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Freedom from the Click

Female Drummer Standing

These days, drummers are mere slaves to recordings. When a band uses a pre-recorded audio loop at a gig, the drummer wears headphones. Why? Because they're playing along to a "click track"! It's just a recording of clicks in sync with the audio loop so the drummer can keep time. Why should the drummer be the prisoner though? Andrew Robertson, a PhD student at Queen Mary, aims to change all that and make the loop keep time with the drummer instead!

His "B-Keeper" system listens to the drumbeats. It then adjusts the tempo of a music sequencer as it plays so that the looped music keeps in time with the drummer. If the drummer speeds up, the music speeds up too! That brings back a real "live" feel, making the drummer properly part of the performance again.