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Discussion Starter #1
Lately I've been updating my collection of backing tracks to make them more practice-friendly. As a pianist and bassist, I made my own tracks in the past with piano and bass accompaniment only. There were two problems with them:

  1. I am not a great bassist especially without a drummer. Unless I work steadily playing bass, my intonation suffers. Bass is not a part-time instrument.
  2. As we get older our hearing deteriorates, and no drums means I had to really crank it up to hear the time, which meant I couldn't concentrate on what I was playing.

I never added MIDI drums because, simply put, they sound like crap.

Recently I got an upgrade to Band-In-A-Box and found its new Real Drums feature. At last, computer generated drums that almost sound like a real drummer. Good enough for my purposes.

To address the bass problem, I use modified BIAB bass sequences played through a gigasampled acoustic bass sample library.

The result is a set of backing tracks that sound more like a real rhythm section. They are unlike Aebersols in that:

  1. The time, being computer generated, is impeccable.
  2. The tracks have piano solos, as with a real rhythm section. No bass solos or fours with the drums, though. Can't have everything.
  3. The channels are mixed realistically and balanced rather than being full left, full right and center.
  4. The keys, chord changes, number of choruses, tempos, styles and intros reflect how I want to play a tune.
  5. I can, upon request and for a reasonable fee, change and distribute any of the above parameters for a custom version of a chosen track or to build a tune not already on my list.

My tracks are unlike BIAB-generated accompaniments in that:

  1. The piano accompaniments and solos are real. They're not great, but they're real.
  2. I use Sonar to tweak certain spots, such as breaks and endings, that BIAB doesn't do well.

I assembled a list of standard tunes. Gradually, I am building backing tracks from this list, which reflects standards that I like to play and that are often called at local jam sessions.

The tracks do not violate copyrights because they do not include melodies or lyrics. Consequently, I can distribute them if I choose to. (Titles cannot be copyrighted.)

My list intentionally does not include Real Book tunes, bebop standards, and other jazz-only standards. I might get around to them later.

The list follows at the end of this message. Here are my questions:

  1. Are there tunes included that you would exclude from this list?
  2. Are there tunes missing that you would include?
  3. If libraries of these backing tracks were offered commercially, do you think there is a market for them?
  4. If yes, would an iTunes kind of download be a viable marketing medium?
So that this is not seen as a marketing ploy, please know that I will make any of my tracks available to sotw members as I get them converted to MP3 and a download site set up, none of which has been high on my list of things to do so far. Distribution has to wait for each tune to pass my own critical review with respect to quality of playing and the absence of any melodic content that suggests the original (for purposes of copyrights).

=================================

* = backing track completed
- = backing track recorded but not yet converted to the new format

----- swing -------
*All Of Me
*Am I Blue
Autumn Leaves
*Back Home Again In Indiana
*Blue Moon
-But Not For Me
-Bye Bye Blackbird
-Days of Wine and Roses
*Don't Get Around Much Anymore
East Of The Sun
*Exactly Like You
Fly Me to the Moon
*Have You Met Miss Jones
How High the Moon
*I Could Write A Book
*I Remember You
*I Should Care
I Wish You Love
I'll Remember April
-It Had To Be You
*It's You Or No One
*Just Friends
Just In Time
Lady Be Good
-Like Someone In Love
*Little Coquette
On A Clear Day
On Green Dolphin Street
On The Sunny Side Of The Street
*Our Love Is Here To Stay
*Pennies From Heaven
Satin Doll
Secret Love
-September In The Rain
Stella By Starlight
*Sunday
S'Wonderful
*Take The A Train
The More I See You
-There Is No Greater Love
*There Will Never Be Another You
-Time After Time
Undecided
What Is This Thing Called Love

------ ballads ---------
-All The Things You Are
*Body and Soul
*But Beautiful
-Don't Blame Me
*Don't Worry 'Bout Me
Embraceable You
Georgia On My Mind
Here's That Rainy Day
-I Can't Get Started
I Cover The Waterfront
I Thought About You
I'm Confessin'
-In A Sentimental Mood
*Isn't It Romantic
-It's The Talk Of The Town
*I've Never Been In Love Before
Laura
Misty
Moonlight In Vermont
My Funny Valentine
*My One And Only Love
*My Romance
Once In A While
*Out Of Nowhere
-Over The Rainbow
*Polka Dots and Moonbeams
*The Second Time Around
Smoke Gets In Your Eyes
-Someone To Watch Over Me
Sophisticated Lady
Stardust
Stars Fell On Alabama
Teach Me Tonight
Tenderly
That Old Feeling
That's All
-The Nearness Of You
The Shadow of Your Smile
-These Foolish Things
What A Difference A Day Made
-What's New
When I Fall In Love
When Sunny Gets Blue

--------- waltzes ---------
*Emily
Moon River
Bluesette

--------- latin ---------
-Blue Bossa
Day In The Life Of A Fool
*Gentle Rain
*Girl From Ipanema
Meditation
More
One Note Samba
*Quiet Nights (Corcovado)
Tea For Two
*Triste
Watch What Happens
*Wave
 

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My answer to #3- yes
#4- I don't use iTunes, as I'm sure there are others like me, so I wouldn't use that as my only distribution point.
 

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This all sounds great Al and as for your questions

1 and 2; This list should already keep me busy for a loooong time
3; In my opinion YES there is (So get them available :D )
4; I'm not using iTunes and my guess is I'm not the only one,
but it probably would be a nice platform.

Please keep us posted :D
 

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I think it is an interesting project. I do use, passively, I-Tunes because I am a Mac User , it is on my computer and it starts automatically for may things but I must say I've never bought anything from it ..... . If you decide to publish your project there is always the possibility to use a server such as rapidshare if you want to sell te service you could give a password after the money has reached you with pay pal for example.
 

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Al -

Wow, what a great library you've listed. Although there are a handful of tunes on your list that I don't recognize, I wouldn't exclude any. As far as adding tunes, I can't think of anything off the top of my head that I'd add. I do think there would be a market for this kind of thing, moreso the more professional the tracks are. One of the things that kills me when I practice with BIAB is the lameness of many of the midi backing tracks out there, even the ones that are for sale. I usually practice tunes to professionally recorded mp3 backing tracks. Don't know much about how you'd sell on iTunes, but I think you'd be cutting out a good portion of the population if you went that route.

Lastly, check your PM.

Frank
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks for the responses. I probably wouldn't use iTunes itself. There are sites that set up for digital download. CDBaby hosts some of them. The only way I'll make this a product is if I don't have to handle distribution and collection personally. I'm too lazy to work. I just want to make music.

But I'll get working on the site that lets sotw'ers download tracks. Please let me know if there are asterisk marked tunes you'd like to get first.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
fballatore said:
Lastly, check your PM.
I have the PM and email options turned off. I was getting pestered about some of the more controversial discussions in which I took part.

If you want to get in touch:

al <at> alstevens <dot> com
 

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Impressive list. You've been busy. I'd be interested in an "on demand" download site like iTunes that has backing tracks with mp3 and pdf files of the charts as a package. That way I don't need to buy a whole book for just one tune I want to learn. I'm always buying Aebersolds for just one or two tunes and I never have time to check out the whole book.
 

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PDF charts would complicate copywrite far too much to be a worthwhile product I'd imagine. This way you might have to learn charts by ear, which is better in my opinion anyway.

Al, maybe you could focus on obscure standards? You already have quite a few up there and I think it would be beneficial to lots of players to have some forgotten melodies in their repertoire, though I don't know how marketable it would be...
 

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Discussion Starter #10 (Edited)
Yeah, the PDF thing involves getting copyright permissions from the copyright holders and paying royalties. And some copyright holders would withhold permission because they have exclusive agreements with other publishers.

Most of the tunes can be found in a collection of three or four commercial fake books. Perhaps a reference to which books have the tunes would be useful.

If you have Band-In-A-Box, almost all the tunes are online in BIAB format from which you can print lead sheets in the keys you prefer.

Here's one such source:

http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/Band-in-a-Box-Files/
 

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It would be cool to buy the songs that I want. Sometimes I buy one of those play along books and I only want two of the songs
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Here's a start. Please comment on whether the formats are understandable and whether the audio is acceptable. I made these tracks alone without professional mixing or mastering. My hearing isn't the best in the world. Let me know if anything about the way they sound is really annoying.

Please use the email link on the page to send comments.

Watch the page for more tunes as I add them. Let me know if there's a tune you'd like me to upload.

http://www.playalongstudio.com/
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Obscure standards. A good idea. But would most players recognize them? How many here know "Little Coquette?"

My grandkids say all the tunes on my list are obscure. :)
 

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Al Stevens said:
Obscure standards. A good idea. But would most players recognize them? How many here know "Little Coquette?"

:)
Is that like 'Little Red Coquette'?:D

BTW, I like your ideas. I can't wait to hear the tracks.
 

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Al Stevens said:
Obscure standards. A good idea. But would most players recognize them? How many here know "Little Coquette?"

My grandkids say all the tunes on my list are obscure. :)
Nice tune. I've a recording of Nat King Cole doing it.
 

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Some of the demo music in BIAB is not bad and good for printing sheet music or importing into a document program. SONAR is a better MIDI editing tool. Having the MIDI files handy on your computer hard drive, and backup disk, allows fast turnaround time in the event material needs transposing. Rehearsal time is reduced considerably. No muss, no fuss. :)
 

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Al Stevens said:
Obscure standards. A good idea. But would most players recognize them? How many here know "Little Coquette?"

My grandkids say all the tunes on my list are obscure. :)
I do! I do! I get what you're saying though. Not being able to get the charts out with it hurts big time if you went that route, so you're probably better off with what you're already doing.

I think the two advantages you'd have (I haven't listened to what you already have up yet, but just based upon the existing market,) are the ability to put individual tunes for sale and to do tunes and composers that Aebersold, Hal Leonard, etc. have ignored. The obvious disadvantage is the name recognition Aebersold has and the name players he uses on his recordings. I certainly think there is a niche market for something like you're doing. A real drummer would make it more attractive I think, but it may not be feasible to use one.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
odsum25 said:
A real drummer would make it more attractive I think, but it may not be feasible to use one.
You are right. Just now, if I want to do a track on some tune at three in the morning, I can do it without having to call anyone. And I don't have to pay anyone studio scale and royalties if one of my customers decides to use a track for a recording and goes platinum. (Yeah, right.)

The RealDrums feature is realistic enough for backing tracks. PGMusic recorded a drummer playing riffs at various tempos and styles with brushes. BIAB builds drum accompaniments from that, and they're better than the best sequenced drum loops I've heard for this kind of music.

It has its limitations, though. It won't mix styles, for example. To do Green Dolphin Street in the latin-then-swing idiom I had to lay down three versions, one mixed styles to get the bass lines and then one latin and one swing to get the drums. Then I had to cut and paste the two audio drum tracks into one. I wouldn't want to do a lot of that kind of stuff.

Anyway, practicing is a lot more fun these days.
 
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