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Click-Track Research and Survey

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Click-Track Research and Survey

Postby tobyhession » Sat Apr 13, 2019 2:25 pm

Hi all!

I'm studying for a Masters at Cambridge University, and am researching the use of and attitudes towards click-tracks by performing musicians of all genres, instruments and abilities. I'd be very grateful if you could take 10 minutes to complete my questionnaire, and be part of a piece of research that is very new and proving extremely interesting (click-tracks have received almost no attention in music scholarship). Even if you have NO experience playing to clicks, you can still fill this in (you will automatically be directed to separate questions).

https://survey.zohopublic.eu/zs/vFB8Nu

The purpose of the research is to establish whether musicians of certain backgrounds / disciplines are automatically biased against using click-tracks.

I'd be really grateful for any answers you can give. The questionnaire only has a few pages, and won't take more than 10 minutes to complete.

Thanks so much for your time!

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Re: Click-Track Research and Survey

Postby Guest » Sat Apr 13, 2019 3:34 pm

You will probably know this already but Dominic Muldowney used click tracks in some of his concert works so that the polyrhythms were accurate.
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Re: Click-Track Research and Survey

Postby Sam Spoons » Sat Apr 13, 2019 3:39 pm

I see clicks generally as a necessary evil but in some genres they are essential (and sometimes hidden/disguised as a sequenced/looped percussion/rhythm track). Thankfully the music I play doesn't usually require or benefit from a click track.
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Re: Click-Track Research and Survey

Postby Martin Walker » Sat Apr 13, 2019 6:04 pm

Hi Toby, and welcome to the SOS Forums! 8-)

Here's an SOS feature that you may find useful re click tracks:

https://www.soundonsound.com/techniques ... s-drummers


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Re: Click-Track Research and Survey

Postby awjoe » Sat Apr 13, 2019 6:14 pm

I did the survey - painless.

After years and years of home recording, I almost invariably use a click so that subsequent overdubbing is easier and more fun. But if I had the easy ability to record live with ONE other musician, it would be a percussionist - that would be more fun, more interesting and more human than a click. 'In time, in tune, with feeling and improvisation' - that's my mantra when I record - a backing rhythm makes it much easier to pull it all together.
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Re: Click-Track Research and Survey

Postby awjoe » Fri Apr 19, 2019 6:20 am

Mm...here's a followup comment that didn't get onto the survey, because I just found out tonight. Another reason to use a click all the time is that it provides opportunities eventually to go clickless. Very freeing. But I have to do time with a click to get to that point.
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Re: Click-Track Research and Survey

Postby ConcertinaChap » Fri Apr 19, 2019 7:15 am

Folkies generally react with horror to the idea of a click track in my experience. Partly this is a self-perpetuating thing ("We won't have click tracks because we don't have click tracks") but mostly it's because the rhythm of the music is expected to be free and interpretive and click tracks are viewed as a rhythmic straitjacket.

CC

PS I hope tobyhession gives us feedback on the outcome of his survey at the end.
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Re: Click-Track Research and Survey

Postby Folderol » Fri Apr 19, 2019 7:18 am

Not very impressed with the survey. I found I was duplicating answers.
It is extremely unusual for me to even think about using a click track. it doesn't suit the style of music I compose.
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Re: Click-Track Research and Survey

Postby Bob Bickerton » Fri Apr 19, 2019 12:24 pm

I wondered if an orchestral conductor could be construed to be a sort of click track..........

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Re: Click-Track Research and Survey

Postby ManFromGlass » Fri Apr 19, 2019 12:42 pm

A session musician friend has developed what he calls "perfect click" after years of playing to a click. Name the tempo and he nails it.
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Re: Click-Track Research and Survey

Postby ConcertinaChap » Fri Apr 19, 2019 12:43 pm

Bob Bickerton wrote:I wondered if an orchestral conductor could be construed to be a sort of click track..........

Indeed, and I saw a nice example of that when I went to a performance of David Fanshaw's African Sanctus. The work incorporates many live musicians with world music recordings. The conductor only is provided with a click track through headphones so that she can coordinate orchestra and recordings.

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Re: Click-Track Research and Survey

Postby Exalted Wombat » Fri Apr 19, 2019 1:04 pm

Even when it's modified by rubato, there very often IS a unifing, underlying and constant tempo. A 'click' if you like!

Much rubbish is spoken about 'flexibility'. Very often it's an excuse for playing the easy bits fast, the hard bits slow. Several years of bread-and-butter club work with a drum machine taught me the difference!
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Re: Click-Track Research and Survey

Postby Watchmaker » Fri Apr 19, 2019 1:14 pm

I like this survey, and the hypothesis I assume it attempts to challenge.

I used to hate click tracks. I never noticed how people speed up into the chorus and never slow back down, unless it's a ballad in which case everyone slows down except for the bass player who increasingly speeds up in a vain attempt to keep up the pace. (pun intended)

I play pretty much any type of music with people of widely varying skill levels and I gotta say, those who embrace the metronome, as a class, have better control over phrasing and are more fun to play with. Regardless of whether a click is used in a given context.

To me the central idea is agreement on how time is to be approached. Knowing unequivocally where the meter is allows for conscious intent on the phrasing, and god bless those who can do it without practice, practice, practice.
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Re: Click-Track Research and Survey

Postby Eddy Deegan » Fri Apr 19, 2019 3:56 pm

I completed the survey but I found the questions rather leading (and like Will, I was asked the same question more than once).

The problem for me is that the questions are asking about whether click tracks are good or bad (and various flavours thereof), but without more context I don't think that makes any sense. On some pieces of music, a click track works well and on others it doesn't. The survey doesn't take this into account much, if at all.
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Re: Click-Track Research and Survey

Postby Sam Spoons » Fri Apr 19, 2019 4:12 pm

Nicely summed up Eddy. In most of the styles I play (Gypsy Jazz, Folk/Americana, Blues and some of the quirkier variations of Rock) no-one would use a click track. Of course a good drummer is a boon but we manage fine with drummer free rhythm sections too. Good timing is about more than just beings metronomic, it's about the band playing together through the ebb and flow of tempo that the best live music embraces.
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Re: Click-Track Research and Survey

Postby Watchmaker » Fri Apr 19, 2019 4:34 pm

There is a method to survey's which intentionally repeats or slightly rephrases questions. This is usually intended to offset biases of the respondents.
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Re: Click-Track Research and Survey

Postby Sam Spoons » Fri Apr 19, 2019 6:03 pm

Or confirm biases in the survey writers?
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Re: Click-Track Research and Survey

Postby blinddrew » Sun Apr 21, 2019 10:18 am

I'm with Wombat and Watchmaker on this, in that when having this argument with my drummer, he says that the music should be able to breathe and flex, but i say it should groove around the tempo not ignoring it.
I'd far rather play and practice with a click but drummers are rare and singer-songwriters are common so he always gets his way. :)

I do wonder if there are other angles to this though: genre, training, competence, practice methods etc.
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Re: Click-Track Research and Survey

Postby Sam Spoons » Sun Apr 21, 2019 11:03 am

Gypsy players often practice to a click/metronome but never play/perform to one (not sure about recording but I think very few do). Practicing us often with the click on the 2 & 4 or even only on the 4 which is a great technique for internalising the rhythm and swing.
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Re: Click-Track Research and Survey

Postby Watchmaker » Sun Apr 21, 2019 12:43 pm

Sam Spoons wrote:Or confirm biases in the survey writers?

Indeed, if I'm cold-hearted and candid, I would critique the survey construction rather heavily, yet I find my self biased in favor of the fairly clumsy design because I like the question.

There is plenty of self affirming "science" out there and I wouldn't place a lot of faith in conclusions based solely on the responses to this survey, but that doesn't totally invalidate the approach either. It may provide our intrepid researcher with a way to articulate a hypothesis for further testing.
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