Making Accompaniment Tracks With Your iPad

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Music teachers have to make a wide variety of accompaniment tracks for their students. I have made countless tracks over the years although these days it has become less of a chore because of the availability of karaoke tracks on YouTube.

I enjoy making these tracks plus I can create a track that fits my exact needs for any given situation. Maybe I just need a track for a student to practice singing their part with, maybe its an accompaniment for a flute player at church next week, maybe it’s a rehearsal track for the choir or maybe it’s a demo track for my young middle school kids so it’s not so boring to practice at home. Whatever the case…. having an iPad means it’s an easy chore for anyone! In the end you can end up wth as professional of a track as you decide to create.

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I created one tonight for a young lady who is practicing for an upcoming show we will be putting on in February. She is going to have a small rhythm section play live for her at the show but I want her to have a good example the next few weeks of what that band will sound like. My one drawback is that I really did not feel like taking a long time on the drum tracks tonight so when you listen please don’t judge 😉

HERE IS A VERY BASIC METHOD:

You need a recording app and a piano/guitar to make the recording. That’s it. The microphone you will use in this case is simply the mic on the iPad. There are several basic apps out there you can use – Ferrite RecordingFerrite Recording Studio by Wooji Joice or maybe even Voice Recorder Pro.pngVoice Record Pro by BejBej Apps.

Stick the iPad someplace close, hit record and start playing. When done tap stop. If you are using the Ferrite Recording Studio app you do have the option to create multiple tracks and takes in the app allowing you to go back to a spot you messed up on, cut it out and record that one section again into a new track giving you a better final recording.

When happy with the recording you then share the recording. Both apps have a ton of different ways to share the final product.

Quick, fast and easy enough for ANYONE!

HERE IS A SLIGHTLY MORE ADVANCED METHOD:

In my case I’m never quite happy with something that basic so I wanted a recording that had Piano, Bass, Drums (at least something basic), an Electric Guitar and one additional Keyboard part for filler.

MAIN APP – So I choose to use Cubasis small iconCubasis by Steinberg for most of my recordings like this. You could simply use Cubasis only and get all of those parts that I wanted as this app has a bunch of internal sounds. So that would be an amazing way for you to start getting your feet wet doing this. As I have collected a ton of music instrument apps over the years I wanted to use some of those so let me share how that works….

SECOND MAIN APP – First of all you have to use AudioBus small iconAudioBus to make this process smooth. Inter-App-Audio is another way to go but it failed me tonight. AudioBus is an amazing app that takes the sound from one app, like Korg Module SmallKorg Module that I used for the piano sounds, and pumps it out to Cubasis. AudioBus also has a companion app called AudioBus RemoteAudioBus Remote that I run on my iPhone giving me greater flexibility. ABRemote allows me to keep the play/record/stop buttons for Cubasis available at all times even though I might have a different app in the foreground on my iPad – this is a HUGE help!

MAIN PIECE OF HARDWARE – Now, as a keyboardist I almost always use an external keyboard when making these tracks. My Novation Launchkey49 is amazing as it sits right by my desk, plugs into my iPad with a USB cable into the Camera Connector Kit and is powered by the iPad.

OTHER APPS – As I mentioned I wanted five instruments in this recording. I used four instrument apps to make this happen –

  1. Paino – Korg Module SmallKorg Module (Beautiful piano sounds especially with the IAP Ivory Piano pack
  2. iFretlessIconiFretless Bass  – Such great bass sounds and a wonderfully fun interface to play the parts on. I can not get the same sound controlling iFretless from my external keyboard.
  3. Guitar – Came from Geo SynthesizerGeoSynth. I love the playing interface on this app as it is easy to play on the touch screen, gives me flexibility in the sound and controls other apps as well! I will often use GeoSynth to control other apps but not tonight.
  4. 2nd Keyboard Part – Korg iM1 LargeiM1 has a zillion sounds in it. All of them are from the Korg M1 and still sound so good!
  5. Drums – Came from Cubasis small iconCubasis

THE PROCESS

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Set up for AudioBus
Load up AudioBus first then add in the apps in the input slot and Cubasis into the output slot.

Set a tempo.

Create a drum track – I simply recorded four measures and copy and pasted them a bunch of times. I really didn’t want to dink with fancy drum tracks but I also did not want to record to just a metronome (how boring!)

The Piano track was next. For the piano track I actually recorded three tracks tonight. The two I recorded first were LHand and RHand as MIDI data. This allowed me to edit timing issues and missed notes without having to fiddle around with digital audio. With the MIDI tracks you can go in and just just one note, make another note longer, delete a couple measure and re-record. It’s so much easier to edit the MIDI! THEN when the MIDI recording was correct I played the MIDI track from Cubasis and recorded the AudioBus audio coming from Korg Module and created an audio track. After I had an audio track of the Piano part I simply muted the MIDI tracks in Cubasis.

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AudioBus Remote on my iPhone
Then I recorded the bass part and guitar parts. I mentioned AudioBus Remote and these tracks are a perfect example of why I use the remote app. Even though Cubasis is doing the recording it will be in the background for these tracks. That’s because I played these parts live using the interface of each app. It’s a wonderful invention!

The last part to be recorded was the extra keyboard part using the external keyboard playing iM1.

I then quickly made a few mixing adjustments in Cubasis – This is really cool to be able to do. You simply make sure the W button is red in the mixer section. Then hit play and as the track is playing you move the sliders. Then make sure that the R button stays green after that and you will be able to sit back and watch the automation take place. I made you a video so you can see it in action (it’s like 30 seconds long)….

 

At then end I simply upload the track to SoundCloud and let my student know where to find it.

CONCLUSION

If you are a music teacher then you need to know that this process is amazingly simple. You can make a pretty darn good quality track for you kids to practice with or perform with! In the past I used an expensive keyboard or my computer with expensive software in order to accomplish this task. Now it’s much cheaper and easier. Go try it! Let me know how you create tracks like this if you do it a different way. I like sharing ideas!

Here is my final product – WAY better than trying to “imagine” what “the band” will sound like when rehearsing at home…

 

 

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