I have never been good at playing to a click track.
[For non-musicians, a click track is a simple rhythm track that plays in your ear while you record to help you keep time. It can be as simple as a beats-per-minute setting that plays a little “beep” for every passing beat.]
For a long time that was a function of other, more major issues in my guitar playing. I was dropping beats left and right and my strums were like the thrashes of a dying man. Not lining up with clicks was the least of my problems.
I still cannot quite play to a click track, even with half a lifetime to refine my playing. Now my problem is syncopation – I so very rarely strum on all the downbeats the click usually slides away from me as I play.
Why is the click so important?
First, it satisfies the musical leanings of my internal OCD Godzilla, who needs things to be both perfect and perfectly aligned. He does not truck with deviations in speed or rhythm, and has put the nix on many fine solo recordings of mine because they ever-so-slightly sped up.
Second, for flexibility. Overdubbing, stealing riffs for other verses, patching biffed guitar solos, and dance remixes. They’re all easier when a song is recorded to a consistent click track.
Though I still can’t play to basic clicks, after a year of drumming with Zina I have no problems playing to a basic rhythm that sketches in a bit more than just the main beats in a measure. A simple rhythm on my Casio keyboard can now keep my songs in time.
That’s fine for me solo, but what about the entire band?
We’ll find out on Saturday: we have a drum engineering session scheduled with Zina. She’ll record her parts to two Filmstar songs with a metronome playing in-ear, and then we’ll all dub our parts on top of her.
In effect, we’re recording like a real band would record, which makes our house a real recording studio, and me a real recording engineer. Plus, the tracks will be a consistent speed.
OCD Godzilla is incredibly pleased.