Using Midi backing tracks live

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JetfireJetfire Frets: 586
Anyone hearing using a midi backing track in a live context? For example, a backing track with a drummer, guitarist and bass player for example to help add keyboards etc into the mix? 

Ive pondered this for a while and Im wondering how feasable it would be to do this in our current set up, Our drummer is a very talented guy and can play with a click really well and I think the rest of us would cope with it too. We are at a stage where we can potentially buy in-ear monitors for gigs etc. so thats something we could look at. Any thoughts etc on this type of set up?
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  • John_PJohn_P Frets: 1979
    I did this years ago, using mini disk but it's the same idea.   I had the backing/keys parts on one side and a click on the other.  We used a two bar count with the click going only to the drummer so he heard the first bar count and then counted the band in.   If the drummer can follow the click track all is good
    I've found avoiding a straight 4 click made it easier for the drummer to follow, then his hits don't cancel out his click track as much.
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  • It's all about the drummer really cos if he falls of the click and can't get back on the right bar the whole things out of time

    We use an iPod with click left channel and backing track right channel . The drummer gets both but only the backing track is sent to front of house. The drummer has a micro mixer by him so he can adjust his balance

    If you stick to the set list it's pretty quick to go to next song. If you change the set list as you go then the poor old drummer had to cue up and that can take a few moments. You all have to be on it as once he counts there's no going back or adding on another bar

    I mixed a band a couple of weeks ago at rock fields farm with this setup doing funk rock and rap and I was amazed how good it sounded . It really opens up another dimension to what a basic band can do live
    www.2020studios.co.uk 
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  • We use midi backing tracks with our amateur 5 piece indie rock/dance covers band.  I programme the sequences on a PC and load them as standard midi files into a Korg Triton workstation.

    Midi track 1 carries the click track and uses internal drum sounds (clave and woodblock click).  I route this to one of the Triton’s individual outputs and send it to the drummer’s headphones. We like the click to be independent of other monitoring so only the drummer can hear it; the drummer counts the others in and keeps time on the hi-hat if the guitarist or singer have to start the song and any other quieter bits – the other guys take their cues primarily from the drummer, although they can hear the backing tracks via my backline / monitors too but not the click. The rest of the midi tracks play the Triton’s internal sounds, an Akai Miniak for bass synth madness and a series of Reason soft synth racks hosted on two creaking laptops. Being from a guitar background I prefer to use backline for monitoring; I plug all of the audio outs into an old 300w PA mixer head which powers a single Peavey  PA speaker which sits next to my guitar amp. The 300w headroom and 15” speaker results in a clarity and volume which makes the programmed sounds and played keys sound completely integral to the band’s sound. For larger gigs I take a mono line out of the mixer head into a cheap DI box and offer it to the sound engineer for the FOH. The backing and keys can be added just like the other instruments to the monitor mixes to suit. We’ve played about 15 gigs or so now with this set up and it works well for us.

    The midi backing (and keys) give us a really “full” sound and allow us to consider songs that we’d never have pulled off with just guitars.  It does make us play differently though – everyone has to lock to the drummer rather than it being a kind of group effort, and any spontaneity has to be kept in check due to the linear nature of the backing. The sequencer (and synths) do need someone to manage them though, even if it’s just loading up the next song and pressing start after the singer has stopped talking.  I do it as I play 2nd guitar and some one handed keys, but I’ve seen bands where the drummer is happy to run the sequencer.

    It’s a lot of work sometimes and more equipment to carry and worry about breaking down, but it’s our sound now and we love it.

    https://www.facebook.com/foursevensevens?fref=ts

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  • JetfireJetfire Frets: 586
    Ah that's good to know! I'll have a Google of the stuff. Essentially we'd want to just keyboards or something simple so not massive amounts of layering. Nice to see a Pembrokeshire bod on here too!
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  • VoxmanVoxman Frets: 2123
    edited September 2014

    I've got two bands - Midnight Sun (4-piece - bass doubles with keys), and 'Undercover-Duo' - which is ...shock horror....a duo!  >:D< 

    We haven't yet used backing for Midnight Sun, but the duo relies on backing tracks completely. Typically its just bass and drums with a click intro, but one or two have keyboards too.  Mike does all the vocals and I do all the guitar stuff.  We've done a few demos here, if this is of any interest (4 have just drums and bass, but Led Zep's Rock n Roll has a little bit of piano at the end, and Paul Weller's 'You do something to me' has keys). I used my PRS Cu24 and Vox Tonelab LE for everything.

    https://soundcloud.com/richard-birch-1






    I started out with nothing..... but I've still got most of it left (Seasick Steve)
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  • I've done a bit of that but to be honest I really don't like it.
    Something about the computer element kills the magic of a gig for me. Might as well just play a cd if you want it to be exactly like the record.
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  • Voxman said:

    I've got two bands - Midnight Sun (4-piece - bass doubles with keys), and 'Undercover-Duo' - which is ...shock horror....a duo!  >:D< 

    We haven't yet used backing for Midnight Sun, but the duo relies on backing tracks completely. Typically its just bass and drums with a click intro, but one or two have keyboards too.  Mike does all the vocals and I do all the guitar stuff.  We've done a few demos here, if this is of any interest (4 have just drums and bass, but Led Zep's Rock n Roll has a little bit of piano at the end, and Paul Weller's 'You do something to me' has keys). I used my PRS Cu24 and Vox Tonelab LE for everything.

    https://soundcloud.com/richard-birch-1






    Wow there's a lot of echo/verb on you singers voice in that led zep one!
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  • VoxmanVoxman Frets: 2123
    edited October 2014
    Possibly yeah but its just a demo and I think Mike (vocals) is still feeling his way re mixing and getting to grips with the software.  Certainly seem to be doing the job though as we're getting gigs and folk seem to like us.  
    I started out with nothing..... but I've still got most of it left (Seasick Steve)
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  • Jez6345789Jez6345789 Frets: 1011
    Just record and program it up on a laptop you can even use plugins for the guitars.

    My mate goes out with an ipad and an iphone

    Another uses his iphone and a specially designed app for playing backing tracks easily live called one track.


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  • jeztone2jeztone2 Frets: 1024
    I once supported a band at a Festival who were not using a click & watching them slide out of time was one of the most funniest cringeworthy moments I have seen. Id love to be that techie, but it scares me. Good luck I say
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  • We use backing tracks live, basically running the stems from the record through Ableton, from a laptop by the drummer. We've set it up so some songs blend into the next without us having to press play. We wanted to be as slick as possible anyway, with minimal dead moments for tuning and the like.

    When we started I think we only had an interface which was a couple hundred quid and a cheap headphone amp. We all bought low end Shure in ears and connected them to the headphone amp using headphone extension cables. The synths and click would get sent to the desk separately - back then we only had click in the Shures and some vocals, so we didn't go out of time. Now we have a rack unit with interfaces/DI along with the moulded IEMs and all that jazz. That's the expensive option if you decide one day it's worth it, as it is more reliable.
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  • Drew_TNBDDrew_TNBD Frets: 22392
    I've done a bit of that but to be honest I really don't like it.
    Something about the computer element kills the magic of a gig for me. Might as well just play a cd if you want it to be exactly like the record.
    Kind of agree with this. I'd really like to see a solution that embraces the live gig thing, and uses technology to handle the triggering - like tracking the band and using FFT and other analysis tools to know when to trigger sounds based on the real time input the band is giving...
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  • MatthewShredderyMatthewShreddery Frets: 592
    edited October 2014
    To add to my previous post I don't think it's all bad. Some bands need to use clicks and backings as they firm a big part of their sound and that's all good.

    What I don't like is when I gig with function/covers bands who use click tracks because they want the sampled backing vocals they got for "Happy" to be in the mix for example.

    I come from an improvisational background and I love to leave room for spontaneity in a performance. For example taking an unplanned extra chorus in a solo, adding a break down etc.
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  • Rob477Rob477 Frets: 3

    I guess like all things, pre programmed / recorded backing will not be for everyone.  For many genres of musicianship and live music it will be pointless at best and possibly detrimental at worst.

    But in the context of our pub covers debacle it works a treat for us.  It’s not so much a case of trying to sound like the CD (I wish) but more allowing us to try songs that would be, well, corny with just guitars.  For us the backing & synths are just another instrument. There’s plenty of real drums, guitar, bass & singing going on to make a proper racket.  There’s room for a little improvisation too as we weave loops in and out from the sequencer (we’re hoping to develop this more with Ableton Live once we’ve changed the EL34s that power our laptops).  But like chorus pedals and drum solos all things in moderation. The songs with clicked backing account for half our set; the other songs are “guitar only”.  Keeps it interesting for us, if not the audience (it's none of their business anyway!)

    Interestingly we have looked at a clickless approach, something akin to what Tony Coleman does when he gigs London Elektricity; but we fly by our pants when we start the sequencer as it is so not for us yet.  Good luck to anyone doing this though.

    If it floats your boat then it’s definitely worth a dabble IMHO. The technology’s never been cheaper. It got us out of a sex-on-fire rut (can't believe I just typed that). It won’t be for everyone but there’s nothing wrong with that; it’s all rock n roll.

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