Oh yes it is…Pantomime is just round the corner, a very busy time for Red Herring Audio. This usually means one thing – click-tracks. Audiences these days expect to hear a high level of production when they visit the theatre (even if they don’t realise it); the slick, polished sound of many TV shows is partly responsible for this level of expectation. Gone are the days of 100% live musicians in a panto pit (with the exception, I believe, of the Hackney Empire), for many years production companies have relied on pre-recorded “click tracks” to bolster the sound of whatever live musicians they may have in the pit. The live band may consist of piano, bass and drums but, with the help of a click track it can sound like a 40 piece orchestra! The backing track is called a click track because, running alongside the music and completely inaudible to the audience is a “click” – a metronome tick that the live musicians listen to (usually through headphones) whilst they are playing in order to keep themselves “in time” with the pre-recorded music.
Its not just pantomimes that make use of click-tracks. Invariably today you will find some sort of pre-recorded instruments or effects as part of the overall score of many musicals in theatres all over the country. I have been involved in the arranging and recording of many such tracks in my work at Red Herring Audio. You can hear a few examples here http://www.redherringaudio.com/samples/production-music
This year I am arranging and recording all the music for the Millfield Theatre production of Beauty and the Beast (and playing the drums for the run!) and recording live drum kit and percussion tracks for the Lichfield Garrick’s production of A Christmas Carol.
So next time you’re at the theatre, which I hope will be soon, have a listen and see if you can hear a few extra instruments that you can’t see in the pit. Chances are its a click track.