A click track is a series of audio clicks that are used to keep the tempo precise in a song. The audio clicks are usually made into the sound of an instrument like a cowbell, hi-hat, or beeping. Click tracks count each beat in a measure.
For example, if you have a song in 4/4 time signature, each of your measures has four beats. These are also the quarter notes. The click track clicks on each beat or quarter note.
Click tracks come in handy for anyone with an instrument. Drummers benefit most from a click track since it's their job to keep a steady and consistent flow in the song's tempo.
But all musicians can rely on a click track to keep up with the song's BPM (beats per minute). This includes singers since they are also musicians that use their voices as an instrument!
Click tracks are usually used in 3 settings:
Practicing - The early stages of learning a song often include a click track. Many musicians use this tool to practice alone before they rehearse with other musicians involved in the song.
Rehearsals with a full band can benefit even more from click tracks to keep everyone on the same page.
Recording - Most DAWs (Digital Audio Workstations), like Protools and Logic, have built-in click tracks. My example above is a picture from GarageBand.
This is almost a must for recording any song that has a precise tempo, especially if it's a fast song that's a challenge to keep up with.
Live Performances - Many popular bands and artists, including the Beatles, Pink Floyd, and U2, use click tracks to keep their songs tight. This works wonders for songs that often have a change in tempo for certain sections of the track.
Speaking of a change in tempo, the main difference between a click track and a metronome is the tempo change capabilities in a click track. Click tracks are literally just digital, newer versions of metronomes.
A metronome is great for rehearsals, but it wouldn't work as well in a live performance or recording session since everyone else would be able to hear your clicks. Click tracks can be digitally played through headphones for discretion.
If you have a song that includes tempo changes, you will be able to change the tempo and the clicks for the click track with what is called a Tempo Track.
In Logic Pro, do the following:
Choose Track > Global Tracks > Show Global Tracks. Then click the global tracks button to see the tempo track.
In Garageband, it's simpler to do the following:
Choose Track > Show Tempo Track.
Click tracks do wonders for bands and artists who are performing and recording. You'd be surprised how hard it is to sing at a strict tempo in comparison to singing at a more freestyled speed.
I would imagine it's even more complicated for drummers, so click tracks are extremely popular in the drumming world.
Practicing with a click track also gives you a better handle on the song and helps with your natural rhythmic sense.
On the downside, a click track can get annoying. It can mess up your focus and emotional connection when it comes to playing or singing if you're too concerned about being perfectly in tempo.
It can also hurt your stage presence or confidence and cause people to notice that you're distracted while singing or playing. Don't let click tracks take you away from the magic of the music!
So, there you have it! Click tracks are pretty handy tools in music that keep the tempo on point. They're useful during practice, rehearsals, and recordings to make sure everyone stays in sync and follows the beats per minute.
Plus, they come in handy for live performances, thanks to their discreet playback through headphones. Just remember, while click tracks are helpful, don't let them steal the magic and emotion from your music.
They're meant to enhance rhythm and precision, not overshadow the heartfelt connection you have with your art. So, use click tracks wisely and showcase your talents with tighter performances that captivate your audience.
Bonus Tip: When practicing with a click track, try gradually reducing the volume or using intermittent clicks to test your internal sense of rhythm.
This will help you develop a stronger natural feel for the tempo and improve your overall musicality. So, embrace the click track as your trusty companion, but also trust your own internal groove.
As a session singer, writer, and producer that has worked with over 200 clients to provide high-quality jingles, singles, and features, Yona spends her time creating and marketing new music and helpful resources for creators. Her recent collaborations include work with PBS Sound Field, Tribe of Noise, and the National Black Chamber of Commerce. Check out Yona’s latest releases on her Spotify, her Youtube and share if you like it!
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