tonydee
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May 28, 2010

Backing Tracks for Solo Performing ?

Hi all;
I was wondering if I could get some recommendations on backing tracks for solo performing. I'm a vocalist/guitarist who's pretty much been in bands but I want to try the solo thing now. It would be vocal oriented stuff like Beatles, Eagles, America etc. I have a Bose Model II and currently use a Line 6 Pod X3 Live. Is it better to go with a loop device or play recorded tracks through the PA ?
I'm a total newbie going this route so I really appreciate any and all feedback.
Thanks in advance for your help,
Tony
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stos2
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Jan 17, 2010

Re: Backing Tracks for Solo Performing ?

Tonydee:

I have been doing just that for a few years now. I just bought a L1 Compact, and am playing my first gig out with it in a few days. Here's what I do, but there are several ways to skin this cat.

I download and/or buy midi tracks for the songs I want on-line. There are some good free ones, you just have to check around. I edit the midi files in Cakewalk, removing the tracks I don't want, adding a click for the beginning, modifying the ending if needed, etc. I then export it as an MP3, and download to my iPod. Of course, if you have the time and talent, you can create your own midi files from scratch.

I connect my iPod to one of the T1 inputs, and I'm off and running. I use an Alesis Jamdock to hold my iPod, but you don't have to, it's just convenient for me. I make a playlist for each set and put the songs in order with an MP3 of 4 minutes of silence between songs. That way, I don't have to worry about getting to the iPod stop button before the next song starts.

Also, I usually only have bass and drums as the backing. Sometime a little keyboard or steel drum if needed in a song, but only subtle. IMO if you try to over do it, it will sound really cheesy, like bad karaoke.

The other thing I've seen done, is with a looper pedal. You could layer your songs on the fly. If done well, this can be quite entertaining. It would depend also on the crowd/venue. Look on YouTube to see for yourself.

Either way will work if done right, IMO.

Good luck!

Dave
captacoustic
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Dec 14, 2003

Re: Backing Tracks for Solo Performing ?

Tonydee, this topic comes up from time to time. I'm an acoustic musician, mostly playing guitar these days. The backing tracks I use most are drum and bass tracks and you can hear them here and decide for yourself if they're for you. The info is in the video if you want to go to the site:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MArk6yE5swg
tonydee
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May 28, 2010

Re: Backing Tracks for Solo Performing ?

Stos2 / Captbanjo;
Thank you very much for sharing the info.
I've been thinking about going the mp3/Ipod route and it's comforting to see someone actually doing it. I have a few questions though.
1)You mention buying midi tracks and editing out what you don’t want. Couldn't you download/purchase mp3's with the editing already done for you ? I'm a real novice when it comes to the editing software. If all I would want to do is edit midi files to mp3's, is Cakewalk the simplest, most straightforward and affordable software to use for this type of editing ? I wouldn't want to go buy software that was total overkill if you know what I mean Smile Also, how can you insure that all of your MP3's are at the same volume/playback level ? Would the Cakewalk editing solve that ?
2) Thanks for the link to bassanddrumtracks.com
Is there anyone that you particularly like to use ?
What's an average price per song ?
FYI, I somehow came across this link that may be good. Anyone familiar with this website ?
http://www.drum-tracks.com
3) Finally, this might be a crazy thought, but have you ever seen or heard of anybody using the IPOD with a looper ? Or does that sound like too much would be happening onstage ?
Just a thought.

Captbanjo, thanks for sharing the performances, you sound great ! I got a kick out of "Play Me Stairway to Heaven".
Great playin' on "Jesus Maloney" !

Thanks very much guys for your advice and feedback,
Tonydee
captacoustic
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Dec 14, 2003

Re: Backing Tracks for Solo Performing ?

quote:
FYI, I somehow came across this link that may be good. Anyone familiar with this website ?
http://www.drum-tracks.com


tonydee, that is precisely the site I use and list in the video (toward the end). I use a simple program (trust me...I am a simple man) called Audacity to sometimes change the keys of songs. For example, the first song (Fogerty's Green River) is originally in E and that is where the song is pitched by Jim McCarty (he's the guy behind that site). I just change the bass down a full step to D and leave the drums alone.

You asked about price; I believe it is eight bucks a track from that site.

And thanks for the compliments.
stos2
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Jan 17, 2010

Re: Backing Tracks for Solo Performing ?

Tonydee:
1) Yes, you could download midi or even MP3 backing tracks. If you look around on the net, you should be able to find what you need. There are even some sites where you can buy backing tracks that are custom for you, like hard-to-find tunes, etc. They are a little pricey, but they are available. Regarding the playback volume, I control it via Cakewalk. But, there is a way to load songs into iTunes and then sync them to the iPod with the sound levels being the same. I don't know exactly how, but I know it's possible, and it's a good idea to maintain consistent volume.

3)Regarding looping with backing tracks. That may be a little tricky. When you are playing to backing tracks, the timing is precise. When you record a loop (playing to the backing I presume), and then start playing the loop, the timing for starting the loop has to be exact with the backing. If you're off even the slightest amount, the song is ruined. Let me know if you find a slick way to do this. Maybe I'm just missing something.

Dave
tonydee
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May 28, 2010

Re: Backing Tracks for Solo Performing ?

Hey guys;
Your insight is greatly appreciated. I'll let
you know how I make it out.
Thanks again !
Tony
Kevin16
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Jun 14, 2004

Re: Backing Tracks for Solo Performing ?

Hey tonydee

Been using backing tracks as my full-time job for over 12 yrs -...made many myself and bought a lot online... started out using minidisc live back in the day, now all on computer...there's already a lot of good advice in this thread but wanted to touch on a few things that hopefully will help...

To make sure they are all normalized at the same volume you may want to consider http://mp3gain.sourceforge.net/ I use this for all my tracks...and all my DJ tracks as well.. (they suggest 89db - I have it set at 90 for plenty of headroom - if you set it too high you'll run into distortion...

Looping is VERY cool, but I just never had the time to sitdown and really make it work...midi files are OK, but also require a lot of time and knowledge to make them sound good. For my money and time, MP3 tracks are the way to go!


The cheapest backing tracks and biggest selection I have found is karaoke-version.com - they good, not great - but many are usable and they are cheap! The quality varies a little too much for my taste (some are good, some not so good) but for the price and for adding songs quickly it's not bad -it's one of the cheapest around...

I look for a little more of a live feel and a live drum sound - singingstation is one of my favorite sites...a little more expensive and less selection, but the quality is great...most all sites have the ability to listen to sample, I wouldn't buy from a site that didn't have a sample...

Almost all the tracks I use are without backing vocals...I'm not sure how others feel about this, but the feedback & vibe I get when using tracks with backing vocals seems different...i guess it's a personal preference but no backing vocals works for me, most backing tracks you can buy with or without backing vocals, I choose without, but that is something you probably should give some thought to before buying a lot... initially I just went for mostly bass and drum but having other instruments really works fine, too...but I stopped short of the pre recorded backing vocals...I am kicking around buying a harmonizer as I hear they work well...



Coming from years of being in a band, I was honestly VERY reluctant to use tracks, but as the years have gone on, I've realized there are many situations where backing tracks work fine...as a backing track act, there are a lot of benefits you have over a DJ or a band for everyone involved - you, patrons, and establishment owner /staff - I am so glad I made the plunge!

The first night I used them was a packed bar I was playing at weekly and decided to give it a try....wow, it really raised the vibe and went over great...most everyone doesn't have a problem with backing tracks except the occasional musician/purist who hates it, I guess in a way I understand, but at the same time you can't please everybody!

Hope this helps, best of luck to you!

Kevin
macmike100
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Feb 13, 2010

Re: Backing Tracks for Solo Performing ?

Yeah, I'm one of those purists. But I try real hard to not be (the battle inside...ahhh 🙂
Anyway I just wanted to point out that if you use just MP3s instead of a regular midi, you won't be able to control automatically your effects and harmonizers etc. Also you can change the key on the spot. There are guys who control their lighting that way too. If you should go wireless, you would really want to think about that. So there are many advantages to using midi tracks over MP3.
If those kind of effects aren't your bag, I guess MP3 is OK though. Very little equipment to have to lug around that way.
tonydee
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May 28, 2010

Re: Backing Tracks for Solo Performing ?

Kevin;
I really appreciate the feedback and all the info.
I'm definitely going the mp3 way !
Thanks !
Tony