Using RealDrums in PowerTracks Pro Audio

This tutorial covers the following topics:

Last updated:  Tuesday, 13 October 2015

About RealDrums Styles

RealDrums can be used with PowerTracks Pro Audio version 12 (and higher). RealDrums are actual recordings of studio drummers, which are pieced together by PowerTracks to create a unique "real" drum track that is played along with other audio and MIDI tracks in perfect time. In addition, the RealDrums that you use with PowerTracks will also work with Band-in-a-Box® (versions 2007 and higher). A RealDrums style consists of a wave file containing various bars of drum patterns, and a text file with instructions on how PowerTracks should interpret the wave file. In order for the style to work, the files need to be located in a folder called "Drums", and then in a sub-directory that is the name of the style group. For example, the following two pairs of files make up a style with a native tempo of 120 BPM. See the PowerTracks Help documentation on RealDrums StyleMaking if you would like more detailed information about the wave and txt files.

C:\bb\Drums\JazzBrushes\JazzBrushes_120_Style.txt
C:\bb\Drums\JazzBrushes\JazzBrushes_120_Style.wav

In this example, there may be other tempos available in the JazzBrushes folder, for example JazzBrushes_140_Style.wav. When you generate a JazzBrushes RealDrums track, PowerTracks will automatically use the style with the closest tempo to your song's tempo. While PowerTracks will always adjust the drums so that they play at your exact song tempo, having more than one style tempo is important for a realistic drum track because drummers use different playing techniques at different tempos. Also, having more than one tempo ensures that PowerTracks will won't have to stretch the audio data too much, which can degrade sound quality.

Installing RealDrums Sets

RealDrums Sets are installed separately from the main PowerTracks program. You may have received one or more RealDrums Sets with your PowerTracks purchase, or you may have purchased RealDrums Sets individually. Either way, you will need to install your RealDrums before you can use the RealDrums feature in PowerTracks. When installing RealDrums, they will install to the C:\bb folder by default. This is the default Band-in-a-Box® folder. The reason for this is that Band-in-a-Box® and PowerTracks can use the same RealDrums Styles, so you don't need to install the RealDrums in more than one location if you have both programs. Even if you don't have Band-in-a-Box®, we recommend accepting the default installation folder. The RealDrums styles will be installed to a "Drums" subfolder within folder you select, and some demo songs will be installed to a "Drums - Demos" subfolder. If you choose to install the RealDrums to a different location (other than the bb folder), they will still work in PowerTracks, but you will need to make sure to specify the correct location in the RealDrums dialog.

Using the Chords Window

You can launch the RealDrums dialog in PowerTracks by clicking the RealDrums button in the PowerTracks toolbar: RealDrums button .When you do this, you will notice that the Chords Window opens automatically. This is because PowerTracks uses some information from the Chords Window when it assembles the RealDrums track. Band-in-a-Box® users will recognize the Chords Window, and it works the same way as it does in Band-in-a-Box®. To open the Chords Window for editing, go to the Window menu and click on Chords or press Ctrl+3.

  • Part Markers. For the best sounding RealDrum track, you need to add part markers. You add a part marker by clicking on a bar number once or twice. There are two types of part markers. If you click once on a bar number you will get a Blue (A substyle) part marker, and if you click twice on a bar number you will get a Green (B substyle) part marker. PowerTracks will play a drum fill in the bar immediately before the part marker and will play a "post-fill" in the bar that has the part marker. A postfill often contains a crash cymbal. Each RealDrums style has two substyles, A and B. The B substyle is usually more lively and often used for the middle choruses of a song. If you add an A part marker, substyle A will play after the part marker, and if you add a B part marker, substyle B will play.
  • Chords with shots. There are a number of ways to get chord symbols in the Chords Window: You can (1) type them in manually using standard chord symbols like CMaj, G7, Dm, etc., you can (2) use the Audio Chord Wizard to interpret the chords in an audio file, you can (3) use the MIDI chord wizard to detect the chords in any MIDI file, or you can (4) accept the chords that PowerTracks determined automatically when you opened a MIDI file. The chords themselves won't affect the RealDrums track that PowerTracks creates (for example, whether it is an Amaj7 or a Dm), however if the chord has a shot, rest, hold, or a push, it WILL affect the track.
    • A rest is entered by typing in the chord symbol followed by one period, for example "Cmaj." - this tells the drums to stop playing until the next chord symbol is encountered.
    • A shot is entered by typing in the chord symbol followed by two periods, for example "Cmaj.." - this will play an accented drum hit, and then it will stop playing until the next chord.
    • A hold is entered by typing in the chord symbol followed by three periods, for example "Cmaj...", which has the same effect on the drum track as a shot. The reason for having both shots and holds is that many people import songs from Band-in-a-Box®, and Band-in-a-Box® songs can have both shots and holds.
  • Chords with pushes. A push is a Drum hit played a little before the beat. This is very common in Jazz, Pop, and Rock music, and gives the music a more natural sound. To enter a push, type the caret symbol ^ before the chord (The caret symbol is located above the 6 on the keyboard). Type a single caret to get the drum hit an eighth note before the beat - for example, " ^C7 ". Type a double caret to get a chord a sixteenth note before the beat - for example, " ^^C7 ".
  • Some additional tips on using the Chords Window. Even if your song doesn't currently have any chords in it, you can still use shots and pushes in your track. Simply enter any chord (for example, "C") where you want the shot or push to occur, and specify the chord as a shot or push. If you enter a shot, make sure to enter another chord after it so that the drums start playing again. To enter more than two chords per bar, separate the chords by commas. To delete a chord, press the Delete key on your keyboard. When saving your work, if you save your song as an .SEQ file, the Chords you enter will be preserved for next time you load the song.

Generating your RealDrums Track

You can launch the RealDrums dialog in PowerTracks by clicking the RealDrums button in the PowerTracks toolbar: RealDrums button When you first use the RealDrums dialog, you may need to specify the location of the Drums folder by pressing the [Select] button beside "RealDrums Folder Path". Usually the drums will be installed to C:\bb, and if so, PowerTracks will select that folder path by default. You only need to set your RealDrums folder path once, unless you move your Drums folder or return the program to factory settings.

Next, Click on the [Select] button beside "RealDrums Style". As long as you have chosen the correct folder path, and you have installed RealDrums sets, this will bring up a menu of the available RealDrums style groups. Note that some style groups have a ^ (caret) symbol after their name, which means they have "Variations". When you point to these styles, you will see a submenu that lists the available variations. Each variation uses a different combination of A and B substyles. For example, one variation might use Brushes for the A substyle and Sticks for the B substyle.

Finally, select your audio output track, choose the range of bars that you want RealDrums generated in, and click [OK - Generate RealDrums Audio]. You can now listen to the RealDrums track. If it's not quite the way you want it, select the same audio output track and re-generate the drums; it will be slightly different each time. Or generate the drums in a different track and compare tracks by soloing each track in turn.

There are a couple of other useful settings in the RealDrums dialog.

  • Generate a leadin for the first 2 bars of the song: If this is checked, then the first two bars of the drum track will be a count-in (1-2-1,2,3,4).
  • Last 2 bars of real drums being generated are an ending: If this is checked, then PowerTracks will add a 2 bar ending to the last 2 bars of the drum track. This is the same type of ending used in the Band-in-a-Box® automatic 2-bar endings.
  • Song Has Straight Feel: This determines how the program handles pushes. If checked, then pushes will have straight feel versus a swing feel.
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