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First attempt at creating an original backing track and composition

Profusia

Senior Member
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Thought it was about time I tried to figure out how to create an original backing track in iRealB. Only one slight problem - I know diddly about chord progressions. Soldiering on regardless I typed a few chords in and within literally 5 or 10 mins had the backing track below. Several improvised sax takes later followed by a lot of editing in Audacity and hey presto. A bit rough and simplistic I know but its definitely encouraged me to continue and learn and improve. Here it is...

https://soundcloud.com/profusia/lovin-you-is-easy
 

Wade Cornell

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That's a great first effort. Don't know about you, but I'm my own worst critic, which can be a good thing if you're looking to improve. See if you can critique this for yourself then make decisions about what you'd want to change in either the backing or your playing. Would like to hear your comments, and then if you want/need others can say what they think.
 

Chris

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That's a great first effort. Don't know about you, but I'm my own worst critic, which can be a good thing if you're looking to improve. See if you can critique this for yourself then make decisions about what you'd want to change in either the backing or your playing. Would like to hear your comments, and then if you want/need others can say what they think.

Wade makes a really good point here. The ability to hear/listen to what you are playing is very important to a sax player.

Chris..
 

TimboSax

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What a great idea! I have the iRealB app, didn't realise you can create your own tunes. Sounding good Thomas, there are some nice ideas here.

I'm not sure what software you use to put it all together, but one thing I do sometimes when I'm putting together a guitar track (not there yet with sax) is to place the backing on a loop and just noodle on top of it. Then I go back and take out anything that doesn't grab me (this can be difficult sometimes, because it's my playing and I get rather attached to it, but it's a good way of critiquing my own work). I splice together what's left and then might "renoodle" to add some more. Once I have enough, I then learn to play what's left - sort of like a best bits compilation of my playing. I use Sonar, but I'm sure you can do this in most software.
 

Profusia

Senior Member
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Worcestershire
Guys, many thanks for listening, for the feedback, and for the encouraging words.

That's a great first effort. Don't know about you, but I'm my own worst critic, which can be a good thing if you're looking to improve. See if you can critique this for yourself then make decisions about what you'd want to change in either the backing or your playing. Would like to hear your comments, and then if you want/need others can say what they think.

Thanks a lot Wade. I'm definitely my worst critic too. I really put this up just to share what's possible. A chance to say; "Hey look what I've found out how to do".

I would say it can be broken down into numerous aspects such as...

1) The composition of the backing track. Numerous things within this too but the biggest issue for me is coming up with some interesting chord sequences that will "suggest" or help give some melodic ideas. Big issue here as I said is that I don't know much about chord progressions at all. Ok I do sort of know what a II V I is but quite how to use that, and what else I should or could look to use is currently completely beyond me. I know what major and minor chords are, what inversions are, and what extensions are. But I only really know from a theoretical point of view, by which I mean I can't really hear the difference very well if at all. For this backing track I didn't even use a II V I, but rather threw in some chords almost randomly (although aiming to keep in one key) just to see what the effect would be. As for the structure of the track, iRealB gave me some options which I didn't understand, so I picked one ("32 bars ABAC"). I now know that this means 8 bars (section A), followed by 8 bars (section B) then section A repeated, followed by a final 8 bars of section C. So I've learned something at least. But I really need to go away and lean a bit of simple composition using chord progressions (and whatever else there may be lurking to be learned).

2) The melodic lines and improvisation that I came up with. Essentially I really used just one simple melodic idea pretty much repeated, with some improvised bits thrown in to pad out, fill gaps where I didn't have melodic ideas, and give some variation. I'm not satisfied with that as would rather have a complete melodic idea for an entire head/chorus/bridge (whatever you want to call the consituent sections), and then improvise/embelish those. It was a quick and dirty job but I guess I liked it enough to put it up for the world to hear.

3) The playing. :blush: Yes, this was ROUGH! All sorts of issues. Tone and tuning - I'm having a crisis of confidence over tone and tuning (particularly palm keys intonation) at the moment. I've switched mouthpieces and since making that recording have bought a Selmer Soloist which I think gives me better control over tuning at the top end. Still not happy with tone though. Timing and articulation - these both tend to go out of the window when I'm improvising (along with tone) as my brain and fingers lag behind the beat sporadically. Still early days though.

If you (or anyone) can give any constructive suggestions I'd be extremely pleased to take them on board.

The next night I threw another backing track together, this time using some II V I's and have laid down a few takes of improvised tunes over it. I haven't put it up as I'm still hoping to improve my tone and tuning on it with the Selmer Soloist I picked up yesterday and to improve the melodic ideas over what I loosely call the bridge. If I can manage that I may then also inflict that on the world.
 
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Wade Cornell

Well-Known Member
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2,363
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New Zealand and Australia
That's a great analysis and you've covered everything that needs work. Very difficult at a distance for any of us to teach those skills you've identified, but knowing what you need is the first step towards achieving your goals. It also makes a teacher's job more focused if you can concentrate on your needs rather than going through a teacher's standard programme for a long while until they get to the stuff you want/need.

Hopefully there are good teachers in your area who can help, although you may need two, with one to cover your compositional aspects. Maybe Chris will chime in about his experience with composition.
 

Profusia

Senior Member
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Location
Worcestershire
Hopefully there are good teachers in your area who can help, although you may need two, with one to cover your compositional aspects.

Thanks Wade. Actually my teacher is excellent. Not sure where I am, but wherever it is I know I wouldn't be here without the guidance he's given me. He's very much both a jazz and chords guy. I just haven't started picking his brains on the chords and composition side of things yet. But I guess its time I did!

Maybe Chris will chime in about his experience with composition.

Hope so. ;}
 

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