More and more live musicians are finding themselves playing along to MIDI sequences or prerecorded audio tracks. This almost always means you must adjust to playing with a click track, which can be a very frustrating experience. However, if you prepare for click track playing, it can help ensure that the groove you’ve carefully created will always be there.
First of all, select a click sound that you can hear. A click that gets buried in the mix is useless. Be sure to set up a sound that’s percussive and loaded with midrange and high frequencies to project above the music in your headphones. Many keyboards assign a clave sound to the click for just these reasons. Shakers and maracas are less than ideal, as they provide a somewhat indistinct downbeat. Some DAW programs, notably Digital Performer 4.6 and above, offer a selection of click sounds to choose from.
However, sometimes you need a click that won’t bleed into the music mix. Hollywood sound engineers developed a number of clicks that attenuate problem frequencies in order for entire symphony orchestras to hear the click in headphones without ruining the take. A downloadable example can be found here (courtesy of Jeff Rona’s The Reel World: Scoring for Pictures)