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Old 09-27-2012, 01:16 PM   #1
Waff
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1-man band... backing tracks?

Hey UG,

For many reasons I have been entertaining the thought of playing some of my songs live by myself with backing tracks, and of course doing my own tours, as finding 4 other people who are dedicated is very difficult. There is a drummer that I'm jamming with next week, but you never know. On the way I would likely meet like-minded people, I don't think it would be this way forever.

I assumed I would burn the tracks to a data/audio CD and the sound tech would play them over the P.A. Question though, how can I get a click track routed to my ear? I'm confident I could play in time just by hearing everything over the P.A. and playing along, but a click track that only I could hear in an earbud or something will make my life 100x easier.

It's likely that I'm missing some things. What else do I need to know?

Thanks guys.
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Old 09-27-2012, 03:04 PM   #2
HotspurJr
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I usually think it's better to try to re-imagine your songs to work with the musicians you have.

Sure, there are times a fill track can work to help fill out a sound, but honestly, I can't ever really seeing one person perform live, when they had a complex backing track, where it sounded any good at all. Usually it sounds crappy - it sounds like you're trying to do too much.

The times when it's worked, there's been enough of a band on stage that you almost don't notice - eg, U2 using a synth track for "Where the Streets Have No Name." One guy with a full-band backing track? It's really likely to sound terrible.
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Old 09-27-2012, 03:14 PM   #3
Blind In 1 Ear
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i've seen people do it in small pubs and stuff and it can sound pretty good. however, bigger shows i wouldn't do it. people want to see a band. there's an energy you just can't get without one. i don't think people would pay much attention to you honestly and if you were selling CD's too, i would hate to buy one, take it home and have it sound exactly like it did when i saw you.
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Old 09-27-2012, 03:16 PM   #4
vince1991
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i saw a guy do this once in a bar. actually he only used a drum machine and midi bass i think. it was nice. last week i saw a 1 man performer bringing delta blues.. playing guitar with his hands, while singing and tapping a bass-drum and hi hat with his feet. was really good.

so it is possible

but i wouldn't burn the entire track to a cd but keep it in separate tracks so the sound guy can mix each track to sound good with his pa and the acoustics of the place you're playing in. this way you can also mute certain instruments if you find musicians who want to do a gig with you
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Old 09-27-2012, 04:36 PM   #5
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I do think there's a world of difference between having some midi instruments and programming some loops live onstage and popping a disk in. I don't have any problems with the former.
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Old 09-27-2012, 11:37 PM   #6
Waff
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Thanks for the responses so far guys. Still no word on how to route a click track? D:

I saw buckethead live a few weeks ago and he used backing tracks.. filled up the room just fine. I know buckethead's backing tracks are obviously professionally recorded, but my production isn't terrible.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Blind In 1 Ear
i've seen people do it in small pubs and stuff and it can sound pretty good. however, bigger shows i wouldn't do it. people want to see a band. there's an energy you just can't get without one. i don't think people would pay much attention to you honestly and if you were selling CD's too, i would hate to buy one, take it home and have it sound exactly like it did when i saw you.


That has nothing to do with how many people are on stage. It has to do with the quality of the music, 100%.
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Old 09-29-2012, 06:07 PM   #7
CarsonStevens
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Waff
That has nothing to do with how many people are on stage. It has to do with the quality of the music, 100%.


Imma have to agree with you, here. I've seen both Bryan Adams and Jonathan Coulton live, and both of them use full bands in the studio and a single acoustic live. Well, JoCo has a pair of backup singers and Bryan had a piano player help out, but still. Neither of them had any trouble bringing the house down.
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Old 09-30-2012, 11:23 AM   #8
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Depends on the music you're playing. Singer songwriter type stuff, people generally only care about the person whose name the band plays with. But if you're playing something *as a band* but with only one person, chances are people will be disappointed. It's all about expectation.
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Old 10-01-2012, 05:53 AM   #9
Phil Starr
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This is really common in the pub scene over here and people even go out with karaoke tracks. Loads of top bands will also incorporate everything from midi to recordings into their live performances. The only problem is that once you have something recorded you are stuck with playing your live bit the same way each time. You'll only need a click track if the backing comes in and out. You can play in time with anything you hear so you only need click for any silences. simply record the backing onto one channel of stereo and the click onto the other. Go and ask in the recordings forum for techie details.

There's a whole range of tricks to make a solo performer produce the sound of the band from loop pedals through recording yourself playing other instruments to karaoke backing. Whether this is considered 'cheating' is between you and the audience. If they are entertained and you get satisfaction what the hell. However it won't be like a band, you'll be stuck with a tempo and an arrangement so it won't have the flexibility of a live band and the interaction with an audience will be reduced. It'll just be you on stage as well, so there are fewer people to watch and interact with for the punters.

On the plus side you can fit into any venue and you get to keep all the fee.

There's nothing wrong with being a solo artist and this is one way of doing it, but it isn't a band.
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Old 10-03-2012, 01:20 AM   #10
Blind In 1 Ear
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Waff

That has nothing to do with how many people are on stage. It has to do with the quality of the music, 100%.


and the quality of the music often is greater with a full band, or at least the impact. i mean, if it's a big venue, having a guy come out to some backing tracks is not going to have a very large impact is it? you can't honestly say you wouldn't rather see a band? in a small venue or bar/pub, i think that's fine. all i'm saying is depending on how far you want to take your music, you'll probably need to get a band somewhere down the line. but then again, maybe not. i'm sure you could probably make a living with it at least so maybe i'm wrong :P

OP make sure the tracks sound as natural as possible. don't have a click track playing unless only you can hear it because it sounds really cheesy and really annoying. and yes i've heard this done at an actual gig....and there was a full band! anyway you should be able to hear the track enough to play in time i don't think you'd need a click track and i'm not sure how you'd have it so only you hear it.

honestly, i think live looping is a better choice as it is live and adds more to performance. but i understand that not all songs can be done with looping.
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Old 10-04-2012, 01:15 PM   #11
Waff
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Blind In 1 Ear
and the quality of the music often is greater with a full band, or at least the impact. i mean, if it's a big venue, having a guy come out to some backing tracks is not going to have a very large impact is it? you can't honestly say you wouldn't rather see a band? in a small venue or bar/pub, i think that's fine. all i'm saying is depending on how far you want to take your music, you'll probably need to get a band somewhere down the line. but then again, maybe not. i'm sure you could probably make a living with it at least so maybe i'm wrong :P

OP make sure the tracks sound as natural as possible. don't have a click track playing unless only you can hear it because it sounds really cheesy and really annoying. and yes i've heard this done at an actual gig....and there was a full band! anyway you should be able to hear the track enough to play in time i don't think you'd need a click track and i'm not sure how you'd have it so only you hear it.

honestly, i think live looping is a better choice as it is live and adds more to performance. but i understand that not all songs can be done with looping.


The fact that you feel I can get that far is a huge compliment :P thank you. A lot of my music is very angular. Think Sound of Perseverance era Death. There's no way looping would work.

By the time I'm playing in bigger venues I will most likely be known well enough to easily find quality musicians that are willing to play what I show them. At this point in time, nobody knows who the hell I am. It just isn't gonna fly like that. For example, every drummer in Death was great, but, it's Chuck. People knew who he was, so it was very easy for him to get someone like Gene Hoglan or Sein Reinert in his band.

And yes, I was thinking about the click track thing. It should be fine honestly the way it is. I also would never have the audience hearing it.. lmfao! Extremely cheesy, indeed.

But that's exactly it too about the funds. If I go solo I can make a living with it. 2-400 dollars a gig depending on the venue, which would normally be split among the band. It's possible. I actually jammed with a drummer a few days ago... he wants to jam with me again, today actually. Should be fun!

I'm still torn between both options though... there are lots of problems with having an actual band. People suck, we all know this. Working by myself would be great when looking at it from that angle. However, any time I see any band dvd's where the band is having a shitload of fun on tour together, it makes me want to change my mind and have a real band.
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Old 10-19-2012, 08:39 AM   #12
CrazyTy
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This is what my band has progressed using backing tracks.
We started out with an iPod. The reason why you shouldn't use a CD player is because it might skip and it its not good lol. With the iPod approach you have all the backing tracks loaded on that but the files are split into two signals Left and Right. The click is panned all the way left while all of the backing tracks are panned hard right. Then you can use a splitter to route the right side to the P.A. and then the Left side into your headphones.

My band uses a laptop and a multiple output interface so its not such a jumbled mess of sound and the sound guy can have more control over the individual tracks.

If anything I said didn't make sense, please ask. I would love to help.
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Old 05-27-2013, 07:23 AM   #13
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Hi. I'm John from Hit Trax

Before I provide a reply I want to state upfront that Hit Trax is exclusively a licensed backing tracks and backing track player web site. That said, everyone that works here is a musician and we are experienced in support for backing tracks and MIDI File mp3 backing track players. My reply is relevant to the question. I don't believe we should be excluded from offering our experience and knowledge in this forum on the sole basis that I have job in a related business.

We have the MERISH PLUS backing track player available that might resolve the performing with backing tracks issue.

The MERISH PLUS is in our opinion, one of the better devices for musicians using backing tracks. One of the features we like is the click track send to drummers. This function also sends a count in (MIDI File backing tracks). The six General MIDI instrument group sliders on the front panel allow the band to 'slide ou' the drums, leaving this job to a real drummer. The sliding out of instruments is non destructive to the MIDI File backing track.

Same can be done for bass, guitars, horn sections, keyboards and string sections. Easily change key, tempo, create play lists (up to 9999 playlists) and so on. The PDF user manual is available online.

If this looks like the player for you, do a Google search for Merish MIDI File Player and follow the link to Hit Trax. The user manual can also be downloaded from the web site.

If you need more details, our friendly support team is on hand to answer any questions you might have about this topic or about the Hit Trax MIDI Files and backing tracks. Feel free to request more support for this and similar forum posts. Remember, our support team are happy to answer any questions regarding this topic without any expectation of visiting our web store.

NOTE - this is our first post on this forum. Our position is we want to help and offer our advice for free. We know people are smart enough to distinguish genuine advice from a sales pitch and this is why we state our position up front. We hope forum readers will respect our honesty and help us provide free advice to other forum members.

Cheers, John
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Old 05-27-2013, 08:18 PM   #14
ccannon1
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I'm definitely not a fan of backing tracks. Certainly takes out the human element. Also, I firmly believe that a huuuuge part of performance is seeing what you hear.

I was at an arts festival a few months ago and this R n B singer came in and sang along with her EP. It really felt like karaoke, and although the music was fine, I got extremely bored with it. There was very little entertainment value in it.

Live looping/screwing around with synths is a whooole other ball park though. It's not only difficult to do, but if you understand what is going in is thoroughly entertaining.
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Old 06-01-2013, 04:52 AM   #15
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Our band doesn't have a drummer yet. So far we use the Line 6 JM4 looper pedal. Pretty much get all your backing tracks onto an SD card and put it in. You can pick your songs on your feet. We use it for drums, synths, and backup vocals. The rest is live Rock and Roll.
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Old 06-01-2013, 07:07 AM   #16
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Just make sure those backing tracks are good quality, keep the leveling right (not too quiet, not too loud as they drown out your own performance either), make the performance seemless (no nooby count ins that the audience can hear etc).

And keep your stage presence just as alive as if you were performing with a real band, remember, your the sole focus of the audience.
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