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Gigging and questions about backing tracks.

NickC

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I wanted to get some opinions. I am putting together a promo package to start gigging. I'm starting to look at the realities of the situation. While I'd love to have a quintet, I decided to start with a trio of accordion, guitar and bass. However, now I'm starting to think that even that might be more too many. I'm looking to play the 'lead role' on this project, so the other musicians would be accompaniment. I've spent many years backing up other musicians, and I wanted to try something new. But, the reality is that it is hard to get people excited about investing time into a project that they are not passionate about-- and asking someone to learn 20 tunes might require more than the eventual gigs can pay. There would be rehearsal time on top of the gigs.

So, I thought that I could do festivals and hopefully pay the band well, but I don't know if it would be enough work to keep everyone interested. Plus it is seasonal.

So, now I'm intrigued by the idea of using backing tracks to get the project moving, to have options for various configurations--depending on the venue--and to always have a reliable 'band.'

Does anyone use backing tracks to perform? What are your experiences? Do you do some gigs with the tracks, and some with a band? And what hardware/software do you use?
 

Ventura

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i have been using backing trax for many decades... actually as
far back as 8086 computers and the original Band in a Box and
Cakewalk softwares, and Yamaha Laptop on Gigs,
then the i5M series from Korg, and now the MP10 Pro

over the years, it was easy to incorporate these for solo,
Duet (with either Vocalist, Trumpeter, or Drummer)
or in trio form

this is because i have always used MIDI files, generating the
backgrounds in real time
(as opposed to actual Audio tracks, which are fixed from the
point of final mix)

the quality of the MIDI Orchestral sounds contained in devices
is of excellent quality from many sources (Korg and Ensoniq were
my go-to soundsets, though i have used the Solton/Ketron
and Roland at times, and they all have been largely indistinguishable from
audio backing tracks (as long as the MIDI file was of high quality)

with MIDI, i have been able to tweak the files constantly or at need,
literally hundreds of times for some, as well as easily muting certain tracks
when adding the other musicians

Yes, fielding an actual Band would be lovely, but as you are finding
the Numbers just do not add up anymore

ciao

Ventura
 

NickC

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Great info, thanks! I have a nice, but older model, MIDI arranger keyboard. I was going back and forth about using that, or multitracking live guitar and bass, then layering MIDI sounds on top. If I do the tracks one at a time, there would be no bleed, and I would be able to mute when needed. But I understand that MIDI is more editable. With the price of portable hardware multi track recorders/players, I think that would be a viable option.
 

jozz

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depends on what kind of music

There are loads of people playing live over a simple rythm track - and they don't get laughed at

If it will work live - is something you need to figure out

Doing more fancy stuff like prepared samples and loops on-the-go, fired from a controller or groove-box, requires practice to get it right

The modern boxes (like the Maschine) have way more possiblities than typical arranger styles, and can really blend all your parts
 
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I play open mics, retirement homes and farmers markets and do the odd bit of just sitting on a street corner and playing just for the fun of it. So, not really a 'performer' as such but what I have done in the past and currently seems to have been well received. Maybe that's because it's unusual, who really knows.
Anyway, in the past I did a thing with a keytar, a loop pedal and a beatbuddy. Lay down an accompaniment using the various sounds on the keytar onto the loop pedal and then play over it. The beatbuddy for drums was more to keep me honest time wise (I tend to play WAAAY too fast without it) but also to add some 'umph' to the overall sound. Not quite real time backing tracks but also not just pre recorded stuff. It worked quite well for the playing I did but I expect on a stage, waiting for me to set up the loops would not be great as a performance.

I now play a Roland FR4x with a Roland BK7m backing module. Same playing situations but I have to say, it's been great and a lot of fun. I still need a better way to set everything up for a song, E.G. something like songbook on an ipad sending midi to the 4x and bk to set them up for a specific song, but even as it is now, it does not take too long to set things up, I just need to go through all my songs and figure out which backing tracks sound best with each and note it down in my book, although right now I am doing a lot of Irish stuff so it's pretty easy to randomly find a track.

Edit to add: As Jazz said, it all requires practice to get it right. Not only do you have to play the music but now think about parts, track selections, how to switch tracks (I use a homemade FC7 like foot controller to control the BK with my foot) and it all gets a bit tricky if you are standing. I could do it standing with the keytar but I HAVE to sit to do any of this stuff with the accordion. That may be a result of bad knees though making it hard to stand/play let alone tap dance on the controller pedal board! But again, it just takes practice. LOTS of it!
 
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losthobos

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Bottom line for simplicity is to pop a drum bass pedal in front of your accordion case, pop a pillow in it to soften the top end.... You only gotta tap your foot to your own rhythm....Simplicity is the greatest sophistication... According to davinci anyways..... 😉
 

NickC

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Thanks for sharing. I've been playing along with the backing tracks on www.Novalis.it. It works well. I'd want to make my own tracks for this though. It would be a simple set-up. I don't have any triggers or layering...(though that does sound fun!) I would just hit play for each tune.

I think it sounds better with the tracks -vs- me playing Stradella bass. The original tunes are played without the basses, so the tracks give a bit more authentic and 'danceable' feel.

I've looked into the BK7M, but it doesn't seem to be available. So, I've been looking at this: https://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/LP16--cymatic-audio-lp-16-live-player Just load the files that I record, and push play.

Bottom line for simplicity is to pop a drum bass pedal in front of your accordion case, pop a pillow in it to soften the top end.... You only gotta tap your foot to your own rhythm....Simplicity is the greatest sophistication... According to davinci anyways..... 😉


That's not a bad idea. :) Actually when I was in a salsa group (on Baby Bass), I mounted a wood block on a bass drum pedal to tap out the clave while practicing. I never used it on a gig though....too stressed that I might flip it and get looks.
 

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