Try A Guitar Backing Track For What You Are Practicing
There Must Be A Good One For Any Practice Need And Style
What is a guitar backing track? Is it the same as a Guitar Jam Track? What role do they PLAY in the guitar learning process? I've read they help to maximize the results of practice, that a marked improvement in your technique takes place ... and that a lot more confidence and poise are experienced in your playing ...am I right or is this overkill?
All guitarists at some point feel the need to experience what it is to play with other musicians, for our guitar to mix its sounds with other instruments ... the idea is attractive, first, because it is super cool and also because it is an artistic exercise that will help us to develop some very important aspects for the work of any guitarist:
Play With Any Kind Of Band As Soon As You Can
- It helps us to learn to KEEP THE TEMPO of a song correctly while performing an execution, complementing the contribution of our solo practice sessions with the help of the metronome. Playing on tempo is a crucial part of that aura of "professional musician" we all seek.
- Also learning to FEEL the RHYTHM and INTENSITY of the music and the band (and adapt what we do to what is happening - in real time) ... So that the execution is DYNAMIC and performed with precise ACCENTUATION and not sounding flat, dull or expressionless and making it "ALIVE".
- By playing with other musicians we learn to make our guitar sounds properly within a musical group, playing with others. In addition to knowing how to play well, we have to learn to sound good. Within a band, your instrument is heard very differently from when you play solo at home ... I'm sure that you will have to make some adjustments to the instrument's sound - to your guitar's tone.
- TO OVERCOME THE FEAR of playing along and in front of other musicians. When we get out of our comfort zone, we risk evaluation and criticism from others. We must learn to listen and accept comments, which are rarely malicious, though sometimes we don't like them at all.
- To understand that the most important contribution of any musician to any band is knowing how to "LISTEN" to the others who are playing with you, to get inspired by their performance and energy. Similar to what happens to the characters assembled by good actors who "react" to the actions of the other actors in a scene or act ... there is a constant flow of sensations that elevate the moment, they are driven by the characters, scenery, situations, dialogues, costumes ... actually by everything.
Of course, being part of a band would be the ideal ... the exchange of ideas and proposals greatly enriches the final result ... But it's not always easy to put together a band, sometimes you can have one or two friends who share your concern and with whom you could form a band ... but sometimes you play well while others don't, or perhaps the level of knowledge and expertise is too different among you, or someone cannot pull it off regularly, or someone is not as interested as the others...and more obstacles that are always met on the way to the perfect band ... impediments one discovers, decodes and overcomes on the way, and who are actually teaching you and are part of what is known as "experience" ... the matter is that sometimes it may take weeks, months or years until you have a band that plays often and which can bring to life all those MUSICAL feelings that happen inside you and that you want to share to the world ... but you just can't do it for lack of good band mates.
While you're learning (while still nobody knows of your existence in the underworld of music – nobody yet knows that you're a time bomb, a future guitar hero to be discovered), it will be a little difficult to have a band ... I have been part of dozens of them - amateur and professional bands - and even today I'm still looking for the perfect partners, something like my dream team. The issue is that, while you look and wait for your future partners, you should not be deprived of the experience of playing with other musicians: guitarists, keyboardists, bassists, percussionists, singers, drummers - while you don't have a band, you could try having similar practice sessions to which you would with a band ... How come?
What Is A Guitar Backing Track? ... How Does It Help To Play Better?
A guitar backing track or guitar jam track is an Audio or MIDI track recorded by professional musicians whose intention is to provide a basis for practicing guitar technique: arpeggios, scales, harmony, solos, lines...something like practicing with a band of session musicians who are playing for you, accompanying you to practice - YOU ARE THE STAR.
They come in a suitable format for every need, e.g. a practice track for rock guitar improvisation could be composed of a drum set, an electric bass and a rhythm guitar or piano. Without guitar leads, so the person who wants to practice guitar leads can have free space to do so and be followed by a backing band running an arrangement tailored to the specific need of the practice. So a guitar backing track might come with different group configurations according to the gender: rock, country, pop, blues, jazz, flamenco, classical, etc. (it's the instrumentation involved and the style of the arrangement), and according to the type of GUITAR PRACTICE YOU WANT to achieve (harmonics, chords, accompaniment, leads, staccato, etc.)
In many cases, a guitar backing track is a musical arrangement based on a popular song or a music standard, this musical arrangement is made in a way in which one can learn certain techniques used by a famous guitarist in a specific song ... e.g. practice the guitar style of Slash in Sweet Child O 'Mine using a SPECIFIC guitar backing track that was made with that intention ... sometimes it is not the song, it is just a similar arrangement that lets you work a particular type of technique in which you are interested on.
It would seem that doing a guitar backing track using the original arrangement and melody of some famous song would mean some kind of copyright issues for the website or producer. I guess that's the reason why I couldn't find many guitar backing tracks of popular songs made faithful to the original arrangement, at least the few that I found (for some of the songs I was interested in) were quality ones.
So, thinking about my need to practice, I'd settle for a well-made version of the original song - an arrangement with the same taste without being the same ... Why? ... because it is legal, it was made with an educational purpose in mind, and it is what you can find on websites that offer guitar backing tracks that really inspire you to play and practice for hours ... they are WELL-RECORDED, WELL-MIXED, executed by professional musicians, and conducted and supervised by experienced arrangers and producers.
It is also common that sometimes the guitar backing tracks are drum patterns executed in many cases by real drummers and used to practice metrics, scales, rhythm patterns or other predominantly rhythmic techniques - or, just when we don't want to have any other harmonic instrument limiting in any way the scope of this or that exercise. Some even include melodic elements (instrumental and vocal lines) ... that contribute to learning harmony because they allow us to verify that what we know about, works in a real situation - into something like a song.
Usually, guitar backing tracks are audio or MIDI files to be downloaded from a website (which in most cases are the paid ones - those of the highest quality, I guess), and there are also guitar backing tracks for online use (and that in the most cases are the free ones). You can find backing tracks of the same song in different keys, tempos and even styles.
Of course there are also guitar backing tracks that are not based on songs and that are simply musical patterns made to practice on such a scale, for such technique, in such a tempo, for that type of music style or guitar arrangement. Not all practice is based on songs, sometimes rhythmic patterns that are EASY to FOLLOW and with simple and clear harmonic structures are just what is needed...It's music made for practice...
On the websites where you pay to download the AUDIO OR MIDI files, they have huge collections of guitar backing tracks. You can find any style in any key and tempo with a great variety of arrangements and instrumentation, it will be a long time until you need something else, they have huge catalogs where you can find almost everything.
When you ACHIEVE SOME degree of knowledge and mastery of technique, you could use the guitar backing tracks just to improvise, just to play and enjoy. Doing whatever you can think of, lines, chords, solos ... It is an incredible music exercise that can help you grow rapidly, because you learn to unfold your playing within a band and (at the same time) get enriched with everything you hear and happening around you ... even if it has been recorded by musicians who are thousands of miles away ... and that's the magic of music, nowadays you can get connected artistically with a couple of strangers who recorded a guitar backing track a few months ago, and to SOUND AWESOME AND FEEL that "thing" you feel when you're not playing alone.
But first you must ACQUIRE some SKILLS and QUICK THINKING, develop some technical tools and start flying slowly, getting higher every time and gaining SOME EXPERIENCE. And when you're ready (I hope soon), you could experiment with some guitar backing track of a song (or a guitar style) that is easy to play - then pass on to something harder ... Try it with a devoted patience until you hear something you like at least a little bit, and then be persistent until it sounds and feels good.
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