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I'm interested in working on writing a piece (for live performance) using simultaneous independent click tracks, in order to easily create complex rhythmic relationships. For instance, having four performers: 1st receives click of 60bpm; 2nd receives 65bpm; 3rd receives 70bpm; 4th receives 75bpm.

How could I do this?

Obviously this is easy with just two clicks, as you can use a stereo output. Also, it would be easy to simply send each performer a completely independent click at their tempo - but this defeats the object of creating complex rhythmic relationships; the clicks need to periodically align.

It would be good to get an answer with the simplest possible setup, e.g. Laptop + Software + Interface/Mixer ( + Mixer) + Headphones. In other words, something relatively easy to set up, not needing loads of studio gear. Also, would be good if this is easily scalable, to use a higher number of independent clicks.

Although I'm a guitarist - assume I know very little about Music Tech…!

EDIT: would be good to have a solution that allows me to generate clicks of arbitrary tempi, rather than simply creating a pre-recorded multitrack recording.

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This can be achieved with a DAW. I would try to verify if the concept works by trying to multi track a version of it. Then you need to be able to record one track at a time. I find that an ASIO interface (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Audio_Stream_Input/Output) limits issues with latency. E.g. the Line6 POD can be used as an ASIO, other similar products likely have the same functionality. (I would not recommend getting a POD for this, due to sound, but maybe you already have access to something like this). With this approach you would learn about how DAW's work, something I think you will need. –  Meaningful Username Apr 9 at 10:42
    
Cheers, just before your comment, I edited my question to ask if there is a way to generate clicks live, to give some flexibility, rather than pre-recording… I'll check out your links though! –  Bob Broadley Apr 9 at 10:43
    
I know that you can generate a click in a DAW (which is going as long as you record, i.e. it is not pre-recorded), but if you can have several of these with different tempos is another question. –  Meaningful Username Apr 9 at 10:59
    
Right, that's what I thought! I used to use Logic BTW, so I know a little… My initial thoughts were either programming something from scratch (which is not the quickest option!) or wondered if something like MAXMSP might be the right software, but I only used it for a couple of weeks years ago... –  Bob Broadley Apr 9 at 11:13

1 Answer 1

For maximum flexibility (including arbitrary tempos, arbitrary click sound, arbitrary number of click tracks, independent tempo automation, click sound modulation -freq, timbre, amp, etc-, easy scalability) I would do it like this:

1) Get your favorite DAW or plug-in host ready. (Logic, Ableton Live, Pro Tools, Cubase, whatever you want).

2) Find an instrument that has its own sequencer/arpeggiator that can run independently from the master tempo of the DAW. One example is Native Instruments FM8, which has an arpeggiator that can run in a tempo different from the host's.

3) Design the sound and time of your click track (or use something in the library of your instrument). The classic click sound is just a sine wave, with the first sound of every measure tuned an octave higher.

4) Open as many tracks as you need. Each track will be one click track. On each track open the instrument we talked about in step 2, and set each individual instrument to the desired tempo.

5) Route the outputs of the tracks to different outputs of your sound card. Each click track will have a specific output that you can use as you please.

6) Press play. All tracks will start at the same time, but will click at different tempos, the tempos you set them up to click at individually in step 3.

The specific implementation depends on the instrument you choose. To give one example, in FM8 you would need to turn off the "sync" switch in the arpeggiator, and trigger the arpeggiator in the instrument's MIDI track with a long sustained note (the sustained note will not be heard, it's just a way to tell the arpeggiator that you want it to sound during that period of time, it's like an on switch).

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Thanks JC, it's going to take a little while for me to get my head round this - once I do, I'll respond to the answer properly... –  Bob Broadley Apr 9 at 11:41
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@BobBroadley Feel free to ask if something is not clear or if you have any other question. –  JCPedroza Apr 9 at 11:46
    
That is VERY likely… (Not because of your answer, because of my brain.) Thanks! –  Bob Broadley Apr 9 at 11:48

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