Film Music 101: The Click Track

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In the process of scoring film music, musicians rely on a click track to help synch the music perfectly with the image on the screen.

A click track is an audible metronome signal that the conductor and musicians hear through a set of headphones while recording is in progress. Some examples below include:

Scoring session for The Incredibles

Frozen Recording Session

Note how all the musician’s are wearing headphones.

The click track was invented in the early 1930s just as the Golden Era of Hollywood began to take off. The invention of the click track is attributed to two people: Max Steiner (1888-1971), one of the three founders of film music and Carl W. Stalling (1891-1972), Warner Bros. house composer for their animated cartoons.

Max_Steiner     220px-Carlstalling

The click track is actually similar to the ear plugs that singers will wear to help them keep the beat, that’s why when a singer goes a cappella, they will take the ear piece out.


I wondered for years what those ear pieces were for…

Hope you enjoyed this look into film music! Have a great week!

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See also:

Film Music 101: Arranger

Film Music 101: Anempathetic sound

Film Music 101: Empathetic Sound

Film Music 101: Foley

Film Music 101: Montage

Film Music 101: Compilation Score

Film Music 101: Leitmotif

Film Music 101: “Stinger” Chords

Film Music 101: Dubbing

Film Music 101: Diegetic vs. Non-Diegetic Music

Film Music 101: Underscore

Film Music 101: Sidelining

Film Music 101: “Test” Lyrics

Film Music 101: The First Film Score

Film Music 101: Orchestration and cues


One thought on “Film Music 101: The Click Track

  1. Pingback: Film Music 101: Music Editor | Film Music Central

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