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Thread: Beginning with Backing Tracks

  1. #1
    Afro-Cuban Grunge-Pop Bongo Boy's Avatar
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    Beginning with Backing Tracks

    I should maybe have put this in the Practice & Performance forum, but I thought it was more of a rank beginner's question--it sure is a goofy one.

    Now that I have a few jam tracks that folks claim are 'easy' or 'for beginners', I have several challenges. I suppose the first is to figure out what key they're in and what the chord changes are. I can't imagine how anyone can help with that over the internet.

    But aside from that, how would YOU recommend I begin. Suppose I take the backing track for a melody I know, such as Autumn Leaves (for example). Seems I should listen thru the track a few times first, but EXACTLY what should I listen for? Should I try to write down "number of bars for the intro" and stuff like that?

    Another way to ask: what is the best way for a beginner to use a backing track--in general?
    Pulsing the System with Confirmed Nonsense.

  2. #2
    Resident Curmudgeon szulc's Avatar
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    Get the form and feel down, then get the Chord Progression down.
    Then blow over it and see what you can come up with.
    "Listen to the Spaces Between the sounds."
    Szulc's Site

  3. #3
    Afro-Cuban Grunge-Pop Bongo Boy's Avatar
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    Okay, here's a practical, real-life problem then. In many cases I'll have to figure out what the chord changes are myself--a daunting task to say the least. I can start by guessing what they are first based on 'likely' progressions, and other tools I have include PowerTab, which I can light up with some chords to make comparisons.

    ANother technique I thought of is to listen to the track with guitar in hand, and for each chord I hear, attempt to play the matching root on my guitar--as a way to deduce what the chord actually is. I'm not talking about chord voicing--I'm just talking about is it a D7 or an Ami.

    That's pretty much a trial-and-error approach though--given I know neither the key nor the chords. Is there any way on earth to do this, given I have a dumb ear?

    Am I making rocket science out of finger painting here?
    Pulsing the System with Confirmed Nonsense.

  4. #4
    Resident Curmudgeon szulc's Avatar
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    This is the way it starts, later when you have enough practice you will be better at "guessing". Eventually you will be able to tell by ear what the chord changes are (at least in a relative way, like I V I IV etc..) THis takes time and practice and doesn't happen overnight.
    "Listen to the Spaces Between the sounds."
    Szulc's Site

  5. #5
    Afro-Cuban Grunge-Pop Bongo Boy's Avatar
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    Okay--gotta start somewhere I guess. Thanks James.

    I did find a bit of a crutch, though, in that I just now remembered that my little Tascam recorder allows me to build fairly decent backing tracks. It provides super flexibility in creating chords of any kind and has a tone generator for about 75 instruments or so. It's how I created the backing for that goofy Autumn Leaves recording I did about a year ago. Forgot all about it.

    I also didn't realize 'till now that I can play back MIDI backing tracks and change the tempo from 50% to 200%. I'll have to read that manual more often
    Pulsing the System with Confirmed Nonsense.

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