Sonic Pi Blues Backing Track

Here is a brief introduction into the musical coding software Sonic Pi, and how I used Sonic Pi to create a 12-bar blues backing track to play with in order to work on both my improv skills and my low range (I'm currently a sophomore in college studying as a music performance major). This whole process doesn't really follow many steps and is really open to whatever you want to use Sonic Pi to create. This is the Final Project for my Honors Seminar class. Hope you enjoy!

Supplies:

Step 1: Download Sonic Pi

Head over to https://sonic-pi.net/ and download the Sonic Pi software. It's available for Mac and Windows, as well as Raspberry Pi if that suits your fancy! Familiarize yourself with the software and how it works. I recommend using the tutorial inside of Sonic Pi to do that. It's located on the bottom third of the program when you first open it, and also on their website. It explains everything you need to know in order to do pretty much anything in the program. It's much more helpful than anything I'm about to explain, so if you have questions, consult it as a guide.

Step 2: Play Around to See What You Can Make

Once you've played around with the tutorial a bit and are tired of following its rules, play around and see that you can do with just the simple play and sleep commands. Try to get a sense of the natural tempo in Sonic Pi, a.k.a. how long "sleep 1" is against "sleep 2". With the play command, you can spell chords by placing them all into one bracket, or you can use the play chord command to have Sonic Pi create different types of chords for you. Also, play around with the different synth sounds, as well as the other commands, like amp and release, which can extra volume and length to your notes.

Step 3: Your Backing Track

When you feel ready, begin a new track. I started mine with a four-beat count-off, in order to give myself a sense of the tempo and time to get ready to play. I decided to choose the key of C major because it's a super easy key to play in on any instrument. If your wanting to make a jazz track in C major, you're going to use Dm, F, G, and C chords, but for a blues track, it would be just C, F, and G. Here's a reference that helps you to understand a basic 12-bar blues progression and the "best" way to play on top of it.

https://www.pbs.org/theblues/classroom/essays12bar...

The point of the backing track is to be able to create your own melody on top of it; it's a way to play like there are other musicians with you when there really aren't. They're really handy for learning the basics of a technique called improvisation. Here's a handy guide on the basics of how improv works:

http://www.simplifyingtheory.com/improvisation-in-music/

The point of the backing track is to be able to create your own melody on top of it; it's a way to play like there are other musicians with you when there really aren't. They're really handy for learning the basics of a technique called improvisation.

The point of the backing track is to be able to create your own melody on top of it; it's a way to play like there are other musicians with you when there really aren't. They're really handy for learning the basics of a technique called improvisation.

A lot of this process is just experimentation, meaning that there's no right way to do it. Whatever you feel creative doing is what you should pursue in this process. Making music is all about being confident in what you create and wanting to show it off to the world!

Here's some simple backing tracks I found on Youtube for more reference:

C Major

A minor

These are both a lot more complicated than mine, so don't worry if you can't create something at this level first starting. Any progress is good progress when learning something new!

Step 4: The Finished Product

Here's my finished backing track. It's pretty simple, but I'm still a beginner with Sonic Pi, and I'm hoping to make more in the future. I've uploaded this one to my SoundCloud and will update when there are more available from me as I continue making them.

Enjoy the creative progress in Sonic Pi. Have fun coding!

CM Blues Backing Track (made w/ Sonic Pi) by madeleinethemusical

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