Re: Performing With Band-in-a-box – Guest Blog Post by Roy Woolliams

Bob 'Notes' Norton <norton@...>

On 1/26/2021 10:15 PM, bsfdl wrote:

For the backing tracks for my duo I only use MIDI. I use either a PG Music style, a Norton Music style, or I start from scratch if there is no appropriate style for the song I'm sequencing.

Even when I use a PG or Norton style, much goes into it after I export from BiaB and before I'm done. Here is a sampling of what I might do to a song before it's ready for stage:
  • I may add an instrument for song specific licks, and/or modify existing instruments for those song specifkc licks
  • I will look for BiaB's wrong notes and fix them (with MIDI the right note is a click or two away). Yes BiaB does occasionaly play a wrong note here and there
  • I might change the inversion or octave of some parts. Sometimes BiaB might make one bar or two in the comp part an octave too high
  • I'll get rid of the 3rds in a 5 chord (some call them power chords, but really they are a 1-5 interval)
  • I may move drum rolls around, erase them when I don't want them before an A/B or B/A section change
  • Change instruments, that piano might sound better for this song as a Rhodes or a jazz guitar. That guitar might sound better muted, as a clav, or simply as a guitar with different tone, that brass section might sound better as a sax section, etc.
  • I might change certain drum instruments, say a cowbell to a ride bell, it's just a click and drag away
  • It might need a long intro or end (many of my user styles at have MIDI long intros and ends that can be copied and pasted, or I might make one of my own
  • I might add ritardandos, accelerandos, crescendos, or diminuendos - some things BiaB is not good at, but are easy in a sequencer or DAW
  • Sometimes the shots in BiaB don't include all the instruments, easily done in MIDI
  • Sometimes a shot is not enough and you need a rhythmic kick, can't do that in real tracks
  • And so on. MIDI is thousands of times more editable than audio and manipulating the MIDI output can make the good output of Band-in-a-Box into something truly excellent. 

When I'm all done adding/subtracting/switching/manipulating I balance the parts and record as a WAV file. With hard drive capacities as large as they are today, I'd keep them in the WAV format, but I started doing this in the prehistoric microcomputer days when storage was limited so I rip them to a 192kbps mp3 file often with VBR and always with the Q (quality) set at the highest setting.

Don't get me wrong, IMO BiaB is still the best auto-accompaniment app out there, hardware or software -- and I've written styles under contract for a few others. But IMO it is not ready for gigging. Oh, you can get by with it, but why get by when with a little time invested you can be better than your competition?

It does take some time, and the more you do it the better you get at it, but it's PLAYing music, and isn't that what we do? We don't call it working music or laboring music; it's called playing music for a good reason.

Insights and incites by Notes

Bob "Notes" Norton • owner, Norton Music •
BiaB User Styles that will make your band 'Jump-Out-Of-The-Box'.

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