Are you thinking of adding a modern feel and sound to your next event? One of the most popular options in music entertainment is the use of backing tracks to accompany strings during a live event. You may see this advertised as "Electric String Quartet", or "Electric Violin". The term "electric" means that the instruments are amplified and cool-looking, but it also implies that the musicians will be using some technology to help with the sound. Backing tracks are one of the most popular ways in achieving that, but here are a few things you should know before deciding to upgrade to this option.
If you have ever been to Karaoke then you already know what backing tracks are. They are the original song minus the melody. This makes it a perfect solution for a lead instrument, such as a violin, to play along with. You get the beat, the harmonies, and all the sound effects that you would hear in the original song, and the best part is that the backing track will never play a wrong note! However, because the track already provides pretty much all the other voices, we feel that it is an over-kill to have a complete string quartet that plays along with it. If you're thinking of having this option for a cocktail hour or party then we would only recommend 1 or 2 musicians, at the most. One electric violinist would be ideal, but for the sake of variety 2 violins could work well, too, or by adding an electric cello. In addition to being a cleaner sound, it's also a lot cheaper!
The pros of backing tracks are that they are consistent and they sound like a karaoke track with the main melody being played by the lead instrument. They are also ideal for a DJ / Violin fusion act. It's very cool to watch and it's perfect for speciality acts during a wedding ceremony. But there are some cons to using backing tracks, as well. The biggest one is that they never change! As you can imagine, there is no variety in the accompaniment, and the musician is stuck on playing only the time frame that is dictated by the track. The track does not follow the musician. It's the other way around.
On the next post I will explain our solution to providing a more organic approach to backing tracks. One where the track follows the musicians, and where each voice in the group matters because nothing is pre-recorded and all the mixing is done live.