Robben Ford Recent Thoughts On Click Track

loopfinding

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A click track is useful live when there is pre-recorded material that isn’t drums. Even there, maybe only the drummer needs it.

Otherwise it’s just cumbersome. It’s a lot of effort for perfection that no one is going to care about. Easier just to have a good drummer, or always track first with drums and bass or drums and rhythm guitar live.

To me the question is “does it make things more efficient or less?” I’m not really sure why people are so concerned with what the “real music” is. People (esp. singers) thought electrification was cheating or cheapening 80-90 years ago.
 

fretWalkr

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Ford is right, of course. If you're recording with a good band you go for "feel" not perfect time. If you're building tracks by yourself or otherwise aligning music to measures in a DAW, or syncing to something then you HAVE to have a time reference.
 
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loopfinding

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I hate clik tracks when recording. Ugh. It seems to inhibit what you do to some extent. I'm not sure why. Hard to relax and "let it flow" I think. Recording 3 years ago I finally asked him to put the clik on half time/fewer cliks.
I often wonder though, but why is it different than playing with a drummer?

i think because the majority of human beings are loosey goosey even at their best and people respond/adapt to each other. stuff that you would play that fits into the pocket with people suddenly sounds like crap when put right next to unchanging ideal regularity simultaneously. so that can be a real buzzkill. you (and perhaps the audience too) need a certain pinch of unawareness to move on naturally.

hearing the final product of recordings that were done with a click sounds great, but it's interesting to watch world class drummers on youtube showing you practice where you can hear the click too - the slightest deviation that isn't some kind of intentional swing or subdivision sounds jarring.
 
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sax4blues

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Ford is right, of course. If you're recording with a good band….
I think this was my take away, he believes he has great time and and he plays with a level of musicians who also have great time. I never heard him say click should not be used by other people.

If you struggle playing with a click you’re probably not going to fit in with RF just because he doesn’t use one.

If I remember correctly the discussion started around the idea that he had mostly recorded WITH the click. So if you like any of his previous recording, there’s that.
 
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chris m.

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The grid in DAWs is a useful tool, but the tool should not dictate the band's approach. In Reaper it's easy enough to turn the grid off, and then you can cut and paste pieces of track wherever you want, and don't need to "snap" to the grid. You can still see the track beats on the video display.

If everything does line up nicely on a grid it definitely is easier to copy paste stuff all over the place and have it snap to the grid. But in my opinion greater convenience when editing should not trump recording better music in the first place. Do whatever you need to do to record great sounding music. If you do that well, there isn't a whole lot of cutting and pasting needed, anyway. Just mixing and mastering.

Imagine if movie actors were required to move exactly to a certain rhythm in order to make the video editor's life easier! I guess sometimes they do need to complete a sequence in a certain time frame, but I have to imagine that they must allow for organic acting and timing and don't want people to move robotically....
 

GearHund

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Ever play with a drummer who drifted out of time while playing along with a recording? I did and it was amazing that he would start to drift off the beat within three or four measures.
 

black_doug

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Cory Wong interviewed Pat Metheny not long ago. Pat said he uses a click track, however, the engineer and him spend hours tweaking it so that it doesn’t sound like it’s on the grid. He also admitted that he’s a bit of a perfectionist.
 

chris m.

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Ever play with a drummer who drifted out of time while playing along with a recording? I did and it was amazing that he would start to drift off the beat within three or four measures.
When I listen to recordings of myself I can hear spots where I thought I was right on the money but was actually a little off of the beat, not in an intentional, "good" way. So it ain't easy. The good news is at least I can hear it and work on it. Some people have no clue-- they're rhythm deaf instead of tone deaf, I guess.
 

fretWalkr

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clik tracks when recording....seems to inhibit what you do to some extent. I'm not sure why. ...I often wonder though, but why is it different than playing with a drummer?

I wondered about this as well. When my metronome died I got a Boss DB-90. Working with that for a while made me realize that when you have 2 or more elements (like BD, snare, HH, ride) it gives you beat with a specific rhythmic feel. Like a backbeat or a shuffle. A metronome just gives you just a pulse. But When I use a beat instead of just a click, I can play to that beat and get a better rhythmic feel in my playing.
 

sax4blues

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Ever play with a drummer who drifted out of time while playing along with a recording? I did and it was amazing that he would start to drift off the beat within three or four measures.
In high school jazz I knew a drummer with the opposite problem. At his house playing along to records he was fantastic. At auditions I learned why he wasn’t in the band, he was all over the place.
 

ndcaster

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the click is a third thing

if everyone locks to it, and they do so to varying degrees in various ways

they're not locking in with each other

it's a big help in recording logistics, but it can create lifeless recordings because the principle of rhythm is not personal
 

Octorfunk

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I've played live with & without A click for many years. I prefer the "feel" of playing without it, but also kinda like always being on tempo with it.

There are times when all I can think about is the click & staying with it, and then those magical times where I get locked in with the click to the point that I dont even hear it anymore, but still get the benefit of perfect tempo.

To each his own I guess.
 

bottlenecker

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I've done a lot of straight click work, and I've done a lot of complex tempo mapping to use a click and make it feel human.
Performing or recording with click tracks is an inferior way to make 90% of the music I like, and absolutely any roots music. Clicks are for private individual practice, so you know how to not speed up without meaning it.
 

fretWalkr

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In high school jazz I knew a drummer with the opposite problem. At his house playing along to records he was fantastic. At auditions I learned why he wasn’t in the band, he was all over the place.
I've seen this problem before. The drummer had good time when he played with a record but his time was bad without it. He was relying on the drummer on the record to be the time keeper. He needed to internalize the time and feel the beat and the pulse internally. Too bad he didn't have a good teacher or another player to get him on the right track.
 

ndcaster

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has anyone tried to quantify all this?

with pitch, I can hear 5 cents off, but less than that is kind of a wash

I can hear really small differences in time, though, probably from working with drum machines -- small differences make big differences in feel

but when you space it all out over 4 and 8 bar sections, and you're just a few ticks off here and there, it's fine because it averages out

the big problem is mounting rush/drag across sections

if anything snowballs, yuck
 

schmee

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The other thing about a clik track is; songs are often not meant to be completely on cadence. The annoying clik effects what you do. There is nuance, micro delay or similar things that are part of the feel of the song.
I personally have trouble with drummers with this. Breaks, starts or ends of a verse. I love playing without a drummer . You gain back a lot of expression.
It's a bit like how you pick a note on a guitar really.... except it's vocals.
Think about various players; SRV often attacked a note by sliding, dragging or 'stumbling' into it. Many players, especially jazzers slide up or down into a note.
You could have a computer or robot sing a song exactly like it is written , exactly on the notes on the sheet music.... but it would sound terrible.
 

hepular

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hmmm. the thing i dislike most about wong is the hyper-precise, sterile rhythm. ain't no grease, almost all grid.
 

OmegaWoods

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Nowadays it is possible to have something much better than a plain click track that isn't a drummer. Drum machines allow you to put some swing into the beat, and you can easily program a simple beat that is much closer to the actual feel of the song.

In the interest of saving money our band generally tracks live, so I generally agree with the concept of the drummer following something while everyone else follows the drummer. If we wanted the drummer to be following a click of some type I suspect it might work better for him if it were a bit more than just a plain old click. We could potentially all be hearing that more sophisticated rhythm through our headphones while we all track live, together, and that might work as well. That way if the drummer were to drift off time a little we would still be on time and we could fix his drift in post. Might be worth a try, anyway.
Appreciate the input. I have been messing about with Garage Band drum tracks which I much prefer for time keeping. I do practice to a click just to keep things clean but when I'm jamming, I have a simple drum track for time keeping.

The main purpose of my post was to agree with @schmee who was agreeing with Robben Ford who doesn't want everyone playing to listen to a click while playing/recording.
 




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