Use backing tracks and click at church and am wondering how many are using it for the bands here. Thinking about pushing the band I am in at least towards the click to be able to make patches easier with arps and such. Backing tracks would be a bonus but not as needed as the click. Then, any favs on what you are using to run tracks and/or click? This is a mostly 80's type band. Thanx!
Like Dan, I prefer not to use tracks or click as 100% live allows spontaneity, improv, exploration, mutual communication, etc. It requires several elements, including players with good time and very big ears, and some level of vocabulary to respond in the moment.
But like many, I've played in settings where the decision was made to use them.
In one setting it was click to sync with occasional sweeteners - orchestral cues, tight multi-track BGVs and the like. In another it was full tracks.
Technical solutions can be as simple or elaborate as you need. Depends what options you have to have. One solution is have everything prerecorded and mixed to mono. Build a stereo track with click in left and track is right, feed click to in-ears and bob's your uncle. The other extreme is running full multi-track ProTools or similar, and have the operator arm/mute whatever is wanted. Another solution is the Cymatic Audio units - stand alone multi-track hardware designed for use of live tracks.
A few years ago, I played the Gilroy Garlic Festival on the main stage (yes, that Gilroy Garlic Festival) - we were 100% live and were one of the closing acts.
The sound guys told us after sound check we were the ONLY band they ran that day that wasn't using tracks. The band right before us closed with Don't Stop Believin' - and they didn't have a keyboard player. Everything keys was prerecorded, as was some BGVs. It's now more the norm in the SF Bay Area than I would have expected.
Our drummer is using a click from his phone, so that allows me to use arps (at least ones I can retrigger that might "drift"). He simply wants to keep tempos under control, so this is a nice side benefit.
I personally will never play in a band using tracks or even watch bands using them (including big acts), but I'm certainly in the vast minority of audience members and band members both...the way things are going, I expect I might be "retiring" from playing before I might otherwise due to this....seems like every 2-bit bar band is running tracks these days... My loss I suppose. If I was a pro making a living I wouldn't be so picky I'm sure.
One band I play in - I WISH the drummer would use a click from phone, or any kind of aid that improves his time. Talk about the proverbial Russian Dragon.
Another band I sub in, the drummer has some sort of visual Pad app. He calls the tune (he's also the MD), the app shows him visually the tempo (I haven't looked at the screen yet, not sure what it displays), and he uses the visual cue to keep the tempo straight.
A few years ago I joined a well-established local band after their original keyboard player left. They were rooted in a sort of radio-friendly classic rock style, but aspired to be more of an indie-pop act. To that end, the drummer (an experienced producer/engineer and multi-instrumentalist) had recently started running a click track from a Roland sampler for their live shows, and during the transition between players, had started cuing various samples of keyboards and other effects from their previous record. I think he was of the mind that they didn't need to replace their keyboard player at all, and that he could cover all the extra sounds -- though when I showed up he was definitely in my corner.
The funny thing is, I knew he was triggering samples, but I didn't realize that he had a click going for each song. It would run in his earbuds, and nobody else in the band ran in-ears. There were a few songs, mostly ballads, that started with just electric piano, and I'd been taking initiative and kicking them off onstage. It wasn't until my third or fourth show that he took me aside and asked me to wait for his countoff so that I was in sync with the click. Apparently my sense of the timing was reasonably good, because he always managed to reign me in without me realizing it. I guess that's the way to do it -- if even the band members don't realize you're playing to a click, you must all be on the same page musically.
It was a cool experience, but it didn't make me want to play to a click onstage. I'm not even that keen on a click in the studio. All of that is style-dependent, of course.
Samuel B. Lupowitz Composer. Arranger. Musician. Food Enthusiast. Bad Pun Aficionado.
In terms of logistics, the Kronos is great for this. You can mix and match programs, combis and songs in one set list. I assign click to aux out 1, which just goes to the drummer, who uses IEM’s. I set it up with 8 clicks at the beginning. He hears 4 then counts the band in for he next 4. A song can have up to 16 midi tracks and 16 audio tracks. I tried to keep it to MIDI for more editing flexibility. There are songs with arpeggiators or tempo Synced delays where I don’t bother with a click. I use the tap tempo and trigger on the downbeat.
Acoustic/Electric stringed instruments ranging from 4 to 230 strings, hammered, picked, fingered, slapped, and plucked. Analog and Digital Electronic instruments, reeds, and throat/mouth.
I’ve never played in a band that used a click track or backing tracks. In the past I also had a strong adversion to that sort of thing.
Having said that, the project I’m involved in now may require a click / backing track or two in a couple of numbers, but I might be able to work around that by using tap tempo on a few sequence patterns which would be impossible to play otherwise.
As far as whole backing tracks go, I’d rather not ever have to go there, but it seems to be so common these days that many people don’t care. Really depends on the type of music though.
If you want a dedicated budget priced hardware device to run extensive backing tracks, Cymatic is one to consider if you don’t want to go the laptop/ iPad route. You could do it all with a decent workstation keyboard as well.
I’m really disappointed that the use of tracks is so widely spread at this time. I enjoy SEEING a “live” band and HEARING a “live” band, as well as playing in the same. It was the challenge once upon a time for bands to be the most versatile and creative in “their sound.” We’re all just becoming homogenized. No fun for me to hear or play with backing tracks.
I could see a drummer-only click track as a tool used to maintain a tempo, but I think that also sometimes eliminates the “human element” in the nuances of playing live. I could also see a solo or maybe duo act where it is “obvious” they are playing with “accompaniment,” I.e. tracks.
A band can get on stage and play along with pre-recorded tracks. Big Fricking Deal!
I could go on and on but I won’t beat a dead horse.
Four years ago I played with a theater presentation of Pink Floyd "The Wall" and I had my hands full as I was the only keyboard player, requiring a pile of new and vintage keyboards for the work.
One of my challenges was the orchestra parts in "The Trial" but I pulled it off, including playing parts with my feet on the bass pedals. The guitar player's wife was in the audience at one show; she is an accomplished musician and when she heard "The Trial" she was sure she was hearing backing tracks. Keep in mind that the audience cannot see the band as we are now behind a fully erected wall with the performers/singers in front of the wall. The guitar player told her he actually watched me play all the parts and there were no backing tracks.
Gave me great satisfaction to fool expert ears.
You can hear/see it performed here at 4:15, complete with mistakes and with the exception of the creaking door NO backing tracks.
I had a similar compliment years ago....before people were really using audio tracks, but it was the heyday for sequencers - somebody came up to our singer and said "your keyboard players sequences are really good" to which the singer replied "he doesn't use one".
Anyway, thought I'd expand a bit on some of the various ways, and to what extent, I've used sequences or audio tracks over the years.
My first 5-pc band in the early 90s used no sequences or tracks, but I did use an Arpeggiator in one song - Duran Duran Rio. I had a Korg PolySix so it didn't do the random pattern like the Jupiter 8, but was convincing enough. It did not save the arpeggio speed, it was just controlled by a knob. I would eyeball it, and wherever it landed was the tempo for the song. No click, the drummer would just listen to the Arpeggiator. When the sax solo came up, all the keys dropped out because I couldn't do both at the same time. You'll see coming up why I mention Rio, because it's a good comparison for upcoming bands.....
Me and the guitar player of that band split off to do a duo, which we did throughout the rest of the 90s. All drums, bass, and any extra keyboard parts sequenced (didn't have the ability to do any audio tracks or even samples at that time). I was using a JV-30 and Korg PolySix - no onboard sequencer. So we got a used ThnkPad, which I think was either a 486 or maybe a first gen Pentium. I did all the sequences on my Mac Classic with an early version of Performer (before Digital Performer, this was just sequencing). We had sort of a jukebox app where I could load the midi files in order and it would waith 2 seconds and just go to the next one. If we wanted to stop, we'd just hit the spacebar. For Rio in that lineup, I sequenced the arpeggiator so it was in Sync, and also sequenced the keys during the sax solo. But as I had no sampler, I still had to make up a swelling synth part for the intro.
My next band was a 5 piece but I was playing bass and keys, depending on the song. That band used tracks that we put together ourselves. If it was a song that had no keys, there would be no tracks. I just played bass. If there were keys, most of the time I played keys and recorded the bass. But sometimes if the bass was interesting and the keys were not, I would do the opposite. We used a Sony MiniDisk player (remember those?) with tracks on one channel, click on the other. Drummer was the only one who got the click. For Rio in that band, we used parts (minus drums) from my previous sequence, but replaced the intro with an actual recording from the CD.
Next band was That 80s Band, which surprisingly didn't do Rio, LOL.. We all used IEM's and my Alesis Fusion was able to do sequences with audio, and samples as well. So one channel that went to our monitor mixer, but not to FOH was click. Each band member could choose if they wanted it or not. Good thing about that is if it started with keys, I didn't have to rely on the drummer to count me in, I could just go off the click. Any given night, probably 6-8 songs out of 45 would have a sequence, but in reality there wasn't much in there but ear candy - extra electronic percussion, maybe a synth bass line, sound effects, etc. There were a number of times when we'd start to get off the sequence and I would just stop it and we'd finish the song, and the crowd probably didn't know the difference.
My next band used no sequences or tracks. There was one song with an arpeggiator, and that's where I started using the tap tempo, which worked well.
The latest band is one I only sit in with from time to time, and is the one I mentioned earlier. The few songs with sequences primarily have some percussion loops going on, and the lead singer wanted backing vocals in there, which I am typically against. 4 of us in the band can sing, we ought to be able to do them. In fact, one time my Kronos wigged out. The click kept going but non of my keyboard parts would play. So I stopped the sequence and reloaded. We played the rest of the song actually singing the backups (we sing along anyway) and me playing all the keyboard parts. It didn't seem to me like it sounded much different than with the sequence going. Some of it I think is that he doesn't trust the sound guy to put the right effects on there, so a lot of the backups have echoes in certain places like "everybody" by backstreet boys and "You Should Be Dancin" by the Bee Gees. Anyway, they recently added Rio. Their drummer uses an App that will tell him his tempo. It doesn't click, it just shows him his tempo. We agreed on a tempo and I set the arpeggiator to that. We did it with no click and it seemed fine. I DID put together a sequence for the part during the sax solo so that I could step out front and do that. I hit "Play" on the downbeat going into that section. He said it came in perfectly. It only played during the sax solo and stops at the end of it, in time for me to step back and start playing again.
Last edited by J. Dan; 09/05/1907:19 PM.
Acoustic/Electric stringed instruments ranging from 4 to 230 strings, hammered, picked, fingered, slapped, and plucked. Analog and Digital Electronic instruments, reeds, and throat/mouth.
I have employed click sends in praise bands with non-professionals where timing could be (shall we say) erratic, and the results were hugely positive. Originally I used an old Roland sequencer I had laying around, but eventually used a digital metronome because it was easier to set the tempo on the fly. Both the drummer and myself got a send on all the uptempo stuff. I left it off for everything else.
Given the highly improvisational nature of praise material when it comes to structure and length, I can't see how any kind of backing tracks would work. Plus it kind of takes away from what we do - actively praising God in the service. But definitely try a click if timing is an issue.
I thought I was in the minority in my utter hatred of backing tracks, but after reading this thread perhaps not. Like a few others have stated, I will go to enormous lengths to avoid having to hear a band which uses them “live”. To me the entire point of live music is ...its liveness. Add absolutely anything recorded and you are in the zone of....why not just play a record? And.....are they really playing?....
I know that sometimes a band can't get all the instruments which are on the record, but if the option of tracks didn't exist, such deficiencies would in many cases lead to an entirely new sound and something which would be of far more interest and appeal to me than yet another soundalike band.
I always play live. I want the buzz of everyone working together to create something....not just slotting into a preordained slot. I want the variability of it: the moments of stress to cover when somebody has a technical fault; the moments of delight when something unexpected but wonderful happens.
Backing tracks have taken away so many musicians' jobs. But their worst crime is that they have raised a generation of listeners who have little or no experience of truly live music, and will never realise what they are missing.
"Turn your fingers into a dust rag and keep them keys clean!" Bluzeyone
Use backing tracks and click at church and am wondering how many are using it for the bands here.
I play in a party band and like nursers above, we pride ourselves on being "100% live". As far as I'm aware ALL other regularly gigging party bands in my home town use tracks. They also don't have to split the pie six ways, so perhaps they're smarter than we are! Good luck to them. Our drummer does use a click for a couple of songs. For one it's because I'm using an arpeggiator for a certain patch, and for the other our guitarist uses a delay.
I've watched The Real MC's "The Trial" effort before. It's very impressive! My other band also plays this song, but we unashamedly use a track. We approach it a bit like Queen tackled/tackles Bohemian Rhapsody - we don't pretend to be playing, we stand stone still and our vocalists sing over the orchestral backing track. I do play piano live during the chorus, but that's it. When the judge delivers his verdict, the track stops and the whole band comes in live. This band also uses a click for several songs, again this is to stay in time with things like arpeggiators, delays, video cues, etc.
No, I'd have a real problem using a click live, and can barely use one in a more closed-down situation.
I do a lot of metronome work at home, but that's away from the keyboard, reading scores or doing memory/feel work away from the keyboards, or occasionally to check if my time is getting weak.
I've been lucky that the drummers I know and have worked with are in recent memory are absolutely top: it's been a long, long time since I had to suffer through playing with a weak drummer. Unfortunately, the good drummers are pretty much always busy, constantly. If it came to working with somebody who was dragging, I'd just not use him or her at all. Same with bassists: unless they really bring it with time, ideas, sound, it's not worth it and it's not something me or the guitarist can't cover between us.
A lot of the touring bands I've run sound for use backing tracks, and this seems to be across a lot of different genres, rock, metal, pop, reggae, and in particular, modern country. It seems that every country band I mixed this summer had tracks. One band had a lead singer who played acoustic guitar, all the tunes were built around his very rhythmic acoustic playing, but actually, his guitar onstage was muted, and the guitar in the house was from the tracks. Almost all of these bands are good enough that they don't need tracks, and it would make the performance that much more musical if they didn't, in my opinion.
One of the more interesting approaches I've heard was from Adrian Daniel, a young soul singer from Brooklyn I mixed a couple years ago. He had a killer band, gtr, drums, and keys doing LH bass. They had tracks, but at the end of just about every tune, the tracks would end, and the band, that had been playing to the tracks, would step up the energy and jam for another few minutes, trading solos, vocal call and response stuff, etc. This way, they had the full arrangements from the backing tracks, but the freedom of a killer band given some rope. It was a very cool show.
Turn up the speaker Hop, flop, squawk It's a keeper -Captain Beefheart, Ice Cream for Crow
I said it before. I play in a modern electro pop kind of band. We play to tracks. We have several groups running as, bass, backing vocals, drums, sfx etc. It did felt like cheating in the beginning. But now I just see it as a different way of making music. It is what the singer (who is the writer of all the songs) wants it to sound live. It has nothing to do with that the musicians are not of for it or anything. I guess it would be cheating if we would fake parts.