4. BACKTRACKING

 
 

It’s was a beautiful night in Austin, Texas in 2013. It’s South by Southwest. And Alex was seeing one of his favorite bands: Vampire Weekend. There’s four of them on stage, and they’re rocking out. All of a sudden Alex hear this kind of fifth part. And he's thinking, “Oh, was one of them playing some new crazy instrument that I can’t really hear? Where is this part coming from? There’s only four of them and there’s five parts." Suddenly, disappointment and anger and a welling of emotions flows up through his body, because Alex realizes that they’re playing to a backing track.

A backing track is pre-recorded music that’s being played underneath live instrumentation. For example, say you're a duo, besides the two instruments you’d be playing live, you might need to fill out your sound a little bit. Perhaps you’d add a little pre-recorded bass and percussion, maybe a nice horn section. We’re talking about something that supplements the actual live instrumentation.

In this episode, Alex goes on a personal journey to find out why he has such negative feelings for backing tracks and whether is right or wrong for having those feelings. Along the way he speaks with musicians Ian Pai (AVAN LAVA), Brittany Campbell, and Joe Etzine, and Columbia socialogy professor Jennifer Lena.

What do you think about backing tracks? Listen to the episode above and join the conversation. Tweet @hearpitch and let us know!

 

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