Using Backing Tracks On GigsFeb 20, 2023
Drummers controlling backing tracks on gigs has become increasingly common in the modern music industry, especially for smaller bands who may not have a full lineup of instrumentalists. This is due to the many benefits that backing tracks can provide to a live performance, such as filling in missing instruments and creating a fuller, more polished and consistent sound.
One of the main advantages of using backing tracks is that they can help to fill out the sound of a smaller band. For example, a three-piece band may not have the ability to play all the parts of a song that includes multiple instruments like keyboards or horns, but with a backing track, the missing parts can be added to the live performance. This can help to create a more complete and dynamic sound that is more engaging for the audience.
Another benefit of using backing tracks is that they can provide a high level of consistency and accuracy during a live performance. When a band is relying solely on live instrumentation, there is always the potential for mistakes or inconsistencies to occur. However, with a backing track, the parts are pre-recorded and can be played exactly the same way every time. This can help to ensure that the performance is consistent from show to show, and that the audience is always getting the same high-quality experience.
To ensure that the backing tracks are being played correctly, it is common for the drummer to control them during the performance. This allows the drummer to ensure that the tracks are being played at the right time and at the right volume, and can also give them the ability to add their own creative flourishes to the performance.
When it comes to sending the tracks to the audience, it is common practice to split the track into stereo so that the drummer can hear both the track AND the click, but the audience only hear the track. The click track is a metronome that helps the drummer to stay in time with the rest of the band and the backing track. By sending both the track and the click to the drummer, they can ensure that they are playing in time with the backing track and that the performance is as accurate and polished as possible. Other band members can also get click in their In Ear Monitors if they want, but often they will just rely on the drummer.
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While some purists may argue that using backing tracks takes away from the authenticity of a live performance, it is important to remember that the ultimate goal is to create an engaging and enjoyable experience for the audience, and sometimes that means using all the tools at our disposal to create the best possible sound.