Session Drumming Month: The Click

Ian Thomas' guide to playing the click


Want to make it as a session drummer? Then you'll be spending a lot of time in the company of the click. Who better than session superstar Ian Thomas to talk you through working with your new best friend?

"The old adage is when you're with the click you can't hear it. Get used to how that feels because it's a bit odd when that first happens, you think, 'Where the hell is it? It's vanished!'

"Practice pushing with the click and practice holding back so you can play behind it and in front of it. The way to do that is to over-exaggerate it. Have the click at 120 and see how far you can push the click before you actually lose it. It has a leaning forward feeling and remember that feeling, then do the same with holding back until you slow down so much that you lose it.

"Playing is all about feeling for me, how do things feel? Another thing I used to do if I was playing jazz was to thin the click down a bit, so it's just on two and four, or just having the click on four.

"Set it on 40bpm and just have the click on four, which is quite hard because you've got one click in a bar. What can happen if you have four beats to the bar, which most clicks are, you can become reliant on that, so you're not actually keeping time yourself. If you thin the click down, you're involved in the timekeeping. If you do that, when you come in to a studio and its four beats to the bar it's pretty easy.

"I did an album that Mark Knopfler was producing in January and that was completely live in the studio. That's rarer these days. If it's a commercial or a film they always click them up because they have to be so precise with their timings."

For more session hints, tips and secrets pick up the latest issue of Rhythm and check out our online Session Month.


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