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#645362 - 03/06/21 03:11 PM [Band-in-a-Box Wishlist] Make BIAB more useful to contemporary pop songwriters.
Registered: 10/16/08
Posts: 51
Lazarus Offline
Enthusiast

Registered: 10/16/08
Posts: 51
I've been updating BIAB for many years out of habit. I know how sophisticated some of the features are and I have thousands of styles. But I rarely use BIAB for songwriting and, when I do, I generally lose creative focus and get disappointed, in the endless search for a useable style. I spend more time now in things like EZ Keys and various UJAM drum and string programs. BIAB should be better than these because it can provide integrated styles but it is neglecting the contemporary pop and AC genres.

Don't get me wrong. I know there are very good styles and very good players on the Realtracks but, even when using the search filters, I find myself wading through Euro ooompah music and old time stuff that is no use for writing modern pop songs. There are a billion excellent jazz, country, blues and worship styles but what passes for 'Modern Pop' is a bit limited and lame. If I type in song title chart hits from the past couple of years, they are not recognised. I'm not going to wade through a thousand loops listed in alphabetical order.

This is not just a personal grumble. I think PG is missing out on a new demographic for which the program's functions are ideally suited (if they were modified in the ways I will suggest).

I recently did a course on Writing to Tracks (toplining). The backing tracks provided by companies in this business are well arranged and contemporary-sounding but you are stuck with their chord progressions which are often limited and dull dull dull! The GREAT thing about Band In A Box is that you can use whatever chords you want and the arrangement adapts to them brilliantly. If BIAB catered to this backing tracks for toplining and contemporary songwriting genre, you could corner the market and reach lots of customers under the age of 40.

Here's what I suggest you do:

1. Get someone on your staff to monitor the pop and AC charts and develop new styles based on the current hits and - most important of all - update these styles throughout the year so that a title search of current popular song will take you to styles that would be a satisfying match to that song. And then, if you make the top style the prototype style, any others linked to it are genuinely similar (no oompah or Celtic music cluttering up the list!)

2. These modern styles should have sub styles for different song sections. BIAB should make it easy to come up with a backing track for toplining, including making it easy to substitute alternative realtracks and loops that are genuinely compatible with this style.

3. Check out the sites providing tracks for toplining, like Jetracks.com, and get some of these people to help design your new pop styles.

4. Have a separate styles category for current pop chart styles. Let BIAB users know that this will be updated frequently during the year with styles for new songs that are being released. This would be better than MIDI files because the BIAB features enable you to make a fresh song. If you have to wait until the next annual update, you're going to be at least a couple of years out of date.

5. Make some video tutorials aimed at younger pop songwriters, so they don't fall asleep during all the time currently spent on introducing even more jazz styles in your current new features videos!

Please appreciate that I am trying to be constructive. I've been updating BIAB every year since it used to arrive on floppy discs. I want to love BIAB and I want a user-friendly workflow where I don't get lost in a million styles and loops that don't match what I'm looking for.

No offence intended to anyone reading this... BIAB is great for older people who want backing tracks for playing jazz guitar (or for writing non-commercial songs in old time styles). It seems to be pitched at them but it could be so much more than that. In my opinion, the 'new features' get less impressive each year. BIAB seems to be running out of steam and it's targeted at an old demographic, which is fine as far as it goes. But your program's features could offer so much to contemporary songwriters if you chose to do what it takes to appeal to them.

If I am missing something and anyone reading this is using BIAB to write contemporary pop, I would be delighted to be proved wrong and learn how they do it.

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#645379 - 03/06/21 04:58 PM [Band-in-a-Box Wishlist] Re: Make BIAB more useful to contemporary pop songwriters. [Re: Lazarus]
Registered: 03/07/18
Posts: 3563
Rustyspoon# Offline
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Registered: 03/07/18
Posts: 3563
Lazarus,
I get in "part" what you are saying...but here is the thing. Stuff like Trap, Rap inspired modern pop, Techno rooted music...
Sure, BIAB is shy of those, because mainly (I speak for myself) it is valued for traditional genres. Rock-Pop-Jazz-Blues-Folk-Country, etc. and most importantly for the actual professional studio musicians that recorded these tracks using live instruments.

So may I ask you, how would you imagine Techno/Rap based music recorded on live instruments? What I have heard in conversation in this forum and by talking to a professional musician, that future of the music is FuSiOn. Not misinterpreted by "musical style" fusion. But actual fusion of various musical genres. And BIAB is absolutely great for that.

Let me explain. Sometimes, when time permits I would do composition in 2 absolutely different software titles. A midi based program and BIAB, blending results in DAW. Because another arranger software would have a different genre flavor, it creates the "fusion" I am looking for. There sure are always challenges and unorthodox approaches, because just slapping chords is not really "composing" but it is a rewarding creative process.

To finalize statement with dose of healthy critique... Yes, I think BIAB is lacking "some" content of new genres, but...
With using a combination of loops, MIDI (in house OR IMPORTED) in combination with Real Tracks you can create very interesting soundscapes. Hopefully, soon Utility Tracks (2021 feature) will be further developed to accept (without workarounds) Midi and other content that could be used to create rich arrangements of any style.

Your request: ".. title search of current popular song will take you to styles that would be a satisfying match to that song....(no oompah or Celtic music cluttering up the list!)..."
Was somewhat discussed here in Wishlist recently. To be able to sort pickers "excluding" certain genres.


Sorry one more paragraph. While I was typing this, I thought of 2 items that might serve your needs. Did you know that BIAB can output chord file of current arrangement? You can use this to create tracks of any genre by using arpeggio / modern based instruments in Kontakt or such and blend results with Real tracks. And final thought... You can create your own Audio based Real Tracks (User Tracks) of ANY genre to be used in BIAB. And they will follow your chord changes in BIAB together with Real Tracks. They are not hard to create if you are using Synth Based instrument. There are a couple ways these (User Tracks) can be done and I am sure users with more knowledge will be able to assist.... Hmmm.. It is actually interesting thought. I might try something like that myself smile

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#645465 - 03/07/21 11:29 AM [Band-in-a-Box Wishlist] Re: Make BIAB more useful to contemporary pop songwriters. [Re: Lazarus]
Registered: 08/20/11
Posts: 8326
Loc: Winston-Salem, NC USA
Jim Fogle Offline
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Registered: 08/20/11
Posts: 8326
Loc: Winston-Salem, NC USA
I was not aware what toplining is so I did an internet search and found +++ THIS +++ web article. Toplining is writing lyrics to cover pre-made backing tracks.

As RustySpoon# pointed out, Toplining is most popular with people interested in Pop, Euro, Electronic, Beat and Rap genres. Band-in-a-Box has a strong following with people interested in Jazz, Country, Rock, World and Folk genres. I'm not sure how receptive the Toplining audience and Band-in-a-Box audience would be to each other. Having said that, PG Music is adding younger musicians and programmers so I'm confident the new personnel will influence the direction PG Music is headed and help guide PG Music to reaching out to new audiences.

Drums On Demand +++ offers +++ offers pre-built backing tracks for traditional Americana, folk, pop and rock songwriters.
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#645476 - 03/07/21 12:38 PM [Band-in-a-Box Wishlist] Re: Make BIAB more useful to contemporary pop songwriters. [Re: Lazarus]
Registered: 06/25/12
Posts: 3230
JohnJohnJohn Offline
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Registered: 06/25/12
Posts: 3230
Originally Posted By: Lazarus
I've been updating BIAB for many years out of habit. I know how sophisticated some of the features are and I have thousands of styles. But I rarely use BIAB for songwriting and, when I do, I generally lose creative focus and get disappointed, in the endless search for a useable style. I spend more time now in things like EZ Keys and various UJAM drum and string programs. BIAB should be better than these because it can provide integrated styles but it is neglecting the contemporary pop and AC genres.

Don't get me wrong. I know there are very good styles and very good players on the Realtracks but, even when using the search filters, I find myself wading through Euro ooompah music and old time stuff that is no use for writing modern pop songs. There are a billion excellent jazz, country, blues and worship styles but what passes for 'Modern Pop' is a bit limited and lame. If I type in song title chart hits from the past couple of years, they are not recognised. I'm not going to wade through a thousand loops listed in alphabetical order.

This is not just a personal grumble. I think PG is missing out on a new demographic for which the program's functions are ideally suited (if they were modified in the ways I will suggest).

I recently did a course on Writing to Tracks (toplining). The backing tracks provided by companies in this business are well arranged and contemporary-sounding but you are stuck with their chord progressions which are often limited and dull dull dull! The GREAT thing about Band In A Box is that you can use whatever chords you want and the arrangement adapts to them brilliantly. If BIAB catered to this backing tracks for toplining and contemporary songwriting genre, you could corner the market and reach lots of customers under the age of 40.

Here's what I suggest you do:

1. Get someone on your staff to monitor the pop and AC charts and develop new styles based on the current hits and - most important of all - update these styles throughout the year so that a title search of current popular song will take you to styles that would be a satisfying match to that song. And then, if you make the top style the prototype style, any others linked to it are genuinely similar (no oompah or Celtic music cluttering up the list!)

2. These modern styles should have sub styles for different song sections. BIAB should make it easy to come up with a backing track for toplining, including making it easy to substitute alternative realtracks and loops that are genuinely compatible with this style.

3. Check out the sites providing tracks for toplining, like Jetracks.com, and get some of these people to help design your new pop styles.

4. Have a separate styles category for current pop chart styles. Let BIAB users know that this will be updated frequently during the year with styles for new songs that are being released. This would be better than MIDI files because the BIAB features enable you to make a fresh song. If you have to wait until the next annual update, you're going to be at least a couple of years out of date.

5. Make some video tutorials aimed at younger pop songwriters, so they don't fall asleep during all the time currently spent on introducing even more jazz styles in your current new features videos!

Please appreciate that I am trying to be constructive. I've been updating BIAB every year since it used to arrive on floppy discs. I want to love BIAB and I want a user-friendly workflow where I don't get lost in a million styles and loops that don't match what I'm looking for.

No offence intended to anyone reading this... BIAB is great for older people who want backing tracks for playing jazz guitar (or for writing non-commercial songs in old time styles). It seems to be pitched at them but it could be so much more than that. In my opinion, the 'new features' get less impressive each year. BIAB seems to be running out of steam and it's targeted at an old demographic, which is fine as far as it goes. But your program's features could offer so much to contemporary songwriters if you chose to do what it takes to appeal to them.

If I am missing something and anyone reading this is using BIAB to write contemporary pop, I would be delighted to be proved wrong and learn how they do it.

Lazarus,

You make excellent points in your well thought-out post. Every year we get more jazz...more country...more rock...and a strange assortment of oompah, polka and klezmer thrown in for good measure.

I have raised this issue in the past and been told you can most certainly create modern music with BIAB but I have never been convinced. Suggesting things like loops or other software might be helpful if the question was "how do I create modern music *without* BIAB" but of course that was not the question!

If I want a bluegrass song all I need to do is enter chords and press play. BAM, I have a really awesome complete start to a bluegrass song. Same for rock and for jazz. But not so much for more modern styles of music.

And maybe modern music is too hard to create in a program like BIAB. I know I have a hard time even describing it. But that is mainly because I am one of the old guard who still focuses a lot on rock and country stlyes, which BIAB does beautifully!

I agree with your points that, if they could figure out this puzzle, they could expand their market hugely! And if they do not I agree it is only a matter of time before they start to slide as the old guard dies off.

As someone mentioned, I suggested an exclude feature in the wishlist but I have no idea if PGM will implement that. I suggested the search allow me to simply turn off jazz and oompah permanently unless and until I somehow need them down the road! They severely clutter my search results.

And while I am commiserating/grumbling let me state again, as I have done before here, the feature that allows you to find songs similar to a certain song borders on useless. Supposedly it returns a list of styles similar to the song I requested yet I rarely find that to be the case. I just entered All Together Now, a silly Beatles song and the first suggestion was Rockabilly Jive which, to my ears is not remotely similar! The next suggestion is Skiffle jazz style. Strike two! There is a Tropical style, a Gypsy style and a bunch of Memphis Swing styles. A total of 66 styles are presented in this search. None of which seem similar to All Together Now.

Maybe classifying and describing genres is just too hard (unless it is jazz, country or rock!)

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#645686 - 03/08/21 07:46 PM [Band-in-a-Box Wishlist] Re: Make BIAB more useful to contemporary pop songwriters. [Re: Lazarus]
Registered: 03/07/18
Posts: 3563
Rustyspoon# Offline
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Registered: 03/07/18
Posts: 3563
JJJ,
I agree with with idea of more advanced sorting/searching (exclusions and additions), as well as many of your other opinions and comments... This time, I must admit, the contemporary POP request is a bit beyond my understanding. What are we talking about? Premade styles? Demo songs? Rts or Rds? Specific instrument loops? Not trying to tease you. Really trying to understand...I have a general idea of what pop music used to be, before "home" computer music exploded (from bout 1920's to very early 2000s) 

Maybe I am completely wrong, but it seems to me a good chunk of contemporary POP is emphasized  mainly on synth based sound design, short sample phrasing, arpeggios and "beat" making with a hint of 3-5 "popular" FX or FX chains. Is this the type of RTs being requested? If yes, or at least somewhere in the range... Then I believe the best bet would be to request PG to complete development of User Tracks, to include shots, holds and other good things. That way you can use software workstations such as Halion or Kontakt, to make all kinds of contemporary User Tracks that will fit the workflow of BIAB and follow all other stuff(chord, bar changes, etc), just like regular RTs. But the beauty of this approach is that it would be easier to change something. For example completely different sound, or rhythmic syncopation to better fit the composition you are making, because you can have a secondary "User Track" project opened in DAW and create endless User Tracks to your liking and mix these with RTs that PG music provides.

-------next day----

Just to prove my point. For laughs, thinking about this I did a very simple synth/arpeggio 1 minute User Track in under 20 minutes from start to finish. I know it is junk, but it proves the concept. Here it is:
https://www.dropbox.com/s/wpgadjbuhqfpyaj/pop.zip?dl=0

Unzip, copy "pop" folder to bb/RealTracks/UserTracks Open BIAB select UserTrack from mixer, navigate/search: pop. It works with even feel tunes with tempo around 110. Now that I have project setup in DAW, I can have this UserTrack, sound completely different in under 5 (five!) minutes. This was done using a 1 minute POP template.  You can get a 30 minute template from PG.

P.S. Jim F. Yes, I remember points you made about naming. I was aiming at speed, this is not something one would keep, just a listen and throwaway thing. I promise, if I do something more serious, I will name it right smile

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#645850 - 03/09/21 05:51 PM [Band-in-a-Box Wishlist] Re: Make BIAB more useful to contemporary pop songwriters. [Re: Lazarus]
Registered: 02/06/17
Posts: 46
Loc: Sydney NSW
Keith44 Offline
Enthusiast

Registered: 02/06/17
Posts: 46
Loc: Sydney NSW
I don't need modern music - just the good old BIAB as it is. If it turns "modern" I won't need to update anymore.

Keith

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#645859 - 03/09/21 07:15 PM [Band-in-a-Box Wishlist] Re: Make BIAB more useful to contemporary pop songwriters. [Re: Lazarus]
Registered: 03/07/18
Posts: 3563
Rustyspoon# Offline
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Registered: 03/07/18
Posts: 3563
Keith,
"just the good old BIAB"...
I believe you missed the wishlist conversation of being able to SoRt pickers. If implemented, you would be able to "display" only the styles that you would want to see, and whatever you do not want to see will not soar your eyes. PG releases many styles each year, there is something for everyone.

----

Lazarus, JJJ
if it is not a trade secret, can you give an example of contemporary POP you are thinking of?
Just curious.

Thanks.

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#645893 - 03/10/21 06:27 AM [Band-in-a-Box Wishlist] Re: Make BIAB more useful to contemporary pop songwriters. [Re: Keith44]
Registered: 12/27/03
Posts: 16680
Loc: Hamlin NY
MarioD Online   content
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Registered: 12/27/03
Posts: 16680
Loc: Hamlin NY
Originally Posted By: Keith44
I don't need modern music - just the good old BIAB as it is. If it turns "modern" I won't need to update anymore.

Keith


Keith, BiaB will not turn modern, it would add modern, and I'm all for adding any genre that would increase PGM sales.

Sort pickers should be optional. Many times I will use a style that is outside its genre.

So +1 for all suggestions thus far.
_________________________
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#646261 - 03/12/21 04:09 AM [Band-in-a-Box Wishlist] Re: Make BIAB more useful to contemporary pop songwriters. [Re: Rustyspoon#]
Registered: 10/16/08
Posts: 51
Lazarus Offline
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Registered: 10/16/08
Posts: 51
Thank you everyone for your replies to my post. I am going to respond at length to some of your questions, to explain the mindset of a contemporary songwriter, in case PG are also reading this and considering my suggestions.

I belong to Songtown, a Nashville-based community for songwriters. It's run by Marty Dodson and Clay Mills, who have written many number 1 songs between them. I have taken their Writing to Tracks (toplining) course. They say that MOST chart pop songs are now written this way. I have written songs to tracks like this. They are well arranged, with a contemporary flavour, but it is very frustrating to be stuck with their dull chord changes. BIAB could provide the antidote for that.

I also did the Songtown Writing for Film & TV course and had my songs critiqued by a high level music supervisor who was giving us real TV briefs for the shows he works on. Sync songs can be in various genres but anything you submit must be in professional quality and they like real musicians rather than MIDI. The problem for the aspiring songwriter is that demoing your song to the right standard will cost you $800 per song. Who can afford that?

BIAB has great session musicians, playing real instruments. It responds to your chords, holds shots etc. It could be the songwriter's best friend - it could be his/her band in a box.

Workflow is really important when writing a song; you want to be able to go with the flow of inspiration without getting lost searching through hundreds of options that don't deliver and make you lose focus. I agree with Rustyspoon about using a mix of BIAB and other programs in my DAW. That's what I do at the moment.

Here are some of the other programs with arrangement features for songwriters that I currently use:

Scaler 2, Arcade, EZ Keys for piano, Strum GS2 & UJAM Sparkle for guitars, UJAM Royal for bass, for drums I have Addictive Drums 2, UJAM Solid, Kandy and Hustle, for strings I have Sonuscore's The Orchestra and UJAM's Striiings (among others).

These are all very good and useful for songwriting but the problem with using them is that you have to search through multiple options in one program for piano, same in another program for guitars, another for drums, another for bass... the great advantage of BIAB is that it's all INTEGRATED, with styles for instruments that are designed to go together. And, ideally, with subs for realtracks and other realdrums that really are 'the best sub for this style'. And loops that are best suited, rather than scrolling through 1,000 in alphabetical order.

Given the potential of its features, BIAB should be the the best tool for the modern songwriter because you can write straight away in an integrated style.

I'm not interested in techno or rap or EDM, I'm only taking about mainstream contemporary pop songs. My great love is The Beatles. Proper songs. And there are plenty of them about in pop music these days but songwriter demos need a contemporary flavour before they can be submitted.

One of my keyboards is the Korg Liverpool. This has 100 Beatles songs built in but the most useful thing is more than 60 Beatles styles, each with 4 variations, based on Beatles songs so you can write your own song with your own chords in that style. Of course, you don't need to use all the tracks. You may only need a rhythm section, but it's great to be able to have Paul on bass and Ringo on drums!

For a long time, MIDI files have been available on the internet and these can be a good way of learning how a successful song is arranged. I would like BIAB to write new styles, based on successful contemporary songs. The style name could be similar to the song's title. A stylepicker title search would take you to it. Ideally the example song would be like a MIDI file of the song itself but, if that had copyright implications, you could have something in that vein.

Rustyspoon asked: "Lazarus, JJJ if it is not a trade secret, can you give an example of contemporary POP you are thinking of? Just curious."

Here is a list of good mainstream chart songs, in different styles, from the last couple of years or so, any of which could make great BIAB styles. The Adult Contemporary charts are the best place to find songs like this.

Moral of the story - Ashe

River - Charlie Puth

Joke's on you - Charlotte Lawrence

Good in goodbye - Madison Beer

Bad guy - Billie Eilish

No time to die - Billie Eilish

Goodbyes - Post Malone

I should probably go to bed now - Dan & Shay

Snowman - Sia

Rescue Me - One Republic

Problems - DeathbyRomy

Someone You Loved - Lewis Capaldi

Memories - Maroon 5

Lose you to love me - Selena Gomez

Just my type - The Vamps

Ring - Selena Gomez

Feel it twice - Camila Cabello

Trampoline - Shaed

Dance Monkey - Tones & I

Hot girl bummer - Blackbear

Cuz I love you - Lizzo

Sucker - Jonas Brothers

High Hopes - Panic at the Disco

7 rings - Ariana Grande

Old Town Road - Lil Nas X

Novocaine - The Unlikely Candidates

Dark side - Bishop Briggs

Selfish - Madison Beer

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#646513 - 03/13/21 11:20 AM [Band-in-a-Box Wishlist] Re: Make BIAB more useful to contemporary pop songwriters. [Re: Lazarus]
Registered: 05/29/00
Posts: 14847
PeterGannon Offline
PG Music Staff

Registered: 05/29/00
Posts: 14847
Charlie,
Great post
Thanks
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PG Music Inc.

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#646515 - 03/13/21 11:28 AM [Band-in-a-Box Wishlist] Re: Make BIAB more useful to contemporary pop songwriters. [Re: Lazarus]
Registered: 05/29/00
Posts: 14847
PeterGannon Offline
PG Music Staff

Registered: 05/29/00
Posts: 14847
Lazarus,
Thanks for the suggestions. We are planning more modern pop styles, and the “top lining” idea is good, and we are following up on that. Are there many top liners on songtown or is it mainly composers?
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#646524 - 03/13/21 01:04 PM [Band-in-a-Box Wishlist] Re: Make BIAB more useful to contemporary pop songwriters. [Re: PeterGannon]
Registered: 01/26/05
Posts: 391
Loc: Denmark
stratos Offline
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Registered: 01/26/05
Posts: 391
Loc: Denmark
Originally Posted By: PeterGannon
Lazarus,
Thanks for the suggestions. We are planning more modern pop styles, and the “top lining” idea is good, and we are following up on that. Are there many top liners on songtown or is it mainly composers?


That is great news
Very good suggestions from
Lazarus

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#646550 - 03/13/21 03:28 PM [Band-in-a-Box Wishlist] Re: Make BIAB more useful to contemporary pop songwriters. [Re: Lazarus]
Registered: 10/16/08
Posts: 51
Lazarus Offline
Enthusiast

Registered: 10/16/08
Posts: 51
Hello Peter,

Thanks for your reply. I am very glad to hear that you are considering my suggestion. I think that the more you look into how BIAB could transform the backing tracks for toplining market, you will get excited at the new lease of life this could provide for BIAB and the eager new market it could reach!

In answer to your question, lots of Songtown members use backing tracks for toplining, particularly in pop. Songtown runs its Writing to Tracks toplining course every year and it's their most popular course. The majority of chart pop songs are now written in this way. I suggest you reach out to Marty and Clay at Songtown who could answer your questions from their own experience. Let me know if you would like me to make an introduction. Marty recently had a number 1 in Korea which was toplined to a backing track. This strategy is widely used in Europe, the USA and around the world.

There are many sites like Jetracks.com which sell backing tracks. I suggest you listen to the tracks on their site to get an understanding of what these backing tracks offer. They have all the contemporary arrangement and flourishes to make a track feel contemporary and PRODUCTION-READY to submit to artists and publishers, once vocals are added to make it into a song.

The problem with them is that you are stuck with their fixed chord progression, key, tempo etc. In order to make the tracks broadly accessible, these chords are often limited in number and the progressions are often (in my opinion) dull. One of the songs I wrote during the Songtown Writing to Tracks course had only two chords in the whole song!

The people who write and record these backing tracks are referred to in the industry as 'track guys'. I suggest you get track guys to make tracks for you which could be made into a BIAB sgu song (using bar settings to mute instrumentation in different sections of the song). There could be a new BIAB style associated with this sgu song. Of course, the great advantage BIAB backing tracks would have over ALL the competition would be the ability to change the chords, add other realtracks and rearrange the song within BIAB and when transferred to a DAW.

My view is that these backing track sgu songs and styles, made by good track guys, could be the next big leap for BIAB, as significant as Realtracks! I think BIAB has great styles in the genres is has already developed extensively - rock, country, jazz etc. The Realtracks are excellent and the combination in a style is often very effective. The ability to change chords, add shots, holds etc. and alternative solo ideas makes it unlike anything else. The programs I mentioned in previous posts are catching up with you - and they are more industry-friendly - but nothing yet is as integrated as BIAB. Its potential does not yet seem to be recognised by the contemporary songwriting world. But they would fall in love with sgu backing tracks (of equal quality to the existing players) which would offer the unique added benefit of allowing you to change chords, transpose, change the tempo etc.

I would be happy to answer any questions or give feedback during the development process.


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#646671 - 03/14/21 11:35 AM [Band-in-a-Box Wishlist] Re: Make BIAB more useful to contemporary pop songwriters. [Re: Lazarus]
Registered: 10/16/08
Posts: 51
Lazarus Offline
Enthusiast

Registered: 10/16/08
Posts: 51
One significant element that makes tracks for toplining qualify as 'production-ready' is risers, transitions, reverse cymbals and things like string runs and slides. These would be ideal for Utility Tracks in BIAB and it would be very handy to have a collection of them in BIAB, like its collection of loops.

It would be especially handy to have string runs and slides in BIAB that would respond to changes in pitch and tempo.

Simon Reid, the Nashville-based track guy who teaches tracking to Songtown members, recommends Output Arcade for what he calls 'sauce' to spice up pop tracks. It would be easy for BB to offer sauce like this for utility tracks and built into the new sgu files for tracking. This would enable BIAB users to add modern flourishes to existing BB styles.

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#646713 - 03/14/21 04:17 PM [Band-in-a-Box Wishlist] Re: Make BIAB more useful to contemporary pop songwriters. [Re: Lazarus]
Registered: 03/07/18
Posts: 3563
Rustyspoon# Offline
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Registered: 03/07/18
Posts: 3563
Lazarus,
Thank you for thorough explanation. Nice post!
I do not know half of the names you mentioned, but I am certain I have heard most of them. Right before pandemic, I used to go to roller skating ring with my son and got a healthy dose of contemporary pop for good straight 3 hours each visit smile In my teen years, even with some artists going different directions, there was a sort of clear distinction between PoP (Michael Jackson, Madonna, Prince etc.) and Dance music (Ace of Base, 2Unlimited, Snap). It feels that 2 genres had merged into one smile

I do support your idea, but I think request and approach needs to be defined more clearly.
For example, seems to me that contemporary pop has a deep reliance on short musical phrases, mostly synth based.
I think the phrases, and elements you mentioned: runs, slides, runs, rises as well as parts for intros, breaks, transitions etc could be done in form of transposable audio loops. (and accessed/opened as loops in BIAB)

Newly added Utility Tracks could be great for that, as you can use several dedicated U.tracks specifically for smaller phrases / transitions and other things.

One problem I see is the picker. There are whole lot of PG loop content available already, but having several different pickers (main, loop, drum, midi, util, user.) + only a string search in some is not an intuitive process and tracks get buried and not easily discoverable by user. Especially considering that younger users (pop genre) might find the search & browse process complicated. Perhaps it is a good idea to balance the two: Content and how this content is accessed.

I know, this belongs in another section, but since it is topic related, I will mention.
Other POP oriented content I would like to see are even rhythm RTs (not synth based):
Guitars
Wind
Organs
Strings




Misha.

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#646725 - 03/14/21 05:23 PM [Band-in-a-Box Wishlist] Re: Make BIAB more useful to contemporary pop songwriters. [Re: PeterGannon]
Registered: 04/07/13
Posts: 6922
Loc: South Carolina
Charlie Fogle Offline
Veteran

Registered: 04/07/13
Posts: 6922
Loc: South Carolina
Originally Posted By: PeterGannon
Charlie,
Great post
Thanks


I wrote and posted a detailed comment earlier and deleted it because the conversation at that time was mostly in another direction. That post was my thoughts and comments based on Lazarus's first two posts and five suggestions. Lazarus said," If I am missing something and anyone reading this is using BIAB to write contemporary pop, I would be delighted to be proved wrong and learn how they do it."

After reviewing, auditioning and downloading two featured songs from Jetracks.com and another couple from the Adult Contemporary artist/song list Lazarus provided, it was obvious that BIAB can easily and quickly replicate 'Modern Pop' style music just as the program exists now or in 2020, 2019 and many years of prior BIAB versions. I replicated 2 Jetracks and 3 AC songs in less than an hour.

Lazarus is correct that it's easy to "generally lose creative focus and get disappointed, in the endless search for a useable style." However, that's a workflow issue and not a BIAB feature flaw. The human brain cannot keep track of the original song idea when it's being bombarded hearing style after style after style. Auditioning styles is a great method to generate song ideas and for inspiration. It's not an ideal way to match a mental song idea. A mental song idea should be constructed and founded first, then match and rough sketch styles to a static foundation.

Regardless if you develop a song idea from auditioning styles or mentally develop a song, use the StylePicker to select the best style that's "in the style of" and not the best that matches a karaoke version of a song. A songwriter is attempting to write original material and not a cover version.

Some tips for using the StylePicker specifically for songwriting.

1. There are columns in the StylePicker that aren't necessary to the songwriter and can be hidden from view.
2. Make use of the Play over Current Song feature and the Play 4 bars feature. Styles can and do sound dramatically different playing the current chord chart than how the demo sounds. Also utilize the 4 bars feature to quickly see how different sections of the song sound in the current selected style. Those 4 bars can be any part of your song, not just the intro. The Part Markers, chords and tempo can be temporarily changed on the Chord Chart for testing.
3. It's notable to observe the differences between the genre suggestions of MIDI styles and RealStyles. There are normally many more RealStyle 'Other Genre' suggestions than are found in the MIDI styles 'Other Genre' column. This is due to MIDI styles are composed more specifically for "in the style of" a song or artist than RealTracks are. This can be a very helpful feature when the songwriter is attempting a result closely resembling a song or artist's style where the RealTrack instruments have much greater versatility when the attempt is more generic and original. This difference is apparent when auditioning styles and the dramatic difference heard between the demo and the Chord Chart. Genre suggestions are just that, suggestions. The songwriters Chord progression, tempo, key signature and feel and groove being attempted to capture will determine a specific RealTrack instrument's suitability for a song project, not the genre.

<< One significant element that makes tracks for toplining qualify as 'production-ready' is risers, transitions, reverse cymbals and things like string runs and slides. >>

This statement by Lazarus is what prompted me to post a recap of my earlier comments. For optimal songwriting results, I strongly recommend separating the Songwriting process from the demo creation or 'production-ready' tracks. They are two different things and each process detracts from the other. Write your song and if it's good enough, create a demo or 'production-ready' track regardless if you use BIAB or not.

I suggest the songwriter remain in just the BIAB program if possible. There are many elements and additional tracks, busing, overdubs, special effects, sound samples and other details that are unnecessary when writing the song. Working across several different software programs also interrupts and detracts from the songwriting workflow.

All versions of BIAB are capable of creating a stereo master file consisting of dozens of instruments over dozens of tracks. Programming instruments and tracks in this fashion using only BIAB program can generate a very complex track in minutes that would take hours to replicate by exporting individual instruments and tracks over to a DAW. Programing a song solely in the BIAB program allows the program to automatically do many tasks that have to be done manually in the DAW. BIAB can automate smooth transitions, fade in's fade out's, intro's, outro's create grace notes, automate volume changes, pan tracks, buss tracks, bounce tracks, add effects, overdubs, punch-in's/out's, record vocals, double vocals, stack vocals, add background vocals, mix MIDI and RealTracks, Multi riff a track, allow up to 10 instruments per BIAB Legacy Mixer track or in 2021 versions, to utility tracks, edit audio, allow audio tracks on every track, add samples, loops and special sound effects. BIAB can do all of these and more in a first generation, single render of the song project. Any songwriter should be able to rough out a song idea using these tools and features of BIAB without the need of a DAW and also remain on focus and save a lot of time. Older versions of BIAB are not restricted to 7-8 instruments across 8 mixer tracks. Using BIAB to make a demo is where BIAB users can add modern flourishes and sauces to existing BB styles and song projects.
_________________________
BIAB Ultra Pak+ 2021:RB 2021, Latest builds: Dell Optiplex 7040 Desktop; Windows-10-64 bit, Intel Core i7-6700 3.4GHz CPU and 16 GB Ram Memory.

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#646749 - 03/14/21 08:10 PM [Band-in-a-Box Wishlist] Re: Make BIAB more useful to contemporary pop songwriters. [Re: Lazarus]
Registered: 05/29/00
Posts: 14847
PeterGannon Offline
PG Music Staff

Registered: 05/29/00
Posts: 14847
Charlie,
Thanks. Great post.
Peter
_________________________
Have Fun!
Peter Gannon
PG Music Inc.

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#646753 - 03/14/21 08:57 PM [Band-in-a-Box Wishlist] Re: Make BIAB more useful to contemporary pop songwriters. [Re: Charlie Fogle]
Registered: 06/25/12
Posts: 3230
JohnJohnJohn Offline
Veteran

Registered: 06/25/12
Posts: 3230
Originally Posted By: Charlie Fogle
After reviewing, auditioning and downloading two featured songs from Jetracks.com and another couple from the Adult Contemporary artist/song list Lazarus provided, it was obvious that BIAB can easily and quickly replicate 'Modern Pop' style music just as the program exists now or in 2020, 2019 and many years of prior BIAB versions. I replicated 2 Jetracks and 3 AC songs in less than an hour.

Charlie,

Can you post your 5 songs created "in less than an hour" along with an ID of what Jetracks and AC songs you replicated so we can compare and see how these turned out? You always have good advice and you always seem to say "BIAB can already do that" so I'd like to see firsthand how this turned out! Thanks!

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#646802 - 03/15/21 04:08 AM [Band-in-a-Box Wishlist] Re: Make BIAB more useful to contemporary pop songwriters. [Re: JohnJohnJohn]
Registered: 01/26/05
Posts: 391
Loc: Denmark
stratos Offline
Journeyman

Registered: 01/26/05
Posts: 391
Loc: Denmark
Originally Posted By: JohnJohnJohn
Originally Posted By: Charlie Fogle
After reviewing, auditioning and downloading two featured songs from Jetracks.com and another couple from the Adult Contemporary artist/song list Lazarus provided, it was obvious that BIAB can easily and quickly replicate 'Modern Pop' style music just as the program exists now or in 2020, 2019 and many years of prior BIAB versions. I replicated 2 Jetracks and 3 AC songs in less than an hour.

Charlie,

Can you post your 5 songs created "in less than an hour" along with an ID of what Jetracks and AC songs you replicated so we can compare and see how these turned out? You always have good advice and you always seem to say "BIAB can already do that" so I'd like to see firsthand how this turned out! Thanks!


+1
I really like to learn from this thread

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#646830 - 03/15/21 09:19 AM [Band-in-a-Box Wishlist] Re: Make BIAB more useful to contemporary pop songwriters. [Re: Lazarus]
Registered: 10/16/08
Posts: 51
Lazarus Offline
Enthusiast

Registered: 10/16/08
Posts: 51
Hello Charlie,

I very much appreciate you taking the time to respond to my request, explore my idea and post your detailed response. I didn't get to see your original post before it was deleted.

Like Johnjohnjohn and stratos, I would love to hear the songs you replicated and discover how you did it because I have no idea how to do that. It would be great if PG made a tutorial video to demonstrate this process, for other songwriting members (and the entire songwriting workflow you propose, which takes advantage of all those BIAB features).

As you suggest, I always use my own current song to audition styles and it gives me a lot more than 4 bars. There is, however, a paucity of modern pop styles and, even with my own song chords selected during auditioning (which is a great feature), I often don't find a suitable style and have to go to other programs within my DAW that offer more contemporary starting points. I may return to BIAB for guitars or bass & drums but I would prefer to do the whole thing inside BIAB, as you tantalisingly propose!

I take your point about separating the songwriting process from making a production-ready track. But that is not how most pop songs are written these days. The whole backing track is generally finished without any melody, vocal or lyric input. This makes the 'vibe' of the track central to the marketability of the song. Singer/songwriters can do what they want if they are writing for themselves to perform but, if you are not a performer, the production-ready, contemporary vibe of your demo is the most marketable element. Sounding 'dated' is bad. The songwriters who get the song cuts with major artists always stress the importance of 'that vibey feel' of the demo. Title and lyric story are more significant in Country but the vibe of the demo is central there too. That credible contemporary production feel is elusive and, like other areas of the music business, most convincingly achieved by experts. I will never play any instrument as well as the guys who play on the BIAB Realtracks but I can use them in my songwriting. The same would be the case for production-ready sgu files in BIAB, made by specialist track guys, that would give me so much more flexibility than standard backing tracks. And it could be a huge market for PG if they chose to cater for it.

I'm not saying that toplining is a better way of writing pop songs, just that it's the reality of how most (that make the charts) are written these days. I have written to tracks and, personally, I don't like it because of the straitjacket of the chord progressions. I have every Beatles chord change in my DNA; chords are the most important thing for me, which is why I've had BIAB since the early days.

So thanks again and please let us know how you did it.

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