Creating Your Very Own Click Track

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Last week, we talked about the importance of the click track. But what is equally as important as having a click? Having the right click.

That’s right – there is certainly a way to have the wrong click.

Having the wrong sound, coming in on the wrong subdivisions, or even just being unclear as to what the downbeat is, are all symptoms of a bad click. But there’s hope: you can make your own!

It’s actually a lot easier than it sounds. All you have to do is fine a pleasant sound that you like to listen to. Whether it is a dry wood block, a soft snare drum, or a pedal hi-hat, it just needs to have a fast attack and a short decay.

Once you’ve located your sound (via virtual instruments, online samples, etc.), convert it to audio inside your DAW. Then, trim the region so that the audio starts exactly at the start of the region. This is important, as it can really throw off your performance.

Then, very carefully, lay out one bar on the grid of your DAW. Make sure that your audio track is set to “ticks” instead of “samples” so that each audio region stays on the grid when you change the tempo, similar to MIDI.

Then, save your session as “Click Track Session” and you’ve just created your very own click track! A few things to keep in mind:

Your downbeat should be distinct. Whether it is louder (not always the best approach, but it can work), or a different pitch (usually the best way to go), make sure it is clear.

You can mix and match different subdivisions depending on the feel you’re going for. A slow ballad might be easier to play to if there are eighth notes mixed in with the quarter note click track. Play around with layering sounds in order to get the right feel for each song you’re cutting.

Use a sound that won’t get mixed up with the performers own instrument. For example, cutting live drums to a snare drum click is probably going to do more harm than good. Maybe a cowbell or electronic sound would do better.

Try creating your click and let us know how it goes!