Click vs No Click - Find the Best Approach For Your Project And Learn The Different Ways To Use A Click Track
There was a time when a click track was simply a tool to sync up different players and get them to play together easily in the right tempo for the song, especially when doing overdubs.
Then there was a time when using a click track was frowned upon and almost seen as "cheating", especially in certain rock genres.
And then it became the standard, people were expected to be able to play to a click and most modern music was expected to be quantized and to be perfectly on the grid all the time.
Now, of course, we're seeing a trend of going back to natural feel and not using a click track again. As so many other things, it comes and goes in waves.
Now what does that tell us?
Well, there doesn't seem to be THE ONE right approach. And in fact, it's not just yes or no. If we choose to use a click track, there are many different ways to use it.
So what do we do? What's right? What's the best way for our project? And is it cheating? Does music really suffer from using a click track? Can we have both the click track and an organic, natural feel at the same time? How do the pros approach it and why?
Download the Free Frequency Chart Cheat Sheet Now!
It gives you an overview over the whole frequency spectrum and helps you make better decisions faster, by telling you where your instruments, as well as fundamental notes and harmonics typically live.
People And Bands Mentioned In The Podcast:
Alex Campbell, Will Putney, Jens Bogren, Chase The Bear
TSRB Podcast 040 - Click vs No Click - Find the Best Approach For Your Project And Learn The Different Ways To Use A Click Track
[00:00:00] Benedikt: [00:00:00] At least try it and at least give it some time practice, try to get familiar with it. And only after you are able to play to a click, when you, you can decide to not use one, basically this is the self recording band podcast. The show where we help you make exciting records on your own wherever you are, DIY stuff.
Hello and welcome. You do the self recording fan podcast. I'm your host, then it is time. And I'm here with my friend and cohost McKim. Owen. How are you, man? Hello.
Malcom: [00:00:38] Hi, I'm great, man. Thank you. It's a cold dark Monday morning in Canada, but it's going to be a nice day. I think so. Yeah, I'm looking forward to it.
How about you?
Benedikt: [00:00:46] I'm good. Um, thanks. It's episode 40, which is a reason to celebrate.
Malcom: [00:00:52] Yeah, that's that is a. That's pretty wild. We must be approaching a year. We should go back on our messages and see when we first started talking about [00:01:00] doing this. Oh yeah. Cause it's probably pretty close to, now that we started like, thinking about doing this, I think I was in India last year.
I'm pretty sure we were talking about it by now. I think so.
Benedikt: [00:01:10] Yeah. Pretty I'm pretty sure. And I wasn't sure about like, I was afraid to do another thing. And then when the new year came, I decided to do it and then yeah.
Malcom: [00:01:20] It's true as I am. I had no idea what was coming totally.
Benedikt: [00:01:25] Well, we got ourselves into here, but it's, uh, it's been amazing.
And, um, that's actually a good place to mention that, um, we get more and more feedback from you listeners, which is very, very cool. So I get more and more emails almost like after episode, every episode people are emailing me. I get feedback. I get yeah. Input and thank you, mails and all that, which is super great.
And especially last time I, uh, decided to do another free download, which is a frequency spectrum, whatever you want to call it, cheat sheet, like where I, um, I that's actually a part of the upcoming Academy online course, [00:02:00] so, and I decided to make that available publicly as a free download. And it's a cheat sheet that shows you where certain instruments typically sit in the spectrum.
And it also explains, um, like if I try to describe in this cheat sheet, How the certain parts of the spectrum, like the low end, the mid range, top end and everything how that could or should feel, or how certain elements in those ranges typically feel. So you get a feel for what should be in the very low end, what should be in the low mids, what should be in the upper mid, so you can make lever arrangement decisions, and you can, yeah.
Maybe I hope it's helpful in building a song and choosing tones and stuff like that. And. I decided to do that after last week's episode. And I put it out there as a download and people downloaded it and I got some awesome feedback emails from people that this was actually very, very helpful. Uh, for example, sit, uh, one time, a long time listener of ours.
I think he's one of the first subscribers ever to the self [00:03:00] recording band email list also. Cool. Um, and he was at a live workshop that I gave about a year ago, I think, or so, or two years, maybe even. And he even sent me that, like he had to email me. He said, because it was so helpful. And he was, he was rerecording the same song three times and he couldn't get rid of some mud in the song and he just didn't know what to do.
And then he downloaded the cheat sheet and it finally worked and it totally helped. And, um, yeah, so I thought that was very cool. And I'm very glad to see those types of emails. So I'm going to push it again here. If you haven't downloaded that cheat sheet yet, it's the self-regarding band.com/frequency chart.
So you can, now you can go there, it's a free download and maybe it helps you as much as it helped to sit. So,
Malcom: [00:03:43] yeah. Super cool. Thanks ed. And, uh, by the way, guys, I'm a real person, so you can reach out to me as well. Yes, totally. Most hearing about this from Betty. And I'm like, Hey, no, that's it to me too. I'm jealous now.
Benedikt: [00:03:55] Yeah, but that's probably my fault because all, all there is in the show notes and [00:04:00] stuff. I mean, there is your profiles and your name and everything website. But there's my email address all over the place. So I guess that's why people are emailing me. So we should, we should get you an email address or something related to the pockets.
Malcom: [00:04:12] Yeah, yeah. Or, you know, just reach out to me on Instagram or whatever. I, I like Instagram actually. Like I used to not think that was a good way to reach out to people, but now it's kind of cool because you get to have like a quick look into what they're passionate about, what their like, page and stuff.
It's you just kind of feel like, you know them a little bit more and connect on stuff. I don't know. It's kind of a nice way to meet strangers.
Benedikt: [00:04:29] Yeah. So what's your, what's your Instagram handle for people to
Malcom: [00:04:33] Malcolm own flood? Easy.
Benedikt: [00:04:35] You said bliss. That my name. Yeah, we can totally follow him. Send him a message.
Malcom: [00:04:42] I'd love to hear from you. I'd actually love to hear some music as well. I need to find some new music, so send me music. You're working on. Because obviously you're working on music. If you listen to this podcast.
Benedikt: [00:04:49] Yes. CIT sent me a video actually in the song because he said, whenever we do, um, a song or a production critique episode, he would like us [00:05:00] to, um, go over his song and like talk about what could be improved and stuff.
And I listened to it and I have to forward it to you. Welcome. Uh, I listened to it and I watched the video you attached. You also did the video for it. And it was kind of, I was really impressed because the song and his voice in particular were good. So say if you're listening, great song, great voice. And also I already replied to him, um, via email.
I think that the camera work is kind of cool. So I liked the video and how it looks. I'm going to send you that Malcolm and you
Malcom: [00:05:27] can have an awesome, yeah. I'd love to see it.
Benedikt: [00:05:29] Yeah. So send us more of that, of that sort, because we like to, we love to see it. We've watched and listened. To all of that. And, um, who knows you might include it in a future episode.
Malcom: [00:05:39] All right. That's a good time to jump into our topic today. Okay. I should have come up with a better Putin for that. Wasn't the best way to take the easiest route word, their time. We're talking about click tracks today. Um, and specifically to just get it, but not
[00:06:00] Benedikt: [00:05:59] yet. Totally time.
Malcom: [00:06:04] All right. Yeah. Sorry guys.
We're talking about, uh, the different ways to use a click track and, and just. Clever ways to use a click track. Anything about click tracks is what we're going to be diving into with this episode. Um, and when we were planning it, we were reminiscing about how. Click tracks. At least when I really got into recording, uh, I mean, like trying to do this for a living and producing bands and stuff like that, I used to get just a mountain of pushback about using a click from almost every band that would want to come into the studio.
Was it the same for you, Benny? Did they want to use the click or was it because, like you said, it's like this comes and goes in waves and I was on the wave of clicks or evil, um, when I started, but currently we're not currently, everybody uses a click and it's weird if you can't play the one. Um, but yeah.
W what was it like when you got into this?
Benedikt: [00:06:55] When I got into this, it was like the late, mid, mid to late two thousands. And it [00:07:00] was already, I mean, it's always been a thing, but it was already popular to play, to click, especially in the heavy stuff that I did, but that's the types of bands that I recorded when I started out.
They weren't as good, obviously. Because like I was starting, they were starting. So I worked with a lot of friends, bands, amateur bands, hobby bands, and the click was not really popular. So it was a thing in there's Saundra's, but they kind of refuse to accept that. And, uh, it was often used as kind of a, um, I don't want to talk shit about anyone here because it's totally understand that.
And my band, we didn't use a clique for a long time as well. So it was CA oftentimes it was kind of used as an excuse to like, for not using the click. They just said that like X, Y, and Z didn't use a click. So we don't need to use one. And that's the easiest way to avoid practicing to click.
Malcom: [00:07:50] But, but
Benedikt: [00:07:51] yeah, so I definitely had that.
And then when bands and myself improved, um, obviously the more and more people came to me that were [00:08:00] used to recording to click, and then it got to a point where. It was almost weird. If I, as a chest, it may be not using a click or not being as strict about it. And like people nowadays just accept, uh, expect that the click is required and you gotta to be on time and they expect things to be quantized.
And so, yeah, it's definitely in, in waves, but there's also this sort of, um, revival of this old school approach. So more and more bands nowadays who could play to a click now don't want to play to click anymore.
Malcom: [00:08:30] Yes. Yeah. People choosing that more, less, less tight and more fluid kind of thing that generally comes from not using a click.
Um, you know what I was just thinking, as you were talking there, there's only been a handful of times that I've done a no click recording. And been happy with it. And I think every single time that that's happened, it's been a studio drummer, like a studio session drummer. That that's what they do is go and play in studios only.
They're like just like elite [00:09:00] class of drummers. And, uh, so obviously they can play to a click like nobody else can. And those are the only drummers that I've ever had luck with. Not using a click. Yeah. Yeah.
Benedikt: [00:09:09] True. Because the thing is to be able to play without a click and they can still get an amazing result.
Is. Pretty hard. And the most, unfortunately, most people deciding not to use a click are the ones who should use a click. So that's, that's probably the thing here because it is hard to play. Um, to deliver a really tight performance and to have the right feel and groove and everything without a click, you've got, gotta be really good to pull that off, actually.
And that's not the case with many or even more like most people.
Malcom: [00:09:38] Yeah. Shout out to one of those drummers. His name is Alex Campbell, and I was just talking to him on the phone the other day. Cause I'm recording them tomorrow for a song and we are using a quick tomorrow, but I, I reminisced that the last time I had had them in, we didn't use one and.
Uh, it turned out great. I'm sure that it did, but he was like, ah, you know what, in hindsight, I wish we used one. You would, but it didn't turn out. Awesome.
[00:10:00] Benedikt: [00:09:59] Yeah. I think you have you get it from different angles here, because one is the timing, the feeling and everything of course can is different. Whether you use a click or not, it can be better or worse, but the other thing is.
You got to think about what you're planning to do later on with it in the mix, or if you're working with a mixing engineer, you should have a conversation about that. Probably because not using a click has consequences and it's like editing is much harder to do. Um, you, if you don't have a click, it's hard to just sync certain effects to the grid like delays and everything, or certain time-based effects that are easily.
Um, doable if you have a grid, but if you don't have a grid, it's that stuff just gets more complicated. You can do all of that, but you should probably have a conversation. So the, the feeling, the groove, the timing alone is not the only thing to consider here, I think.
Malcom: [00:10:50] Yeah. Yeah, definitely. It's I think originally it was just a sync tool, right.
Because we had to figure out how to line up different people playing at different times. And, and a click [00:11:00] track kind of seemed like the best way to do that. It also had the benefit of keeping a consistent meter so that the song didn't vary too much, um, or at all, I guess, but now like that, and that's what we want to get into with this episode.
Now we have so much control over the click track that we can make it do totally wild things that we didn't use to be able to do. Um, or at least not easily, you know, so. Like one of my favorite things to do. And if we're just going to jump into some stuff we can do with click tracks now is making tempo maps.
And I know we've mentioned that previously on, on other episodes, but let's talk about that again. Um, and a tempo map is when you are generating like a timeline through your door of different tempos, to different parts of the song have different tempos, you can have parts that ramp up or slow down, you know?
Um, and like that could be just over a single fill or it could be over an entire part. Uh, or the song, the whole song could slowly speed up if you wanted. Right. So you can kind of bring back [00:12:00] that natural quotation marks feel, um, and push and pull apart by manually entering it into the song, which is really, really fun.
I do that almost every song I've got some tempo changes going. It's like just an everyday tool for me.
Benedikt: [00:12:14] Yes. And that's, I think what many people are not aware of, because they are afraid to use a click trick because they don't want to have a static tempo throughout the song, and they want to have these push and pull moments and they don't realize that you can absolutely, absolutely do that with a click and you can do it even better oftentimes because you have control over it.
So it's not random, but you can intentionally say, we're going to speed it up here. We're going to slow it down there. And, um, so I think many people are just not aware of that. And I know that when people sent me demos of pre-production and I, and I ask like, do you have any tempo changes? Is it all a static tempo?
Sometimes I see the question marks in their faces because they don't know what that actually means. They have just, they set the tempo and that's it, you know? So, um, yeah, I think. I think if I think more people would use a [00:13:00] click, if they knew how to actually make tempo maps and create tempo curves.
Malcom: [00:13:03] Yeah, definitely.
Um, it can be a lot of fun and it can really change the song. Um, I'm one of those guys that believes like one beat per minute makes a world of difference.
Benedikt: [00:13:11] Yeah,
Malcom: [00:13:12] it does. It just, it feels so different. Um, When I like to do this is when I, like, if a band is getting me to produce them, they send me the pre-production track, which is normally like actually the, the first one, it's usually just like a cell phone recording of them in their jam space.
And the tremor has got a click track in his headphones. Right. So they just tell me what tempo was recorded to, or there's accountant at the beginning. And then I just go in and I changed the tempo right on that like mixed file. Um, and just like plot it out and then I can send them that and be like, Hey, what do you think of this?
Like the, you know, this part sped up, this part slowed down. I think it feels cool. And they're like, Whoa, didn't know, that was possible. And then I can send them a click track that they can now record the pre-pro to, um, based on that new tempo map we just made. But, uh, I really liked being able to create the temple map to the full version of the song.
[00:14:00] Um, like with everybody play in, rather than just, I feel like it's harder to pick a tempo to just a guitar or like, you know, like just a piano. It has to be that having the drums there, I think is really key. Um, when you're trying to choose a tempo, cause it drums can make something sound faster or sound slower, even though it's the same tempo.
Benedikt: [00:14:18] Yes, absolutely agreed. And there's ways. Um, you can do that. Um, we we've been talking about that before we recorded this episode. You shared a story from that, like Jens Bogren, I think. Who did something is a very successful, um, great metal producer. And you, I think you, he was at a conference that you also attended yeah.
Malcom: [00:14:41] Summit in Vegas.
Benedikt: [00:14:42] Yeah. So what
Malcom: [00:14:43] would be happening right now? Or last weekend or something? Dang. Yeah.
Benedikt: [00:14:49] What was it that he did? Um, with a, with a tempo map and creating a tempo.
Malcom: [00:14:54] I think he was recording the bands. Uh, and so this was actually, I think from app was already maybe [00:15:00] done or at least a Ruffin, and then he was recording takes to it.
And then he would turn off the click and get the drummer to play a take. To that same song that they've been jamming already. And in like invariably some of the films would end up being like rushed or whatever, you know, it would take a while for him like them. You know, if you sped up going into the chorus, it takes a couple bars to get back down to where the tracks were kind of thing.
And if it felt better like that, he would just change the, like the actual session tempo to match that performance and then write that into it. And then. You know, all the other parts would conform to that. Um, so you would have these really wild kind of movement that at least I think that's how he described it.
It sounded kind of confusing. And then, and it also sounds like a lot of work because he's like deciding to start over all of a sudden it's like, you know, like drums are almost done are never going to change the entire tempo that, so I was a little confused by that, but I mean, he works on some pretty major sessions.
Um, so I guess that could have all been considered pre-pro at that point.
Benedikt: [00:15:56] Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. That's cool. Another thing that I like to [00:16:00] do and that I heard of, I think will Putney does that another great, um, famous producer is I like to have a band play entirely without a click, a couple of takes, and then we pick the one that feels best.
And then I create a tempo map from the take, like entirely. I just like Cuba has a feature where you can detect the tempo and then you will end up with, um, a pretty uneven tempo map with like lots of ups and downs, but you can then. Take out some of those thoughts and like make it more even, and just keep the, um, yeah, the broad, like changes, like when an entire part is obviously slower or faster, you can just keep that, but remove all the tiny ups and downs and then you can get, um, yeah, sort of an average, like tempo map from that take.
And that is what I ended up using them to track the actual song too. So that way we capture the natural field. So I keep all the things that, that are in every single take, but I remove the unintentional. Um, things, you know, so that's a cool way to [00:17:00] do it. Or like, as you said, pick a static tempo and only keep like the fills or like certain parts that are cool without, um, uh, click the Williams program does it.
So those, those things can really help when I decide when I, whether you to use a click or not. I kind of look at it that way. The thing that I'd like to do if possible is that I want to use a click and then create the tempo map myself or with the band. That's the preferred way. Almost always. So. Pick a tempo, have them practice to click and then bring in those.
Yeah. Um, template changes intentionally that's the preferred way, but whenever for some reason, the drummer or the whole band just can't really play to the click really well. In those cases. I prefer not using a click at all, to be honest, because a drummer trying to play to click, but struggling with it sounds always, almost, almost, always worse to me than someone playing without a click at all,
Malcom: [00:17:59] because [00:18:00] constantly trying to slow down and speed up.
Benedikt: [00:18:02] Yeah. Because the, the template changes that happen when you don't use a click, they are. Um, they have a sense it's musical, you know, they slow up, uh, they slow down and speed up. I can't talk to them. They speed up, slow down and certain parts. That make sense. That actually make sense when, when, like, when you look at the song and there's a reason why they slow down or speed up, but if they're playing two click and are struggling with it, They kind of lose the click and then they are trying to catch up or they trying to slow down to be on the click again.
But those changes are not musical. They are just an attempt to get back on the click again. So that's the typical thing where a drummer plays a fill and they rush it a bit. And then they notice, Oh, I'm ahead. So now they pull back and try to slow down to be on the click again. And those kinds of changes are not decidable most of the time.
Malcom: [00:18:48] Yeah, definitely. I, a hundred percent agree with you on that. I feel like we should quickly touch on what it means to be able to play to a click, um, because it's not being able to just not fall off. [00:19:00] And like end up, uh, a bar behind or something. That's not enough. That's like the very intro stage. It's like, you're just managing to keep up with it.
Um, and then, uh, at acceptable level is you're trying to like, you're more or less just like trying to land right on it. And some people that means you're right on it. Or some people, it means that you're consistently the same amount of behind or ahead. Um, people kind of just have like this like internal bias that sets that it seems like some drummers just play ahead of the beat.
Some drummers play behind the beat and not just drummers. This is every instrument has to be able to play to the quick, um, guitarists you're ahead. Uh, and then, uh, The next level after that, because that's a manageable level, as long as you're consistent and playing with it, that that's probably gonna work.
And, uh, the engineer like Benny or myself can kind of push or pull you as needed to get it really in the pocket with whatever else is going on in the song. But after that, there is a level of people, uh, like drummers, especially that can choose if they're playing ahead or behind the beat. [00:20:00] Um, so they're not only playing to the click.
They're grooving to the click. Oh, yeah. Which is really cool and quite different. Um, and so, uh, but I just want people to understand that there's, and that that's kind of John rhe based as well. I think, I don't really think tech metal is going to be playing behind her, but, um, in front of the beat, but it does feel different and there's, there's a control level to that where a really great drummer or a musician is going to be deciding where they're playing in relation to that click track.
Um, and that's important to know as the producer or whoever's recording the music, because if that's intentional, you don't want to go mess with either.
Benedikt: [00:20:37] Yes. I was about to say that like side note, um, it's a skill to notice that and to respect that and not touch it because you might be tempted to just edit it as you edit everything else.
But those kinds of drummers who can do that. You don't want to edit that to the grid a hundred percent because it was intentional. Yeah.
Malcom: [00:20:53] Yes. And actually we're jumping a few points in our outline here, Benny, but yeah, if that's intentional and the drummers on [00:21:00] that level, but the rest of the band isn't, you will have to make sure that only the drummer is hearing the click track.
Because now you've got this band that's trying to play to the click track, but they should be playing to this tremor. Who's setting this groove by playing, you know, a little behind the beat or whatever, um, that that's gonna, they're gonna fight each other. So if you've got somebody of that level, that's, that's kind of laying down the meter of the song and the groove.
Make sure your musicians are playing to him or, or her, whatever it happens to be
Benedikt: [00:21:28] true.
Malcom: [00:21:29] Um, so anyways, got on a little bit of a tangent there, but it's important to know that there is different ways to play to a click and feel a click. Um, and so we've, we've touched on tempo maps. Uh, we've touched now on the idea of just somebody playing to the click and the rest of the band night, which is a little later in our outline, but that's definitely an idea that works.
That's how a lot of bands do it live as well, where just the drummer has the click track go into their ears. And then the rest of the band just plays to the drums. Um, I think the main reason that people do that, it's just because it's cheaper than having like a [00:22:00] whole system of in-ear monitors.
Benedikt: [00:22:02] Yes. Yes.
And maybe also, I dunno, it's like you got to get used to that. It's if you're constantly thinking about the click instead of the song you're playing or your audience or the show, it's kind of hard. And when, when, when only the drummer has to click track and like, They, for some reason, leaves that click track for a moment, the rest of the band might not even notice.
And so it's not a problem, but if like everyone has to click track and something goes wrong, everyone will be like insecure and yeah. It's, it's, it's, it's a weird moment for sure. So,
Malcom: [00:22:37] That's very true, but I really hate when the drummer has it only. And then like every time there's like a break in the drums, he's keeping track like count on his high hats for the rest of the band to stay on the click.
It's just so distracting to me. I mean, that's just me. It's probably fine. Yeah.
Benedikt: [00:22:55] Yeah. That's true. Awesome. Yeah, you can experiment with that. Maybe you don't need, um, a [00:23:00] click. Maybe the drummer is enough. If you do an overdubs, you could. Do the guitars or bass or whatever you do next only to the drums or listen to the drums and the click at the same time, that sometimes helps for some reason.
I don't know why that actually is, but some people just play a lot better when they hear the click in addition to the drums and not just the rooms.
Malcom: [00:23:19] Yes.
Benedikt: [00:23:20] Well, others. Yeah. And to focus too much on the click and they're better off just listening to the drums. It's a case-by-case thing. I don't know,
Malcom: [00:23:27] it totally is.
I'm like constantly riding the click fader in and out based on different parts, especially with like guitars where you're doing section by section. It's like, as soon as I hear them do the first pass, I make a decision and sneak it back in. I'm not even communicating with them. They're just kind of being influenced by what they hear at that point.
Um, and yeah, you, you learn what works sometimes. Occasionally you just have to go and get them to punch apart to the click only.
Benedikt: [00:23:51] Yes,
Malcom: [00:23:52] you just can't get it with the drums going on. So you're just like, okay, play it to the click. We'll loop it a few times. And sometimes that way,
Benedikt: [00:23:58] um, to me, a classic example of this [00:24:00] is when there is a part with, let's say Palm mute guitars, and it's a pretty heavy part, um, halftime, you know, something that's.
Slow and kind of dragging the field and everything. And the guitars should be pretty much on the click and do their Palm mutes, their eight notes or quarter notes or whatever, but the drums feel kind of cool when the snare is a little laid back, comes in a little late, it just makes the whole part feel a little heavier, a little slower.
Um, so. But that requires the guitar players to only listen to the click and not get distracted by the drums that are on purpose a little late, maybe. So if that's an issue and if you're constantly finding yourself, like I'm playing to the snack room instead of the click, then you should maybe just mute the drums for that part to the guitars and then bring the drums back.
And so to create that feel
Malcom: [00:24:47] yep. Yup. I'm with you on that. You really just have to figure out what equation gets the result you're looking for. And, uh, Use all the tools at your disposal. Uh, let's [00:25:00] get into a couple more kind of fun, like outside the box ways of using a click. Um, this doesn't happen too often, but occasionally you'll find that somebody's counting apart in a different meter than you.
Um, like maybe somebody is counting it in 68. Where you're counting and in for, for over like a longer stretch. Um, and you just need to give them a different click track. So you just program it second, click track. That is how they want it and send it to their headphones. I mean, this requires you to have, be able to do that with your setup or whatever, but there's, there's normally a way and people will groove different too.
Like obviously if it clicks in 68, you're going to groove to it differently than a four, four. Um, and that will reflect in your plane as well. So you can actually use this kind of like move to changing the click to represent a different, uh, groups to influence a plane as well. Uh, another thing would be like changing where the accent beat is.
So normally that's on two and four [00:26:00] or, or maybe just on one, I guess it normally is on one actually. Right? That's where it normally is. Yeah, not my second guessing it normally someone, but you could put it on two and four or wherever you want. I have a guy I record, he's a wise unborn player. You know what that is?
Um, you do cause you're German.
Um, they, he likes to hear it on four. For whatever reason, just one beep on four totally destroys me find that impossible to figure out, but it works for him.
Benedikt: [00:26:31] Uh, I mean, that's a whole other discussion. It's the same with like people clapping on one and three or two and four stuff. Yeah. But, but only the four is weird to me.
Like two and four totally makes sense. But only the four were like, throw me off, but
Malcom: [00:26:44] yeah. Yeah. Yeah. It like warns him that the bar's repeating. Um, it's hilarious, but it totally works for him, so whatever. Uh, but, uh, yeah. So like where are you put, that's going to influence, especially a drummer because like everybody's digging in the snare on two and four.
[00:27:00] So if those accents weren't there, it's probably going to like, you know, you just, you move a little bit when those accidents happen. If you're like nodding your head to the clinic, Your head goes a little deeper on the accents. So that's going to reflect in your plane as well. Um, so you can really influence people with that.
Benedikt: [00:27:17] A classic for me is like when you do. Triplets or something like that. Sometimes when a drummer, as a part, like where there are triplets that with the kick drum or it fills with the snare or whatever it is, if it's a longer part or if the whole song is like that highest, that feel sometimes they like to hear those.
Sometimes they just like to hear. The four beats and they do the rest, um, themselves in between basically. But so that's also something where I, I try both ways and see what works best.
Malcom: [00:27:49] Yeah, yeah, yeah, definitely. Um, yeah, even just like, are you counting in quarter notes or eighth notes? Right? Uh, I like eighth notes, almost always a lot of drummers, like quarter notes, [00:28:00] you know, and they they're just like hearing the pulse and they're filling it all in.
Like you kinda just described. Um, so again, just check with, with whoever's playing and what they're going to perform best with. Uh, yeah. I find quicker it's easier generally, unless it, it depends on the tempo of the song though. You know, um, if it's a fast song, it kind of gets muddled yes.
Benedikt: [00:28:18] And annoying too.
So you don't want to get the click to, um, to be too annoying, like it's, you can't get used to that. And I think people starting out, um, using a click for the first time, they almost always find it annoying no matter what. And you can get use to that. And I almost don't hear it anymore. I played two clicks so often, and I hear it all the time in the studio when others record.
It doesn't bother me at all. Like just, I don't, I don't, I don't really hear it. I just feel it play to it. It doesn't bother me, but, um, you gotta, yeah, whoever's recording. They gotta, they will tell you if they are distracted or annoyed by the click. And if that happens, you can also do something against it by.
Choosing just a [00:29:00] different click sound. Yes. Um, depending on the doll you're using, there are options. You can use a mini click as well, instead of the built in beep sound or whatever your dog has. You can like, uh, trigger some sort of media instrument and you can have whatever Cabo that's doing. The click with block is a classic example that many people like, because it's not as annoying as a beep.
You want to have something that you can hear through the drums and everything. So it does like, it stands out in a way, but it shouldn't be too annoying, but it's a total personal preference.
Malcom: [00:29:30] Totally. It makes a difference though. They just, they need to be able to need to be able to hear it. So, uh, choosing the sound that their ear can kind of identify, it's going to go a long way.
Um, the only this is can not really click related, but. Sometimes the sound that gets chosen for a click drum, can't be removed from bleed very easily with like isotope RX. I don't know if you've encountered that Benny, but like sometimes you have to go and like cut out bleed using this audio repair tool.
Uh, And certain sounds [00:30:00] are more like they just get into other frequencies more than you want, and it's harder to remove them
Benedikt: [00:30:07] from the headphones.
Malcom: [00:30:08] Yeah, exactly. So I like to prioritize click tracks set, stay high up enough that you can just remove them apparently.
Benedikt: [00:30:16] Yeah. That's actually a good, uh, a good thing to add here.
I didn't even think about that, but you're totally right. It is an issue sometimes. So yeah. That's where the classic high-frequency beep thing might be better than a woodblock.
Malcom: [00:30:28] Yeah. A short high-frequency things kind of easy to remove, but at the same time, I bet it cuts through a headphone better or more and causes more bleed or something.
Benedikt: [00:30:37] So one, the crucial thing here is use closed headphones. When you need a loud click on your headphones, that's rule number one, because if you have open headphones, that might sound nice, but you want a really loud, like track on your headphones. You're going to hear that in the micro.
Malcom: [00:30:49] Absolutely. Um, and I, I'm a big fan of drummers using in your monitors with like some ear muffs over the years.
Um, those drummers that always [00:31:00] show up with in-ears never complain about not being able to hear the click. Yeah. And then they're also not deaf at the end of the day because they're just listening at such a quieter level. Um, so if you are struggling with that consider going that route.
Benedikt: [00:31:11] Yes, totally. Okay.
Um, I'm curious about when you wrote in our notes here, that you can remove the click for sections using automation. What do you mean by that? Like I've never used automation for a click track i think, but I'm curious.
Malcom: [00:31:25] So like one common thing I do to avoid bleed actually, now that we're talking about that is right at the end of the song, you know, if there's like a big sustained hold for them to the song or something like that, I automate the collector just automatically turn off there.
Um, okay. So it cuts out and there is no click anymore and people are just holding sustained. Now there's nothing going through the headphones that would bleed in, uh, but sometimes, um, There might be like, you know, an outro that just speeds up gradually or something like that. So come that outro section, I'll just, again, automate the click to turn off.
[00:32:00] Um, so automation is when you're just writing in settings into your door. To affect something in your dog. So we're going into the plugins, the click track plugins settings, and automating it so that it bypasses. And essentially it turns off the click in this case, uh, you could do that the same. We were talking about how you could have meter changes or tempo changes.
It's the same thing. But in this case, we're turning off the click at a certain point. And from there on the band is playing without the click. So it's been click up to a certain point and now they're on their own. And, you know, Ideally, if you're doing this, you obviously have some direction going. So the example I'm thinking of with spend Colchester Barrett, Vancouver showed up to those boys.
They just would start hammering from that point on and the sun would slowly speed up a little bit. And there was like the best way to get that. Um, because we didn't really know exactly what tempo we wanted. I wanted them to be able to kind of feel that out on their own. Maybe they had more energy on the second take and it gets goes faster than all the other ones.
That's great. You know? Um, so you can kind of choose the best of both worlds when you're [00:33:00] doing it that way. Um, if you want to click for some of it, but not for the rest, just side note, you can't really do it in the reverse order. Um, you can't start without a click on a jump into a click because it'll just never line up.
And that's the only way to do that is by punching the two half. So the song, um,
Benedikt: [00:33:16] yeah, I guess so. Yeah, I never did it with automation. I always do it manually. I just, when, whenever the part comes, I just hit the C on my keyboard and the click goes away. So that works, but actually that's. Smarter than doing it manually because I often forget because I often forget it.
So that's much smarter to automate that. Yeah. True. Um, yeah. And yeah, the other way around doesn't work. Also, this reminds me of a common issue that I ran into a couple of times when people want to record without a click and we decided to do it without a click and they bring in guide tracks or something to play true to, or we do a first take and then we overdub something.
Whenever there is a break in the song where only one instrument is playing, or if you have some intro in the beginning before [00:34:00] the whole band starts, you've got to come up with something, um, that you can play to in those parts. Because if there's no grid and no click, it's not as easy to fit in a certain part or an intro after the fact, because you got to match the tempo of whatever comes after it or before it.
Um, so you either have to do one pass where the drummer. Counts. And then you cut that out later or you, you have to do something here. If you forget to do that and you then want to record a solo, a guitar intro or some yeah. One guitar on its own or a bass on its own in the middle of the song. There, there needs to be something there usually, because otherwise you won't line up an amp like Fitwell with, with whatever's before or after so that you can really
Malcom: [00:34:45] get yourself in a mess.
Benedikt: [00:34:47] Yeah, totally. And you gotta be careful with. Some people just have, like when the, when they record the drums and then such a part comes and then the drummer hits the last crash symbol and then they start counting and then after the tape they say, [00:35:00] um, This County is only for the guitar player. We need to cut that out later.
And then I'm like, well, you should have told me that before, because we can't do that because if I cut out the high head count or whatever, we'll cut off the simple sustains that I can't just cut there. You know, you gotta do it in a separate take or something. And people just don't realize that. Or they, they start the song with like loud, open, high head count in, and then the song starts.
And I can't just cut that Hyatt away because on the first hit, you will still hear that open high head.
Malcom: [00:35:27] Yeah. Yeah. That's, that's exactly right. Um, the work around so that I can think of for that are, have somebody playing guitar at the same time. You know, like if you're going. No click. You're probably going for a more live feel.
So why isn't somebody playing live with you? Even if you end up redoing it, at least you have like a scratch track down. Um, another solution is to have a mic. Like if you're at the desk, recording a drummer, have a mic with a switch on it, that's recording to another channel and you count the gap. Um, and then that goes to the [00:36:00] drummers that, uh, Q headphone mix and, and gets printed to an audio track for a visual reference later.
So you become the click track in a way.
Benedikt: [00:36:06] Yes.
Malcom: [00:36:07] Or you can, you know, you can do the same thing, playing it on a committee, peep keyboard or something, whatever. But, uh, so you can kind of perform the click tracking those gaps that way, but just make sure that you are recording it. So you have a reference.
Benedikt: [00:36:18] Yes, exactly.
I mean, that's probably harder to do if you're recording on your own because you, most people don't have two separate rooms. So if you're in the same room, you can't really talk in those breaks or like count in those breaks. If you have separate rooms, that's a very good option. I sometimes have the singer next to me in the control room.
And just singing into a handheld microphone, um, just for like orientation for the drummer, whoever plays and they do, um, the sort of stuff or somebody just plugged in a guitar. D I use some Epsom or whatever, and they just play along some sort of scratch track with it that I also record just as a reference.
So you can do that, but you gotta be careful with those things if you're in the same room, obviously, but just the important thing is just, [00:37:00] don't forget it. If you don't use a click, have something to play true to in those breaks or intros.
Malcom: [00:37:04] Yeah, absolutely. Um, that's, that's essentially pre-production but sometimes he gets missed.
Benedikt: [00:37:09] Yeah. Yes. Yeah. All right. Um, what else do we have here?
Malcom: [00:37:14] We might've got it all.
Benedikt: [00:37:15] I think so. Okay. So, um, bottom line, you don't have to use a click. It's still locate to not use a click. So don't think you need to use one no matter what, but I guess the best recommendation we could give is to. At least try it and at least give it some time practice, try to get familiar with it.
And. Only after you are able to play to a click when you, like you can decide to not use one, basically, like, I think it's a bad idea to go into the whole project. Just saying that we don't want to use a click just because, and you never tried just try it, get the, like it's also, it will make you a better drummer or a better, better musician, just being able to pull that off.
And if you're Dan then decide. It's too [00:38:00] static, or we need more of an organic feel or whatever, then you can always turn it off and play without one, but at least give it a shot because in most cases it's beneficial to have a click track and a grid. Not only because of the timing.
Malcom: [00:38:12] Yeah. Yeah. It's, uh, it's there to help you.
It will become your best friend and you'll learn to love it.
Benedikt: [00:38:17] Yeah, totally.
Malcom: [00:38:18] Yeah. I feel like most people are on board with it these days. Um, but like, like you said before we started this Benny, it's almost becoming the trend again too. Like it's it's as if it's cool to not use one. It's like a bragging, right?
Yeah. We did this without a click. It's like, Ooh, vinyl, vintage cassettes. It's like this weird hipster thing now. But, uh, I mean, if it works, it works like, like I said, I've done it before I've had great results, but in general, we're going to use one.
Benedikt: [00:38:45] Yes. The whole, we did this without a click is if it sounds awesome and it's a killer record.
And then someone says we did this with other click. I'm like interesting. There might be something to it. And it's like, Cool to hear that this was done without a click. And I try to find out what makes it [00:39:00] special. But if like, if they say we did this without a click, because they need to explain to you why it's sounds crappy, then that's a whole different story, but that's what many people do you listened to something?
And then they say, Oh, by the way, we did that with the click. And then I'm like, Oh, okay. Now it makes sense. So that's a different thing here. So, uh, don't use that if you have to explain why it's as that way, not as good. You should probably have used to click.
Malcom: [00:39:24] Absolutely. Yeah. Cool,
Benedikt: [00:39:28] great episode. I mean, this is probably not the most exciting topic, but a very important one and it's it's, it can be fun actually to play around with that stuff.
I like tweaking the tempo, seeing what a couple of BPM, more or less will do to the song. Even one BPM. Um, yeah, can be fun. You can give the, the song a whole other feel. And, um, so yeah.
Malcom: [00:39:48] Yeah. Oh, you know, the last thing I didn't mention, and this is a note it's specifically for people that trouble or have trouble playing to a click is for whatever reason, some people won't be able to play to a click say there's [00:40:00] like a straight one, two, three, four, one, two, three, four, click track.
They can't play to that. But if you program the same thing with the kick and a snare they're rock solid. And I have no idea why that is, but it's a thing that I've experienced so many times with, with beginners in the studio. I just program a drum track forum that is a click track, essentially it's to the grid and they can play to it.
But if it's a click track they're lost. So you can get around it that way. If you come into that.
Benedikt: [00:40:26] Interesting. But do you do that with drummers as well? Because, uh, yep.
Malcom: [00:40:30] Yeah, I've done it with drummers. Just giving them like a high hat.
Benedikt: [00:40:33] Okay.
Malcom: [00:40:34] Uh, yeah, cause it kind of blends too much with the kick and the stairs.
So I'll give them like a high hat with like an accent hat, um, or as much as they need really, but, uh, yeah, more so for guitarists and stuff though.
Benedikt: [00:40:44] Okay. Yeah. For guitars. I can totally see that. Uh, but with drums, I'm kinda, I don't know if the isn't that confusing when you play the hi-hats and you hear another set of hi-hats.
Malcom: [00:40:55] think so too,
Benedikt: [00:40:57] but man, if it works, it works. So [00:41:00] it works.
Malcom: [00:41:00] Yeah. Yeah. Um, again, that's not an ideal situation, but you know, there is something to be said about like laying down tracks to something with a group, um, you know, like. Say, you're trying to write a scratch guitar. That's going to be kind of the master for the whole song to get be recorded to that guitar might be more accurate.
If it's played to a drum groove, like a really tight middy drum group, then a click track. That's a little lifeless, right? You might. It might turn out different that's worth considering and experimenting with, I think,
Benedikt: [00:41:29] I think so, too. Cool. Let's wrap it up. Um, all right. Once again, if you have any follow-up questions, if you have any input or if you have different methods of doing it, if you feel like we missed something, just let us know email email@example.com or.
Send Malcolm a message on Instagram at . He wants to know as well. Um, do that if you haven't yet grabbed the cheat sheet that I mentioned last episode, it's the self recording band.com/frequency chart. And yeah. See you next week. Thank you for listening.
Malcom: [00:41:59] Thank you. [00:42:00] Bye .
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