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> Playing With The Backing Tracks
Gabriel Leopardi
post Jun 1 2014, 04:01 PM
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Playing with the backing tracks is surely the most fun and effective way to practice. It is the next best thing to playing with a live band.
When practicing, metronome can come in very handy but it doesn't allow us to practice in a musical kind of way. After all, the practice we do is all aimed for ultimately playing music. This is why I would recommend practicing with the backing tracks.

I still remember the first time I got a backing from my first guitar teacher. It was in E minor and it was a melodic ballad style. I was just starting to learn the scales so playing along with it was like magic for me. I could stay all day jamming over it, it was like playing in a real band!! Nowadays, we can get lots of backing tracks using youtube and also GMC so there are no excuses to find the ones that you like and use them to practice scales, technique exercises, phrasing and everything you want/need in a musical context which makes everything more real and entertained.

How easy or hard do you find playing with a backing track?

What I have noticed that we sometimes just don't listen to the track enough. In order to successfully play against a backing track which you are having problems keeping up with, you could try the following : listen to the drums. Listen to when the drums are playing the kick drum, when the snare is played and what the hi hat is doing. These 3 essential elements of the drum kit are easy to hear in any song or backing track, you just need to concentrate on those sounds (rhythm). Once you have that down, try to do the same with other instruments. Listen closely to start hearing the exact rhythm in which the bass guitar is playing. Listen to what the guitar and keyboard is playing.

This advise might feel obvious but you'd be surprised how we can just not listen even though we think we are. By intentionally focusing our attention to certain instruments in a music track will shows us exactly that. You'll hear some details you didn't know were there.

Once you are listening, it will be just a matter of jamming along and pure practicing to fit in the track with your playing.


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Todd Simpson
post Jun 1 2014, 05:15 PM
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This is a GREAT TIP!!!

You are BANG ON!!! smile.gif This one thing, more than any other activity IMHO, will help you grow as a player. Learning to improvise and making it sound good over a backing is a CRITICAL SKILL. Being able to play licks is semi pointless unless you can play them in context, against some music.

QUOTE (Gabriel Leopardi @ Jun 1 2014, 11:01 AM) *
Playing with the backing tracks is surely the most fun and effective way to practice. It is the next best thing to playing with a live band.
When practicing, metronome can come in very handy but it doesn't allow us to practice in a musical kind of way. After all, the practice we do is all aimed for ultimately playing music. This is why I would recommend practicing with the backing tracks.

I still remember the first time I got a backing from my first guitar teacher. It was in E minor and it was a melodic ballad style. I was just starting to learn the scales so playing along with it was like magic for me. I could stay all day jamming over it, it was like playing in a real band!! Nowadays, we can get lots of backing tracks using youtube and also GMC so there are no excuses to find the ones that you like and use them to practice scales, technique exercises, phrasing and everything you want/need in a musical context which makes everything more real and entertained.

How easy or hard do you find playing with a backing track?

What I have noticed that we sometimes just don't listen to the track enough. In order to successfully play against a backing track which you are having problems keeping up with, you could try the following : listen to the drums. Listen to when the drums are playing the kick drum, when the snare is played and what the hi hat is doing. These 3 essential elements of the drum kit are easy to hear in any song or backing track, you just need to concentrate on those sounds (rhythm). Once you have that down, try to do the same with other instruments. Listen closely to start hearing the exact rhythm in which the bass guitar is playing. Listen to what the guitar and keyboard is playing.

This advise might feel obvious but you'd be surprised how we can just not listen even though we think we are. By intentionally focusing our attention to certain instruments in a music track will shows us exactly that. You'll hear some details you didn't know were there.

Once you are listening, it will be just a matter of jamming along and pure practicing to fit in the track with your playing.


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klasaine
post Jun 1 2014, 05:25 PM
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I'll agree that playing with a backing track is WAY MORE FUN than using a metronome and it's also great for figuring out lead parts and what works over chord progressions but ...

Practicing with a metronome is better for your time and groove. You have no crutch of a bass drum, snare and hi-hat to rely on. You have to make the groove. If (and when) you can groove with a metronome you'll absolutely 'kill it' with a band.


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Cosmin Lupu
post Jun 2 2014, 07:34 AM
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Ken hit the spot here smile.gif

I also think that the metronome helps you build timing skills and build groove while the backing tracks offer much more elements that help you interpret and turn simple exercises into music, for instance.

The process, for me, goes like this:

- understand a phrase
- learn it
- practice it with the metronome to get the timing and pulse right
- practice it with the backing track to make it sound musical and play around with the various possibilities

How do you guys use backing tracks?


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Gabriel Leopardi
post Jun 2 2014, 06:44 PM
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QUOTE (Cosmin Lupu @ Jun 2 2014, 03:34 AM) *
Ken hit the spot here smile.gif

I also think that the metronome helps you build timing skills and build groove while the backing tracks offer much more elements that help you interpret and turn simple exercises into music, for instance.

The process, for me, goes like this:

- understand a phrase
- learn it
- practice it with the metronome to get the timing and pulse right
- practice it with the backing track to make it sound musical and play around with the various possibilities

How do you guys use backing tracks?


Thanks Ken and Comin for the addition! This is a very good approach to combine both metronome and backing tracks work. Each has its own advantages so if you are a disciplined person that want to improve guitar playing, no matter if there are some funnier moments and some other less funny or even boring, you can get a lot from combining both methods.



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casinostrat
post Jun 2 2014, 07:40 PM
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Kind of on the same topic, what do you guys think about learning to play not necessarily along with a backing Tracks but using an a actual song and playing along with the artist? I know you don't want to do this in order to become a clone of whoever you are playing along with but using it as another method of working on timing and phrasing. For instance I learned how to play Neil Zaza's "I'm Alright" by doing this and when I play it now I tend to see more of my own style coming through than when I was just playing exactly what I was hearing him play. I love backing tracks and use them a lot but I also do this as well. smile.gif


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Gabriel Leopardi
post Jun 3 2014, 12:30 AM
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QUOTE (casinostrat @ Jun 2 2014, 03:40 PM) *
Kind of on the same topic, what do you guys think about learning to play not necessarily along with a backing Tracks but using an a actual song and playing along with the artist? I know you don't want to do this in order to become a clone of whoever you are playing along with but using it as another method of working on timing and phrasing. For instance I learned how to play Neil Zaza's "I'm Alright" by doing this and when I play it now I tend to see more of my own style coming through than when I was just playing exactly what I was hearing him play. I love backing tracks and use them a lot but I also do this as well. smile.gif


I used to play along with Ramones, Gun's & Roses, Iron Maiden, Malmsteen and many other ones. When I was a teenager it was very difficult to get backing tracks or mixes without guitars like it happens nowadays so it was the only option. This method was good because I used to keep on playing for lots of hours, I was listening to music and practicing at the same time so it was very funny. I used to play along the songs but once I learnt how to use scales, I also used to improvise over the songs, when the singer was not singing. It was very cool and I think that there is 1 important advantage and 1 important disadvantage of doing this:

- Advantage: It's pure fun, you can be hours focused playing.

- Disadvantage: You have the help of another guitar playing the same thing. This seems to be less important but it's not. It's very different to play just with dums and bass than playing over a track with the guitar. Try it with GMC lessons and tell me if you note the difference.


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Spock
post Jun 3 2014, 12:53 AM
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I keep a playlist of backing tracks in iTunes that will play one song after the other - that way practice is like playing set list. At the end of all the songs I have only the backing tracks to the solos to all of them to get an extra run across those before starting over or moving on to something else.

Because the levels were all across the board on the initial backing tracks, I had to put each of them into Logic, set the volumes and bounce the MP3s to put into the iTunes set lists - so I don't have to keep changing the volume on my amp.

But I agree - playing along with backing tracks is the funnest practice.

This post has been edited by Spock: Jun 3 2014, 12:54 AM
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Gabriel Leopardi
post Jun 3 2014, 01:05 AM
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QUOTE (Spock @ Jun 2 2014, 08:53 PM) *
I keep a playlist of backing tracks in iTunes that will play one song after the other - that way practice is like playing set list. At the end of all the songs I have only the backing tracks to the solos to all of them to get an extra run across those before starting over or moving on to something else.

Because the levels were all across the board on the initial backing tracks, I had to put each of them into Logic, set the volumes and bounce the MP3s to put into the iTunes set lists - so I don't have to keep changing the volume on my amp.

But I agree - playing along with backing tracks is the funnest practice.



I'm curious... what songs do you have in that list?


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casinostrat
post Jun 3 2014, 01:37 AM
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QUOTE (Gabriel Leopardi @ Jun 2 2014, 11:30 PM) *
I used to play along with Ramones, Gun's & Roses, Iron Maiden, Malmsteen and many other ones. When I was a teenager it was very difficult to get backing tracks or mixes without guitars like it happens nowadays so it was the only option. This method was good because I used to keep on playing for lots of hours, I was listening to music and practicing at the same time so it was very funny. I used to play along the songs but once I learnt how to use scales, I also used to improvise over the songs, when the singer was not singing. It was very cool and I think that there is 1 important advantage and 1 important disadvantage of doing this:

- Advantage: It's pure fun, you can be hours focused playing.

- Disadvantage: You have the help of another guitar playing the same thing. This seems to be less important but it's not. It's very different to play just with dums and bass than playing over a track with the guitar. Try it with GMC lessons and tell me if you note the difference.


Yeah there is a difference, absolutely. Generally when learning a song for the first time I use both methods but when I get it memorized I usually just use a backing track without actually playing along with the artist. Playing with just the backing used to be really hard for me because I didn't understand how scales worked so I didn't know what to play. Now I'm much more comfortable and sometimes will even just put on the backing track and see what happens when I just make up stuff rather than actually play the song. I still usually play along with the artist when learning a song for the first time though.


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My Sound Cloud Profile: http://soundcloud.com/casinostrat

Gear I Use:

Guitars: Gibson: Les Paul Custom, ES-339, and Faded Flying V
Fender: American Stratocaster Deluxe (I think?)
Epiphone: Les Paul 56' Gold Top and Les Paul Standard, Casino
Yamaha: FG720S Accoustic

Amps: Fender Champ, Peavey Bandit 112, and an ancient Epiphone Amp:)

Effects: Digitech RP 500 Effects Pedal Picks: Dunlop Jazz IIIs

Practice, Practice, Practice, and remember Every Artist Does Get Better Eventually!

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Spock
post Jun 3 2014, 02:03 AM
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QUOTE (Gabriel Leopardi @ Jun 2 2014, 08:05 PM) *
I'm curious... what songs do you have in that list?



I have 6 originals, Limelight, Red Barchetta & Circumstances (Rush), Lateralus & 46 & 2 (Tool), I recently added Wasted Years (Iron Maiden), Fly from the Inside (Shinedown).

These would not be an actual setlist I would do live, it's just the songs I am use to practicing right now - just because I like them all.

This post has been edited by Spock: Jun 3 2014, 02:04 AM
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Gabriel Leopardi
post Jun 3 2014, 02:27 AM
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QUOTE (Spock @ Jun 2 2014, 10:03 PM) *
I have 6 originals, Limelight, Red Barchetta & Circumstances (Rush), Lateralus & 46 & 2 (Tool), I recently added Wasted Years (Iron Maiden), Fly from the Inside (Shinedown).

These would not be an actual setlist I would do live, it's just the songs I am use to practicing right now - just because I like them all.



Awesome songs! Progressive rock, Progressive alt metal, heavy metal and modern hard rock. It's a very complete rocker/metal list. Your current set list is pure fun. smile.gif

QUOTE (casinostrat @ Jun 2 2014, 09:37 PM) *
Yeah there is a difference, absolutely. Generally when learning a song for the first time I use both methods but when I get it memorized I usually just use a backing track without actually playing along with the artist. Playing with just the backing used to be really hard for me because I didn't understand how scales worked so I didn't know what to play. Now I'm much more comfortable and sometimes will even just put on the backing track and see what happens when I just make up stuff rather than actually play the song. I still usually play along with the artist when learning a song for the first time though.



yeah, that's the best way for me...

I would have killed for versions like this when I was 14 years old:



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Cosmin Lupu
post Jun 3 2014, 07:35 AM
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Good point with playing along with the actual song smile.gif Remember how we always nag you to record alongside the original recording of a lesson when in the REC zone you are not spot on with a lesson?

Well, this is the same thing - you play along with a song, to get the EXACT articulation elements, timing and refined details of a player smile.gif It is good exercise and fun in the same time, just make sure you do it for educational purposes, not to become the no.10000000 Steve Vai clone wink.gif


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Mith
post Jun 3 2014, 08:15 AM
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QUOTE (Cosmin Lupu @ Jun 3 2014, 02:35 PM) *
just make sure you do it for educational purposes, not to become the no.10000000 Steve Vai clone wink.gif


But I just got a fan attached to my pedal board and everything

Not that it works that well with dreadlocks down to my waist


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Gabriel Leopardi
post Jun 3 2014, 04:53 PM
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QUOTE (Cosmin Lupu @ Jun 3 2014, 03:35 AM) *
just make sure you do it for educational purposes, not to become the no.10000000 Steve Vai clone wink.gif



Well said. Once you can play it exactly like Vai, what do you think would be the next step to avoid being a new clone?


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Mith
post Jun 4 2014, 03:55 AM
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QUOTE (Gabriel Leopardi @ Jun 3 2014, 11:53 PM) *
Well said. Once you can play it exactly like Vai, what do you think would be the next step to avoid being a new clone?


I think you then pick another artist you admire and emulate that. eventually your own style is an amalgamation of many when then in turn makes it diffrent. Then someone will emulate you and the circle of music continues


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Todd Simpson
post Jun 4 2014, 04:54 AM
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NEW FREE BACKING TRACK!! smile.gif

Here is a track from DELAIN that I worked on with the folks in the band ANTI-M as a sort of production test. It's got NO VOCALS and NO LEAD GUITAR. So you can solo over the entire thing to work on your soloing in context wink.gif It works great as backing. Enjoy!!! I'm doing Rythm Guitar and Bass guitar.



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Cosmin Lupu
post Jun 4 2014, 07:57 AM
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One reason for which I kind of avoided sorting out complete songs from various guitarists, was exactly this reason: I didn't want to become a clone and for me, learning a few principles from their playing and then playing it like I would, was the approach for developing vocabulary and technique with less chances of becoming a clone.

Once you like something, pick it up, learn how it works and add a personal touch - CHANGE something and make it sound different! That's the key as I see it smile.gif Don't just take it as it is note for note, otherwise, you will just be an imitator.


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Gabriel Leopardi
post Jun 4 2014, 04:34 PM
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QUOTE (Mith @ Jun 3 2014, 11:55 PM) *
I think you then pick another artist you admire and emulate that. eventually your own style is an amalgamation of many when then in turn makes it diffrent. Then someone will emulate you and the circle of music continues


This is a good following step but then we also have to dedicate some time each day to creation. There is nothing better to find our own voice than record your ideas and work on them.


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Cosmin Lupu
post Jun 5 2014, 08:24 AM
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QUOTE (Gabriel Leopardi @ Jun 4 2014, 03:34 PM) *
This is a good following step but then we also have to dedicate some time each day to creation. There is nothing better to find our own voice than record your ideas and work on them.


Exactly smile.gif

You don't want to be a replica and this is one of the best ways to avoid that - work on your own stuff. It doesn't matter if the ideas are seemingly simple. Music is not a sport wink.gif


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