Removing vocals from a recording

One of the most frequently asked questions a newcomer to singing and backing tracks asks is if it’s possible to take the vocals off of an original recording and just leave the music? On the surface, this seems like a very logical question – after all, if you are going to buy a CD of a song to listen to it and learn it, then you might as well get twice the value by taking the singers voice off the recording afterwards and leave yourself with a perfect backing track which you can use to sing the song yourself later on stage.

If you take this idea one step further, you probably already have thousands of songs in your CD collection which you’ve been building up over years, so potentially, you have thousands of backing tracks at your fingertips – all you need to do is get the vocals off them…

By now, you’re probably wondering why backing track exist at all if all you need to do to make a backing track is remove the vocals from the original? Well, there is a simple answer (and you’re not going to like it…)! Backing track companies exist because vocal elimination machines and vocal removal software just don’t work! If they did, there would be no backing track companies producing backing tracks. And don’t think that because my company produces backing tracks that I am biased and don’t want to lose business if you buy a vocal emliminating machine or software. My CLICK HERE“>article on vocal elimination explains the full technical reasons why vocal removal doesn’t work and just to show there is no bias, there are links to vocal elimination hardware and software you can buy if you don’t believe me (don’t say I didn’t warn you that you’ll be wasting your money)!

Set lists on the iPod

If you think that simply filling an iPod with backing tracks and taking to your gig is all you need to do to ensure a successful evenings performance think again!

Just as you would organize your record collection or DVD collection at home in to alphabetical or genre or artist etc etc, so you must do the same with your iPod backing tracks. One of the advantages of the iPod over other playback formats like minidisc, CD etc is that you can quickly access the next song (vital in a “live” onstage environment). However, the sheer storage capacity of the iPod means that it can hold thousands of songs and that’s precisely why it is absolutely essential that you organize your songs in to set lists (or as the iPod calls them playlists). This begins to become more aparent and even more important when you consider that your iPod can also be used to play background music during your break so it really is worth spending some time organizing your music to make sure it can be quickly and easily accessed during a performance.

I’ve discovered a few good tips and tricks and ideas you can use to get the best from your iPod such as naming conventions, playlist ideas and using the “ratings” function to good effect.

Just click on the link to read the full article on CLICK HERE“>organizing your set list.

Positioning the iPod on stage

So, let’s say you’ve taken the plunge and bought an CLICK HERE”>iPod, filled it with backing tracks, and now you’re ready to use it on stage for the first time. The question you’ll probably ask is “Where should I put it?” After all, you’ve probably been used to having a midi module, a CD player or a minidisc deck built in to your rack or sitting on a table beside your mixing desk, amplifier etc…so where is the best place to position an iPod?

While the answer to this is always going to be a case of personal choice, the iPod has a unique advantage over other backing track playback machines – it’s small size. I believe that you should capitalize on this, therefore, you should consider positioning your iPod in a place that is near to hand.

Attaching it to your music stand (if you use one) using some velcro strips is a great position for an iPod. In small venues where you are really close to the audience, you may have experienced your music stand being knocked over by an audience member so will be woriied that your iPod may go flying in to mid-air. Don’t worry – simply buy a protective case for the iPod. There are millions of websites and stores selling iPod accessories nowadays, so shop around and pick a protective cover that’s sturdy and made of a resilient material (like rubber).

Another place to position your iPod is on your microphone stand. Although at the time of writing this article there are no microphone stands available to buy off-the-shelf which have an iPod attachment, you can take your iPod and your microphone stand to a drum shop and ask the assistant to recommend a drum accessory that will fit on to the mic stand and hold the iPod (again, some velcro strips may be necessary to attach the iPod to the drum accessory). Drummers are famous for attaching every conceivable piece of equipment to their drum kit(!) so for sure you will find just the right attachment in any good drum store.

If you prefer your iPod at the side of the stage (where your minidisc deck or CD player used to be for example), then the Apple Remote may be just right for you. The Apple Remote is a little remote control unit which starts and stops your iPod (it works in conjunction with the Universal Dock). The Apple Remote allows you to control your iPod from a distance so you are free to walk around the stage or amongst the audience while starting, stopping or pausing songs at the touch of the button.

For more iPod tips and tricks, please see the CLICK HERE“>articles I’ve written at our main website

Connect your iPod to your Nike trainers!

Playing backing tracks isn’t the only other thing you can do with an iPod. The industry is buzzing with the news that Nike are to release a wireless device that will connect your iPod to your trainers – and it’s not a joke!

The Nike+iPod Sports Kit is planned to be priced at around $30 and will operate with the Apple iPod nano. The idea is that it will store info about your workout on your iPod, allowing you to display things like the distance you’ve run, the amount of calories you’ve burned and calculate your pace.

When I heard about this new device I couldn’t help thinking….wouldn’t it be fun to use it while singing onstage to work out how many calories we singers burn up during an evenings performance? At $30 it’s not expensive and, if your carrying a little too much weight on your hips and thighs like me(!), I think it would be a real hoot to give your audience periodic updates throughout your gig of how many calories you’ve been burning!

I wonder if Chubby Checker songs burn up less calories than Thin Lizzy songs…?

I’ve said for years that the energy we entertainers put in to a gig is probably the equivalent of a punishing workout. Maybe now we can prove it. The next time some smartie-pants critic tells you that singing isn’t a “real job”, you can just show him your iPod to prove just how much we entertainers really put in to a performance!

So, is the nike trainers / iPod wireless device a serious excercise and health product or just a useless gimmick? In my humble opinion, it’s just a bit of a gimmick and I won’t be taking it seriously or buying one. However, I can forsee that this could be the first of many “interactive” devices which may begin to appear on the market for the iPod. From a technology point of view, it’s maybe not as gimmicky as you might first think, and this really could just be the beginning…