I have run into a problem – I seem to lose the energy of a live performance when I record with a metronome, but my rhythm is pretty awful (I tend to speed up). Any ideas as to how I can maintain the energy in the recordings without getting sloppy?
There are a lot of benefits to recording with a metronome (a.k.a. “click track”). I’ll get into that on a future post, but I highly recommend recording to a metronome of some sort. It makes overdubs, editing, and even mixing go much more smoothly.
Here are 4 suggestions for maintaining energy while recording to a click track:
1. Record and play at the same time.
As a musician, we typically play and sing when performing in public. Sometimes playing and singing separately in the studio can be a bit dull.
You’re used to rocking out on guitar while belting out the lyrics, and it’s hard to get a good performance doing one at a time.
Try recording them simultaneously. Use a dynamic mic on the vocals (to help control bleed a bit), and just do it. There will be bleed, but who cares? If the performance is incredible, the bleed won’t matter at all.
2. Practice with a metronome/click
As a musician, you really should develop the skill of being able to play with a click AND maintain energy.
Just like anything worthwhile, it takes time and practice. One of the main reasons I can play well with a click (both live and in the studio) is that I made myself do it.
Was it awkward and uncomfortable at first? Yep, but it got better. Now I don’t even really hear the click anymore.
3. Use a drum loop instead
I still do this quite a lot. Nobody said you have to use the standard Pro Tools “marimba” click track when you record. Pick something more musical.
Or drag a drum loop into your session, or use one of the many grooves inside EZDrummer.
Now you can play along to a steady beat…without it feeling lifeless an sterile.
4. Don’t Use a Click Track
I list this option last because, while I highly prefer using a click track, it is certainly valid to NOT use one an a particular song. The tempo of the song may need to “breathe.” Or perhaps the musicians simply perform better without a click track.
As always, do what’s best for the song.
What about you?
How would you answer Harrison’s question? Leave a comment below.