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#507089 - 11/18/22 12:00 PM Re: Backing tracks, pre-arranged sets, etc. [Re: cgiles]
Diki Online   content


Registered: 04/25/05
Posts: 14177
Loc: NW Florida
These are some pretty old fashioned attitudes to backing tracks…

Yes 10-15 years ago, you’d be right. But since then there are a multitude of ways to play backing tracks that allow you to freely change the structure on the fly, and allow you as much (if not more) control over which tracks play. There are plenty of laptop and tablet programs that allow structure, pitch and tempo manipulation of multitrack audio backing in real-time, often more easily than an arranger’s track controls. And, as we see with the Event and PA5x arrangers, similar control without even needing a laptop/tablet.

The days of there being any appreciable difference between audio and arrangers have passed us by…

The thing for me is, I’d rather give up a little bit of control over the backing and gain FULL control over both hands without tasking one to rote repetition of the chords (and a bunch of button pushing) when it could be doing so much more. If the goal is to convince an audience that we actually ARE playing, shouldn’t they see both hands playing fully?

The sight of an arranger player with their arms folded while the fully orchestrated intro plays (after they hit one note to define the key) and then their left hand plays maybe one chord (or one note!) every bar or so and presses the occasional button is quite possibly the reason they get little respect, if you ask me. Every other keyboard player an audience goes to see has both hands fully occupied (if they’re any good) and there’s a visual connection between what their hands are doing and the music the audience hears.

Let’s be honest here… if any of us had the opportunity to play with a live rhythm section, would we be happy playing as little as we do running an arranger the old school way? Would we expect it to impress our fellow musicians? Or the audience?

The technology now exists for us to play with tracks OR arranger styles and still fully use both hands to create an individual expression every time. Tracks can have markers and mix presets, styles can have chord sequences preprepared (but overrideable) and foot controls can operate most commonly used buttons like Variation and fill selection, breaks, stops etc..

Embrace the new technology rather than get mired in out of date restrictions, and it’s possible to finally achieve the goal that arrangers promised decades ago…

A backing band that follows what you want them to do, but with zero compromise in what YOU want to play, and how you want to play it!

I for one am SO tired of listening to live arranger demos and thinking ‘That’s nice, but it would have been so much better if they could have used both hands to play properly…’ whether it’s full two handed piano playing, solos fully utilizing the bender or two handed syncopation etc.. You know, all the tools that a conventional keyboard player takes for granted, but the arranger player is denied because of all that damn LH chord input and button pushing!

Whether it’s tracks or styles, there aren’t any excuses any more. Your band awaits… 🎹😎
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An arranger is just a tool. What matters is what you build with it..!

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#507090 - 11/18/22 12:21 PM Re: Backing tracks, pre-arranged sets, etc. [Re: Bernie9]
rikkisbears Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 12/22/02
Posts: 6020
Loc: NSW,Australia
Originally Posted By Bernie9
"As I see it, the difference between DJ-ing and actually PLAYING comes from what you actually play, what the audience hears YOU (not the arranger) playing, from your singing (if you sing) from what they can actually SEE you doing (it’s not just musicians that can tell when someone’s hands have nothing to do with what they can hear!)" .quote from Diki


"What you actually play"
100% agreed, but that's the point. Accomp is one thing, but miming or passing off the melody line as yours when in fact you are are not really playing at all is what gripes me.


Spot on Bernie


Edited by rikkisbears (11/18/22 12:21 PM)
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Rikki 🧸

Korg PA5X 88 note
SX900
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#507091 - 11/18/22 12:23 PM Re: Backing tracks, pre-arranged sets, etc. [Re: cgiles]
Diki Online   content


Registered: 04/25/05
Posts: 14177
Loc: NW Florida
I’ll tell you a few other advantages of tracks…

You get basslines that move intelligently TOWARDS the next chord, because they know what they are, not jump to the next chord because they have no clue what the next one will be until you play it!

You get musical voice leading between chords, for the same reason. Parts that don’t jump around, but play the closest inversion to what was just played.

You get drummers that don’t repeat the same fill every time throughout the song.

You get far more than four basic grooves per song.

You get no restrictions on how many or what type of effects each individual track has. No worrying about if you have enough insert effects to put that tremolo and slap back on the guitar amp and still enough left over for the phaser on the Rhodes and a good Leslie on the B3 and a compressor on the overheads of the drum kit.

You generally get guitar tracks played by real guitarists.

And, after getting enough different multitrack backing tracks (all referenced to a click), you have a HUGE library of drum grooves, percussion grooves and live guitar grooves that are easy enough to splice, dice and reuse any way you feel like.

Tired of a song the same way every time? Fly in a different song’s drums or percussion. Play a different bassline. Replace out the guitars using a guitar loop VSTi or your arranger’s guitar mode. It will all lock together because the audio is clicked in the first place.

Tracks only spoon feed you if you let them… 🎹😋
_________________________
An arranger is just a tool. What matters is what you build with it..!

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#507092 - 11/18/22 12:40 PM Re: Backing tracks, pre-arranged sets, etc. [Re: Diki]
rikkisbears Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 12/22/02
Posts: 6020
Loc: NSW,Australia
Originally Posted By Diki

And, as we see with the Event and PA5x arrangers, similar control without even needing a laptop/tablet.

Whether it’s tracks or styles, there aren’t any excuses any more. Your band awaits… 🎹😎


Hi,
haven’t kept up with what advancements Ketron have made with the Event (no hope of buying one over here, ) so not interested in what I can never have, but , PA5x I had been following. One pretty amazing function is the dual style playing function. Play style 1 move slider across Play style2, slider in middle, both play together. Has the mind racing as to the possibilities.
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best wishes
Rikki 🧸

Korg PA5X 88 note
SX900
Band in a Box 2022

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#507093 - 11/18/22 04:32 PM Re: Backing tracks, pre-arranged sets, etc. [Re: cgiles]
travlin'easy Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 12/08/02
Posts: 15553
Loc: Forest Hill, MD USA
Diki, at my age, I'm happy to be 15 years behind the times. In fact, I'm just happy to have made it to 82 and still have fun with the keyboard. smile

Gary cool
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PSR-S950, TC Helicon Harmony-M, Digitech VR, Samson Q7, Sennheiser E855, Custom Console, and lots of other silly stuff!

K+E=W (Knowledge Plus Experience = Wisdom.)

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#507094 - 11/19/22 01:37 AM Re: Backing tracks, pre-arranged sets, etc. [Re: cgiles]
Bernie9 Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 09/21/02
Posts: 5507
Loc: Port Charlotte,FL,USA
IMOP, Diki has valid points to me, as I try to keep an open mind about backing tracks. We know my viewpoint on cheating, but that doesn't mean that you can't play over tracks with both hands: I do. We all have different ways of doing things, but if I can find a better way to get a song across, I will use it if I am visibly playing, and that particular song needs some background help.

I respect the other viewpoints that have been expressed here, and they are perhaps right for them, but I don't believe in being an absolutist. We all know Diki is our technical guru and I could never pull off the more technical parts of his treatise, but will use what I can with the ability to look my audience in the eye with no guilt.
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pa4X 76 ,SX900, Audya 76,Yamaha S970 , vArranger, Hammond SK1, Ketron SD40, Centerpoint Space Station, Bose compact

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#507095 - 11/19/22 05:21 AM Re: Backing tracks, pre-arranged sets, etc. [Re: cgiles]
abacus Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 07/21/05
Posts: 5336
Loc: English Riviera, UK
This backing track topic has been around since the advent of accompaniment and multitrack on organs in the late 60s early 70s (The arranger is just a spinoff of organ easy play features) and so unlikely to ever be resolved, all you can do is say how you like to play (Also what your audience wants) and leave it at that, as it all comes down to personal preference. (Claiming that you are playing live something you are not however is another matter)

Bill
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English Riviera:
Live entertainment, Real Ale, Great Scenery, Great Beaches, why would anyone want to live anywhere else (I�m definitely staying put).

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#507097 - 11/19/22 06:10 PM Re: Backing tracks, pre-arranged sets, etc. [Re: cgiles]
travlin'easy Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 12/08/02
Posts: 15553
Loc: Forest Hill, MD USA
After traveling up and down the east and southern Gulf coasts of the USA, and trying to catch every arranger keyboard player act I could find, I saw ever kind of cheater you can imagine, including one on the Jersey coast that was playing the music from a digital recorder/player, while at the same time, having some good look gals and a guy in front of him singing. Really sounded good, but than I saw that his arranger keyboard wasn't even plugged into the wall outlet. The keyboard's power cord was neatly coiled and suspended on a velcro strip attached to the stand leg, but not completely hidden from the audience. Fortunately, his singers were top notch and the ladies were very attractive, so no one seemed to notice that his fingers were falling on dead keys.

In Florida, there seems to be a zillion have guitar will travel entertainers, some of which are very, very good, while others relied heavily in those prerecorded backing tracks. I saw one guy strumming and picking his heart out using a solid body guitar, but the guitar pickup was not connected to anything. Again, this guy had a great voice, he was quite handsome, very well dressed in country attire and the ladies loved him. smile

When I was enjoying my time living aboard my sailboat in the Florida Keys, and packing my usual setup, I had all the work I could possibly handle. I sincerely believe there were a few good reasons behind this, while the guitar guys were working one or two jobs a week. I provided something they could not with a guitar and 100-watt amp next to them, and maybe some backing tracks. I provided the audience with variety from all genres, country, country rock, Jimmy Buffett (Can't go wrong with Jimmy in the south), some smooth jazz, oldies rock and roll, waltzes, polkas, etc... If some handed me a note with a song request, it was rare that I could not perform it. One of the lines I often used when introducing myself at the beginning of the performance was "If you have a special song that you want me to perform for you, just write it on the back of a $20 dollar bill and I'll be more than happy to take care of it." I never expected that to happen, but by golly, it did on several occasions.

I hated to leave the Florida Keys and sail back to Maryland, but my loving wife of 60 years threatened me with divorce of worse if I wasn't home by the end of March, 2013. On March, I tied the boat to the dock in Perryville, Maryland, she was there to greet me along with some friends and in the freezing cold, we sipped on a glass of champapgne. During the more than 30 plus years I was an arranger keyboard entertainer, I think I may have used backing tracks a half-dozen times, however, I always played along with them and this was songs that I was just not comfortable playing while singing.

Good luck,

Gary cool
_________________________
PSR-S950, TC Helicon Harmony-M, Digitech VR, Samson Q7, Sennheiser E855, Custom Console, and lots of other silly stuff!

K+E=W (Knowledge Plus Experience = Wisdom.)

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#507098 - 11/20/22 01:30 PM Re: Backing tracks, pre-arranged sets, etc. [Re: cgiles]
Diki Online   content


Registered: 04/25/05
Posts: 14177
Loc: NW Florida
I guess what I always wanted was simply to play as I had the previous 30+ years of my career, whether it was in a band or not. I spent decades honing my style and technique to make a rhythm section (guitar bass and drummer) sound as full as possible, trying to cover not only the keyboard parts, but as much strings and horns etc. as could humanly be done.

I ended up with very much a ‘two right hands’ approach, which is enormously fun to do and rewarding to pull off musically. I guess it was having to abandon all that and tie that LH up doing next to nothing that put me off all that much arranger playing. It kind of ruined my self-delusion that I was still playing with a band! But tracks and SMF’s definitely had almost as many restrictions back in the day… zero interactivity, zero spontaneity, relentless repetition.

Fortunately, with the trend towards backing tracks being multitrack and software that allows you to move freely through the structure (and MUCH better tempo and key change results than before) most of the restrictions can be avoided (with effort!).

Thing is, on the other side of the coin, now that multi-section chord sequencers that can store the sections to a registration are available, and arrangers that can interactively mix two different styles together and allow you to pick and choose which Parts are active, most of the reasons I didn’t like arranger playing have also gone (with effort!).

What an amazing time to be alive! The promise of a band that plays with YOU, that does what you want, when you want, how you want is quite honestly virtually fully realized, and all without abandoning the technique and skills that playing in great bands helped develop…

And there are now TWO different ways of achieving it. Amazing! 🎹😎
_________________________
An arranger is just a tool. What matters is what you build with it..!

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#507100 - 11/20/22 02:08 PM Re: Backing tracks, pre-arranged sets, etc. [Re: cgiles]
Bernie9 Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 09/21/02
Posts: 5507
Loc: Port Charlotte,FL,USA
Diki:
I ended up with very much a ‘two right hands’ approach, which is enormously fun to do and rewarding to pull off musically."

I sure haven't accomplished near the technical methods you have, but I always use the "two right hands" approach. I started out very simply by putting an appropriate sound to my left hand. Next, I sort of kept time in a after beat. I graduated to adding fill chords in the same key. It ain't rocket science, but it sure adds a great deal to my total sound.
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pa4X 76 ,SX900, Audya 76,Yamaha S970 , vArranger, Hammond SK1, Ketron SD40, Centerpoint Space Station, Bose compact

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