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Recording in "free" tempo - no click track


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Does anyone here record without a click track - and without setting a tempo at all? I use Cubase and have until now always set the tempo and used a click track to make sure I'm sticking to it. This obviously has lots of benefits, not least that it's easy to add multiple additional instruments after the initial recording and get them perfectly in time. However if you want to slow down and speed up within the piece it's possible but a bit of a pain and it's hard to do it "naturally" with Cubase - it always seems a bit artificial.

 

However on my latest song I did a very rough and dirty recording with guitar and vox in one take, without setting any kind of tempo track and ... well, it had a certain free and organic feel to it that I don't usually get. I did it again, this time separating the guitar and vocal tracks and I'm really liking the results. It's proving a royal pain in the backside to add piano, & bass to it as nothing is on the bar - there isn't a bar to snap to - but so far I'm thinking it's worth it to get that live "organic" feel.

 

Anyone else do this?

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I'm deeply saddened that recording guitar and vocals without snapping to a grid is apparently now considered something out of the ordinary.
:eek:

Yeah I know what you mean. Back when I used to record with analogue equipment I wouldn't even have comprehended my own question :lol:

 

I'm not actually talking about "snapping to a grid" for guitar and vox though - playing to a defined tempo is all.

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Sometimes click tracks are useful. Sometimes they aren't. Do whatever works.

 

 

Yes, the raw feel you can get working click-free can be a thing of beauty, but there's some things I love about using click tracks- being able to do drums after laying down other instruments, or redo drums, or try different drum parts over one piece of music...

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I'm deeply saddened that recording guitar and vocals without snapping to a grid is apparently now considered something out of the ordinary.
:eek:

 

No kiddin'. :(

 

I never use a click for my own band's music, and when I'm recording other people I never turn one on unless the client asks for one. Which isn't often.

 

With today's technology, even if you end up wanting to do an edit or sync up a synth or whatever else you want to do to a grid, you can still do it after the fact. No need to tie yourself down to a click just to make the engineer's job easier later (even if it's you who's the engineer).

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Yeah there is def something to be said of using click tracks. I tend to use them and stick to them because I tend to write and record one instrument at a time. However I tend to use Strike for my click. And while it def stays locked into the tempo it has a bit of feel to it. I also read about someone practicing with a click but when it came for the actual performance and recording not to use one. I think that's a pretty cool idea as it well help lock in the tempo (practice) but allow some natural variation, without sounding bad. Just my thoughts on it.

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It depends on the type of song I'm recording. If it's a straight-ahead song with no tempo changes and it's absolutely crucial to have a totally steady tempo, then I'll use a click. The other 95 percent of the time I don't. I think there's only been about 3 or 4 instances where I've personally recorded something to a click. Usually good musicians won't need one.

 

I'm a drummer, and the first experience I ever had in a recording studio (about 10 years ago) was utter hell because the engineer insisted on me recording to a click. It made the session last about 2 hours longer than it should've because the engineer would freak out every time I was literally a tenth of a second off from the click (and I had never recorded or played drums to a click before). Some people are naturals at it though, and can handle it; I personally can't.

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I remember reading an interview with the (excellent) ex-drummer from the Cure about the recording of their classic Kiss Me Miss Me Kiss Me double album. He mentioned that they'd done about half the record to a click and the other half without.

 

The fact that I had no idea which tracks might be which spoke a lot about was a super player he is.

 

Speaking as a drummer, I'll have to admit that a lot of the time I actually prefer to play to a click. I actually find it kind of relaxing/re-assuring to play to something keeping perfect time.

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Whichever way you go though it's always something of a compromise when you're the sole performer, multi-instrumentalist and sound engineer. In a real ensemble, performing live, the whole thing feels more fluid and at the same time you get musical and visual cues from each other which make it easy to be tight and together. There are definitely going to be challenges in adding layers of instruments to a track recorded free of tempo constraints but I'm definitely going to lose the click track on at least some future recordings.

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it depends on the DRUMMER
;)

 

i know what you mean

 

but

 

with my music i record all parts myself.... so i may lay a guitar/paino/whatever part down with a click.. or without... then add a drum track.... or no drums at all... depending on the song

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I go both ways on this depending on the song.

When you are used to a click going without one can feel a bit unnerving.

I've gotten over that.- its got its plusses an minuses like everything else.

 

There are a couple of examples where the lack of a click allowed the song to breath in really significant ways. In some circumstances begin able to stretch a beat and/or modify the temp can really make things come to life.

 

There are also some instances in which I use a click track and adjust the tempo section by section. This gives you the ability to edit easily on a grid and to breath some life into the song via tte tempo adjustments.

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i like recording to click. i like that kind of tightness and predictability.

we recorded A LOT sans metronome, and it turned out quite well, but having stuff recorded to a clicktrack makes life so much easier - punching in, out, swapping parts, etc.

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when I first began digital recording I used it. I thought that was the way to do it.

I hated it.

I never click track now. don't need it.

 

I do lay down a scratch track. usaually an acoustic to set the tempo or parts.

 

hate the click.

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Does nobody practice with a metronome anymore?

 

 

 

No, they don't. And that is a sad thing. They don't because they use phrases like, "I'm trying to let my flow happen" or "I want it to groove" as excuses to avoid the hard work. And the obstacle of discovering their bad time.

 

"Dude, I tried that... but the metronome I got must be whacked though cause it was all over the place." Or the infamous, "Hey bro, your clicks broken I think. It keeps slowing way down."

 

Practice with one and you won't have to record with one.

 

I love slowing down and speeding up and going where ever you want to go, groove and tempo-wise. I HATE when if happens without the knowledge and control of the performers though.

 

It's hack and sounds slack, Jack.

 

There is nothing, nothing, recording wise I'd rather do than get a group of hot young players in a room and let them go...

 

I'm still looking. They're there, I know, I just haven't had the opportunity yet to record them. Till then it's...

 

"How's this for the tempo? And you like shakers or rimshots n' cowbells?"

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Practice with one and you won't have to record with one.

 

 

Yep, very true.

 

I would add, though, that if you always practice with a metronome then you can become "dependent" on it to the point where it's hard to keep your own time without it.

 

Instead, do this exercise: play along with a metronome at different tempos, then stop the metronome for 10 seconds, play on your own and see how much you've drifted when the metronome comes back in. Then increase the "off" time to 20 seconds, 30 seconds, etc.

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