I’m going to be reviewing Band-in-a-Box for the Synth & Software website. That review won’t be written or uploaded for a couple of weeks, and I’m not going to spoil it by giving you a lot of inside information in advance. But I was curious how easy it might be to do something basic with the software quickly. So after installing it yesterday, I sat down this morning and did a recording.
For some reason, the song “Amazing Grace” has drifted into my life a couple of times recently. It’s public domain, so I figured it would be a good tune to use in my initial trial run. Since I’m not religious, I didn’t want to treat it too flatteringly. A minor key reharmonization seemed to be in order.
I did two closely related accompaniments in Band-in-a-Box, did a drag-and-drop of the audio tracks into Reason, and then recorded a cello solo in Reason. The cello track is not perfect, but I flatter myself that it’s okay. I’m still experimenting with mic placement and EQ, and I think I may need a new mic. I did a tiny bit of editing on the solo: What you hear are portions of two different takes, and a bit of probably unnecessary pitch correction was applied to about three notes. And then I thought, hey, why not add a chorus effect for the second verse?
At first I thought I was hearing a click in the cello track in the second verse, but it turned out to be an artifact in the autoharp track from Band-in-a-Box, so I had to edit that out manually.
One thing I’ll tell you up front about Band-in-a-Box: Its strength, and also its weakness, is that it uses recordings played in the studio by real musicians. It pastes together bits of these performances to match the chord symbols you’ve typed in. Unfortunately, the parts occasionally contain out-of-key notes. I had to mute a couple of measures of one of the mandolin tracks in this tune because the damn mandolin was playing a D-natural over my Gm7b5 chord symbol. I think there’s a switch in the latest version to correct “sour notes,” but I haven’t explored it yet.
To learn more, you’ll have to wait a couple of weeks and then zip over to Synth & Software to read the review.
Doesn”t sound half bad Jim, as my Yankee forebears would say. It’s simultaneously exciting and scary to me to think about what the technology will be capable of in ten years, never mind fifty.
On a side note have you ever done a post about your recording setup?
Talking about my recording setup would only reduce my credibility (such as it is) in the music industry. I do have acoustic foam panels on the walls of the room, a reasonably fast Windows 10 PC, and a basic Focusrite 2-in/2-out audio interface. The mic and the monitoring, I’d just as soon not describe. The speakers and amp are about 30 years old. They sound good to me, but really I ought to buy a new pair of powered nearfields or midfields.
The good stuff is, I have LOTS of great software. This recording was done in Reason 11 Suite, which has excellent pitch correction for acoustic tracks. When it comes to MIDI, Reason is a pig. I use it because I have a boatload of plugins for it, and because I know how to use it, so I’m really fast on it. I don’t have to hunt through the manual to do stuff. Well, very seldom.
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