So, I'm working on CD #4 with the band. We've had some struggles with a few tunes around the click track, tempo, and maybe doing a tempo map. I'll admit that I'm on the side of "sync with the click and just play". I had a bass player that was a former LA studio musician, and I'm learning how freakin' consistent he was and how he held us together. So, we amateurs are now on our own.
Anyway, we're doing a cover of Sam Cooke's "Bring It On Home", and I thought it would be nice to just play the tune sans click to make the band happy. We did a few takes with and without. The 'without' takes sound pretty good. But, the thing that jumped out to me was the volume differences between the takes. The image below is two takes w/o click, two takes with, and two takes w/o. Hmmm. Makes you think. I haven't dived into the tracks to figure out if it was one or all of us making adjustments. I know that the drummer/engineer didn't adjust any master volumes between takes. Dang! We had more volume or energy when we just played. (And, no beer was involved between takes.)
Any thoughts? How do you get the energy with the click or do you do without?
Post by Paul (TRANE) on Aug 8, 2015 19:35:18 GMT -7
I played without clicks for years and years. Church here uses click tracks. I have noticed that the click can hold you back a bit if you are not sure of where you are or where you are going as a band or musician in general. If you know the parts cold and have it down pat I have noticed less effect of playing with the click. I think some times the click helps but I do think there are times to go without it. A good drummer really helps and a great bass player too. If the pocket is there and right then things will work well. But if folks are uncertain then a click can help.
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I guess the volume drop with the click is musicians focusing on the click and playing a bit lighter.I prefer no click,but I know my limitations-more than 50%of the time,i speed up on a take as I get into it.My solution is to do a gtr track to the click,play the drums to the basic gtr track without the click(I play everything on my recordings-and I just can't drum to a click) and then I do a second basic gtr track to the drums with no click.This gives me a bit more of a live "band" feel. Unless you have someone as good as your old bassplayer on bass or drums,a click is a necessary evil.
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I notice when I'm creating a scratch with a click track, I will play a little more reserved. When I practice before laying the scratch down, as I groove to my own idea, I'll get a little more aggressive. (Probably translates to volume, feel and frills etc.) This will often cause me to lose time with the click. So again as I concentrate on the click, I remain a little more reserved. My $.02 worth of insight. FWIW.
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I like the click. I grew up playing conducted music (trumpet in the band and orchestra) that had tempo changes but they were not random. As I might record over a dozen different bands a year I get to see where people are in relation to the beat. Some are in front, some are behind. Those things are not so bad as long as they are consistent. It's the wobbly guy that really sounds bad.
In my book you don't get to complain about the click until you can play to it with feeling. The best guys can. The click helps the most when you are playing slow.
All that said it's really wild how stead a really great band can be without the click. I did a project recently without the click with some very good guys and had no trouble at all editing between takes that were played without the click.
It's usually at "the corners" (going into the chorus, solo, verse and coming out of them) where people get too excited and speed up. Speeding up is one thing but nothing sounds worse than a guy trying to "get back on" the click after that. Best way to learn to play the corners is to think of what your drivers Ed' teacher told you. Brake before the corner, not while you are turning. I often tell people to just take a big breath before they hit those trouble spots.
All that said the whole reason for the click is to get people to really "play together" cause there's a lot of power in everybody being lined up, with or without the click.
Eric - I am going to steal your driver ed analogy. You nailed the majority of our issues which based on your experience says we're not that unique. I also agree with the learn to play to the click with feel and then worry about complaining. I think that's another issue with us is that we feel free to float because the guys think the click isn't always right. I bring the stuff home and edit and I can hear that the click is a lot more right than we are.
And, as far as just feeding the click to the drummer. I finally learned that I like to pull and rush the beat, so the click helps me to stay on, help the drummer, and play together.
I did have to chuckle on the 'take a breath' part. On one of our takes, I changed my singing line to "C'mon boys. Take it easy. Just follow that nice maraca player. He's playing nice and even."
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I hated the click for years because I felt like it held my playing back but then I realized it was just me that needed to up my game. I can't say for others, but for me that's what it was. But now I've gotten used to it and become a better musician along the way. The only time I won't record with a click is if we're doing a live recording and others can't hang (or we can't hear it in the headphones - that's happened a few times).
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