How and Why to Use Click-Tracks in Worship

If you’ve wondered what in the world the musicians are listening to in their ears…you can listen to an example of one of the custom click/loop tracks we used this past weekend at TBC for two of the songs (Sing to the King + Revelation Song). You’ll hear click/cue track on the left (sent to the musicians’ in ear monitor) and the loop/ambient track on the right (sent to the front of house system). By the way, a thank you to John Bowes for loaning me the eBay special electro-harmonix “Voice Box” he temporarily bought – very nice vocoder effect on Sing to the King. It’s the “robot voice effect” you hear on the chorus.

WHAT is a click-track?
A click-track is a metronome beat that follows the tempo and time signature of a song.

WHY use a click-track? There are a number of great reasons to use a click-track.

  1. The tempo remains steady through the entire song. No fudging. Makes rehearsals less of a headache. No more comments like, “Hey, slow down…this ain’t no freight train.” “We are slowing down…speed up.”
  2. The tempos from rehearsal to worship are consistent.
  3. Frequent use develops a sense of inner beat among musicians.
  4. Musicians know at what tempo they’ll need to play their intro, riffs, outro (especially the drummer).
  5. There’s no annoying “drummer-stick-click” – an’ a one, an’ a two…to get the song going.
  6. If cuing is used, the vocalists can sing the beginning of each section with confiendence – rather than wondering (do I come in now…how about now…now?).
  7. You can flow from one song to the next with no dead time – smooth patching of music sets.
  8. You can sync up to a music video anytime you need to or want to (iWorship DVD sets, interactiveworshiplive.com, or a custom video that needs to have the band synchronized, or even synchronize two bands together).
  9. Your band will be set for the recording studio when the time comes.
  10. You can put together a 3-story drive-in light show with live musicians in windows who can neither see or hear each other in separate rooms.

WHAT is a loop? A loop is extra “spice” on top of what a drummer is playing. Sometimes it’s a repeatability beat pattern with a high pass EQ. Sometimes it includes synth and other ambient “icing on the cake” elements that augment the band (and difficult to reproduce in real-time, unless you are an Ableton Live freak on the stage).

WHY use a loop? It can bring studio production elements into a live music setting with ease. It also can augment your band if you are missing an instrument.

There are some cons to using click/loops. You can lose of spontaneity (unless Ableton Live MIDI triggering is used), or you might have a drummer with their time keeping pride, or the time it takes to learn/train, or even the monitoring system it costs to make it happen. But that’s for another post. If you’ve got questions about click/loops, let us know – we live with these clicks/loops on every song and every week. Many musicians have been saying, “I’d never go back now that we are here.”

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