Backing tracks

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Tom

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I've listened to solo performers online and in person, and observed how backing tracks enhance their performance. I've been researching what I'd need to add backing tracks to my meager solo performances and, after reading and watching YouTube videos, came away with the following (limited) info:

DAW (digital audio workstation)- software such as:
- Avid Pro tools ($$$)
- Apple Logic Pro (I'm not an Apple user)
- Garageband (also Apple)
- Audacity

Backing tracks, MP3 downloadable ($) from sites such as:
- Karaoke Version

Hardware that I don't have or understand:

Anyone have a simple explanation of what I need?

TIA.
 
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Ex-Calif

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I got back into guitar a year or so ago - then stopped while developing my land/house.

I found ultimate guitar to be a great resource for tabs and backing tracks.

Ultimate Guitar

So far I have only recording directly from a room mic onto video. Not sure how d$$p I want to spend for this.

I also run my guitar through my tablet with an iRig 2 so I can do online lessons.

I bought a Fender practice amp but in hindsight I would have chosen the Spark amp.
 

UTTransplant

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Tom, a side question. Did you ever get the voice therapy you talked about a few years back? If so, did it help? I know voices change with age, but I have lost a lot of projection in my singing voice. Maybe it is just getting older, but I wonder if therapy or just a good voice coach would help me. Then again, maybe it is just lack of practice since our choirs are still not meeting regularly.
 

Tom

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Tom, a side question. Did you ever get the voice therapy you talked about a few years back? If so, did it help? I know voices change with age, but I have lost a lot of projection in my singing voice. Maybe it is just getting older, but I wonder if therapy or just a good voice coach would help me. Then again, maybe it is just lack of practice since our choirs are still not meeting regularly.
It was a long (3-year) process. Following several ENT Doc visits, a referral & several visits to the UCSF Voice & Swallowing clinic, then sessions with a couple of their vocal coaches, it was determined that the issue was a lack of air to support the notes. I was transferred to a couple of other clinics at UCSF, and they changed all my long-time asthma meds. Eventually I was back to projecting my voice in an auditorium sans microphone.

Edit: I'd originally thought there was damage to the vocal chords &/or trachea from intubation during anaesthesia during several surgeries, but that turned out not to be the case.
 
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Larry N.

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Tom, if you're talking about making your own backing tracks, Audacity certainly can be used, and even has a feature to let you listen while recording so that you can sync (by ear) as you play one (or more) track(s) and record another. It's never easy trying to get the sync right, and I've only played with it a few times, but with practice (and improved musical skill) I think I could do some serious tracks with it. Best of all is the price.

I think it's also possible to shift a track if needed- I know it has a track alignment function.

As to hardware, for use with Audacity a decent mic that plugs in to USB can be enough for the simplest uses. Or you could get something such as this Scarlett 2i2 (I have one and it's nice): Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 USB Audio Interface (Gen 3)

It lets you connect two inputs -- either or both can be vocal or instrument -- via USB and also has earphone and speaker connection.

Of course things can get pricier and more complex from there.
 
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Tom

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Tom, if you're talking about making your own backing tracks, Audacity certainly can be used, and even has a feature to let you listen while recording so that you can sync (by ear) as you play one (or more) track(s) and record another. It's never easy trying to get the sync right, and I've only played with it a few times, but with practice (and improved musical skill) I think I could do some serious tracks with it. Best of all is the price.

I think it's also possible to shift a track if needed- I know it has a track alignment function.

As to hardware, for use with Audacity a decent mic that plugs in to USB can be enough for the simplest uses. Or you could get something such as this Scarlett 2i2 (I have one and it's nice): Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 USB Audio Interface (Gen 3)

It lets you connect two inputs -- either or both can be vocal or instrument -- via USB and also has earphone and speaker connection.

Of course things can get pricier and more complex from there.
Thanks Larry. I assume the Scarlet 2i2 is a simple mixer, and Audactity is the DAW software on your computer? I was hoping to use backing tracks from Karaoke Version (or Ultimate Guitar).
 

Larry N.

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Thanks Larry. I assume the Scarlet 2i2 is a simple mixer, and Audactity is the DAW software on your computer? I was hoping to use backing tracks from Karaoke Version (or Ultimate Guitar).
Those are beyond me- never had such.

As for the Scarlett, it does a little bit more, since it can fine tune each input for instrument (vs vocal) or add a little "airiness" to each input. But basically, yes, it's a 2-element mixer/Analog-Digital converter.
 
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8Muddypaws

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I didn't check the date of this thread before I typed all of this.

Scarlets are a little pricy and do not include MIDI capability. I picked up a Behringer UMC404HD 4 years ago and have been quite happy with it. 4 inputs, 24bit/192khz resolution. (way more than you will ever need)

Backing tracks are all over the place if you want to do covers or well known standard progressions. There are many ways to collaborate with other musicians. Fiverr, Facebook groups, and if you have a recent release of Cubase a thing called VST Connect. It requires a very good network connection But it's as if you and other musicians are working in the same studio.

IMHO:
Audacity is 'bare bones' and not very capable or user friendly. The plug-ins are poorly designed and difficult to get the results you're looking for.

I used Cakewalk/Sonar for years. Cakewalk is very capable, has some very good plug-ins and is FREE! It's part of Band Camp.

My DAW of choice is Cubase 12 Artist. Hundreds of plug-ins, unlimited number of tracks, many MIDI Synthesizers (from a toy piano to a full orchestra) dozens of drum sets and a drum editor. I can play a part on a guitar and convert it to MIDI and assign pretty much any instrument to it. (A cello/grand piano for example. I use it to produce all of my songs. STEEP learning curve and not cheap.

My grandson prefers ProTools. He's the real band geek in the family.
 

Tom

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I didn't check the date of this thread before I typed all of this.

Scarlets are a little pricy and do not include MIDI capability. I picked up a Behringer UMC404HD 4 years ago and have been quite happy with it. 4 inputs, 24bit/192khz resolution. (way more than you will ever need)

Backing tracks are all over the place if you want to do covers or well known standard progressions. There are many ways to collaborate with other musicians. Fiverr, Facebook groups, and if you have a recent release of Cubase a thing called VST Connect. It requires a very good network connection But it's as if you and other musicians are working in the same studio.

IMHO:
Audacity is 'bare bones' and not very capable or user friendly. The plug-ins are poorly designed and difficult to get the results you're looking for.

I used Cakewalk/Sonar for years. Cakewalk is very capable, has some very good plug-ins and is FREE! It's part of Band Camp.

My DAW of choice is Cubase 12 Artist. Hundreds of plug-ins, unlimited number of tracks, many MIDI Synthesizers (from a toy piano to a full orchestra) dozens of drum sets and a drum editor. I can play a part on a guitar and convert it to MIDI and assign pretty much any instrument to it. (A cello/grand piano for example. I use it to produce all of my songs. STEEP learning curve and not cheap.

My grandson prefers ProTools. He's the real band geek in the family.
A big thanks Russ.
 

Tom

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I didn't check the date of this thread before I typed all of this.

Scarlets are a little pricy and do not include MIDI capability. I picked up a Behringer UMC404HD 4 years ago and have been quite happy with it. 4 inputs, 24bit/192khz resolution. (way more than you will ever need)

Backing tracks are all over the place if you want to do covers or well known standard progressions. There are many ways to collaborate with other musicians. Fiverr, Facebook groups, and if you have a recent release of Cubase a thing called VST Connect. It requires a very good network connection But it's as if you and other musicians are working in the same studio.

IMHO:
Audacity is 'bare bones' and not very capable or user friendly. The plug-ins are poorly designed and difficult to get the results you're looking for.

I used Cakewalk/Sonar for years. Cakewalk is very capable, has some very good plug-ins and is FREE! It's part of Band Camp.

My DAW of choice is Cubase 12 Artist. Hundreds of plug-ins, unlimited number of tracks, many MIDI Synthesizers (from a toy piano to a full orchestra) dozens of drum sets and a drum editor. I can play a part on a guitar and convert it to MIDI and assign pretty much any instrument to it. (A cello/grand piano for example. I use it to produce all of my songs. STEEP learning curve and not cheap.

My grandson prefers ProTools. He's the real band geek in the family.
Cubase 12 Elements is $100 v Artist $330. Reviews suggest Elements is a good beginner option. Not knowing what I really need or how far I'd take it, this seems the way (for me) to go.

Similarly Cakewalk Home Studio ($49) would seem to be a good starting point (Artist $99, Pro $199, Platinum $499).
 
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Tom

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Tom, a side question. Did you ever get the voice therapy you talked about a few years back? If so, did it help? I know voices change with age, but I have lost a lot of projection in my singing voice. Maybe it is just getting older, but I wonder if therapy or just a good voice coach would help me. Then again, maybe it is just lack of practice since our choirs are still not meeting regularly.
Just an FYI, here's one organization that I talked with early in the journey to voice recovery:
Professional Voice Care Center - Karen Sussman, MA, CCC

They were quite helpful, although they're based in NY, and they were one of the referrals to the UCSF Voice & Swallowing clinic.
 

Larry N.

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Westminster, Colorado
Cakewalk is very capable, has some very good plug-ins and is FREE!
Russ, the only "free" I could find is the trial version- everything else costs. I did find one link that was "free" but the download was a 101MB file named "file" (with no extension), so I didn't keep it.

Audacity is 'bare bones' and not very capable or user friendly.
Other stuff must be pretty easy then, but Audacity is the only one I've used, and its biggest limitation for me when doing multi tracks was my musical skill (poor).
 

8Muddypaws

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You can get a 30 day trial of Cubase 12 Pro for free at www.Steinberg.net. It's big. Very big. In 30 days you may have learned how to use about 10% of it's capabilities. There are hundreds of Cubase specific YouTube videos - from beginner to pro. Unfortunately you have to know what's in Cubase to find them most of the time.

Every year they have a good sale. That's the best time to upgrade from one version to another. I started with LE, upgraded to AI and then to Elements many years ago and finally got to where I wanted some of the bells & whistles (effects & synths mostly).

The way I construct a song has changed radically since I upgraded to Artist.

Cakewalk by BandLab link : BandLab: Make Music Online

no mention of cost here.

I stopped using Cakewalk because it crashed too often. That may not be the case now.
 

Tom

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50,027
Tom, a side question. Did you ever get the voice therapy you talked about a few years back? If so, did it help? I know voices change with age, but I have lost a lot of projection in my singing voice. Maybe it is just getting older, but I wonder if therapy or just a good voice coach would help me. Then again, maybe it is just lack of practice since our choirs are still not meeting regularly.
FYI here's the Voice and Swallowing Center at UCSF:

 
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