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The Art Of MIDI - Part 2 - Using MIDI Files as backing tracks
In today’s digital world, musicians have choices as to how they present their music in a live setting. The gamut can run from a 7 piece band playing all the parts to a one man show using backing tracks to complete the act.
Backing Tracks are great for smaller acts to sound like a full blown band or orchestra. In many clubs, you can find a guitar player playing and singing along to the tracks. These musicians have choices as to the format of those backing tracks.
Some musicians show up with their ipods loaded with mp3s (without the vocal track). You can look at these as karaoke files without the graphics. Others use minidiscs, mp3 player, or even a boombox. Either way, the advantage is that the musician can create or buy professional tracks that sound great - thus making themselves sound really good.
Other musicians want more control and flexibility. In these case, the use of standard MIDI files is the solution.
Using MIDI files as backing tracks requires more equipment. First, some kind of MIDI Player or sequencing program is needed. This can be accomplished by a laptop. The musician loads all the files on the computer and plays them back with a sequencing program such as Cakewalk.
Since MIDI is just data, a sound module or professional MIDI keyboard is used to recreate the sounds. Push it through the PA system, and you’re ready to go.
MIDI files provide more flexibility than mp3 tracks. Some of these advantages are:
- They are not “recorded” so you can make changes to them at any time.
- You have full control over every track. Let’s say there’s a Bass part in one of the tracks. One day, a bass player shows up and plays along. You can now mute that track.
- You have full control over the song - change instruments; change keys easily; copy, cut and paste sections; etc.
- You can control a light show
- You can connect to a harmonizer and deliver some amazing background vocals.
MIDI is not just used by one or two piece bar bands. Go to a live concert. Listen to cds. From jazz to trance, you just might be surprised to find who’s using it.
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What really caught my eye in this article was the statement:
You can connect to a harmonizer and deliver some amazing background vocals.
I’ve always wondered how I could get a midi track to trigger my vocalist harmonizer. If I could master that, I’d be all set. Please tell me more…in great detail.
There is a post about this in the CYBERMIDI Forum.
I am doing a one man band thing now. I run my laptop (cakewalk/sonar) through a roland xv2020 then through my PA. Has anybody had any experience with “show controller” ?
A good place to ask that question might be at our new web site
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