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Backing tracks. Good for your health?   You are logged in as Guest
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Escribano

Posts: 6340
Joined: Jul. 6 2003
From: England, living in Italy

Backing tracks. Good for your health? 

It's only off-topic because it concerns the blues but there may be some cross-over here.

I went for a jam with a guy last night and was left very deflated. He sounds incredible. But the thing that is bugging me is that he plays in a cover band and practises soley to backing tracks on his computer, which he insisted we used. So I had to struggle to jam along to all kinds of stuff, with vocals, bass drums and all, including his very precise playing.

Not the free wheeling, compositional jamming I remember from my youthful days. Not a jam or a juerga at all.

On top of that, he can't get too many gigs anymore as pubs go up-market or expect bands to work for peanuts and bring their own audience.

He could reel out licks like a machine gun but I got the impression that he couldn't make anything up on the spot if he hadn't already played it many times before against a backing track. I was pretty crap, except during the slower (delta style) and minor blues. Funnily enough, I really think that flamenco helped in this. He loved my modded guitars, my touch and my tone. We did very well up against his Gibson 335 and old USA Strat.

So, my question (because I felt a bit humiliated) is does one strive to 'get' with the influence of a genre and play it with limited skill or does one 'copy' and play along to established classics with immense precision?

I want to feel a bit better about my progress but I am not sure where I am right now, to be honest.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Mar. 21 2014 19:31:12
 
El Kiko

Posts: 2697
Joined: Jun. 7 2010
From: The South Ireland

RE: Backing tracks. Good for your he... (in reply to Escribano

i think unless you ' do your own thing ' you wont create anything new.....

Sometimes you can make a mistake and get out of it with a bit of creativity and come out smelling of roses ...

I know a Jazz pianist that deliberately , kind of .backs himself into a musical corner in his impro . to challenge himself out of it ...it s what he dies ...
I dont think your friend would like this ,, he sounds too safe .. but horses for courses...

Also when you go and see a (car ) race , its the crashes you remember more than anything ...these are usually mistakes....

Fin ...Impro rules ....



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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Mar. 21 2014 21:25:57
 
Leñador

Posts: 5237
Joined: Jun. 8 2012
From: Los Angeles

RE: Backing tracks. Good for your he... (in reply to Escribano

These are HIS backing tracks, he probably practices to them constantly. I don't do that when people ask me to jam, I try to accommodate not make myself look good. Next time bring some bulerias cajon tracks and see who looks better.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Mar. 21 2014 22:36:38
 
Pgh_flamenco

 

Posts: 1490
Joined: Dec. 5 2007
From: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

RE: Backing tracks. Good for your he... (in reply to Escribano

quote:

So, my question (because I felt a bit humiliated) is does one strive to 'get' with the influence of a genre and play it with limited skill or does one 'copy' and play along to established classics with immense precision?


I think it depends and I don't necessarily see this sort of dichotomy being helpful in the long run. To play well you need quite a bit of both. I used play-along albums by Jamey Aebersold when I was learning jazz and blues. They helped immensely. The tracks were sparse with floating piano chord voicings ascending and descending in what seemed like random patterns, but the underlying progressions and rhythm followed a standard jazz/blues format and made it possible for me to play along with so many blues and rock classics. It was just drums, upright bass and piano--and the piano was only on one channel of the recording in case you wanted to eliminate it by going from stereo to mono. There was a lot of room for creativity with these tracks and it was quite a challenge at first to take a five minute long solo in a format like this.

The main thing about knowing these standard progressions in the appropriate bar format is you will eventually be able to anticipate the chord changes even with specific songs you have never heard before. “Anticipation” IMO is a critical part of soloing and adds to the swing fell and sense of improvisation. With it you modulate or shift the tonal center of your melody a split second before the rest of the band.

Eventually I learned classics like Hendrix’s Red House and found that I could easily play along with and modulate with chord changes when playing blues (which many great blues players don’t do) and sound good doing it. I played along with a PBS special of a performance of SRV and Albert King last month and they didn’t follow the chord changes at all. They stayed with the tonic and their playing was pretty boring. I preferred what I was doing to what they had done. Joe Bonamassa’s Tour de Force has been on PBS a few times in the last month and I’ve had a great time playing along with it. (JB modulates with the changes.) The main issue with blues is repetition. The songs are just too repetitive. It would be nice if blues had more palos—lol. PBS also aired a show by Gino Vanelli, whose music (at least the instrumental part) is light jazz, and the few times I played along with it I noticed a lot of progress in my ability to follow the chord changes of songs on my second try. The issue with jazz is perhaps a bit too much variation.

All I can say is if you want to be able to take a good solo and be creative within a certain genre you have to practice with a band or use the type of recordings I used decades ago. Stick with the standard progressions and then learn specific tunes within the genre—at least that is my preference and recommendation. Even though it can be a bit challenging at first, this is the most enjoyable form of practice there is and the dividends it pays are enormous in the long run. Also, playing in rhythm will improve your technique in a way that drills with a metronome never will. As for your comment about “immense precision” --YMMV, but I don’t think perfect technique is necessary to express yourself in a way that you or an audience will find impressive and profound.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Mar. 21 2014 23:34:29
 
guitarbuddha

 

Posts: 2970
Joined: Jan. 4 2007
 

RE: Backing tracks. Good for your he... (in reply to Escribano

Sounds like a strange Jam Simon.

Forewarned is forearmed mind. I love Band in a Box (for practicing with at home sounds like sh1t compared to a real band and I would never play out with it) and you can set up a setlist and play it half speed if you like.

A recording will never respond to you but a lot of guys I know who play rhythm guitar (and a few drummers) don't either.

Hope you have a better time next time, you should be able to persuade him to turn off the parrot though at least some of the time.

(edit.. just noticed PGH post which I liked. If it is jazzy blues you are doing then a good tip is to learn to set up the minor two chord with the VI dominant -bar eight into nine- so in G play maybe an E7 arp/run/lick to land on Am)

D.

D.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Mar. 21 2014 23:39:02
 
Escribano

Posts: 6340
Joined: Jul. 6 2003
From: England, living in Italy

RE: Backing tracks. Good for your he... (in reply to Escribano

I use backing tracks myself all the time, for learning and practice but I use generic tracks, not those of a specific song. He actually uses karaoke tracks.

On reflection, he was just showing himself in the best light and not really interested in creating anything.

Thanks for helping me think it through.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Mar. 21 2014 23:58:17
 
Escribano

Posts: 6340
Joined: Jul. 6 2003
From: England, living in Italy

RE: Backing tracks. Good for your he... (in reply to Pgh_flamenco

quote:

I played along with a PBS special of a performance of SRV and Albert King last month and they didn’t follow the chord changes at all.


I can be tiresome, I agree. Although I find BB King lighter and more whimsical on the ear than SRV in this respect. BB doesn't play rhythm guitar by his own admission.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Mar. 22 2014 0:03:47
 
Miguel de Maria

Posts: 3527
Joined: Oct. 20 2003
From: Phoenix, AZ

RE: Backing tracks. Good for your he... (in reply to Escribano

Simon, backing tracks at a jam is just wrong unless you were sort of auditioning for his band. I recently got a looper (Ditto), and love it. But I go by Todd's rule: it has to be created at the gig, no backing tracks!

I do believe that to create, you have to just let it all hang out and do what comes out. Don't edit, just let it flow. Don't listen to the voice in your head that says it's no good. However, you should do your homework. Copy and learn from the masters so that your vocabulary is developed.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Mar. 22 2014 0:07:28
 
Escribano

Posts: 6340
Joined: Jul. 6 2003
From: England, living in Italy

RE: Backing tracks. Good for your he... (in reply to Miguel de Maria

quote:

Copy and learn from the masters so that your vocabulary is developed.


Yep, that is a good way of putting it. I want to write my own sentences rather than copy an entire novel.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Mar. 22 2014 7:51:24
 
Anders Eliasson

Posts: 5780
Joined: Oct. 18 2006
 

RE: Backing tracks. Good for your he... (in reply to Escribano

I think youu have the answers yourself. If not ask yourself what music is.

Also can this guy play alone without anything because thats the essence of music and being a musician.
That said, its a very good help to play along with tracks, loops, metronomes, but those who overdo it IMHO always end up playing very correct and very boring.

Music is about having fun and if its not fun its not music. Was is it fun to play with this guy? Can you imagine that it´ll be fun for you to play with him and are you the kind of musician that want to invest your energy in playing his way? (I´m not)

Its a good thread, because it is based in a general "problem" with music nowadays, that we are used to listen to "perfect" recordings with click tracks and super fine polishing of everything. IMO its totally boring and my vision of myself playing music has nothing to do with that. Its like watching these picture perfect paintings copied from photo slides. It just doesnt make any sense to me. Its lifeless.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Mar. 22 2014 8:03:28
 
duende

Posts: 3051
Joined: Dec. 15 2003
From: Sweden

RE: Backing tracks. Good for your he... (in reply to Escribano

Backingtracks are fine if you don´t have anyone to jam with.
To trade solos/rythm back and forth are an exelent way to grow.

You have to know the chords the rythms the scales and you can´t fall back on anything. Nowhere to hide!

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Mar. 22 2014 8:50:36
 
estebanana

Posts: 8550
Joined: Oct. 16 2009
 

RE: Backing tracks. Good for your he... (in reply to Escribano

Put that guy on the Do not fly list and find some warm blooded live creatures to jam with.

If you feel crappy after jamming with a guy who sounds as loose and flexible as tree bark, get with some other players.

It's supposed to be FUN! And make you happy and excited on the drive back home. That is the test of a group. Do you feel nervous and happy and want more after the jam?

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Mar. 22 2014 11:18:46
 
Pgh_flamenco

 

Posts: 1490
Joined: Dec. 5 2007
From: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

RE: Backing tracks. Good for your he... (in reply to Escribano

quote:

I want to write my own sentences rather than copy an entire novel.


I think you're setting yourself up for another disappointing experience in the future.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Mar. 22 2014 14:39:11
 
Ricardo

Posts: 13512
Joined: Dec. 14 2004
From: Washington DC

RE: Backing tracks. Good for your he... (in reply to Escribano

Backing tracks: ranks up there with fancy metronomes and such. Fun for when you are alone, but not good in the long run. Only backing track I need is my own foot tap. I will say, however, there are too many "jammers" out there that can't even keep a groove and are not so fun to play with, as "free" as it might feel. Nothing more annoying than some aficionado who THINKS they can play a cajon and it's just banging on a box. I will take a robotic boring backing track over THAT any day.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Mar. 22 2014 17:54:25
 
tele

Posts: 1462
Joined: Aug. 17 2012
 

RE: Backing tracks. Good for your he... (in reply to Escribano

Ricardo: flamenco backing tracks are in my opinion a whole different thing as they often contain only the rhythm palmas (or cajon) and maybe a cantaor, while in blues backing tracks there's the whole band with chords over which we have to improvise

I think if one has to play rock or blues lead parts without improvisation then he/she isn't musician enough. Improvisation is for me the greatest part of music and that's where the new material comes from, even when for example creating a new falseta, you improvise=create new stuff until you get it right. I have personally only little interest in studying other peoples material, except of course in flamenco I've had to study to get a proper base and understanding of the basics, on which I can later on base my own variations and falsetas. It takes alot of work to learn improvisation well over a backing track but at least if one learns it, he won't be a square who plays note to note solos that are made by other people (read: souless playing)

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Apr. 13 2014 13:22:22
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