The inexpensive way to get
made-to-measure backing tracks
arranged exactly how you want them
Have you ever bought
a backing track but would like to change the arrangement of it
around to suit you a little better? It may be that you want to
extend it, shorten it, add an extra chorus, make a longer intro
to give you time to get from the dressing room to the stage etc.
Editing backing tracks
is the one single thing that is least understood by singers who
are non-musicians. This is because if you're not a musician, it's
very difficult to understand how backing tracks are produced and
therefore hard to know and understand how to alter/change/edit
So, first we're going
to take a look at how a backing track is produced and "mastered."
Then we'll look at ways the track can be edited.
a backing track is recorded
If you've ever been in a professional recording studio, the first
thing you probably noticed was a massive mixing desk with hundreds
of knobs and sliders (probably stretching from one end of the
control room to the other). Although this can look quite intimidating
to the non-musician, a mixing desk is really quite simple.
If you look at it from the left-hand side, you'll notice that
it is arranged in single, narrow columns which just repeat themselves
all the way along the desk. The first column will probably have
a slider (fader) at the bottom and a series of knobs and buttons
above it, culminating in a some LED's or little windows at the
top of each column. The next column will be exactly the same and
this will carry on right the way along till you reach the end
of the desk (at the right-hand side).
Although each column
looks the same, they actually correspond to seperate channels.
For example, in a 32 track recording studio there will be 32 columns
(or channels) of knobs and sliders on the mixing desk. Each channel
can be considered to be a "space" where sound can be
In it's simplest form, if you are recording a piece of music which
contains 4 instruments, this will use up 4 channels of the mixing
desk - eg one channel to record the drums, one channel to record
the bass, one channel to record the guitar and one channel to
record the keyboard parts.
So why have a 32 or a 64 track recording studio if you only need
4 channels I hear you ask?
Well, suppose you want to add some brass or string parts to the
song - you'll need another couple of channels. Similarly, if you
wanted a bit more control over the drum sounds, you would use
one channel for the snare drum, one channel for the cymbals, one
channel for the bass drum etc. so now you start to get an idea
of how quickly even a simple recording can use up many channels!
So, to produce a backing
track in the studio, all the individual instruments contained
in that particular song (drums, bass, guitar, strings, brass,
synth etc) have to be played and recorded, one by one, on to each
channel of the mixing desk.
Now, here's the problem
- if you were to purchase that backing track in this multi-track
format, you'd never be able to play it - because you don't have
a multi-track playback machine linked to a 32 or 64 track mixing
desk to play it on! All you have is a CD player (or a mp3 player
or a minidisc player) and these machines do not play multi-track
recordings - they can only play stereo recordings.
So that's why recording
studios make stereo recordings (called "stereo masters")
of these multi-track arrangements which can be played in domestic
hi-fi players like CD players, mp3 players, and Minidisc players....
A stereo master, is a simple 2 channel (stereo) mix-down of a
multi-track arrangement. What this means is that all the individual
channels of sound (instruments) are all mixed together and recorded
to a simple 2 track stereo format which can be recognized and
played on domestic hi-fi machines (like CD players, Minidisc players,
MP3 players, Cassettes etc).
When you purchase a backing track from us (or any other company)
the backing track you purchase will be a "stereo mastered
backing track", recorded to whatever media you requested
(here at MP3 Backing Trax we supply stereo backing tracks
to customers in mp3, CD or Minidisc formats which means they can
be played on standard CD players, MP3 players and Minidisc players).
The upside of this is that
when you buy a stereo mastered backing track, it is ready to play
on your CD player, mp3 player or Minidisc player so you don't
need to buy £50,000 worth of multi-track recording equipment
to play it. The downside is that without £50,000 worth of
recording equipment and access to the original multi-track arrangement,
you can't get to the individual instruments and their channels
to make changes to them!
There is a solution...
We at MP3 Backing Trax, being gigging musicians and singers
ourselves, realised that there may be occasions where you need
to make changes to specific parts or instrumentation of your backing
track and so we offer a solution to this..
Editing section was set up so that customers can order changes
to backing tracks without having to spend thousands of pounds
on expensive multi-track equipment to do it (we've already spent
hundreds of thousands of pounds on multi-track equipment so you
don't have to)!
In addition to having all this professional recording equipment
in our studio, we also keep the original multi-track arrangements
to all the songs in our catalogue so that whenever a customer
asks for a backing track to be edited, we simply load the original
multi-track backing track arrangement in to our recording system,
make the changes you require, and then re-master it to stereo
and supply it to you in whatever format you want (mp3, CD, or
tracks supplied by the customer
From time to time we are asked to edit backing tracks supplied
by our customers. Although this can be done, it's important to
remember that the results you get will be entirely dependant on
the quality of the backing track you supply us, and, more importantly,
the format of the backing track you supply.
As explained above, if you supply us with a stereo mixed-down/master
version of the song, we cannot get to the individual instruments
& channels to make any changes to them, so the results may
be less than satisfactory.
However, if you can supply us with the original multi-track audio
arrangement or multi-track midi arrangement, then the results
of the editing will be far better.
If you have access to the original multi-track audio or midi arrangement,
you may want to try editing your own backing tracks. There is
lots of software available which let's you do this sort of thing
and although the software is complicated to use (for complicated
to use read impossible to use if you're not a musician!) you may
just want to have a go yourself or you may even consider taking
a college course on using these types of software packages (many
local colleges run midi sequencing courses).
Here are the main recording software packages which we recommend:
3.Emagic Logic Audio
Article Written by Kenny Campbell
(This article cannot be reproduced without express
(all rights reserved)