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BLOGGER POST: How I Write and Produce Songs With BAND-IN-A-BOX

Part of the fun of being on the BIAB forums is helping other forum members with their song projects. From time to time I've posted various articles on topics from "Learning to Play Bluegrass Banjo" to "Basic Mixing." Recently I added a new article on my blog on Blogger regarding how I write and produce with Band-in-a-Box. I thought it might also be helpful to post it here. Hope it helps. Send me question and comments.

Thanks,
Bob Buford

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Great article (or blog) Bob,

a well thought out piece, you turned someone on to BIAB,

that's great. I don't understand why there's still a lot of resistance

by musicians to check out this program. Most everyone nowadays

uses drum loops or midi drums, we've got so much more with BIAB,

as for writing, I always have a story in my head, how can I tell the story

if I don't know it myself, I've been surprised at co-writing attempts when

the other person didn't know what their song was about or where it was going.

Sometimes there are nice surprises but still...

now I'm just going on...

having said that, I do believe there's a million ways to write a song

whoever has good tools in their writing tool box, they're gonna come up

with something

enjoyed this a lot

Kenny

Last edited by 44kfl; 08/05/17 09:01 AM.
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Thanks Bob
Very informative.
Ive only started with BB this year and found it really helpful. OK,so most of my stuff is covers but so far I've been able to find or make a style that works for MY arrangement. Where its brilliant is with my own stuff. I work up the chords, set up my Band lol and away I go.
Love it!
WendyM


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Originally Posted By: WendyM
Thanks Bob
Very informative.
Ive only started with BB this year and found it really helpful. OK,so most of my stuff is covers but so far I've been able to find or make a style that works for MY arrangement. Where its brilliant is with my own stuff. I work up the chords, set up my Band lol and away I go.
Love it!
WendyM


Covers are a GREAT way to learn to use BIAB and also to develop your production and performance chops. This is especially true if you do your utmost to recreate your cover as close to the original as possible.(a process called AB'ing)If you can do that, you'll learn a lot about how the original was produced. Then you can apply that to your own work when the need arises.

Just keep at it and you'll be even more amazed at what you can create. The BIAB forums are a great source of info and tips on using the program if you get stumped. Folks here are always willing to help.

Best of luck with your writing and production.
Thanks for your input,
Bob grin

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Originally Posted By: 44kfl
Great article (or blog) Bob,

a well thought out piece, you turned someone on to BIAB,
that's great. I don't understand why there's still a lot of resistance by musicians to check out this program. Most everyone nowadays uses drum loops or midi drums, we've got so much more with BIAB,as for writing, I always have a story in my head, how can I tell the story if I don't know it myself, I've been surprised at co-writing attempts when the other person didn't know what their song was about or where it was going. Sometimes there are nice surprises but still...now I'm just going on...having said that, I do believe there's a million ways to write a song whoever has good tools in their writing tool box, they're gonna come up with something

enjoyed this a lot
Kenny


Hi Kenny,

You make some good points. Nearly everyone has their own methodology for writing a song that is more or less a variation of some of the more common approaches. For folks just getting started I say do some reading and get educated about the basic process. Kind of like we do with singing or learning to play an instrument: Imitate and then innovate. Whatever works for you is what works. And everyone has something unique to offer.

Appreciate your input. Thanks
Bob grin

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Bob,

You've put together a really great article. The clarity of your presentation is excellent and the ideas and advice are first class.

I enjoyed my read!

Regards,
Noel


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Originally Posted By: Noel96
Bob,

You've put together a really great article. The clarity of your presentation is excellent and the ideas an advice are first class.

I enjoyed my read!

Regards,
Noel


Hey Noel! How ya doin' way down there? grin
Thanks so much for the nice comments. Just hope I can help some folks.

Bob

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Hi Bob,

This is a really good post, and I thought I would add in some of my own feedback. Since I have dialed in your basic studio settings to my working template in Sonar, which I call the "Bob Buford Board", you know I study you man!

I would go one step further to say I prefer BIAB and my home studio to "real" studios in many cases, and I have recorded in some of the largest studios in Nashville and New York.

1.) I too am always mystified when people make disparaging remarks and say "it is not any good (or real music) unless you record it all yourself."

Then I listen to THEIR stuff and think (but don't say) "Ugh...but your guitar is out of tune, you can't play, it sounds horrible, and the bass player sounds intoxicated. How much did you spend on that??" (I never say it though.)

2.) And yes, so much much done today is loops and samples. But those loops and samples are pretty much obnoxious noise. BIAB does not produce noise it produces MUSIC. So the reason for NOT using it is.....????

3.) Related to the comments of the esteemed producer you mention, I spend some time each day studying the demos, which offer an endless fount of production ideas and chord progression ideas.

4.) It will take any producer about five seconds to realize you are not constrained to one style, but if you have a DAW (or know all the ropes in BIAB well) you can start a song in one style and switch numerous times during the course of a song. That's Abbey Road.

5.) If I were to have gone into any studio to produce some of the stuff I have done with Real Tracks, if you add in the orchestral and string parts, it would have been more like $20,000 a song.

6.) I could go to Berklee and pay $30,000 for a production and editing course or I could just go on this forum and give a shout out to guys like...hmmmmmm...Bob Buford!!! (or 40 other guys and gals just like him)----and ask him what EQ settings to use on the drums and I have my answer back in 20 minutes. I say go for the zero dollar self study course on the forum with 24/7 access to pros and veterans. Easier on my wallet.

7.) I can't count the number of times someone has asked me (of a RT based song) "What studio did you record that in?"

8.) The Xtra styles come almost premixed. If you realize less is really more, the Xtra Styles sort of tell you where stuff should be set and if you are careful with tasty additions only, and you have a good knowledge of Eqing and mastering (which you can learn from veterans on this forum) there really is no reason to go into a studio for many songs. It just is not necessary.

9.) In complaining of the glut of music today you hear this all the time: "Everybody and his sister has ProTools." True, but everybody and his sister does not have ProTools and RealTracks. That may be one reason why so much of everything you hear sounds exactly the same. Very boring chord progressions and beginning acoustic or electric guitar 101 keeps getting replicated. RTs take your music to another stratosphere.

10.) Some people have said on this forum that if you use RTs and your home studio you will never be able to get the quality of a "real studio" or a "real engineer." I cannot tell you how much I disagree.

In many cases, I honestly think the RT studio sounds better.

Thanks for a great article Bob and all the great teaching on this forum.

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Hey David...how the heck are ya? smile

I love what you wrote. Such great insights and experiences to impart. I've learned things on the forums that one might never learn elsewhere. There are so many talented and experienced folks here that are willing to share their knowledge...you in particular. Appreciate ya, dude!

The Buford

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Originally Posted By: David Snyder
"Everybody and his sister has ProTools."


Quote for the day: "ProTools doesn't care who owns it." grin

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Hi Bob
Thanks for the post and article,very helpful to know how high a quality you think Biab is for music production.As Ive produced songs with biab the question is always in the back of my mind is it going to be as good as a studio made song.(quality wise).
I got a couple of songs produced in a studio and they came out great but they could have been easily a million miles away from what i intended as you have so little involvement.Not to mention the cost or the lack of enjoyment,urs Hugh

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Hi David
Equally great reply as original post.Great to know your perspective on Biab and encourages me no end .All your points are exactly right.Biab is such a good product,thanks Hugh

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Originally Posted By: Hugh2
Hi Bob
Thanks for the post and article,very helpful to know how high a quality you think Biab is for music production.As Ive produced songs with biab the question is always in the back of my mind is it going to be as good as a studio made song.(quality wise).
I got a couple of songs produced in a studio and they came out great but they could have been easily a million miles away from what i intended as you have so little involvement.Not to mention the cost or the lack of enjoyment,urs Hugh


Hi Hugh...

One of the reasons I put my article out on Blogger was to take my BAND-IN-A-BOX pitch to folks outside of these forums who already know what a great songwriting tool and product it is. One of the reasons a BIAB production sounds so good is the quality of the musicians on REAL TRACKS. It would be difficult if not impossible to get any of those folks to play on a studio made song. Guys like Brent Mason (Jim Mason, who's no relation,claims they're "cousins"..haha!) but are pretty booked up, not to mention the cost you'd incur. My studio produced songs were great because I had a pro producer, but at least a couple of them didn't come out the way I'd envisioned. BIAB gives you a level of control you'd lose in a studio environment. But of course you're responsible for EVERYTHING that goes into the mix.

In my opinion it's never been easier or less expensive for an aspiring (or pro) songwriter to experiment with song ideas and come out with something great. Still the level of competency one brings to the table even with BIAB will be the limiting factor at to what finally gets produced. Fun stuff, eh? grin

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Originally Posted By: David Snyder
Snip ... 2.) And yes, so much much done today is loops and samples. But those loops and samples are pretty much obnoxious noise. BIAB does not produce noise it produces MUSIC. So the reason for NOT using it is.....???? snip ...


I'm enjoying this conversation and learning from it. However David, I was disappointed to read point # 2 quoted above.

Loops and samples can be sources of inspiration when someone is searching for song ideas. Use a guitar, keyboard or horn riff that sets your imagination on fire. Update your music with sounds and tones typically found outside the genre of your song project. Loops and samples can be easily imported into BiaB and RealBand if that's what one desires.

One of the unrecognized strengths of Band-in-a-Box and RealBand is they are so very versatile.

You want to be inspired by midi? Like other music program the programs can import midi, including midi loops but, unlike other music programs the midi patterns built into the styles also let you easily create your own midi masterpieces.

Every other audio music program can record audio and use samples or loops but they can't use RealTracks or RealDrums. RealTracks and RealDrums are exclusive to Band-in-a-Box and RealBand.

So you can use Band-in-a-Box and RealBand to perform the same functions as any other music program and so much more. Loop and samples are tools you can use just like RealTracks.


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Jim,

I was speaking of loops and samples that are used exclusively with no other musical skill or knowledge in such as way that they become repetitive nonsense and noise.

Sorry, I did not clarify this.


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Bob, you have broken out in Blog!
What a well done presentation. You succeeded
in the number one goal of the best teachers;
that is, to get the reader (or student) to thinking.

As different as we all are, I think each of us
finds a zone. Artists and writers find specialties,
for lack of a better term.

Your personal comments are interesting and
informative.


Link: www.soundcloud.com/ed_shaw (Feel Free to Use)
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Originally Posted By: edshaw
Bob, you have broken out in Blog!
What a well done presentation. You succeeded
in the number one goal of the best teachers;
that is, to get the reader (or student) to thinking.

As different as we all are, I think each of us
finds a zone. Artists and writers find specialties,
for lack of a better term.

Your personal comments are interesting and
informative.


grin Haha...yes, Ed I've broken out and there appears to be no treatment for it. "Think, people! THINK!"

Bob cool

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What an awesome article, Bob. You can tell it was written sincerely, and it offers a lot of insight into what the program is about!


Cheers,
Deryk
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Great blog and conversation here in the forum. I am new to BIAB but can already see the potential. You make many valid points about the cost and quality of recording in a studio. About 5 years ago i was going to record a couple demo songs in Nashville. The price fo 2 songs unmastered was going to be over $5,000. Due to unforseen circumstances I was unable to afford to return to Nashville and record. Thinking back it may have been for the best. Although I'm sure the quality would have been good there is no way to know if songs would have turned out how I heard them in my head. The producer may have had a totaly different interpretation than i had.

Since that time i have started recording and producing my own music. One of the largest problems i have had though is finding quality midi sounds for instruments i would like in my songs.(Fiddle, Mandolin, Steel Guitar) Now that I've found BIAB I believe i can finally make some authentc sounding country music using Real Tracks of actual instruments, and best of all I have all the control and all the time in the world to perfect my tracks to my liking.

The one thing I had hoped to read in your blog was more of a technical insite as to how you use BIAB to creat your music. Do you plan on going into that more in other blog posts?


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Hi Samuel,

Congratulations. You've found the holy grail of country song creation with BIAB and REALTRACKS. Did you notice all the Nashville session guys who are playing on those Country REALTRACKS. Pretty amazing. And they'll all work for you tirelessly to create the vision you have for your song.

I plan many other blog posts on this subject. In the meantime here's a MIXING article I wrote here on the forums to help get you started. Check it out. Maybe it will help.

http://www.pgmusic.com/forums/ubbthreads.php?ubb=showflat&Number=380166&page=1

Bob smile

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