Today was our day to provide special music for Sunday morning service. Last Thursday (3 days ago), I asked my wife what she wanted to do? She said that she really liked the Casting Crowns song, "Here I Go Again". I'd never heard the song, but I went ahead and downloaded the performance tracts from Amazon.
I plugged both the performance backing track and the full version track with vocals into Audacity. Then I looped the intro to give room for a little saxophone at the beginning. This gave about 20 seconds to blow sax until my wife would begin singing. Next I went to the guitar break. Luckily, the guitar already sounded kind of muted and was really only playing an embellished cord progression. A sax break would fit perfectly over it without modification.
I made both performance and vocal tracks into mono tracks and then put one on the right stereo channel and the other on the left. This gave me a "split track" rendering. Then I prayed (because I'm not the world's best at improvisation) and I started blowing my sax to the music until I worked out the intro and break. Plus I added a little light sax work during the ending below the singing, which lasts right up to the last note.
Now for the performance, I put the split track MP3 onto an iPod and plugged in a cable that splits the left and right stereo channels. The channel with just the backing music was patched into a microphone port below the preacher's podium going to the house sound system. The track with vocals went into a set of ear buds. My wife was then able to listen to the original vocals via the ear buds while singing. This helped her with timing and kept her on pitch. As for me, I just closed my eyes and prayed that my figures would remember the sax parts I had worked out by ear.
Now you may ask how did all this work out? Well, the answer was volunteered by a teenage future college music major that was seated in the second row. After the performance, he came up to me and said in an amazed tone, "Dude. That was compleeeetely legit! You owned that solo".
This was one of those times where we were unprepared and performing something well outside our comfort zone. But through faith we pulled it off, once again. And I now have a better way to keep my wife on beat and on pitch. It was another great day worth remembering.