Tag: learning

The Importance of Play-Along Tracks in Music Practice

The Australian Government recognises the significance and value of music in fostering cultural expression and contributing to the economy. 

In 2019, the music sector contributed $1.7 billion to the GDP, with potential for growth given the right platforms and practices, states the Government’s “Australian Music Industry” report. 

One unique and influential aspect in bolstering this growth is play-along tracks

Most people might associate these with an artist’s music recording process, but they offer profound enrichment to music learning and practice.

Popular tools like Band In A Box and iReal Pro have been conducive but seem too formulaic to some. The real essence lies in playing along with masterful renditions of seasoned artistsoffering joy and a priceless learning experience,”says music enthusiast, Flynn Lawson of YouTube To MP3.

The importance of play-along tracks in music practice:

1. Enhances Musical Skills

Play-along tracks help to sharpen various musical skills. 

These tracks pave the way to practice rhythm, melody, and harmony in real-time, fostering an in-depth musical understanding. 

The natural, dynamic feeling of performing alongside a talented musician’s rendition of a musical piece helps to hone the students’ interpretative skills and musical intuition.

2. Supports Self-Expression

Playing along with recordings of talented musicians allows one to connect personally with the music, fostering expressive capabilities. 

It helps discover one’s unique musical voice, resonate with the piece’s emotion, and communicate these effectively through performance.

3. Aids in Fixing Mistakes

With play-along tracks, musicians identify and rectify their mistakes on the spot

The immediate feedback helps players to detect off-beats, wrong notes, or other areas of improvement. 

This instant detection and correction instil better playing habits and contributes to steady musical growth.

4. Promotes Versatility

Another critical advantage of play-along tracks is the exposure to different music styles

Individual tracks will likely embody various genres, cultures, and traditions, thus coaxing musicians out of their comfort zones. 

This versatile exposure broadens the musical vision and cultivates adaptability.

5. Rehearses Performance-like Scenarios

Play-along tracks re-create the vibe of a live performance. 

Practising with these tracks helps musicians become accustomed to the performance dynamic – following the tempo, maintaining sync, and imparting feelings. 

This role-play aids in confronting stage fright and boosts confidence when actually performing.

6. Provides Enjoyment and Motivation

Above all, playing along with recordings of talented musicians makes music practice so enjoyable

It breaks the monotony of routine practice, injecting a thrill of playing with a virtual ‘band’. 

This fun-filled learning stimulates enthusiasm and motivation, fostering a more profound love for the music.

Fine Tune Your Practice With NetTracks

NetTracks from Alive Drumming is the musician’s store for play-along tracks, with 1000s of high-quality tracks of artists’ recordings from Alive Drumming and other vendors. It is the ideal way to find, download and play great play-along tracks. The Apple app has helpful metadata, a superb audio player and setlists. Just what one needs to take advantage of the best play-along.

Alive Drumming is a hub for non-classical musicianship, offering various resources to enhance your understanding of contemporary songs and particularly their rhythms. 

Explore rhythm recordings and experience the convenience of Song Rhythm Tracks through the NetTracks app. 

Check out Alive Drumming at alivedrumming.com and elevate your music practice like never before. Rock, steady rhythms start there!

Contact Alive Drumming for more insights at marketing@alive-drumming.org. They will guide you towards fulfilling your musical journey.

— Article from guest contributor Jude Young.

Why do these Song Rhythm Tracks sound so totally great?

drummer AJAZZGO2017

These Song Rhythm Tracks do sound totally great, don’t they?

This is one of the most frequent things I hear.  The great sound quality often comes as surprise, perhaps because of the widespread familiarity everybody has with ‘Midi Drum Machines‘, which don’t satisfy in the same way as Song Rhythm TracksMidi Drum Machines and Song Rhythm Tracks are two very different products; we summarize their differences below.

The Song Rhythm Tracks Way

Song Rhythm Tracks

Here are the three top reasons why we believe these tracks are so great to jam to, to gig to, and to cut records to.

One – Great Recordings of Great Drummers – Song Rhythm Tracks are arranged from careful studio recordings of excellent drummers.

They are not constructed from midi files fitting together “samples” from single drum hits to form a mechanical style but rather multiple longer-form full recordings by top studio drummers, lasting from up to 8 bars at a time where you hear subtle drum rolls, variations in ride cymbal taps, complex fills and more.  The rhythmic style comes from talented drummers that are very experienced in the particular style be it Reggae, Salsa, Bossa, Rumba, Tango, Rock, Country, Jazz, Pop, Celtic, Praise & Worship, Blues, and lots more!

Two – There is natural variety promoted over the repeats.

That is, a number of recordings of all aspects of playing, fills, post-fills, shots and more are taken and selectively chosen while sequencing and engineering the final audio.  This provides the natural variety one gets with drummers.  It helps prevent the drumming from becoming monotonous and repetitive.

Three – The arrangement is always spelling out aspects of the song’s form.

This might have a larger contribution than one might imagine.  It is what real drummers do, but drumming software rarely does.   The drumming is indicating

  1. When you are returning to the ‘top of the form’ again
  2. When your sections are ending and starting again
  3. When you are playing a bridge section
  4. Whether you are playing a middle chorus or, alternatively, the first or last chorus.   This not only helps you keep place while you are playing but it makes the whole experience so much more enjoyable to listen to, or play along with, as well.

All this takes a lot of careful preparation, curation, huge storage, and sophisticated algorithms.   We feel this cannot be achieved on mobile devices themselves which is why our solution involves cloud services working with the mobile App.

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When to work on your “Rhythm”?

illu trumpet

When learning a new piece of music, when should a musician work on getting right the rhythm and feel of the piece?

We have long believed it has to be the very first thing to get right and there’s little point playing notes at all unless they are in the desired rhythm (feel and groove).   Tempo, however, is a whole other subject – there’s a lot to be said for precision and even playing tunes at markedly different tempos to internalize the piece better.

Timing is the bedrock of all music:  “When a note is struck at the wrong time, it’s the wrong note”.

Getting playing in the right rhythm as soon as possible is why we have always sought out structured and inspiring rhythmic backing.  This ultimately lead to  “Song Rhythm Tracks.

Rhythm and Timing

Practice Makes Permanent

One of the most repeated terms used to, and by, musicians is that “practice makes perfect”.   I’ve heard this altered to, “practice makes permanent”. i.e. if we repeat a thing, over and over, then we do internalize it and it becomes a facility we have “without consciously thinking about it”.  This is why we can do complex coordinated movements without much conscious thought such as driving cars and even using a knife and fork.   If you’ve never done these things in your life before they can be very challenging for the very first time, but once performed daily one doesn’t even recognize them as a challenge anymore.  It’s as if an entirely different part of your mind is assigned to the task.  So, what is important is that we are very selective about using this repetition technique and make sure it affects don’t work against us because if what we are practising is not beneficial then it will get internalized just as readily….   So, practice can make perfect;  It will eventually make permanent, but that permanency can defeat you as well as help you.

Developing your own sense of timing

A key aspect of music is rhythm and timing – it’s what can make music come alive, and it’s what can kill it as well.  It’s essential that we develop good rhythm and timing.

A Pulse!

If you haven’t yet developed the sense of that regular pulse that is present in most modern music – pop, folk, country, jazz – playing along to something with a pulse is of great benefit because wherever your pulse is lacking it will be clearly shown and you will automatically adjust to follow the pulse and keep the timing.  Great: That’s a real win.   My recommendation is to be very selective about the use of metronomes and click-tracks:  There’s more to rhythm than a pulse!

But not just any pulse!

Misuse of Metronomes and click tracks Considered Harmful

Always using a click-track when you practice and when playing together in a group will likely work against developing your own human interaction on the pulse and detract from the rhythmic nuances that end up being beaten out by the demanding, oh-so-regular, ‘click’.  In a similar way also, counting when you are jamming with others will be a problem:  Counting the pulses within the meter, such as 1-and-a, 2-and-a,  is an absolutely invaluable aid when learning a new, perhaps rhythmically challenging melody: I’ve heard it said that if you cannot count a melody or rhythmic idea out, you don’t really know it:  It is great to count it out to ensure we really know it, but once you have internalized that melody, it is time to stop counting it and feel the rhythm and communicate with the others you are playing with without blocking them out by counting in your head.

The Jazz educator Steven Sedergreen in his book, “Start Playing Jazz Piano Now”, writes, “Time and feel are intuitive rather than mechanical. Reliance on mechanical means such as counting and the use of metronomes are poor substitutes for feeling it. Time emanates from within the body and moves outwardly, a natural feeling that should not be restricted”.  (chapter 21, para 4)

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