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Good keyboard for backing tracks?


The Piano Man

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Hello all, I would appreciate some advice. I am moving into adding pop covers to the folk music I currently play to provide a balance for wedding guests.

 

I would like a keyboard that does the following...

 

- allows me to load backing tracks via a usb thumb drive

- allows me to mute individual instruments if required (eg: mute the bass if I have a bass player that night)

- allows me to send a click track out of a separate output to in ear monitors

 

Am I right in thinking I would need to use standard midi files for this purpose?

 

Suggestions/advice gratefully received.

 

Budget-wise, I was looking at the Roland FA08 at £1299, but wasn't sure if it could do all I wanted. The ability to mute individual instruments is crucial

 

Thanks

Kurzweil PC3x

Technics SX-P50

Korg X3

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Roland, Yamaha and Korg (and others) all make arranger keyboards which would probably fit the bill. They come in a wide variety of styles, features and budgets - too many to name here. Besides playing MIDI files they can provide an easy way to make backing tracks too.

 

There is also computer programs like Band In A Box that allows you to create backing tracks easily and mute instruments on the fly. Add laptop and go.

 

You could also consider backing MP3 files. Make a set with bass and without bass. The number of playback devices you can use on stage is huge and it could reduce the amount of stuff you need at a gig. I record my backing tracks at home and use an iPad for my sheet music and stage playback.

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Any of the Kurzweil PC3 series will do what you want. For the PC3 or PC3xK, you can use the zone buttons above the sliders to mute and unmute instruments/tracks. While the LE series does not have those buttons, I'm sure there are ways to do the same thing.

 

You can load a bunch of MIDI sequences into it, and even set it up to play repeats, etc. I know because I do this with my PC361. I have riffs that I call up for the beginning and ending choruses for standard jazz arrangements, and then middle choruses for comping and solos that will repeat as many times as I want. My tracks are usually just drums, bass, rhythm guitar and a few of my own solo or accompaniment instruments to play on the keyboard, and then I can mute any track based on who I'm playing with.

 

Having the middle choruses repeat until I trigger the ending is great, because it allows for impromptu improvisation.

 

I usually start out with Band In A Box for the core pieces since I'm no good at creating my own drum patterns and bass lines. Once I have a tweaked arrangement from BIAB, I export to a MIDI file and open it up in Cubase. From there, I further refine the tracks and test it out on the PC3 before the final export. Once the song is good, I export another MIDI file that I import into the PC3. I also determine where the verses and repeats are. I then create a Setup on the PC3 where I align the drums, bass and guitar tracks by MIDI channel, and I assign a slider to control their volume. I also assign volume sliders to the sounds I'll play on the keyboard.

 

Within the tracks, I create Riffs that are fragments of the MIDI sequence I imported from Cubase and assign them to the programmable switches. For example, Switch 1 is assigned play bars 1 through 64 of the song and then stop, then Switch 2 is assigned bars 65 - 128, etc. I have it set up so once Riff 1 is running, I can press Switch 2 to "cue up" the next riff, which then starts up as soon as Riff 1 is over. The middle riffs are programmed to repeat until I cue up another riff. The final riff is assigned to trigger the last chorus of the song, including the ending. So once we're done with the solos, I cue up the last riff which then takes us out.

 

The entire time I have control over individual track/zone volume using the sliders, and can mute and unmute tracks as needed. I also try to make at least two variations of the middle riffs so I can put some change-ups and dynamics in the song to reduce some of the mechanical feel of the sequencer.

 

It took a bit of time to figure all that out, but now it's a pretty easy process for me. And it sounds great.

 

Setup mode will allow you to put a click track in a Zone and send it out one of the Aux outputs. It would need to be a track created with your sequencer first, as the click track is not an automatic part of the sequence itself.

.

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In your price range, I think the stumbling block will be finding the separate out (i.e. for a click). That's a nice feature on the new FA. Usually you only find that on much more expensive boards. It remains to be seen how easy individual track mutes will be on that. Yamaha MOX/MOXF is good for that, but there's no assignable out.

 

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I'm kind of biting my tongue on this one - I've almost posted a couple times and stopped myself.

 

You can go a lot of different directions with backing tracks from cheesy to high quality and have lots of options for changing it up on the fly vs canned. Have you ever done this before? Where are the SMF's going to come from? Are you doing them yourself or are you thinking you'll just buy them or worse download freebe's? This all plays a huge role in what will give you the best result. Please provide details as to how you plan on implementing this. Understand that an SMF is just note data and you'll need to program sounds, if it's designed to work with GM sounds, it will likely work but sound uber cheesy without additional work. But some boards do GM better than others. For a separate click, it has to have an aux out.

Dan

 

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.

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generally I believe that too much control in live setting isn't good. One can easily make mistakes and get lost with all the mutes, sliders, outputs, cables, and files. These mistakes can be VERY painful in live setting (just read the recent 'most embarassing gig' thread)

 

 

What Jim said above regarding MP3 files is excellent advice IMHO.

 

 

Just make separate sets of backing tracks with and without certain instruments (it really doesn't take much time at all once you've got your backing tracks done).

 

Mix the entire backing track to mono and send it to Left channal. Send the click track to Right channel. This way you have the entire solution as stereo wave files.

 

Then use your favorite device to play those on stage. It could be a laptop, tablet, iPad, Kurzweil PC3K, Yamaha PSR900, Sansa MP3 player. whatever!

 

I liked an app for Android which's called 'backing track player'. It's basically a playlist player but the playback stops after a song is finished, which is important since sometimes you have to delay the start of the next song - maybe the singer has something to say or whatever.

 

(it's a free app BTW). Just load the tracks into your Android tablet and you're ready

 

 

 

Another option is using a laptop with some kind of pad controller like the Akai MPK something, so you launch the tracks with a strike on a pad.

 

......

 

I started using Yamaha MOX paired with a laptop recently so I host all my samples/sampled intros/backing tracks in Kontakt (that's a sampler VSTi). I simply trigger them with a low C on my keyboard which's mapped to different sample depending on a song. I don't touch nothing but the keyboard and a footswitch during the gig.

 

 

 

 

 

 

By the way my band is getting ready to use full-length backing tracks for all the orchestration and layered vocals we did in the studio and I'm going to make the drummer control the backing track rig. It's probably going to be a laptop with pad controller or that android app.

 

 

IF we decide to use stereo tracks then we're gonna need 3 channels, and that would require us to get a laptop and a USB audio interface. I'm opposed to this as this is simply too much crap to set up.

Stage: MOX6, V-machine, and Roland AX7

Rolls PM351 for IEMs.

Home/recording: Roland FP4, a few guitars

 

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I liked an app for Android which's called 'backing track player'. It's basically a playlist player but the playback stops after a song is finished, which is important since sometimes you have to delay the start of the next song - maybe the singer has something to say or whatever.

 

(it's a free app BTW). Just load the tracks into your Android tablet

 

 

That sounds interesting! Do you know if there is an equivalent for iPad?

 

SSM

Occasionally, do something nice for a total stranger. They'll wonder what the hell is going on!
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There's an iPad backing track app called SyncInside which has a really interesting feature... it can send out a stereo backing track over a USB interface while simultaneously sending a click out of the headphone jack, so you don't have to reduce your backing track to mono.

 

It also has the feature of stopping at the end of every song and waiting for you to tap to launch the next one.

 

http://www.syncinside.net

Maybe this is the best place for a shameless plug! Our now not-so-new new video at https://youtu.be/3ZRC3b4p4EI is a 40 minute adaptation of T. S. Eliot's "Prufrock" - check it out! And hopefully I'll have something new here this year. ;-)

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  • 1 month later...

great suggestions. but if "locked" to an mp3 there is less spontaneity. It depends how much you take risks on stage.

 

I use an old Roland JX-305 for accompaniment because I can mute/unmute individual tracks in 8-track sequences with dedicated buttons. the roland has a timing knob that lets you adjust the 'swing' and 'groove' to play slightly behind or ahead of the beat ... this makes it easy to create many variations on the sequences. During a performance I scroll through different versions of my rhythm sequence, as well as adjust filters and mute/unmute tracks on the fly as I solo over the patterns The midi controller boards with drum pads also let you mute/unmute tracks depending on your DAW. do not try with a mouse live

tripp323

Nord Electro, Kawai MP, Roland JX-305, Korg T1 & 707

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Sounds like your needing a good midi player. We are currently using a Yamaha psr-s710 and it does a good job for us. We use it to play 80% big band music to audiences that used to dance to live orchestras and I get compliments often about how real it sounds. They recently did a upgrade with the psr to a s750 & s950. I'll probably make that move after its been out for a couple years as the s710 has proven its self to be very durable as well, being used on the road ave. 10 shows a week.

If not that model, perhaps look into Roland's BR board. I haven't played one myself but it is supposed to be set up for backing tracks. Hope this helps some.

"A good mix is subjective to one's cilia." http://hitnmiss.yolasite.com
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bloodyMary said: I liked an app for Android which's called 'backing track player'. It's basically a playlist player but the playback stops after a song is finished, which is important since sometimes you have to delay the start of the next song - maybe the singer has something to say or whatever.

(it's a free app BTW). Just load the tracks into your Android tablet and you're ready.

_______________________________________________________________

I use this same app with a Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 and it works great...and it is free. And very easy to make up multiple playlists, etc.

 

 

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I was nosing around on the Korg site last night and was checking out some of the stuff for the Kronos. The Jazz drums are pretty friggin' realistic sounding as are the Ricky Lawson grooves. Add in the tons of other diverse type of grooves...man I could do a solo gig on that thing just playing LH bass/piano or whatever in the RH with the grooves and doing my vocals. :cool:

 

Pricey option for sure, but the audio quality is pretty ridiculous. I'm going to get a price on the 73 from my Korg connect here in town.

https://soundcloud.com/dave-ferris

 

NY Steinway D

Yamaha AvantGrand N3X, P-515

 

 

 

 

 

 

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