Thanks for the input Anthony. I agree that some backing tracks are cheesy. The ones that are the cheesiest and stale, almost monotone and emotionless are usually the ones created by MIDI instruments and some type of computer or synthesizer generated sound modules. I never liked MIDI music all the way back to when it first hit the scene in the 1980s. The sound modules synthesizers used whether it be Korg, Yamaha, Roland, etc, etc always sounded like computers. Some came close, but still not the real thimg. Then synthesizer technology started including real recorded samples, and the synthesized instruments took a turn for the better.
All 140 or so of my backing tracks are recordings of real musicians playing in the studio. The blues tracks I have were recorded by the University of Iowa’s music department. They aren’t labeled by any specific blues standard, there are simply all types of tempos, in many different keys, and many different rhythm patterns. The jazz tracks I have are also recordings of real musicians playing the changes to jazz standards. None of what I have are the cheesy type, because I specifically searched for real recordings and not MIDI created instrumentation.
I did not know BeatBuddy used real recording samples. Many drum machines use synthesized MIDI instruments that sound close but always seem to have a distinguishable something about them that sounds fake. Phil Collins comes to mind as an artist that utilized a ton of MIDI instrumentation in his music in the 1980s. He was very popular, and sold tons of records, but I never liked the fake sound of the instruments he used and I was never a fan.
I have upwards of 11,000 backing tracks on my home computer. At one time when I realized what I could do with backing tracks and a looper pedal, I was on a quest of sorts to see just how many were out on the Internet. For sure, the number is nearly limitless. And 90%+ of it is free. There are some places that sell backing tracks but you have to hear them first. They might promise the world to justify the sale, but they can wind up being MIDI generated gleep-glorp-goop. There is s huge difference between the MIDI generated ones and the ones recorded in a studio. That 11,000 also only included musical styles I was interested in, mostly just blues, rock and jazz.
I also play music at church and the Facebook post that brought me here was talking about using a BB for Praise and Worship music. I thought I would be slick and post about how easy it was to find contemporary Christian music backing tracks. I was astounded to see that there is very little if any CCM tracks for free anywhere (at least in a few brief Google searchings). It seems the CCM industry likes their copyrights and loves its money (evidently). You have to buy most any kind of CCM backing tracks for ridiculous amounts of money. I assume this is where the churches are also getting the chord charts for the songs. I have played for 2 major Mega churches, and they both had the same type of PDF chord charts, which in my opinion were crap. I would create my own charts with the correct chords over the syllable of the words as they were sung on the recordings. I was astounded to see that a lot of the chord charts in the (what is it called “CCLI” copyright domain thing for CCM music…) are completely terrible. A lot of times they will write out one verse, give you the chords sort of close to where they belong in the verse, then for the next verse you are on your own.
I teach guitar as well as play, and I also show my students how to make correct lead sheets for any song they want to learn. The creation of the lead sheets starts the learning process for the song, and by the time they have made a lead sheet, using just the lyrics and chord symbols, they have started to memorize the song from start to finish as well. I have them do this because (say) in 5 years time they want to come back and relearn a song they had made a lead sheet for, they won’y have to do the same thing again, plus the notation used to create the lead sheet is common to all my type of lead sheets, and it causes a memory spot making it easy to remember what you did way back when by looking at the lead sheet years from now.
Another thing I tell my students the lead sheets are good for, is that they make it possible to get any musical group up and running a lot faster. If one guy brings all the lyrics and chords, all the musicians need to do is take a look, follow a long, and if they are even half way competent on their instrument, they can follow simple chord names. Even if the song has complicated chords, there are only 3 chord categories in life… Major, Minor and Dominant 7th… every chord of the billions available fit into one of those categories. So, if it says “Am7b5” to make it basic and doable at first you can just do an Am.
Back to the Praise and Worship thing… they are asking ridiculous prices per song for their tracks. Then they are charging per song and per PDF for the crappy chord charts. I saw prices anywhere from $2/song for the tracks, to $10/song for the same song on other pages. This is an industry in love with money. Unless of course you want the old fashioned pipe organ and Hymnal kind of music… there was a TON of those types of tracks for free. But as far as Hillsong, Chris Tomlin, etc, etc, stuff contemporary churches use to add music to their worship services… plan on shelling out huge amounts of cash, and buyer beware of the icky chord charts. I have this vision of Jesus chasing out the money changers in the temple…
So, I write my own worship and Christian songs. And for now and for as long as I breathe, ALL of my music will be free to be used in any church anywhere on the planet. But I am just a Joe Nobody. I don’t have a muti-billion dollar CCM industry behind me to promote my stuff. I don’t think I would even want to be involved with an industry so cloven to the love of money. I had never given any thought to it, and have sang all of these Hillsong, Tomlin, Redman, etc, etc songs in church for years. I had no idea how far dug in that industry had become in charging churches for the copyright fees to play those songs. There is just something not right about that, when we are serving God, encouraged to give of our time (for free) at the churches to help out… but then someone somewhere has to stop and have respect of persons, in that only the copyright owners of these songs can use them in church services? Only man could invent such a thing.
I think it was the backing track site that had them at ten bucks each song for CCM songs that got me going. BY the time their CD is in the bargain bin, you can buy the entire CD for less than ten bucks.
So as far as using backing tracks for Praise and Worship, it has a huge cost. Only the rich need apply. The poor could not possibly afford to pay ten bucks per song for backing tracks just to buy some rich CCM musicians next yacht. In some ways it is a pathetic culture we live in… one of the richest anywhere in the world, and one of the greediest and most selfish anywhere on the planet at the same time.
Let me compare…
I have a friend who lives in India. He has been in the ministry for 28 years. He has pioneered 34 churches almost single-handedly with no help from some major mega church in the US (etc). He has also founded a Bible college. He is graduating ministers from the college that go into the ministry and in the places where they preach they do not eat because the countryside is so poor. They go without eating to serve God. This is the same world we live in, but in a different place on the globe. For that same ten bucks my friend could feed dozens of people. Or he could get Bibles into the hands of many in their own native language of Hindi or perhaps Telegu.
I was sending my friend Bibles in the native to his region Telegu language on PDF format. After I had sent him several different ones, he wrote me back and told me that where he lives it is very poor, and that 95% of the people do not own or have access to computers.
I am certain CCM has had an enormous impact in helping get the Word out to the world for Jesus. But they have created their own limitations by installing such strict copyright inclusions and demanding such ridiculous fees for their tracks. It is so tightly grasped by the throat for money, it seems like they are strangling themselves. If these things could but set loose and set free to be used by anyone anywhere without the ridiculous charges, how much more could be done for God? But the sad thing is, they seemingly think they can sell their version of God. I hate to break it to them but God is not for sale. God isn’t just the God of the Capitalists, he is the Savior of the entire world, of people who live under every government type. Capitalists understand selling CDs and controlling profits with copyright laws. A lot of the CCM industry folks are very good Capitalists.
I’m sorry, but if one of these CCM musicians came to my church, I wouldn’t dote on him or her anymore or treat them any different than old uncle Joe who comes and plunks on the piano and has what might be said by some not much talent at all. But I know uncle Joe loves Jesus with all his heart. As in the Bible, if two come to our house for dinner, one being a poor person dressed in poor clothes, and one who is rich in fancy clothes, it is a sin to treat the one above the other. (James 2:9). Wow, James has a lot to say about this kind of stuff.