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back tracking and timing

LinaLina 2.0 PRO Posts: 77
I am a singer in a band where the two instrumentalists use back tracking for a fuller sound. That back tracking messes me up to the point where I can't pick out the key of the melody and in addition to that I lose my sense of timing and can't determine when to come in after the intro or a bridge.

Does anyone know how I can solve this? It is very embarrassing when I'm performing and it sounds like I am clueless!



  • HuduVuduHuduVudu 2.0 PRO Posts: 1,818
    @Lina First, my timing when I started was absolute garbage. I always anticipated the entry, I rushed when I missed and I generally sounded foolish. The first way that I solved this problem, was to go through the song literally hundreds of times. This cemented the timing into my head and helped me relax so that I knew I was coming in correctly. I found this approach to be slow. Sooooooo ....

    Then what I did, was I used LMMS's midi to re-create my work out. I used a consistent tempo 140 BPM and tailored all of my exercises to use the consistent BPM and I made the note lengths all consistent too. I also had a breathing exercise that I made specifically to practice my timing, by adding some breaks and such to simulate some of the things that I struggled with in songs. Mind you this is nothing fancy and my thought is consistency is key. The result of this is that when I am just singing along with a song my timing and even my melody is better because I can understand the timing more fundamentally. I have only been doing it this way for about 3ish months, but I can definitely tell the difference.
  • bentkbentk Moderator, Pro, 2.0 PRO, 3.0 Streaming Posts: 1,650
    It's important to see what the problem is here. Do you have the same issue, or similar issues, when singing along to the backing track at home? What does the backing track consist of?

    Can you hear yourself well enough when performing AND simultaneously hear the backing clearly enough? It's always important to hear everything clearly including yourself.

    I think those are the most important questions for now. No need for worry, it's nothing that can't be helped, even if it might need some time.

    All the best,

  • LinaLina 2.0 PRO Posts: 77
    Thank you, Ben and I hope you are right that this can be fixed! The back tracking consists of a bunch of instruments, without the melody. Then there is someone on keyboard and the other musician on drums. I mess up both when we rehearse and then the other day during the gig. When I am home, I use the song it self, that I get on iTunes, to practice. Then when I sing with the band, nothing seems familiar to me! I don't know when to come in, how long to wait during the bridge, and then sometimes I can't even get the key I should be singing in. To me, backtracking sounds like a bunch of sounds all thrown in together and it confuses me. I used to play several instruments years back, and never had a problem with timing, or pitch. Now, thanks to Ken's course, my voice is pretty decent--but you'd never know it after what happened the other night at the gig! BtW--I just ordered a Seiko metronome. Do you think that will help?
  • I play to click tracks all the time so I know it can be challenging. The biggest problem using backing tracks live is having the musicians in time, in tune, and mixed appropriately.
    The band has to be tight when working with a fixed tempo. When you play live with a full band there is some give, and take with tempo, but with backing tracks you have to be in precise timing with it or it sounds as you described, a bunch of confusing noise.

    Practice, practice, practice.

    Peace, Tony
  • highmtnhighmtn Administrator, Moderator, Enrolled, Pro, 3.0 Streaming Posts: 15,353
    Your bandmates should give you a copy of these gig tracks on itunes (the ones you use at your gigs) so that you can practice at home to these actual tracks. It might be even better if they included cues (like the first line of the vocals) or other things to let you know where you are in the song when practicing to the tracks.

    Do the tracks have a "click track" on them, as well?

    It's not realistic of your bandmates if they are not providing you with these actual tracks used at the gigs and they expect you to perform to them in a live situation. They are putting you into a disadvantageous situation.

    If you get copies of the tracks themselves, you should be able to familiarize yourself with what is going to be happening at the gigs. You shouldn't have to experience that live, in front of an audience.
  • LinaLina 2.0 PRO Posts: 77
    Thank you for letting me know its not all me! I am going to ask for all of the tracks with vocal cues. BTW-- what is a "click track"? Is it a clicking sound?
  • [Deleted User][Deleted User] Posts: 2,111
    edited October 2018
    Yes a click track is the same as a metronome except that there is nothing to watch go back and forth.

    When I record, I set my tempo, turn on the click track, and it helps me record in time. Not something you use live unless you have an elaborate set up, and then it's usually just the drummer that hears it, but it's good for timing issues, and recording.

    A metronome you can set up anywhere, and if you can't hear it, you can still see it to help with the timing.

  • highmtnhighmtn Administrator, Moderator, Enrolled, Pro, 3.0 Streaming Posts: 15,353
    A free-standing metronome may not be clicking in synchronization to a track you are playing. Many "tracks" for live use, whether a midi track, or an audio "track" often has a separate CLICK TRACK that the drummer may be hearing through headphones as the song is being recorded. That keeps the drummer from rushing or dragging the tempo of the song. On tracks you play along to, the click track may be used only at the start of the song as a count-off so that you will be IN TIME with the beginning of the Track. Otherwise, it can be a train wreck. Not a pretty picture, live, on stage, out of control.
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