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beginner forum: for novice and developing blues harp players > Backing Tracks
Backing Tracks
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78 posts
Jul 22, 2019
6:26 PM
Hi, I'm looking for some thoughts on backing tracks and if you use them to practice with and getting good results. I'm not talking about tracks your trying learn a specific song on I'm talking about random tracks that may be 12 bars or a shuffle, or a rocker ect. I just downloaded a few, played along with them for an hour or 2 & it's fun but I'm just using licks I know and trying to fit em in, the next day I was thinking that any playing is good playing but the time took away from some very specific things/tunes I'm working on.
I can see the benefit of using them for timing and just playing but does anybody get good returns on there practice time jamming to backing tracks ?
44 posts
Jul 23, 2019
6:17 AM
Lou, not with the harp, however, I have used backing tracks while playing banjo. I prefer playing with backing tracks and sound files to using a metronome to work on timing. I sometimes have trouble hearing or anticipating chord changes, however, it gets better with practice. I found some harp backing tracks on YouTube by searching harmonica backing tracks. Hope this helps.
Jeff B

Just enjoying the music journey.

Last Edited by Pickn5 on Jul 23, 2019 6:21 AM
6085 posts
Jul 24, 2019
2:33 AM
I reckon once you get to a point where you can jam creatively, or even once you start approaching that, then jamming to BTs is probably good practice at generating ideas or just getting into the mindset/zone. I’m pretty sure that’s what Ted Burke was doing with most of the videos he used to share here. He would have 3 or more minutes of high speed playing which didn’t really go anywhere but was impressive in terms of speed and fluidity. I expect it was just really good practice for him at moving really quickly through scalar patterns.

Not me though. I rarely practice that way. My backing track use is far more sedate and sporadic.
Usually I’m working on specific songs, as much as I’ve talked it up about trying to practice in different ways, the majority of what I’m doing in practice is driven by the need to deliver something on the stage. Amazing Slow Downer and AudioStretch are my friends.
371 posts
Jul 24, 2019
5:27 PM
I use backing tracks a lot to practice improvising. I have a downloaded set from the Jimi Lee Band called Every Groove a Bluesman Needs to Know.
6088 posts
Jul 25, 2019
1:30 AM
They’re good tracks. Shuffles, swing shuffles, Jimmy Reed shuffles - one of which has a quick IV, boogies, two-beats, rhumba, and more
Between those and the “ultimate jam tracks”, and the Shoblues tracks I can usually find something to work with.
The software helps with jam tracks too, I can make pitch-shifted and time-shifted versions.
Oh yeah I bought Shoji Naito’s Chicago shuffles in 12 keys, and also did a private deal with him to get all his ‘song-specific’ tracks.
Denis Gruenling also sells some good tracks
The others I have are the Hills Blues Collective, which Adam G sells on this site, and another set Adam promoted from Charlie Hilbert, which are a bit quirky but good for a harp player in a duo situation.

But usually I start with the Jimi Lee set and often don’t need to look much further
80 posts
Jul 25, 2019
5:23 PM
Great info. I'll check out the Jimi Lee set
Thanks guys
2610 posts
Aug 04, 2019
5:28 AM
Yes to the Jimi Lee tracks. My note of caution is that backing tracks encourage noodling. Nothing is wrong, everything sounds OK, but everything sounds the same. That's the harmonica curse.

Playing with real people, if you are leading you need to do a lot more, like signalling the changes, playing strong identifiable phrases to keep people on track, flagging the stops and starts etc.

On the BT I find the musicians never go wrong, speed up, add bars or get lost, they are amazing!

You can practice some of these with the BTs, but it takes discipline to avoid the generic noodling.

Last Edited by MindTheGap on Aug 04, 2019 5:31 AM

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