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.