Fill Tracks – Yea Or Nay?

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Fill and click tracks have been around forever, especially in the studio. Simply plug in a metronome & you’ve got something to keep the tempo of any song fairly consistent – a click track. Add keyboard pad, or percussion, or background vocals, etc… and you’ve got a fill track. With the advent of comparatively inexpensive in-ear monitors (Avioms and the like), worship teams can run the track to their in-ear monitors. So, to fill or not to fill?

First, the pluses…

You can add actual spoken instructions to the fill, if you create a stereo split track, and send one side to the worship team and one side to the house mix. Very, very handy. You can also start a song without a count off, since that can be part of the fill. They certainly help the band to keep a consistent tempo, and they allow all sorts of extra instrumentation (you can even use them to fill in a choir’s sound, if the miking situation is difficult, or if you’re short on tenors, for example).

On the minus side, using any sort of fill track (or click) locks you in to an unchangeable song structure. If a worship song is really connecting, there’s really no way to do the chorus twice each time, or extend the bridge. Actually, that’s not completely true, you can signal whoever is running the track to stop it and continue with the live elements – however, this may be very noticeable if the fill is a significant part of the overall sound. Adding on at the end is easier, in some cases, but any changes mid-song are often a no go.


I have wrestled with the pros and cons, and have leaned in either direction at various times. Here’s where I am now…

At Northview, we use a combination of clicks, fills and songs without any click. However, in all truthfulness, it’s rare that we don’t use either a click or fill track – it tends to be on mellower songs where there needs to be an ebb and a flow that we turn off the machines. We also synch to video fairly often, which means we have to have things solidly lined up (Northview has an 80-foot video screen behind our platform so that we can create “virtual” environments rather than physically building sets, so – as you can guess – the video thing is a big deal for us). I’d love to hear your comments and ideas, especially creative ways you may have utilized fill tracks!

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