The Secret Life of Christian Accompaniment Tracks
What in the world do these terms mean ?
Made Popular By ?
Studio Tracks ?
Like any industry, Accompaniment Tracks have their own “buzz words” that can seem confusing until their meaning is learned.
Christian Accompaniment Tracks are a very different type of recorded music. They are interactive.
Accompaniment Tracks require your participation rather than just listened to like regular recorded music. Let’s demystify some of these special terms used in the Accompaniment Track Music Industry.
First, the format of accompaniment tracks denotes how they are used. The main type is on audio CD just like a normal music CD. This studio track disc is usually one song with several versions of the song on the disc.
There is usually a demo track of the song which is a full mix of the music with vocals. This helps in learning the song by listening. Then, there is a mix without the vocal to play through a sound system and sing the lead vocal live with the music.
There are generally several more tracks. These are separate mixes of the same song in different pitches to match your singing range.
Generally, there are extra mixes of the song in the different keys with and without background vocals if the original song has backing vocals. This means a solo singer can have the option of using the tracks with the pre-recorded backing vocals or use the mixes without recorded backing vocals for a live backing vocal group.
Accompaniment Studio Tracks are recorded faithfully to the original arrangement. This is necessary in order to have the song in various keys. There are some lower quality accompaniment track labels that shift the pitch electronically in order to achieve different keys. This never sounds better than the more quality labels who actually record the song performed in the several keys. We could go into why the dynamics of sound make electronic pitch shifting inferior, but that would slow us down. If you ever hear pitch shifting – you will know it because it just never sounds right even to the untrained ear – especially to an audience listening to your singing performance.
Accompaniment Studio Tracks are recorded
faithfully to the original arrangement.
In the case of ORIGINAL STUDIO ALBUM TRACKS that are made into an accompaniment track title, the exact album track is used and then a mix is made by eliminating the vocal tracks. So there is only one key. Generally there will be the full song as a demo and then a single mix minus the vocals for you to sing with. These cost more as there is extra music licensing involved using an original studio album recording.
This brings us to “As Made Popular By” on accompaniment track discs. This means that the song was faithfully recorded in the arrangement of that song as made popular by that artist named. It is not the actual album cut because the other keys are to be included.
If you use the trusted name brands such as Daywind, you will notice they are uncannily exact to the original. As a large number of accompaniment tracks are made in and around Nashville, producers go to great lengths to use the actual musicians that played on the original album recordings in order to be as accurate as possible.
You may have heard accompaniment tracks called or written about as “Trax”, “soundtracks”, “backing tracks”, “studio tracks” and several other terms. These mean the same thing. Sometimes a different term is used in association with a particular brand name such as “Daywind Soundtracks” or “Gospel Trax” … but they really mean the same thing; Christian Accompaniment Tracks on disc.
This should be an obvious statement to you, but CD discs have taken the place of cassette tape. In the accompaniment track industry, many still use cassettes even today. This is because of the large quantity of cassette accompaniment tracks still in use by church music ministries. Accompaniment tracks are still being issued on cassette but in smaller and smaller quantities as time goes by. Although cassette tape is “so 20th century” for us today, there are many churches who have large libraries of Christian Accompaniment Tracks on cassette tape. Also, manufacturers were a bit timid of CD discs at first.
Why were accompaniment track manufacturers timid at first to make the leap from cassette tape to CD disc? The answer is simple – piracy – stealing of their intellectual property they spent so much on creating for you. Today, downloading MP3 tracks have been accepted by manufacturers, but only a single track at a time at a greater cost to the user. Also, because the MP3 format is compressed, the sound is inferior to CD disc. We at Christian Accompaniment Tracks Music Magazine believe in quality, so we do not consider the MP3 format to be anything more than for the hobbyist and a waste of time at best.
Some of the other main formats of accompaniment tracks are Karaoke CD/G and DVD Audio.
DVD Audio is a higher quality audio format, and there is a greater capacity on the DVD disc. They are played in a standard DVD player. Standard CD discs can also be played in a DVD player using the stereo audio outputs of the player.
Karaoke CD/G discs are a special format that has a video output that can show the lyrics on a screen. Karaoke discs need a special player along with a video monitor. Karaoke was made popular for a more amateur singing party situation. However, they have found a place in congregational services in music ministries as the congregation can follow the lyrics on a screen rather than using a song book or hymnal.
Split Tracks are special versions of accompaniment tracks. Split Tracks use the two stereo tracks known as “left” and “right” (as in the left and right stereo speakers). Basically, the musical instruments are all on one side while the vocals are on the other side. This allows special application and are more versatile than standard accompaniment tracks in special situations. You will enjoy learning and reading further about split tracks in our article How To Use Split Tracks.
Split Tracks are special versions of accompaniment tracks.
The main purpose of accompaniment tracks is to provide a convenient, quality alternative to a live band of musicians for a singer to perform live. If you are familiar with accompaniment tracks already, you will enjoy some of the more technical articles in Christian Accompaniment Tracks Music Magazine. If you are new to accompaniment tracks, prepare to have a lot of fun!
Christian Accompaniment Tracks Music Magazine