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When BIAB plays chords that are not quite what you wrote
Matt Finley December 2021; edited October 2022 to include some great tips by other users; edited February 2024 for a comment on Natural Arrangement

Does BIAB play exactly the chords you wrote? If it does not, and plays tones you don't like, what can you do about it?

BIAB is designed to be an accompaniment program. If you used real in-person musicians instead of this computer software, they would introduce some variety to the playing no matter what the genre. They might play a GMaj7 instead of the G Major triad you wrote. Or a G69. A jazz player seeing G7 might well play G7(b9), G9 or G13. A folk guitarist might introduce some finger-picking that suggested other passing chords. Musicians are creative and will often do the unexpected to make the music more interesting. BIAB has ways of using artificial intelligence and/or the actual performances of their RealTrack artists to simulate this. However, what if you do not want this to happen?

Here are a few settings in BIAB that you can experiment with if BIAB is not playing what you wanted and what you think you wrote. There may be more, and I have intentionally NOT included any solutions that involve editing audio. These settings are not listed in any particular order since you may have to try several to give you the sound you want. Also, to my knowledge there is no description of the hierarchy of these commands, so I don't know what combining some of them will do.

  • Simpler RealTrack(s) There is often (but not always) a 'Simpler' checkbox when selecting RealTracks in the RealTracks picker (Assign RealTracks to Track dialog window). Even for my jazz songs, I often select this for the bass or piano when it sounds too 'busy', or as PG Music describes it, the playing will be 'less embellished'. Less embellished may mean that you will hear fewer non-chord tones.

  • Jazz down the chords. In Options, Preferences, RealTracks, find 'On Jazz RealTracks, JazzUp Triads to Sevenths. Uncheck this box if your genre isn't jazz.

  • Set a global 'simple' option. There are several global options at the bottom to make instruments simpler in Options, Preferences, Overrides. Also make sure neither button for Pop/Country or Jazz is clicked On (yes, both can be Off).

  • Force simple. In Edit, Song Form, Settings (or press Ctrl+N) there is a checkbox for Force Song to Simple Arrangement. Check the box.

  • Change the RealTrack artist / change the Style. Some artists tend to play the same upper extensions of a chord, so try another.

  • Natural Arrangement. This might be the first thing to try because it's easy and it may work. Consider turning off Natural Arrangement for the song in Options, Preferences, Arrange. You can also instruct BIAB here never to use Natural Arrangement even if an individual song has the instruction to use it. As a jazz composer, I use this adjustment perhaps more than the others, because I need to hear exactly the chord progression that I wrote. But, why? What does Natural Arrangement do? As I understand it, since we users do not know how it works, the program will take a more complex chord progression and simplify it to allow the RealTrack artist to play longer recorded phrases that are more 'standard' sounding. In my experience, the comping from a piano is less 'choppy' and has better voice leading when using Natural Arrangement, and this is often more pleasing. It may not be playing the precise upper extension the composer wanted to hear, however. So, it's a trade-off. Note that this setting does not apply to MIDI-only instruments.

    EDIT: PG Music weighed in on this with advice for a forum user who was not hearing mMaj7 chords. They advised trying it with Natural Arrangement turned off.

  • Use a different chord. Let's say you write G7 and hear G7(b9). You do not like the sound of the flatted ninth, so you can write G9 instead. Yes, you will hear the ninth, but almost certainly not a flatted or sharped nine. Or let's say you write a G chord but hear GMaj7 when that major seven conflicts with the melody. You could write G7 forcing the program to never play the major seventh, only the dominant seventh. Or write G6 or G69. The common attribute of these examples is that the more precise you are in specifying your chord, the less likely BIAB will choose a random color tone that you don't like.

  • Wrapping up. If you've made any of these changes to Settings and you like the effect, consider going to Options, Save Preferences. Then you can retrieve your preferred settings if you have to do Options, Return to Factory Settings to resolve a problem.

    I hope this helps address some of the questions I've seen recently on the forums. I welcome corrections and additions.


EDIT: User Dominatoruke discovered a case where the chord consistently played a note he did not want, but when he changed the BIAB song to the correct key signature, the problem went away. There are several reasons why you should set the correct key signature of a song when you begin, but this particular reason fits in this thread as one more step you can try.

EDIT: User Noel96 made a great addition at the bottom of this thread about Auto Fix Sour Notes in Track Settings. In all my years using BIAB, I didn't know this function was there. Count on Noel to find things like this. See this post: https://www.pgmusic.com/forums/ubbthreads.php?ubb=showflat&Number=694482#Post734804


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+1


Great tips Matt!




Steve

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This is great Matt! Thanks for putting this together. It will be of great help to many.

Jeff


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This is an astounding document and so generous of you to provide. Very orienting and summarizing. All of the options contain elements of mystery and thus experimentation will be necessary. Thanks you!

Should this be made sticky?

Last edited by BackingTrack; 12/28/21 01:35 PM.

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An excellent and well researched article. I can see that this will be referenced and viewed many, many times.
My only suggestion is that this should be 'pinned' by the moderators.


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Thanks, Matt. Some excellent suggestions which I will certainly be trying out.


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Originally Posted By: AudioTrack
An excellent and well researched article. I can see that this will be referenced and viewed many, many times.
My only suggestion is that this should be 'pinned' by the moderators.

+1


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Matt, may I share your Dec 2021 post/article on this topic in a private forum with full attribution? I think it is invaluable.


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Interesting question. I don’t think my permission is the approval you need. I suspect PG Music should give permission. This is their forum and it is a sensitive topic since it involves a proprietary feature of their product. I don't even know for certain if my advice is correct.

Here's Forum Rule #1:

All material posted or uploaded to the forum remains the property of the original poster and PG Music Inc.

Last edited by Matt Finley; 01/29/22 10:02 AM.

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Thanks so much!


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Instead of copying and pasting the text you could always provide a hyperlink to Matt's post.


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Spot on Matt - thanks for an excellent summary


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As well as the great information in Matt's post, a recent addition to BIAB is also worth trying.
This is the "Auto-Fix Sour Notes" option.

To access this...

1. Right-click on the faulty track (the Bass track in your case).

2. Select "Track Settings".

3. Select "Auto-Fix Sour Notes".

4. Unfreeze your faulty track if it is frozen and regenerate the song so that the setting can do its job.

The image below may help explain things.

Attached Files (Click to download or enlarge) (Only available when you are logged in)
sour notes fix.JPG (82.75 KB, 190 downloads)

MY SONGS...
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I had never seen this. Thanks, Noel.


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Matt,
Just discovered this. Very useful and important. Thank you!
This should be revised to add Noel's post and made into a sticky, as suggested or some kind of tutorial that can be easily accessible. You reminded me how little I know smile

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Originally Posted By: Rustyspoon#
Matt,
Just discovered this. Very useful and important. Thank you!
This should be revised to add Noel's post and made into a sticky, as suggested or some kind of tutorial that can be easily accessible. You reminded me how little I know smile
Misha, thanks, and I just did update the original post. FYI, I had asked Andrew if it were possible for the original poster to edit the first post of a thread in this Tips & Tricks Forum, and he made it so! This is the second such edit I've made to include some great tips by users who read the thread.

It's up to PG Music to decide if this should be sticky. There is a lot I still don't understand about a few of these commands, especially how they might interact with each other, so it would be best if the whole post were reviewed by the company first.


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