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#507101 - 11/20/22 03:28 PM Re: Backing tracks, pre-arranged sets, etc. [Re: cgiles]
Diki Offline


Registered: 04/25/05
Posts: 14135
Loc: NW Florida
One exercise I used to do with bands was build two presets for a song. If it used piano and horns (or really whatever!) make one preset with piano at the bottom and horns on the top, then the other with them reversed.

Then every now and again, perform the song using the ‘reversed’ one live.

Sometimes you can pull them off without much difference, sometimes the technicality of one part or the other makes it impossible, and you find yourself inventing something new that works, that you might never have done using the conventional layout. Occasionally, the new way sounds better, or fresher, at least (especially on tunes you play so often you end up rote on them).

You want to work that left hand, try it sometimes! Most arrangers will let you trigger chords from the RH side of a split, do the chord recognition from the RH and play a solo (or turn off the ABASS and do a proper bassline!) with your left hand…

It’s a good remedy for the atrophy that arranger players’ left hands often develop… 🎹😎
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An arranger is just a tool. What matters is what you build with it..!

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#507109 - 11/22/22 08:54 PM Re: Backing tracks, pre-arranged sets, etc. [Re: cgiles]
Ketron_AJ Offline
Moderator

Registered: 03/21/01
Posts: 3569
Loc: Middletown, DE
It is safe to say if you play live with ANY pre-recordings (a single track to multiple tracks), therefore you are playing with Backing tracks. Now, obviously, the more tracks you use, the more unrealistic it is visually, but the closer to the real thing you sound (especially if performing cover tunes). This also includes using Arranger Keyboards (with styles) or Workstations with midi files/audio tracks etc.

So the question becomes, at what level is it considered 'cheating' for those who do not consider it 'professional' to use backing tracks? After 2 tracks? 3 tracks?

We can agree that someone manually playing left-hand bass and right-hand organ, while playing along to a DRUM TRACK ONLY, is putting in more 'work' than someone playing with multiple tracks/styles/Midifiles ... etc... but they are 'cheating' just as someone using Midifiles or karaoke. There is no real level where you can draw a line between these 2 examples. It's like asking when is conception - day 1, day 4 or day 7 ...etc.

Just my thoughts...
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#507111 - 11/23/22 06:28 AM Re: Backing tracks, pre-arranged sets, etc. [Re: Ketron_AJ]
cgiles Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 09/29/05
Posts: 6673
Loc: Roswell,GA/USA
Originally Posted By Ketron_AJ

We can agree that someone manually playing left-hand bass and right-hand organ, while playing along to a DRUM TRACK ONLY, is putting in more 'work' than someone playing with multiple tracks/styles/Midifiles ... etc... but they are 'cheating' just as someone using Midifiles or karaoke.


Well I respectfully disagree with that. 'Cheating', to me, is trying to make an audience believe you're playing something that you actually aren't. An organist, especially a jazz or gospel organist, playing ONLY to a drum track, is clearly the only one producing MUSICAL content and is similar to playing to a very sophisticated metronome or a clapping audience in a gospel church. He/she is not trying to 'fool' anyone and everyone can clearly see that they can 'play'. I practice with a drum machine (BK7m) all the time and I think it does wonders in keeping you from developing sloppy rhythmic habits. In a drummerless group setting, it keeps everyone on the same page (rhythmically). The fact that it can contribute musically does not overshadow it's main function, which is keeping time.

I judge a musical performance by what the musician is playing (and I don't mean how many buttons he can push or dials he can twirl) and partly how 'tasteful' the arrangement is. Whether that 'arrangement' is a backing track or an arranger style, for me, is not that important. I have never personally used a backing track or an arranger on a gig, but that may be partly because of the era I grew up in, but mostly because neither lent itself well to the type of music I was playing.

The ongoing, never-ending debate about backing tracks/arranger styles/lip syncing/'cheating', etc. will go on forever, mostly between two classes, musicians that can play and non-musicians that can't (AKA 'entertainers').

chas
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"Faith means not wanting to know what is true." [Nietzsche]

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#507112 - 11/23/22 09:15 AM Re: Backing tracks, pre-arranged sets, etc. [Re: cgiles]
Diki Offline


Registered: 04/25/05
Posts: 14135
Loc: NW Florida
I think it boils down to, what can the audience SEE you doing?

For arranger players, it is your hands that make the visual connection between what they are hearing and what you are playing. For this reason, I prefer a single keyboard rig with no other gear in the way. Multiple keyboard stacked rigs are all well and good in a live band situation (where you generally set up facing inwards and the audience can once again see you playing) but in a solo setting, all that extra stuff hides your hands if you face the audience. For most of us that DON’T ‘cheat’ (that is, mime to prerecorded tracks) to be quite honest, the hard part is convincing the audience that you ARE playing the sax solo or the guitar lead if you get it to the point that it’s really accurate! If they can’t SEE you playing the solo, they have every right to assume that it’s as prerecorded as the drums, bass, rhythm guitar etc..

Obviously, they can’t see a drummer, the bassist or a guitarist, they aren’t likely to assume you’re actually playing every note they hear. But if you spend the time and effort to really nail solos on instruments other than piano or organ (which are what the audience is naturally going to assume you’re playing!) it’s a shame to have them not SEE you playing the sax solo or lead guitar…

How many tracks (whether arranger, SMF or audio) are too many? In my opinion, when you COULD actually play some, but don’t. And even worse, when you mime along with tracks you could play, but don’t. Then you are seriously into an area even worse than DJ-ing. At least DJ’s don’t pretend they are playing anything!

I have nothing against ‘entertainers’. Most of the time, they are pretty good singers, and great communicators with an audience, skills that often great ‘players’ struggle with. But the line for me is when they try to take credit for musical content they have nothing to do with, by faking playing it. But I’m pretty sure we don’t have any of those here! 🎹😎
_________________________
An arranger is just a tool. What matters is what you build with it..!

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#507114 - 11/23/22 10:30 AM Re: Backing tracks, pre-arranged sets, etc. [Re: cgiles]
Ketron_AJ Offline
Moderator

Registered: 03/21/01
Posts: 3569
Loc: Middletown, DE
Originally Posted By cgiles
Originally Posted By Ketron_AJ

We can agree that someone manually playing left-hand bass and right-hand organ, while playing along to a DRUM TRACK ONLY, is putting in more 'work' than someone playing with multiple tracks/styles/Midifiles ... etc... but they are 'cheating' just as someone using Midifiles or karaoke.


Well I respectfully disagree with that. 'Cheating', to me, is trying to make an audience believe you're playing something that you actually aren't. An organist, especially a jazz or gospel organist, playing ONLY to a drum track, is clearly the only one producing MUSICAL content and is similar to playing to a very sophisticated metronome or a clapping audience in a gospel church. He/she is not trying to 'fool' anyone and everyone can clearly see that they can 'play'. I practice with a drum machine (BK7m) all the time and I think it does wonders in keeping you from developing sloppy rhythmic habits. In a drummerless group setting, it keeps everyone on the same page (rhythmically). The fact that it can contribute musically does not overshadow it's main function, which is keeping time.

I judge a musical performance by what the musician is playing (and I don't mean how many buttons he can push or dials he can twirl) and partly how 'tasteful' the arrangement is. Whether that 'arrangement' is a backing track or an arranger style, for me, is not that important. I have never personally used a backing track or an arranger on a gig, but that may be partly because of the era I grew up in, but mostly because neither lent itself well to the type of music I was playing.

The ongoing, never-ending debate about backing tracks/arranger styles/lip syncing/'cheating', etc. will go on forever, mostly between two classes, musicians that can play and non-musicians that can't (AKA 'entertainers').

chas





In that case, I can replace the Drum machine with a pre-recorded Bassline, and get the same results.
_________________________
[KETRON - USA]
Design Engineer & Product Specialist.
www.KetronAmerica.com

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#507115 - 11/23/22 11:50 AM Re: Backing tracks, pre-arranged sets, etc. [Re: Ketron_AJ]
cgiles Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 09/29/05
Posts: 6673
Loc: Roswell,GA/USA
Originally Posted By Ketron_AJ

In that case, I can replace the Drum machine with a pre-recorded Bassline, and get the same results.


Apples and Kiwi's. Drum machines don't contribute to the harmonic or melodic structure of a tune; Basslines do. For instance, how long can you endure the average DRUM SOLO? (I once went 37 seconds before throwing up and running out the room screaming). But a great bassline has the same effect as Viagra. Well close anyway smile.

chas
_________________________
"Faith means not wanting to know what is true." [Nietzsche]

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#507116 - 11/23/22 04:45 PM Re: Backing tracks, pre-arranged sets, etc. [Re: cgiles]
Diki Offline


Registered: 04/25/05
Posts: 14135
Loc: NW Florida
Basslines are one of the weak areas of arranger play. Played basslines move towards the next chord in a myriad of musical ways. The arranger bass part never knows the next chord until you play it!

Unless you’re doing a rote set of changes (12 bar blues, for instance) the style’s bassline has to remain generic and capable of going anywhere. You can help it out to a certain degree by moving to the first inversion, which will tend to suggest the 4 chord’s coming next, but it’s a pale shadow of a proper bassline.

Played basslines are generally better, but now you’re back to only having one right hand! Damned if you do, damned if you don’t! This is why I tend to favor tracks. Proper voice leading…
_________________________
An arranger is just a tool. What matters is what you build with it..!

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#507120 - 11/24/22 03:21 PM Re: Backing tracks, pre-arranged sets, etc. [Re: cgiles]
rikkisbears Offline
Senior Member

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


'Cheating', to me, is trying to make an audience believe you're playing something that you actually aren't.
chas


Too true.


Edited by rikkisbears (11/24/22 03:22 PM)
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Rikki 🧸

Korg PA5X 88 note
SX900
Band in a Box 2022

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#507121 - 11/24/22 03:35 PM Re: Backing tracks, pre-arranged sets, etc. [Re: zuki]
rikkisbears Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 12/22/02
Posts: 6020
Loc: NSW,Australia
Originally Posted By zuki
If anyone is interested, I do style play 100%. It's never perfect, but one jazz giant said "it's good to play great, but better to play free".

This is why I like the arranger, bass line deficiencies and all. I like doing my own arrangements and twists and turns. The fills and variations will allow for cool stuff.

I have a few songs on my website: solojim.com


Hi Jim, me too, except for me it’s only to entertain myself.

I did some backing tracks to play along with, when I bought my piano a couple of years ago. I couldn’t have my keyboard and piano in the living room, so tried playing along to the inbuilt MP3 player. Soon got bored with that. Moved the piano to my little music room, stacked sx900 on top, and went back to playing with styles. Much more enjoyable.
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best wishes
Rikki 🧸

Korg PA5X 88 note
SX900
Band in a Box 2022

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#507122 - 11/24/22 05:09 PM Re: Backing tracks, pre-arranged sets, etc. [Re: cgiles]
zuki Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 09/20/02
Posts: 4699
Hi Rikki,

Moving gear is the norm. The stack sounds like fun and glad you like it. I toy around with a 2nd board, from time to time, but really not in my best interest, time-wise. Jim
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