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backing tracks

Postby geefunk » Wed Dec 05, 2012 9:09 am

This year for our production we're doing a load of well known showtunes. Instead of getting a band in, we're going the backing track route and live vocals. Can anyone recommend some good quality sites I can buy from?

I need backing tracks without vox and not Karaoke versions please.

many thanks
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Re: backing tracks

Postby Exalted Wombat » Wed Dec 05, 2012 9:43 am

"Karaoke" doesn't necessarily imply backing vocals.

Go on Spotify and search for <name of the song> karaoke. You'll get an idea of what's out there.

What you WILL find are versions of the songs, as performed in the original show, beginning to end. Using these WILL turn your show into a boring, over-long karaoke evening. Is it too late to get some musicians in and do a live show?
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Re: backing tracks

Postby geefunk » Wed Dec 05, 2012 9:59 am

If it were up to me, I'd get a band in. Unfortunately it isn't.....I'm just the lowly engineer
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Re: backing tracks

Postby Exalted Wombat » Thu Dec 06, 2012 5:08 pm

geefunk wrote:If it were up to me, I'd get a band in. Unfortunately it isn't.....I'm just the lowly engineer

Fair enough. So play whatever the Musical Director gives you. Sorting out the music for a show is a musical issue, not a technical one!
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Re: backing tracks

Postby SwingKing » Fri Dec 07, 2012 11:40 pm

I can help here. London Arrangements is the best backing music supplier out there in my experience. I sing swing tunes and I've used the site for the past five years and have found the sound of the music to be very good indeed. London Arrangements seems to specialise in "niche" music, whether it be opera, swing or show tunes (of which you will find many). Stephen Robinson runs the site and he's a top fella. He'll transcribe anything you send to him - there is a charge - and you won't be disappointed with the service. The site is frequently being updated and clearly there are a lot of drama and theatre groups out there - as well as the odd swing singer! - who request new tunes. Check out the site, see what you think.

And, Exalted Wombat, you're talking mince. Many artists such as myself use backing music - partly for financial and partly for practical reasons - and I have yet to deliver a performance that can be described as "boring, overlong karaoke". And theatre and small operatic groups seem to use backing music almost exclusively - again, this doesn't invite observations as uncharitable as yours.
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Re: backing tracks

Postby seablade » Sat Dec 08, 2012 12:14 am

SwingKing wrote:
And, Exalted Wombat, you're talking mince. Many artists such as myself use backing music - partly for financial and partly for practical reasons - and I have yet to deliver a performance that can be described as "boring, overlong karaoke". And theatre and small operatic groups seem to use backing music almost exclusively - again, this doesn't invite observations as uncharitable as yours.

Won't speak for Wombat here, as I know he is perfectly capable of answering this as well from the theater perspective, but as an engineer and theatrical sound designer I can tell you there is a HUGE difference between a live band and backing tracks on a show in the amount of energy and power you get out of it. There is no comparison. Wombat's coomments were actually pretty tame compared to what could have been said to be honest.

I am not saying that aren't an alternative, I am saying there just isn't a comparison between good (Key word there) live musicians and backing tracks when it comes to live performance. Now I will let Wombat jump in as well:)

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Re: backing tracks

Postby zenguitar » Sat Dec 08, 2012 1:00 am

Accompanying singers, whether for musicals or gigs, is a highly under-rated skill set. The best singers appreciate that, but the vast majority haven't the faintest idea just how hard those casually discounted musicians work to make the singer look and sound far better than they really are.

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Re: backing tracks

Postby Exalted Wombat » Sat Dec 08, 2012 1:05 am

There are disadvantages in using live music, particularly on a long run. One is that, as the dancers settle in to the routines they start wanting them faster. They start imagining tempos have dropped. And MDs sometimes give in. Choreographers come from a dancing-school tradition where Their Word Is Law, and can get very stroppy :-)

But, generally yes, I wasn't rude ENOUGH about stage performance to tracks. Particularly from amateurs, who lack the experience to fake freshness and energy against a canned performance.
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Re: backing tracks

Postby seablade » Sat Dec 08, 2012 3:09 am

zenguitar wrote:Accompanying singers, whether for musicals or gigs, is a highly under-rated skill set. The best singers appreciate that, but the vast majority haven't the faintest idea just how hard those casually discounted musicians work to make the singer look and sound far better than they really are.

Andy

I will completely agree with this.

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Re: backing tracks

Postby seablade » Sat Dec 08, 2012 3:15 am

Exalted Wombat wrote:There are disadvantages in using live music, particularly on a long run. One is that, as the dancers settle in to the routines they start wanting them faster. They start imagining tempos have dropped. And MDs sometimes give in. Choreographers come from a dancing-school tradition where Their Word Is Law, and can get very stroppy :-)

But, generally yes, I wasn't rude ENOUGH about stage performance to tracks. Particularly from amateurs, who lack the experience to fake freshness and energy against a canned performance.

Absolutely true yes. But this is something I find it helps to have a very good working relationship with the Music Director and Choreographer in my case as the sound designer, these conversations can be fun, even moreso when the director and the choreographer are the same person.

It is strange, when I first started mixing I loved working with canned music, I could program out my timings and make my life so much easier on the mix. I used it as a crutch when I wasn't as good with mixing. Nowadays though I despise those performance I have to mix with canned music compared to good competent musicians. Primarily because it kills me when I hear where there should be a slight speedup in tempo, or increase in volume, to match the performance I am getting out of the people on stage, and I know it will never happen, and just raising the volume of a music track is at best a bad approximation of it(But it still happens).

Lets not get started on the occasion when something happens on stage and needs vampage to cover, or last minute changes to accomodate an out of place actor throwing off timing.

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Re: backing tracks

Postby Sam Spoons » Sat Dec 08, 2012 5:58 pm

It's 35+ years since I played in theatre bands (for an amateur society in Manchester in the UK) but I concour, you can't beat live musos for generating energy and life in a performance. We did productions of rock musicals including "Hair" and "Tommy" And the band played live, on stage and with only back line amplification, the PA was for the principle singers and chorus only (and with only 8 wired mics total). For an amateur society it was very much cutting edge. Listening to recordings made at the time it actually sounded pretty good.
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Re: backing tracks

Postby geefunk » Mon Dec 10, 2012 10:10 am

As mentioned, I'd much rather we had a band. We have every year and I love working with them - especially since I've been able to add my input in regards who we choose, which means I can make sure they are aware what their role is and how they need to play (no more ego-centric guitarists or over zealous drummers!).

But I should have been more clear - this is a school production, not in the same league as a 'proper' theatre production. That doesn't mean to say we take things lightly - we are a specialist school of performing arts - but it is still just a school production.

For various reasons the music teacher who normally takes charge of the musical direction has decided she doesn't want to do much this year. It is causing a lot of bad feeling, but my role is to provide support. I have made my suggestions, and my advice is being ignored.

I think I may take a step back though, as you're right EW - it's her job to source the music, not mine. But I'm a bit loathe to let it go that way. I want the music to be as good as possible, so the production can sound as good as possible. I'm anxious if I leave things to her, it will be bad quality, as her attitude to it is one of disinterest.

When things 'sound' bad, the sound guy gets the blame - It is my job and reputation that I care about, so I'm looking for harm - reduction!
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Re: backing tracks

Postby geefunk » Mon Dec 10, 2012 10:27 am

SwingKing wrote:I can help here. London Arrangements is the best backing music supplier out there in my experience. I sing swing tunes and I've used the site for the past five years and have found the sound of the music to be very good indeed. London Arrangements seems to specialise in "niche" music, whether it be opera, swing or show tunes (of which you will find many). Stephen Robinson runs the site and he's a top fella. He'll transcribe anything you send to him - there is a charge - and you won't be disappointed with the service. The site is frequently being updated and clearly there are a lot of drama and theatre groups out there - as well as the odd swing singer! - who request new tunes. Check out the site, see what you think.

Thanks. I had a look, but they are closed until the 15th December. I can't risk ordering things until I can be sure of delivery dates, etc.

cheers
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Re: backing tracks

Postby Exalted Wombat » Mon Dec 10, 2012 12:39 pm

geefunk wrote:As mentioned, I'd much rather we had a band. We have every year and I love working with them - especially since I've been able to add my input in regards who we choose, which means I can make sure they are aware what their role is and how they need to play (no more ego-centric guitarists or over zealous drummers!).

But I should have been more clear - this is a school production, not in the same league as a 'proper' theatre production. That doesn't mean to say we take things lightly - we are a specialist school of performing arts - but it is still just a school production.

For various reasons the music teacher who normally takes charge of the musical direction has decided she doesn't want to do much this year. It is causing a lot of bad feeling, but my role is to provide support. I have made my suggestions, and my advice is being ignored.

I think I may take a step back though, as you're right EW - it's her job to source the music, not mine. But I'm a bit loathe to let it go that way. I want the music to be as good as possible, so the production can sound as good as possible. I'm anxious if I leave things to her, it will be bad quality, as her attitude to it is one of disinterest.

When things 'sound' bad, the sound guy gets the blame - It is my job and reputation that I care about, so I'm looking for harm - reduction!

Give us a list of the tracks you want then. And if custom tracks are called for, I'm sure I'm not the only person here who could quote for the job.

Better hurry up, though! What have they been rehearsing to so far?
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Re: backing tracks

Postby geefunk » Mon Dec 10, 2012 1:36 pm

Circle of life - Lion king
Consider yourself - Oliver
America - West side story
We’re all in this together - High school musical
Do ray me - Sound of music
The hills are alive - Sound of music
Hard knock life - Annie
Tomorrow - Annie
I know him so well - Chess
All that jazz - Chicago
Cell block tango - Chicago
Don’t stop believing - Glee

So far we have been rehearsing to the original versions.
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Re: backing tracks

Postby seablade » Mon Dec 10, 2012 5:37 pm

geefunk wrote:Circle of life - Lion king
Consider yourself - Oliver
America - West side story
We’re all in this together - High school musical
Do ray me - Sound of music
The hills are alive - Sound of music
Hard knock life - Annie
Tomorrow - Annie
I know him so well - Chess
All that jazz - Chicago
Cell block tango - Chicago
Don’t stop believing - Glee

So far we have been rehearsing to the original versions.

Original versions being the movie version or the stage versions?

The comments I had on live musicians were more directed in response to a particular post than to you, so sorry it wasn't intended to derail things as much as it did. I completely understand the topic of resources.

In as far as quotes for tracks, I will leave that to others since I am an engineer, not a musician.

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Re: backing tracks

Postby geefunk » Tue Dec 11, 2012 9:06 am

seablade wrote:

Original versions being the movie version or the stage versions?

The comments I had on live musicians were more directed in response to a particular post than to you, so sorry it wasn't intended to derail things as much as it did. I completely understand the topic of resources.

In as far as quotes for tracks, I will leave that to others since I am an engineer, not a musician.

Seablade

A mixture - but mostly stage versions from various reproductions. To her credit (and rather ironically), the music teacher is a huge musical theatre fan, so I have been able to convince her we need to stop trying to rush this until we can source some good quality music, or better still, a band.

So to update, the show has been put back until next year now, so the pressure is off. I think it will happen in Feb, which gives us more time to do it properly (although admittedly still not enough time for a band to learn and rehearse all the numbers).

But thanks - I appreciate the input.

cheers
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