registered: 03/04/14
Posts: 1232
Loc: Las Vegas
Sounds like Vegas.
Entertainment Directors are actually Food & Beverage Managers, they’re never at the gigs. But newbies get nervous and sweat appearances.
You want to keep your gig in Vegas just tip the FOH, and take care of the Bartenders and waittail cocktresses.
They’ll tell the F&B Manager you’re great.
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#2901654 - 01/12/18 11:49 AM Re: Who of you play to a click? [Re: hardware]
LennyTunes Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 08/15/01
Posts: 59
Loc: Live Music Capital ofthe World
I would never want a click in my blues-jam band. However, in my pop-dance group, I want to add some subtle tracks for percussion or strings . Hence, a click. As mentioned, this can pave the path of syncing lights and video for a higher production for this type of show.
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