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Wholenote AAT (Add-A-Track) FAQ

Dale Lindsey (8281) · [archive]
Style: Other · Level: Beginner · Tempo: 120
Pages: 1

Wholenote AAT (Add-A-Track) Frequently Asked Questions

What is AAT? AAT is way for the members of Wholenote to express their musical voice over the Internet. It was started by the members themselves, who wanted a way to hear each other play as well as just discussing music in a forum. It is not a contest; it is a way to express musical ideas, get to know each other better and generally have fun.

How does it work? It begins when one member posts a backing track on Wholenote for others to download. The members who wish to participate download the track and add their music to it, then re-post it for others to listen to. Of course, you can also download the tracks and simply use them for practice jam tracks.

Is it just for guitar players? Although directed towards guitar players (this is a guitar site after all), there is room for other instruments. In the past, people have added bass, ukulele, and even vocals to the backing tracks (But no obscene lyrics, please).

Who can participate? Everyone who can play an instrument, sing, or create music on their computer may participate in one way or another (see previous question).

Is this a way to criticize and tear my submissions apart? No, that is not the intent. Since the Internet is an open medium, it is impossible to completely control what others say, but derogatory comments are strongly discouraged. The purpose of AAT is to share our musical expressions and ideas, not to compete. Also, this is a site where people come to learn, with many inexperienced players. We ask that any criticism be kept civil and constructive.

What does a backing track consist of? Basically, it is anything that someone can add a jam over. Generally a rhythm track, it may (or may not) have drums, bass, rhythm guitar, keyboards, even lead fills, etc. The important thing is to leave room for improvisation. It also should be an original composition. The files are usually small (usually about 1.5 2 minutes worth) to make them easy to download and store.

How do I obtain these backing tracks? They are currently being posted in the Announcements forum. We hope to one day have a particular place just for them, but that may or may not occur. To download a track, right-click on the link and select Save Target As, move to the directory you wish to place the file and click Save (this is for Windows, Macs may be different). Some older tracks are archived here. (Some links may no longer be available). And there are also tracks located at this site (but you must join the group to access them).

Can more than one person record on the same track? Yes, people can collaborate on a track, but you shouldnt record over someone elses submission and post it without their permission. Of course, submitting a backing track for the purpose of recording over is, in effect, giving permission, but anything else is not.

How do I connect my guitar to my PC? Just plugging your guitar into your sound card will not yield good results. There are several ways to connect your guitar to your PC soundcard. They include:
  • A microphone placed in front of your amp: You may also need a preamp if your sound card does not include one. Experiment with mic placement to get the best sound.

  • A direct recording box: These devices are specifically made to go between your guitar and PC and they take the place of an amp entirely.

  • An effects pedal with direct recording output: These work like direct recording boxes in that they can also take the place of an amp. Most digital multi-effects pedals can be set up this way.

  • An amp with a direct line out: A headphone output has also been used successfully.

What else do I need to record my guitar on my PC?
  • A sound card: Almost any sound card will work, but if you are serious about your sound, get a good quality sound card.

  • Recording software: You will need software to record and mix your tracks. There are a lot of different programs available on the web, some are free and some are not. Many are listed in the Resources section of Wholenote. Some of the programs available include:
    • GoldWave: A do-everything audio waveform editor. It is free and versatile, but is intended more for low-level work and therefore not quite as easy to use as dedicated multi-track recording and mixing software.

    • Audacity: Another free audio editor with similar properties to GoldWave.

    • Multi-Track Studio: This is a full-up music recording and mixing package. A free demo is available that has most of the features of the full-blown version, but only supports three tracks at a time (enough for an AAT).

    • Cakewalk Guitar Tracks: An easy-to-use multi-track recording program with up to 32 tracks in the latest edition. An 8-track 30-day demo is available, but as of this writing the demo does not work in XP (the full-up version does).

    • N-track Studio: An unlimited number of tracks is available (subject to PC capability). A free demo exists, but is limited to a 10-second mix.

    • Adobe Audition (Formerly Cool Edit Pro): Another multi-track recording program with a trial download available.
  • File conversion software: Music files are usually stored on the web in a compressed format. They are generally recorded and mixed in an uncompressed format. The most common of these formats are MP3s (.mp3) and Wave (.wav) files, respectively. For more information on file formats click here or here. You will probably need software to convert to one file type or another. Some recording software has this capability built in, but if yours does not, there are many available on the Web (and listed in the Resources section of Wholenote). They include:
    • Lame: This program can be run from a command line prompt, but it can also be used as a plug-in to GoldWave (and perhaps other programs). Instructions are on the GoldWave website.

    • RazorLame: A stand-alone graphic interface version of Lame for those who want it as a separate product.

    • Connecting hardware: You may need 1/8 to plug converters. Also, be aware of which are mono and stereo connections.

What do I need to create a backing track? To record music you need the same things you required to add to an existing add-a-track (see previous questions). You may also want to look into music generation software. There are many programs out there to create drums, bass, keyboard and other sounds you may not want to or have the capability of generating yourself. Many are listed in the Resources section of Wholenote. They include:
  • Hammerhead: A free drum loop creation program.

  • Fruity Loops: A musical generation program with drums, keyboards, bass, etc. A free demo version is available.

  • Jezkola Buzz: A free music generation program.

I am ready to record, how do I go about it? Refer to your software manual or help screen for detailed information of course, but here are some lessons on recording with specific software: Even if you are using other software, these lessons contain useful information. There are many other articles and lessons about recording and mixing for best sound, etc. and more are being added regularly, so search the Lessons and Articles sections for more information about add-a-tracks and recording in general.

The track is so short, I hardly have time to get started. How do I lengthen it for jamming? If you want a longer track length for jamming, you can obtain an audio waveform editor (like GoldWave or Audacity) and select all or part of the track and play it in a continuous loop. You an also cut and paste it to make a longer track for jamming or to work out your solo for the track. If you post your results, however, you may want to trim it back to a small size. A ten-minute solo is difficult for someone with dialup service to download!

I have a track I want to share, now how do I post it? This is probably the most difficult part to answer. The first thing you need is to find a web site to host your tracks. Many Internet Service Providers (ISPs) provide a small amount of web space free for their customers. Things you might want to consider are:
  • Amount of space available: Add-a-tracks usually run 1.5 to 2 Megabytes a piece and sometimes more.

  • Bandwidth: This is the amount of data that others can download from your site within a given time (usually per day). If a lot of people are going to be listening to your song, this may be exceeded regularly.

  • Hotlinking capability: Hotlinking means that someone will be able to click on your post and obtain your file directly. Some sites may require people to actually go to your web page and some may require registration, passwords, etc. for access. The harder it is, the fewer people will take the trouble.

  • Website Tools: If you are not an HTML guru and you dont know all about FTP and things like that, you will want to find a place which offers easy-to-use website building and file upload tools.

The next step is to get your file in a format that can easily be downloaded. It should be in a compressed format like MP3. (For more info on file formats, click here or here). See the question on recording requirements for more info on file conversion programs.

Probably the best way to get your files on the web is to create a web page with a link to your file. The web page does not necessarily need to be published on the web, as long as your file is uploaded to the server. Then you can right-click your mouse on the link and select Copy Shortcut and you will have a path to the link which you can paste into your post.

The final step is to create a post in the Wholenote forum with your link. The format is:

<a href=MyPath>My Message</a>

Where "MyPath" is replaced with the path you copied and pasted in and MyMessage is replaced with what you want the link to actually say. If you do this correctly, whatever you put in place of MyMessage is all you should see in the preview screen. Something like this:

My Solo

Of course, there are other ways, such as creating your own web server, but that is beyond the scope of this FAQ.