Why I Use Click Tracks

Featuring Cory Alstad Posted on April 19, 2008

I love click tracks. Now, when I tell you that I’m one of the click track producers with PraiseCharts, you might (legitimately) argue that I’m biased. But the truth of the matter is, I’ve used click tracks now for many years and I am completely hooked on them! It’s a great thing to be able to produce them for PC but the truth of the matter is, even if I didn’t, I would still be using them on my own. Well, actually, wait a second – I do use them on my own! I’m a Worship Pastor and have been doing this now for, hmmmm – yes, it’s been about 8 years of full time ministry. Wow. That’s quite a while – I still feel young. But, I digress. There are a few reasons why I use click tracks that I’d like to share with you!

One of the big things is that the band is just SO much tighter. It’s true. In fact, recently I was watching a video recording of our Easter services and I was so happily amazed at how tight everything felt and sounded. And this was on a video where the audio had not really been mixed for video. You know what I mean, right? You’ve probably had that experience where you’re watching a video of yourself or the band and it sounds terrible because no-one was mixing for audio at all – they just turned on the camera and that’s it! So you’ve got the drums cranked, and the voices cranked – especially that off-tune alto, but no guitar, no keyboard and no bass. Sound familiar? Well, this time around – I was just really amazed with how tight the band was and how full the sound actually was. And I realized that a HUGE part of that was the fact that we were using click tracks for a number of the songs. It’s a very cool thing for me to listen to these arrangements (after the fact) without hearing the click in my ear! You see, we run the Aviom in-ear monitoring system and so whenever we’re playing along with a click track, I hear that metronome in my ear – “click, click, click, click” – and it keeps us tight. But to hear what the band sounded like without hearing the click was amazing! Everything was locked up, there were no ‘rushing’ or ‘dragging’ problems with the tempo – it was all right there. And it sounded good.

The other thing I really enjoyed was the extra sounds that were coming off the stage from the sequence. We did the song, “The Glory of it All” by David Crowder, and I had put a sequence together to kind of keep the same vibe as what he’s got going on in the recording. And hearing it being played along with the live band was a very cool thing – because it just fit so nicely into what was happening with the band. We also used the click track for Tim Hughes' "Happy Day" (www.praisecharts.com/2702) which sounded great.

One of the things that I think of when I think of click tracks is the word ‘glue’. You see, the click track tends to glue things together. Not only does it keep everything rock-solid in the tempo, but it also glues things together in a tonal and musical sense. The extra sounds tend to fill in any ‘gaps’ that might be there with the real band. Often, (let’s be honest) we don’t always have access to professional musicians that will be able to cover everything exactly the way we want it, and this is where click tracks are so beneficial. Whether it’s an extra ‘pad’ sound or a cool, lead synth-type sound, there is always something in the click track that is complimenting what is going on live.

To me, the bottom line is creating something beautiful. Creating something excellent. Not perfect, but always striving for excellence. In our culture these days, there is a high bar as far as excellence and good quality in music and the arts. The Church should be no different (in my humble opinion). If anyone has good reason to create something beautiful, it’s the followers of Christ! In fact, it’s one of the things, historically that has always been associated with the Church: excellence in the arts. One of our tasks is to reflect the beauty of God into this world, and making great art is one of the key ways that we can do it. I think that click tracks are a great tool that can be beneficial in this. It’s the reason that I continue to produce and use them myself! That’s my 2 cents. And now, it’s bed time.