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Director Gurleen Judge on art, lighting and production of DEKHO MAGAR PYAAR SE! [ India]

June 24, 2019
Deepak Sinha

Theatre Director Gurleen Judge juggles between her roles as light technician, designer, director, writer and a teacher. Gurleen is a self-taught theatre wala and takes pride in it. She chats with Rasa Aur Drama about lights, casting, scripts, and gender in this email interview; just before her show of DEKHO MAGAR PYAAR SE at Gyaan Adab Centre, Pune! Gurleen has done lighting for plays like The Hunger Artist, Tennesse Williams The Two-Character Play, Dohri Zindagi, Atul Kumar's Khwaab Sa, Manav Kaul's Peele Scooterwala Aadmi and Chuhal!

Rasa Aur Drama: Light Design and direction across plays like The Hunger Artist , The Two-Character Play, Dohri Zindagi, Postcards from Bardoli, Peele Scooterwala Aadmi and Chuhal?
What's so exciting about the direction and light design. We kind of see some perspective there?
Gurleen Judge: Jennifer Tipton often says that ninety-nine and forty-four-hundredths of the audience do not pay any attention to the lighting, but one hundred percent is affected by it. Nothing can be truer. Theatre is a visual medium after all and lighting, the image and the movement / breath with which the light moves, defines and is in turn defined by the rhythm of the piece. Light design continues to hugely influence my ideas of making theatre in a very fundamental way.
Through directing Iím able to express my most urgent need to talk about whatever it is that is plaguing my mind at that time. I also write but a performance piece allows for more abstraction.

Q2. What kind of script interest you?

Gurleen Judge: Good scripts. With urgency and grit.

Q3. Do you like to train your actors or would you be happy to fit an actor to a role ? Could you tell us something about the acting and script translation to action with the wonderful Vikrant Dhote in Dekho Magar Pyaar Se?

Gurleen Judge: Training is part of the rehearsal process but I do look for certain qualities before I cast. These change as per each show and what I think is most needed keeping in mind the vision of the play. Vikrant had already worked out the idea for the piece. We were interested in developing it together with the audience in a way and we kept editing the script through shows too.

Q4. The city Pune has witnessed a play like Saggherr Loadhii's Hijra and now DEKHO MAGAR PYAAR SE?
Are playwrights and plays like Mahesh Dattani's Bravely Fought the Queen, On a Muggy Night in Mumbai , Do the needful , Dekho Magar Pyaar Se changing or affecting the dialogue around gender, identity and prejudiced-social-construct ?

Gurleen Judge: I think itís impossible to gauge or estimate the consequences of a piece of art. Itís a subliminal process, even if one person, maybe even a decade from now, is affected by it, that is a Ďchangeí for me. All I know is that I continue to be influenced by theatre - as an audience as well as when Iím making a play. My worldview has evolved from the theatre in a way. So yes I hope and believe in the possibilities of affecting status quo. However, I see it as part of a larger process, where the society is undergoing a change in general and one canít really identify the starting point of that process.

Q5. How did the idea of the piece Dekho Magar Pyaar Se actually come to you?

Gurleen Judge: Vikrant has developed it over a few workshops and then through Gender Bender grant . I just hopped onto the wagon :-)

Q6. Could you talk about the four stories in the play?

Gurleen Judge: Lot has been written about the four stories so I wonít go in detail - but I think what interests me most about the piece is the journey it undertakes to investigate the contours of ďmasculinityĒ and ďmalenessĒ in this Alpha -Male patriarchal world. What it means for people inside this boundary, what it means for people at the edge and outside and how does one negotiate it in an every-day manner.

Q7. What extracts of the landmark 2009 judgment on section 377 by the High Court could you have referred in the play?

Gurleen Judge:

See the full interview here

Posted on 26/06/2019

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What We Did Next

What We Did Next

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Be More Chill

Press release- Liverpool theatre company What We Did Next
presents the Broadway hit musical
at The Hope Street Theatre

What if popularity came in a pill?

Liverpool theatre company WHAT WE DID NEXT will be performing the North West premiere of the critically acclaimed musical Be More Chill from 8-11 May at The Hope Street Theatre in Liverpool.

'If you fed DEAR EVAN HANSEN to the LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS plant you would get BE MORE CHILL.' The New Yorker.

The thrilling story of a teenage boy's quest to become popular and talk to the girl of his dreams with the help of a pill-sized supercomputer.
Be More Chill is the Ďlittle musical that couldí. It started in a small theatre in New Jersey in 2015 and, thanks to an incredible fan following, opened on Broadway in 2019.
Liverpool theatre company, What We Did Next, has the unique opportunity to stage the musical at the same time as its Broadway run, meaning theatre fans in the North West donít need to look further than Hope Street to see New Yorkís hottest new show.
And it was all thanks to Liverpool-based superfan, Jess Sutcliffe.

'I have loved this show ever since first listening to the soundtrack two years ago. I had never directed a musical before, but I knew I wanted to direct this show and bring it to Liverpool. Being a part of this company has helped bring all my ideas to fruition and itís so incredible to see the show come to life. I canít wait for audiences to see it!'
Jess Sutcliffe, Co-Director.

Jess is co-directing with Andrew Ab, who previously directed Rent and I Love You, Youíre Perfect, Now Change for What We Did Next.
'It's amazing to work on a show that has only been performed a handful of times around the world. We get to be really creative and put our own stamp on a show thatís going to get bigger and bigger. The music is so addictive and we feel incredibly privileged to be bringing this show to a Liverpool audience who will hopefully leave the theatre humming the tunes.' Andrew Ab, Co-Director.
For What We Did Next itís an exciting opportunity to perform at The Hope Street Theatre for the first time and to add to its extensive musical theatre repertoire, which it has built up over the last ten years.
The company has previously delighted local audiences with their take on several modern and classic musicals such as ?Pippin, Bonnie & Clyde, Bat Boy, Carousel,? ?Rent, The Last 5
Years, Company and Into the Woods.
What We Did Next was founded during Liverpoolís European Capital of Culture Year in 2008, by a group of recent University of Liverpool graduates looking for an outlet for their creativity, while starting out in various careers in and around the city. A decade on, they are thriving as a company and very much a part and a product of Liverpoolís vibrant cultural scene.
The company defines itself as a team of ĎProfessional Amateurs.í Members include doctors, teachers, photographers and those who are training for a career on the stage, who come together to produce professional-standard theatre that otherwise may not be seen in the city.

Tickets for Be More Chill are £12-£15 (plus £1 booking fee) and are available from the Ticket
Quarter Box Office website here.
The Saturday 11th performance has already SOLD OUT so get tickets quick so you donít miss out!

Notes to Editors
Be More Chill | 8-11 May 2019, 8pm | Hope Street Theatre | Tickets £12 and £15 (plus £1 booking fee)
Tickets available from Ticketquarter.
Box Office: 0344 800 0410

Amy Gormall (Producer)

Posted on 28/04/2019

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Copythorne Amateur Theatrical Society

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Press release- ĎRobin Hood and Babes in the Woodsí

This Christmas Copythorne Amateur Theatrical Society are celebrating 50 years of Copythorne pantomimes with a production of ĎRobin Hood and Babes in the Woodsí. In 1968 the local British Legion put on a panto to raise funds. It proved so popular that it became an annual event. In 1995 CATS was formed to continue the tradition when the Royal British Legion changed their fundraising rules. Over the years, hundreds of local people have been involved with the shows and thousands of pounds have been raised for charity.

This yearís show has been specially written to mark the occasion and includes all the characters youíd expect, plus quite a few that might surprise you, including some panto ghosts.

Robin Hood has returned from the Crusades to find that the people of Nottingham are in desperate need of help. The wicked Sheriff of Nottingham keeps taking their money in taxes and burning down their houses. Things get even worse when Prince John demands even more money and the Sheriff decides to get rid of his two young wards and marry Maid Marian so that he can get his hands on their lands.

Can Robin rescue the Babes and Marian and defeat the Sheriff? Maybe. With the help of his merry men (and women) and, of course, Nurse Nora, the dame, who knows everything there is to know about the soldiers in the castle, including the bungling Private Eye and Private Parts. A true village panto with plenty of songs, swash buckling and audience participation. The show also features dancers from the Jo Hyne School of Dance, who will bring some magic to Sherwood and a bit of Rock n Roll to Nottingham Castle.

Performances are: Saturday 24th November at 7.30
Sunday 25th November at 2.30
Saturday 1st December at 7.30
Sunday 2nd December at 2.30
At Copythorne Parish Hall, Pollards Moor Road, S040 2NZ
Tickets: Adults £8, under 16s £5, Family Ticket (2 adults and 2 children) £22
Available from Bartley Post Office, Landford Stores and Bramshaw Village Stores or by phoning our box office 02380 813415

Posted on 16/09/2018

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Classic whodunnit? Comedy comes to South Hams

Author: by Sam Acourt - Kingsbridge & Salcombe Gazette

KATS have barely had time to lay down their Fiddle and park up Tevyeís milk cart before they launch headlong into their next production.
This local theatre group are definitely showing their versatility as they move from toe-tapping, high-energy musical to classic comedy whodunnit? After their much-acclaimed success with Fiddler on the Roof, the actors are now ensconced in a classic murder mystery. Was it Lady Dorothy, in the library with a dagger? Or the maid in the dressing room with a decanter of poisoned sherry? You will have to go along to the show to find out.
Murder in Play is a play within a play. When a third-rate repertory company decides to produce ďMurder at Priorswell ManorĒ total chaos ensues. The actors are more interested in their own egos than the quality of the production. There is jealousy, rivalry and back-stabbing, not to mention an alcoholic in charge of a fire-arm and an off-stage affair. Simon Brettís hilarious text and the numerous red herrings keep the audience guessing until the final moments of the play.

Murder in Play was commissioned for, and premiered at, the Cheltenham Festival of Literature in 1993. Playwright Simon Brett was awarded an OBE in the 2016 New Yearís Honours Ďfor services to literatureí, and in 2014 received The CWA Diamond Dagger, one of the highest accolades in the crime writing world. His TV and radio credits also include No Commitments and After Henry and the wonderful Bill Nighy played the part of his detective, Charles Paris, in excellent adaptations of his novels by Jeremy Front on Radio 4.

At a time when local theatres and am-dram groups up and down the country are seeing lower numbers attending live shows, KATS are working very hard to reverse this national trend. One way of doing this is by positively encouraging new, young talent into the theatre. This production, for example, is directed by Beth Tucker a recent Drama Graduate from Aberystwyth University. For her directorial debut she is being supported and mentored by Mike Davies, an actor and director with many years of experience including his very successful production of KATS 2017 summer play, Entertaining Angels.

Live theatre is such a great experience for the whole family and priced at just £8 on Wednesday and Thursday and £9 on Friday and Saturday nights, you would be hard-pushed to find a better way to spend a September evening. This show is very suitable for anyone aged from 10 to 110.

Murder in Play is on at Malborough Village Hall, near Salcombe, from 19 to 22 September. Donít be fooled by the village hall location, for show-week the venue is completely transformed into a fully functional theatre with 14 rows of tiered seating, a licensed bar and plenty of on-site car parking. Tickets are available from Kingsbridge Information Centre 01548 853195 and you can pay by card over the phone.

Follow KATS on Facebook to keep up to date with all our events and catch up with us on our website

Posted on 06/09/2018

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How To Make A Backing Track Sound Like A Live Band

London Arrangements Ever since The Beatles started experimenting with multi-track recordings itís been a mainstay of popular music with so many other artists following suit.
Whilst this makes for a great sounding recording, itís near impossible to have so many musicians on stage at once if you try and recreate this in a live setting.
Using professional backing tracks can help you make the most out of your performance without costly overheads and the logistical nightmares involved with transporting a large ensemble.
Although often associated with amateur productions, high quality backing backing tracks are now breaking into the mainstream with artists such as Drake and Kanye West focusing entire tours without a backing band.
However, while playing direct from a backing track can often be enough for a performance, there are steps to take it to the next level and add texture, depth and an improved performance and experience for your audience.

Here are our top tips for making your backing track performance sound like a live band.

1. Add instruments, percussion & backing vocals

When youíre up performing in front of crowds, no matter how big or small, one of the key things that makes your performance, other than the sound, is whether or not you look the part.

Playing your mp3 backing track through your laptop or phone is fine, though itís best to hide this equipment and replace it with authentic instruments, backing singers and percussion, to enhance the base music on the backing track and bring your performance to life.

Your audience will want to see you so make sure youíre standing confidently in the lights and to take it to the next level, dress up to give your audience that extra bit of authenticity.

Your clothing, makeup, hairstyle can say a lot about you and depending how youíd like to portray yourself on stage, can add a sense of showmanship, something that those in musical theatre will particularly be looking to achieve.

2. Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse

Moving on, if youíre to add instruments, percussion or backing vocals to your sound, youíll want to make sure each of these external elements are coming in at the right time. Weíve all heard it before but timing is key.

Even if youíre not adding external factors to your performance, youíll need to work on your vocals to suit peaks and troughs throughout the song. That, and donít miss endings, anticipate tempo changes and practice to a metronome if needed.

The more you practice, the more chance of nailing your timings and creating a smooth-running yet thrilling performance.

3. Plan your set

Of course, once youíve got a feel for the music, you should plan your set song by song. That way youíll know whatís the running order of your set so your performance can run smoothly.

Your performance time will vary depending on your agreement with the venue, but as a general guide, try and plan your set as follows:

First song: Make it impactful and powerful but donít play your biggest track too early
Second song: This can be your big hit or most attention grabbing song to get the audience on board
Third song: Switch up your tempo or instrumentation and provide a change of pace.
Fourth song: If youíre finding it hard to win the crowd, try a well known cover song.
Fifth song: A big crowd pleaser with a memorable, singalong hook or chorus to finish on a high point.

Once youíve planned your set, itís important to remember that although itís known to you, it wonít be to your audience. And, as much as youíd like them to feel youíre giving a well-rehearsed, professional performance, youíll also want to add some spontaneity.

Your audience are here to watch a show and in many cases, to see you. In order to give them a great performance, be yourself, engage with them, tell them personal anecdotes between songs and where applicable, make them laugh.

4. Mix your vocals perfectly

Learning how to mix your vocals perfectly can make a huge difference when it comes to a live performance and a large part of this stems from knowing your own vocal range and where to boost and cut certain frequencies:

200HZ - 500Hz - The main body of your vocals provides warmth but can become muddy if left untreated. If your vocals are too crisp, but seem lacking in depth boost your frequencies in this range, but if they seem messy try cutting out some of the lower frequencies.

1kHz - 3khz - This range contains the nasal sounding frequencies, so make sure to reduce the levels in this section to stop your vocals sounding pinched.

4kHz - Mastering this range is key for providing a great quality performance and standing out from other instruments. Boosting too much in this segment can result in harsh sounding vocals, but too little and you might get lost in the mix.

5kHz - 8kHz - Sibilance is the enemy of all vocalists. Those devastating ĎSí sounds can be off putting for performers and audiences alike so rehearse well beforehand and ensure that you cut frequencies in this range to provide a better quality sound.

5. Mix the rest with the venueís sound system in mind

London Arrangements When performing in smaller venues, performing with backing tracks with added effects such as reverb and delay can hinder your performance if the internal sound system isnít suitably equipped to handle stereo tracks.

You can end up with a muddy performance where some of your instrumentation is lost, so do your research into the house sound systems and if in doubt use mono.

Itís important that you rehearse your planned set in this venue before the live performance - if possible. You should obtain feedback from people scattered from different aspects of the crowd.

Is is too loud for those at the front? What about those at the back? Is there booming sounds coming from either side or from the speakers?

Of course, backing tracks will require the use of speakers perhaps more so than you would with instruments. Your speakers are almost seen as your instruments. Make sure these are set up appropriately and with using our other four steps, youíll create a stunning musical performance that sounds just like a live band.


A great performance will encourage audience participation, give excellent sound quality thatís authentic, regardless of using a professional backing track or not and offer showmanship and top entertainment.

Achieved from a well planned set, lots of rehearsals, thinking of your vocals and the environment youíre performing in and the additions of backing singers, instruments or percussion.

Nail each of these five elements and youíll make your mp3 backing track sound great whilst allowing it to give you reliability and affordability.

To find out more why backing tracks are great for live performances, read more from us here.

Stephen Robinson, London Arrangements

London Arrangements specialises in the production of professional music backing tracks, ranging from stage and screen, swing and jazz, to classical and easy listening genres.

Posted on 01/09/2018

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Money Savings Tips For Amateur Performers

London Arrangements For anyone keen to get into musical theatre performing, it can be a daunting thought not only to stand in front of a big crowd on stage, but from a financial perspective too. Particularly when starting out, youíll be faced with budget restraints which can limit your success as a performer, if not managed properly.

Here are 6 super easy money savings tips to help amateur performers make musical theatre affordable.

1. Use Multi-Skilled Musicians To Cut Down on Pay Whether youíre a musical theatre performer, actor or singer, youíll often need a musician or band to help enhance your performance.

One of the most important ways to cut costs with your musician is to use talent who can offer multiple skills at once, so you want someone who can play more than just one instrument and play each well.

For instance, if you have a rhythm guitarist who can also fill in on backing vocals and the occasional bit of keyboards, youíve essentially saved three salaries.

2. Opt for MP3 Backing Music

Opposite to having a musician play your musical pieces, using professional backing tracks is a great alternative that can provide the same effect of a live band and, in a lot of cases can be much more cost effective.

Youíll also find that theyíre often a lot more reliable than an external musician who might not be as invested as the performance as yourself. If their parts are integral to your performance and you suffer from a no show, their absence could not only damage your act but also lead to wasted budget that could have been allocated elsewhere.

3. Dedicate Funds to Press Over Marketing

Of course, if you have more people coming to watch your shows, you get more ticket sales and inevitably more profit or budget to put towards the next production. Although itís encouraged to keep enough budget back for some marketing of tickets and similar, itís crucial to create positive relationships with press and spokespeople in the musical theatre community. But why?

The press is usually made up of influential individuals that have huge followings and a platform which they can use to talk about your performance. If you can get these people to watch your production, you can spur a conversation between their readers to improve awareness to your show and in effect have a similar effect to the marketing efforts, only on a larger scale.

This will help you to gain something back from your performance. Particularly if itís a small production and youíre looking to make a living or extra income from musical theatre.
4. Get Savvy When Buying Props & Costumes

If youíve been in musical theatre for a while, youíll come to understand that props, costumes and set dressing can be extremely expensive. Itís important that you donít pay more than you need, though particularly beginners may find it hard to know what price to pay.

Before going to a retailer and browsing through their many items, itís best to do some preparation and research. Write up a list of what you need and look online for these products and get an idea of the prices theyíre being sold at.

Tip: You can use Pricesearcher to find unbiased prices of millions of products being sold on the internet to ensure you get the best deal if you decide to buy online.

Buy From Charity Shops
A fantastic idea is to make copies of this list and take them to local charity shops and similar with your contact details. This way, when they receive new items in store, they can contact you first for you to view the product rather than putting it up for sale or worse, throwing it away in the trash - which unfortunately happens too often.

Alternatively, you can even transform your old bed sheets, curtains and similar into great costumes and props with very little cost. Even those with very basic sewing skills can create a some props or accessories and plus, wearing your own clothes on stage can be an extremely rewarding feeling. London Arrangements

5. Fundraise For Your Performance

One of the best ways to generate some budget for your performance is to host a local fundraising project a few months before the event. Itís important that this event is of value to those youíre targeting to make the most of the event.

Bake sales almost always go down a treat whether itís in your works office, at a community dance or school, though if youíre looking to get rid of some old items try going to a carboot or similar.

6. Use Crowdfunding, GoFundMe or Similar

With social media becoming such a dominant aspect of many of our lives, sites like Crowdfunding, GoFundMe and similar have developed. Theyíre all pretty similar with the main aspect of the site allowing users to share their fundraiser online for people all around the world to donate through online card payments or apps like PayPal.

That makes generating some budget for your performance really easy and no longer limited to physical donations at one particular location. You can reach a wider audience and can also open the door to a community of people with similar interests wanting to help one another. Itís truly a beautiful concept.


Itís clear there are plenty of ways you can save money as an amateur performer. From sourcing your props and costumes from charity shops to selling homemade cakes.

Especially when it comes to fundraising for your performance or a musical theatre course, be creative and think outside the box and the opportunities will be endless. Now, itís time to put your findings into practice.

If youíve got any money saving tips youíd like to share, connect with us on Twitter and Facebook - weíd love to hear from you!

Stephen Robinson, London Arrangements

London Arrangements specialises in the production of professional music backing tracks, ranging from stage and screen, swing and jazz, to classical and easy listening genres.

Posted on 06/08/2018

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Backing Tracks Vs. A Live Band: Which Is Better?

London Arrangements Choosing whether to perform with a backing track over a live band can be difficult. Particularly in musical theatre performances, itís deemed more difficult to generate an atmosphere and emotional connection with the audience when youíre lacking the raw sounds of real instruments on stage.

However, with technology advancing and the quality of mp3 backing tracks massively improving, could this be a money-saving way that performers should be opting for? Letís take a look.

Why Choose Backing Tracks?

1. Heavy Style of Music

If your performance includes a heavy style of music (e.g. alt-rock, metal, pop) which incorporates lots of different instruments to add depth and texture to your songs, youíll want to play to a backing track. This will help you perform your song so that it sounds like an actual pop, rock or metal record. Otherwise, your audience may find that itís lacking something and hence can cause for a negative effect on their enjoyment.

When incorporating a live band to your stage, you should remember that sadly band members can be slightly flaky. Even if you choose to perform with a band, itís vital that you have a backup version of their contribution to the song. Whether they turn up or not, youíll be able to ensure viewers receive music that sounds how itís supposed to sound.

2. Reduce Expenses

Regardless of the style of music, itís common for performers to side against taking a live keyboardist or sampler to a performance and opt for a backing track instead. It reduces costs massively. Assuming the instrument can be recorded to a high sound quality, it shouldnít affect the performance too much - if any - and hence can deliver a great show for the audience at a low cost.

Moving on, even though keyboards and other orchestral instrumentation isnít normally easy to record and produce high quality backing tracks, artists can still get around this. By using live vocals or adding vocal harmonies where necessary, the band will be able to perform without sounding as though itís lacking instrumentation. This is a great cost-saving alternative.

3. You Can (Usually) Depend On Backing Tracks

Plenty of band members will share anecdotes of times where theyíve sadly been let down by their own bandmates or by session musicians not showing up. One of the best ways to solve these issues is to use a backing track instead.

Other than human error in forgetting the track, itís almost always reliable and as previously mentioned, doesnít cost you a great deal. If youíve already paid for a no-show band member, this can end up costing a lot for very little gain.

For musical theatre performers, theyíll know that delivering a high-quality show requires many bodies involved. Thereís a need for people in different areas such as lighting, wardrobe, makeup and of course, sound. Keeping everyone in check can be hard and so, reducing the number of people involved, reduces the number of no-shows or people turning up late. Plus, it helps to keep costs low too.

Often paying someone to help with the smooth running of your performance can be more expensive than buying a backing track. Unless youíre lucky enough to obtain dedicated musicians and performers. London Arrangements

4. They Donít Make Mistakes

Continuing with the thought that backing tracks are reliable, they never make mistakes. Other than a potential technical glitch during the performance, they play exactly how you want them to play and exactly how youíve rehearsed. As a result, it means that you donít have to worry that they may mess up chords, break a string or hit a bum note.

You can focus your attention on your singing or acting without thinking the band playing beside you on stage will affect the quality of your performance. This helps to keep everything professional and finely polished so that your audience can enjoy the performance they came for.

Why Choose A Live Band?

Looking at it from the other perspective, there are some cons to backing tracks which can be a put off for performers considering using them.

London Arrangements 1. Laid-Back Style of Music

In contrast to the those playing a heavy style of music, thereís those that play laid-back music. As it sounds, laid-back music involves much subtler sounds and consists of fewer, instruments. In the case of artists, theyíll often decide to perform an acoustic or stripped back version of their song, particularly if theyíre playing at a small venue in front of a smaller crowd. Here, thereís potential for backing tracks to actually clutter their songs.

Keeping their performance simple with a single instrument, such as a guitar or piano, could give users more of a chance to connect with the performer on a deeper level, feeling as though theyíve seen an exclusive, unique version of your song.

For those in musical theatre, the same can apply. However, as theatre productions usually involve acting, unless a character is known to perform with an instrument, itís best to stick to a backing track. This keeps the attention solely on the actor and allows them to focus on their lines and stage positioning. Sometimes adding an additional element like playing an instrument can be challenging, even for the best performers

2. Audio Errors

No matter how hard you try to make a performance run smoothly, even the most organised performers can experience technical issues with their backing tracks. Whether thatís the mp3 file itself corrupting, the equipment used to play it malfunctioning or the in-house PA experiencing issues. Itís always good to have backups, whether thatís multiple versions of your backing tracks, a tablet in case your laptop unexpectedly breaks or spare chargers.

Alternatively, you could look at bringing a single piece of equipment such as a guitar or keyboard to enable yourself to play acoustic in the worst case scenario. However, with technology continuing to advance and teams becoming more skilled to help refine these technical issues, this is becoming less likely to happen.

London Arrangements 3. You Canít Be Spontaneous

Though being pre-recorded is great for ensuring the performance sounds professional and how you desired, it means that if youíd like to be spontaneous and play to your crowdís emotions and feedback, you canít.

This can be deemed as a dangerous game to play as most viewers will want to really ďfeelĒ your performance rather than just listening to what they do when playing the same music in their own time.

Though thatís a key point to note for artists, for theatre performers, the need for spontaneity isnít really applicable. After all, actors are following a thought-out script. Even moments on stage that you may think are planned, arenít. Funnily enough, if actors have to be spontaneous on stage, it means the performance isnít running smoothly and hence, can be a performerís worst nightmare.

4. Little Visual Impact

If you have fewer bodies on stage due to not needing a keyboardist and similar, you can end up reducing the visual impact of your performance. Sometimes having more bodies adds different dimensions to the stage, giving users from either side of the venue, people to focus on and look at.

Not only this, but some members on stage can give more energy in a performance and hence, if you take them out of the equation, youíre likely to reduce the quality of your show and hence the enjoyment for your viewers.

5. Musicians Miss Out on Work

This is probably one of the stronger cons to using backing tracks over a live band. For musicians, it can be a extremely disappointing to feel their skill of playing an instrument - which no doubt took years to master - is being replaced by an mp3 backing track. I believe thatís something most artists who using backing tracks when performing, can agree on.

However, in order to produce a backing track that sounds like the real instruments, musicians are required to give a live performance which is then recorded.

As a result, although this doesnít open the doors for lots of amateur musicians, it means that in the future, if they can record their performances to a high quality, theyíre likely to make money from either selling their backing tracks or from a live concert.

6. People Will Say Youíre Doing ĎKaraokeí

Sometimes, no matter how good your performance is and how good it sounds, when using a backing track thereíll be people out there who canít help but exclaim Ďitís karaokeí. Sadly, thatís something thatís unavoidable.

However, that shouldnít be a reason not to use backing tracks if you find them more reliable, affordable and that the majority of your audience still loves your performance. After all, thereís no pleasing everybody all of the time.


Of course there are pros and cons to using a backing track in a live performance likewise, there are to using a live band. Hopefully, youíll now have a better idea of the benefits and downsides to each, to make a more informed decision.

Stephen Robinson, London Arrangements

London Arrangements specialises in the production of professional music backing tracks, ranging from stage and screen, swing and jazz, to classical and easy listening genres.

Posted on 07/07/2018

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How To Use Backing Tracks To Give A Great Performance

London Arrangements More often than not, musicians and actors believe that giving a great, engaging performance is only possible when using a live band and vocalists. However, the times are changing and many performers are captivating their audience through the use of their voice AND backing tracks.

Now, weíre not suggesting you forever ditch the drums, vintage guitars and so on but instead, donít stress that your performance might not be first class if your keyboard player doesnít show up. It will. This blog post will take you through the how-toís for using professional backing tracks to give a great live performance.

#1 Understand Your Tracks

The big risk of using backing tracks is that itís relying on technology rather than humans. If there was a mistake during the performance, a live band is more likely to recover and keep the performance running smoothly, whereas pre-recorded tracks cannot do this. So, how do you avoid messing up your set and using a professional backing track?

1. Understand how backing tracks are constructed to ensure you know what to expect when their played - thatís in a variety of environments.

2. Backing tracks with more ambient sounds are usually easier to work with.

3. Oppositely, backing tracks with distinct percussion, bass lines and other timed entrances will be a lot harder to work with - particularly for beginners.

4. Itís all about trial and error. Donít hit the stage straight away. Giving a great performance takes time anyway, so donít automatically assume using backing tracks will be easier but itís not always the case.

#2 Engage With The Track

Just like you would an instrument, you must engage with the track in order to pour emotion into the performance and keep it real and ďrawĒ. Listen to the instruments and vocals within the track and try to pick out the key sounds and harmonies that are most appealing to you. Focus on these in the performance and really think about the words you are saying during the piece. This way, you will really connect with not only the song but your audience to give them a great, engaging performance.

#3 Involve Your Audience
London Arrangements A good musician will be able to please their audience with their stunning voice and perhaps choreography. Yet, an excellent musician will not only ďwowĒ them with this but will also make them feel like they are a part of the performance. This can be done using the below three key steps:

1. Know whoís listening. You must adopt an approach that will suit and relate to your audience if you want to become one of them. For example, if youíre performing to a small, country-like crowd, being friendly and approachable will be a great way for you to relate.

2. Know your show. Itís important that you thoroughly rehearse your performance so that you can focus your attention on the audience and their needs. Sometimes, having a few plan Bís can also help you make slight changes to the set in case things donít go as youíd expect. If you know your set well, you can focus attentions to monitor your audience throughout your performance and respond to their actions accordingly.

3. Encourage participation during your pieces, in between or after. If you can get your audience to sing along with you during a song, go for it. By monitoring your crowd you can usually tell if theyíre eager to sing along with you or not. If they arenít, asking them an intriguing question or telling a hilarious anecdote can make you feel more human and personally connected to them.

#4 What Do You Want To Hear?

When youíre performing on stage in front of an audience, no matter how big or small the crowd is, it can be extremely daunting. In order to stun your listeners youíll have to show youíre comfortable on stage which in turn will help you engage with them and get them involved - see above. But how do you become comfortable on stage when using backing tracks?

If you decide to perform without a live band, you shouldnít then feel alone, lost or uncomfortable during your time on stage. To combat these thoughts, you should equip yourself with headphones, a wedge or monitor or a mixer that will allow you to hear everything you need to perform well.

    You might want to hear only click in your headphones and have the backing tracks in your wedge or monitor.

    Alternatively, you might feel more comfortable with both track and click in your headphones, or just the track.

    Finally, performers can also derive great success from running both click and track through a mixer placed nearby so that you can control each level in your headphones quickly and easily. - Tom Tom Magazine

#5 Hide The Laptop / MP3 Player

If youíre an avid gig or festival goer, you wonít be a stranger to seeing a laptop on stage during your favourite artists performance. Though, this isnít something we suggest doing, particularly in musical theatre when ensuring the performance should be as engaging as possible.
London Arrangements Hide the laptop or device youíre using to play backing tracks. It can automatically improve the performance and create an illusion that the music is being played live.

A magician wouldnít show you how he did his tricks, likewise, you donít always want to show your audience how youíre creating such a great performance. Instead, you want them to watch in awe.

You may be thinking, that if you donít have your laptop with you, how will you protect your performance if all things fail? Thatís why practice makes perfect - trial your mix in different venues, big, small, long, tall and listen to the sound quality of the tracks. You can always get a trusted musician on stand-by incase errors crop up, though if you rehearse enough, youíre unlikely to come across major problems during the performance so stop stressing and enjoy!

#6 Know What Causes Problems
London Arrangements Just like a musician wouldnít be able to belt out an amazing guitar solo the first time they play a guitar, you wonít be able to create an amazing performance using a backing track if you donít understand the technology and gear behind it. This point is quite similar to point #1 but itís important to stress that knowing your music is crucial to a successful show.

When youíre at a gig or show performing with backing tracks, youíre more than just a musician. Now, youíre also a tech wizard, moving from analog to digital and so, youíll need to know what can be the cause of any audio problems, just like you would with your instruments. After all, you wouldnít perform with an out of tune guitar, so why play with a backing track or piece of tech thatís set up incorrect?
As well as knowing what can cause problems on your backing tracks, itís vital to understand the equipment that is actually playing the music, too. Sometimes the thing creating the poor audio is the machine itself that itís played on. That, and things like the venue, poor wiring and so on.

Do your research before buying both your professional backing tracks and the machine or device youíll use to play them. Both are key players in creating a great sounding performance without a live band or vocalists.

    Tip: Make sure the device you play your tracks with cannot receive texts, emails or notifications with sound.

#7 Opt For A Remix

Most musicians will know that not every other musician out there is as dedicated and great at time keeping as themselves. Sometimes, planning a performance with external pianists, drummers or similar can prove to difficult and lead to much disappointment.

However, if your performance demands a drummer but perhaps you donít have a reliable musician to perform with, opt for a remix. Include more electronic aspects to funk up the song and give your listeners a slightly edgier show.

You donít have to change much in the music in order to get it sounding great without your backing band. Sometimes, making too many changes can make the track sound too different, though experimenting with additional instruments and vocals can be a huge success!


To conclude, below is a revised list of how to use backing tracks to give a great performance:

1. Understand your tracks. That way if something was to go wrong such as the timing of the first song starting early or worse, late, youíre prepared for it and know how to correct it.

2. Engage with the track just like you would an instrument. This way youíre engaging with the instruments and vocals in the track, just like you would if they were happening live on stage.

3. Involve your audience by getting them to sing along. This way theyíll be less focused on the fact you donít have a band playing your music and youíll get more of a buzz from hearing them sing back your songs.

4. Knowing what you want to hear will help you monitor your performance and vocals as it happens. Using clicks in your headphones and the backing track in your wedge or monitor can help.

5. Donít let the audience see your laptop. This will help the audience to keep their eyes on you so youíre performance feels more connected and personal for the crowd.

6. Understand what problems can arise from using backing tracks. If you know what might go wrong when youíre on stage using the backing track, youíll be able to help counteract any issues to keep your performance running smoothly.

7. Remix your song by either stripping it down or adding more electronic elements to it. This can bring a new life to the song and interest the audience by surprising them with a unique version, rather than playing what they will expect.

Stephen Robinson, London Arrangements

London Arrangements specialises in the production of professional music backing tracks, ranging from stage and screen, swing and jazz, to classical and easy listening genres.

Posted on 14/06/2018

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