Use Back Tracks to Develop Your Flute Playing Skills By Terry Mack, Owner of Peaceful Spirit Flutes
If you are out there playing on your own and have not been able to connect to another flute player or other musical type a great way to explore and develop your playing is to play to a back track. A back track is a recording of music or rhythms usually instrumental or drum tracks.
I have been able to create some very lovely pieces by using back tracks in several different ways. Some musicians are creating backtracks to their own music that you can buy and others like Clint Goss and the late Stephen deRuby create backtracks that can be used with Native American Flutes.
For easier playing it is best to buy the track in the same key as your flute or in a key that you can harmonize with. This is less of a concern when you are buying straight drum tracks. If you have an opportunity to listen to parts of the track before you buy or download that will give you a better idea of whether it works with your flutes.
If you are new to playing to a back track choosing backtracks with simple rhythms are often easier to start out with and play along to. An excellent percussion CD to start with is Stephen DeRuby’s Rhythms To Accompany the Native American Flute. It offers a wide range of sounds and rhythms that you can easily follow along to.
Before you buy a CD or compilation of back tracks, check to see if all of the songs on the CD are for one key. Backtrack CD’s will sometimes have a variety of songs recorded in different keys so you do want to make sure that the CD does have a song that your flute can play along with.
Jonny Lipford has one back track with the same songs but recorded so that you can play in the different keys of the flutes (at the time of writing these are available for digital download for $5.00)
Clint Goss has created a wonderful set of Jam Tracks for each key of the flute. I really enjoy playing to these different CD’s. They are more complicated with changing rhythms and key changes in the middle of songs providing interesting opportunities to explore.
Another interesting resource to check out is http://brokensky.biz/backingtracks/
This link is generously provided by William Hopper, a member of the facebook page, Native American Flute Musicians. There is a very wide range of tracks to play along to.
Try connecting various techniques to playing along. If a rhythm or musical phrase is long and slow, feel what fits with it. You can follow along with the rhythm or see if you could play a faster counter point to it or short fast notes. You can play along to a track or you can add bits of sounds for impact that work with the piece. I like to think of my playing as adding a story along to the music so I incorporate pauses for effect and try different embellishments. However, you decide to explore, playing along to back tracks can enhance your flute playing journey