Making Custom Audio Loops with Band-in-a-Box®

Last updated:  Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Recently a major debate within the music community is that of the composition of loop-based "music". Are these composers musicians or not? This debate may never be resolved but, like it or not, looped-based music composition is here - and probably here to stay.

The premise of loop-based music is that the composer, using a computer, creates compositions by mixing and repeating "loops" of digital audio files. This form of composition is especially prevalent in Dance and Techno music.

Like every great tune from Beethoven's 5th Symphony to Stairway to Heaven no Billboard smash can be created without great music. In this case, great loops. But where do you get them?

If you are looking for unique new loops why not turn to Band-in-a-Box® for some creative assistance? One of the great benefits of Band-in-a-Box® is that it comes packed with the genuine licks, riffs and patterns that are played by top musicians of all kinds. The huge repertoire of styles includes Rock, Pop, Techno, Jazz, Fusion, Blues, Country, Bluegrass, Gospel, Classical, Ethnic, Praise and Worship - the list goes on and on. And the best thing is that Band-in-a-Box® makes it easy to create audio loops from its encyclopaedic musical knowledge base by recording its songs and style patterns as wave files.

There are two favorite ways to use Band-in-a-Box® to create loops;

  1. To create a loop of either 8, 4, 2 beats or to create a one beat shot.
  2. To create a longer phrase such as a solo.

Just follow the steps below to create special loops of your own. These examples use the Windows( Sound Recorder, but any good quality sound card will give professional results. Before you start, double click on the yellow speaker icon and select MIDI as the recording source in Windows Recording Properties.

To create a short loop such as an eight, four or two beat loop;

  • Listen to some Band-in-a-Box® songs to locate the particular pattern (phrase, lick, riff) to be recorded. The styles demo songs included with Band-in-a-Box® are a good place to start.
  • When you've found the phrase or pattern that you want, open the Band-in-a-Box® StyleMaker by selecting Edit Current Style from the User Menu.
  • You'll see rows of patterns arranged by length; 8-beat, 4-beat, 2-beat, 1-beat and endings.
  • Patterns can be auditioned in the StyleMaker by clicking on an instrument name and then selecting any one of the boxes that contains a number. (Blank boxes indicate an empty pattern.) Press the Play button located at the top of the StyleMaker window to hear the highlighted pattern. The StyleMaker will play all of the instrument parts present in the selected pattern; you can make some interesting loops by recording multiple instruments simultaneously.
  • To hear and record a single instrument, mute the remaining instruments with a right mouse click on the instrument name in the Band-in-a-Box® instrument line on the main screen.

TIP: Before going any farther, it's a good idea to set the key and tempo the same as the loop-based song you are creating. All patterns play in the key of C by default. To transpose the pattern you have chosen, go to Pattern | Transpose Pattern and enter the required number of semitones up or down (-) for your key. You can also try out different instrument patches with the Pat. (Patch) button located in the StyleMaker window.

Now you're ready to record your loop!

  • In Sound Recorder press Record and then press the Play button in the Band-in-a-Box® StyleMaker.
  • Let the pattern record as many times as you want. An extra pattern at the beginning and end will give you some extra material to work with. You can trim it later when you edit the recorded loop in a wave editor.
  • Press stop in both the Band-in-a-Box® StyleMaker and the Sound Recorder.

Now the loop has been recorded and is ready to be edited with a wave editor. PowerTracks Pro Audio is a powerful and simple tool for this and many other tasks. Once opened in a wave editor the loop can be trimmed and audio effects such as reverb, chorus etc. can be applied to it.

To create a longer phrase such as a solo;

Start with a new song in Band-in-a-Box®. Remember to set the key and tempo to be the same as your loop based song. Set Band-in-a-Box® to play a song that is the length of the loop you need and type in the chords for your song using standard chord symbols like C, Fm7, or C13b9.

Now the fun begins!

This time we'll get Band-in-a-Box® to create an improvised solo with its Soloist feature. Press the Soloist button on the main screen to open the Soloist window. Select the desired Soloist profile and press the All Solo button to ensure that a solo is generated for the entire song. Press OK and Band-in-a-Box® will generate a solo over the chord changes you entered in the Soloist style that you selected. Audition the solo by playing it a few times, and don't forget that it can be edited in the Band-in-a-Box® Notation window.

Now you're to record the Solo (or any other instrument part) as a loop.

  • The first step is to mute any other instruments that you don't want to record. A right mouse click on the instrument name in the Band-in-a-Box® instrument line will mute the selected instrument.
  • You could use the Windows Sound Recorder to record the loop, however it is simpler and faster to use the Render to Audio File feature found in Band-in-a-Box®. Invoke this feature with the .WAV button located in Band-in-a-Box®'s main screen.
  • Choose a location and file name for the loop. Set the recording properties to ensure that MIDI will be recorded. The Set Recording Properties... button will open the record controls for your sound card. Select MIDI.
  • De-select "Include Count-in on Drums" so that the resulting loop will not contain an eight beat count in.
  • Press the (Re)-Render to WAV File... button and Band-in-a-Box® will render the MIDI information to a wave file. Rendering is done in real time, so the user will hear the solo being played back as it is recorded.
  • Once the recording is completed the Test Wave button will allow the user to hear the results prior to exiting Band-in-a-Box®.
  • The wave file can be edited in the Band-in-a-Box® Audio Edit window, and effects can be added with the built-in effects plug-ins found under Audio | Plugin.

You've just made a custom loop that can be loaded into any wave editor program. You'll soon see how easy it is to make hundreds of "pro-quality" loops that are uniquely yours by using the amazing music power of Band-in-a-Box®!

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