Discovering Backing Tracks

Approximately one year ago, my vocal group was asked perform a set of songs with a live band at another group’s event. After agreeing to take on the gig, we set out and did what any professional vocal group would do: we did a bit of research on the likely audience and we picked a set of suitable songs. We then provided copies of all songs and music to the musicians so that they could prepare for our upcoming rehearsals.

We had approximately six rehearsals with the band prior to the function and as the weeks passed, it became clear that the band members were inadequately prepared for our set and we started to fear the worst for our performance. It all erupted a few days before the show when we attempted a full run through of our songs at the venue and the band made mistake after mistake. In fact, of the ten songs we were meant to perform, the band could not play even one in its entirety. We had to make a really tough call and we chose to ‘fire’ the band!

They had completely let us down and with only days to go before the performance, we had only one option left – to perform with backing tracks.

Backing Tracks Save The Day

This whole experience put us under a great deal of stress, but I was pleasantly surprised by the number of advantages that backing tracks offered over using a live band:

  • Backing tracks can sound exactly like the original song
  • The song structure is fixed which lends itself nicely to choreographed moves
  • Singer are never left wondering (or guessing) when to start singing or how to end the song
  • Backing tracks can be purchased with our without backing vocals to suit solo singers or groups

Stealing The Show

I’m proud to say that all of our hard work and preparation paid off. Because we knew our lyrics and dance moves inside out, substituting live music for backing tracks was quite straight forward.  Once we started our first song, it didn’t take long at all for the audience to be up on their feet and it was truly amazing to perform in front of a packed dance floor.  This will definitely be a night that I won’t forget – not so much because of the success of the actual night, but because we were able to make the most of a bad situation. And yes, the backing tracks helped a lot!

Have you ever sung along to a backing track or watched a performance involving backing tracks? If so, please leave a comment below – I’d love to hear about your experience.

Yours in song,