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Mini-Tip: Use A Click Track

7:12 am Home Recording

When I took piano lessons, my teacher would sometimes have me play along with a ticking metronome to help me stay on beat and avoid speeding up or slowing down during the piece. This same concept applies to modern recording in the form of the “click track,” a metronome-like ticking recorded first, on its own track, to keep all the later parts synchronized. Some of the songs I hear online have the kind of rhythmic miscues and off-beat sections that can happen without a click track. My suggestion is to use one!

Some of the songs I record have a dramatic pause at some point, where everything hits on the 1-beat and holds through 2, 3, 4….then boom! Everything comes back in on the next 1-beat. Let me tell you, it is really hard to have all of the parts come in together like that after a pause without that tick-tick-tick to mark the time for you! Or what if the first instrument you record doesn’t play through the whole song?

Without a click, there may be a tendency to speed up during the song as you get “into” it. If you do this on the first instrument you record, the others are stuck with following it. If you do any copying and pasting from one part of the song to another, the tempos will line up only if you recorded with a click to ensure a steady pace. For all of these reasons and more, for most songs it is important for the first track you record to be that ticking metronome!

[An expanded version of this Mini-Tip appears in my eBook, Cheap Advice On Home Recording.]

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2 Responses
  1. Corinne Curcio :

    Date: May 20, 2008 @ 1:17 pm

    When I recorded my CD’s in a studio, I almost always used a click track, because later on the drums would be added. When I played live with the drummer, there wasn’t a need for it. While doing my home recordings, I also use the click, because I do have a tendency to speed up - something that drives my violinist accompanist crazy :-D

  2. Jannie Sue :

    Date: May 20, 2008 @ 4:45 pm

    So glad I found your blog! Some of the best info around.

    Thanks, Jannie

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