Click track or unassisted drummer?March 9, 2009
A really neat exercise from the fantastic music-tech blog, Music Machinery. Using a set of software tools that allow you to manipulate audio, Paul Lamere analysed a number of songs to try to determine if the drummer used a click track or not. The basic idea was to average the tempo over the course of the tune, and then look at each beat to see if it deviated from where it was ‘supposed’ to fall. He then plotted the deviation, in seconds, as a function of elapsed time in the song. You can see an example above, for Weezer‘s song “Troublemaker.” The hills and valleys suggest that their drummer wasn’t using a click track; it contrasts sharply with the graphs for Britney Spears’s “One More Time” and Nickelback’s “Never Again,” which were pretty much flat.
If you’re interested in the details, check out the original post here, where there are plots for many more songs. And make sure you take a look at the comments – there are a lot of interesting suggestions and thoughts there. In particular, someone ran the code on a Rush song, since Neil Peart has a reputation for being almost inhumanly precise; as you’d expect, the peaks and valleys were much shallower than most of the other drummers, but not quite as flat as the bands that used (or were presumed to use) click tracks.