from my notebook

My head is full of thoughts, and I have to write them down.

Obstacles to Using Click Tracks

Metronome with guitar

Image via Wikipedia

Using click tracks can tighten up a band and really help them to sound great, but for those new to the process, it can be challenging. Here are a few obstacles you should prepare for if you’re considering putting your band on a click.

1. You will need buy-in from the musicians and support from the worship leader. That may sound like an odd statement, because usually the worship leader will be the one who starts this process. That wasn’t the case for us initially. Thankfully, we have a band member who has worked with clicks in a live environment and was very helpful in encouraging the others to stick with it. Which brings us to number two.

2. Patience. For newbies, playing to clicks can be quite an adjustment. Requiring a discipline perhaps they haven’t had to use before. We put the all the band on the click because we could. They found it challenging to all stay on beat. When one got off, it became confusing to others and one by one others got off. We were running the click from the tech booth, so we would get a signal from one of them to turn it off. Sometimes that was distracting to worship. Most of the time the band played better, but not always.

3. Our singers use a floor wedge monitor, so they did not have the click to go by (except the worship leader). Singers without the click found it more difficult. They were accustomed to just singing while the band followed them. Now the band was following the click, the singers were being forced to follow the band.

4. Your methodology is important. Our first attempt at using a click followed a procedure that ran from ProPresenter, into the sound board, on to the musicians’ in-ear monitor mix. It was the best solution we had at the time. After about six months, we dropped it. Now our new worship leader has the band back on them with a different procedure. He is building the clicks, sometimes accompanied by loops, in Ableton and sending the click out to the drummer. We may eventually try sending the click to all the musicians again, but right now this process is working well for the most part. But because most songs don’t start with drums, the drummer keeps time on a cymbal for whoever is starting the song to follow. Sometimes that sounds a little awkward. Probably more to do with our particular room than anything.

The process continues because it is worth it. The end result of a better sounding band (assuming they are talented to begin with) is worth the challenge of the obstacles above.

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