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Orvil Ivie: Blog

Backing Tracks

Posted on July 12, 2011
I sometimes use MIDI backing track along with live looping - It’s not cheating! Most people (excluding musicians) love it.
I don't know if it should be part of a blog but....here's an article I came across online:

Rush, ZZ Top, Steve Oliver, Jeff Golub (many others) have been using MIDI backing tracks live pretty much ever since they were invented. Nobody accuses these artists of cheating; using a backing track allows these bands and countless others to enhance the audience experience.
At the other end of the scale are solo musicians and composers who want to get their music heard.
For a solo songwriter or instrumentalist, getting a band together to play your material is a very difficult proposition. You are asking a great deal of your musicians – you are asking them to play difficult material, and just to play the parts you wrote and make you look good. Most musicians' egos won't tolerate that kind of thing for long, unless you pay them, and for most soloists and vocalists playing small gigs, that's just not a viable proposition financially. This is where a backing track can be a massive boon. If you are a virtuoso solo instrumentalist or vocalist, then the music you play will be all about your skill and the lead melodies you play. The audience won't be interested in what your drummer or bassists are playing, they've come to see you.
Even at the top level, when they play small gigs such as guitar shows and tuition events, guitarists such as Paul Gilbert, Joe Satriani and Yngwie Malmsteen will often play to a backing track and not bring a band with them. Some players, such as Gary Hoey play with backing tracks even at their biggest gigs. Gary Hoey knows that people don't go to his shows to watch his keyboard player play some chords, or his bassist plod out some root notes. They've come to see his virtuoso guitar playing and nothing else, and it makes both practical and financial sense for him to travel with a CD rather than a 4 or 5 piece rock band and all their gear for small gigs, and the audience doesn't feel cheated. They've seen and heard what they've come to see and hear which is Gary and his playing.