Hi Folks,

The following is just my opinion, my method, etc..it's kind of "in response" to Douglas Murphy, with whom I was sensing a little frustration with BIAB and his demos..

Note: others might use BIAB differently and get great results..

Feel free to ask questions and BIAB users, one and all, feel free to disagree and/or add your two cents..consider this an "open forum" for BIAB users..

First of all, I couldn't personally make good demos without using other things besides BIAB.

BIAB alone functions poorly as a "workstation" and one needs some kind of workstation to assemble BIAB tracks, virtual instruments, VSTs, effects and vocals.

I use FL Studio for my workstation. Cubase, Nuendo, Logic, Performer, there are dozens of good ones.

Laying a good foundation is the most important thing, to me, in making a good demo. That usually means the lead vocal. Without a good lead vocal you've got nothing, really. To that end I use a considerable arsenal of tools. Compressors, reverbs, pitch-correction, etc..I'll assemble some temp music as guide tracks to sing with, knowing that I'll probably dispense with these tracks on down the line.

Melodyne is indispensable for me. It is a pitch correction tool that can work on vocals or polyphonic material. I'm a pretty good singer if I rehearse something for a few days, but with Melodyne, you can forget about being pitch perfect and focus on a strongly emotive performance. It's hard creating great vocals in one or two "takes" --especially COLD..without having lived with the song for at least 3-5 days, and this is what makes Melodyne so indispensable, since I try to deliver finished demos in a timely manner.

Melodyne can also take a BIAB solo realtrack and make it better cuz you can move individual notes in its GUI. Notes that BIAB spit out that you didn't care for. Maybe it's giving you bluenote minor thirds and you want major thirds. Boom. Done.. Grab ahold of the note and move it up a notch. Nothing could be smoother.

So I cannot emphasize "laying a solid foundation" enough.

Melodyne works best when used subtly. I hate the "Autotune" sound as much as the next guy. Don't use presets, edit bad notes manually..

Vocals need to have the proper effects on them, or they will not "pop" in the mix. To this end, good EQing and compression are vital, and some reverb is very important too.

I sing one verse or chorus at a time and loop record at least half a dozen performances which I then "composite" together like Stanley Kubrick did with film. This is easily done in FL Studio.

Once I have assembled the vocals, I then focus on the music, and start auditioning BIAB tracks. I think of BIAB as a session musician's union of sorts, and use BIAB's export audio tool that lets me have seperate tracks for each musician's performance. I literally have BIAB render many dozens of these for every demo I work on, so I can have lots to choose from as I assemble the music in FL Studio.

Once in a while, a given BIAB style will be the main music, but this is rare. I usually grab a guitar from one style, a piano from another..and slowly build the bed of music like that. Floyd Jane assembles his tracks in similar fashion.

I'll assign each track a channel in FL Studio, pan everything except bass, drums, and solos, and add effects to all..Have fun and be creative with this, or if you like, develop a methodology that never varies..it's all good..

With most BIAB tracks, they will not be perfect. This is where "cross-fading" becomes so important, and is something you can't do if you are using BIAB as a workstation for your finalized demos. In a workstation you can lay out, say, 3 fiddle solos stacked one on top of the other, and automate the volume controls, turning them all "off" as it were..then you can audition them one at a time, turning up the levels on the parts you like. Most of the BIAB tracks I end up using are cross-faded, at least at some point. With BIAB solos, like the aforementioned fiddle solo, I will not only cross-fade between at least a few different "performances" --I often use Melodyne in conjunction with, giving me that extra edge, knowing I can get exactly the notes I want..

In addition to BIAB, I use an arsenal of virtual instruments, mostly using Native Instruments' Kontakt sampler, which is the one that everyone writes their virtual instruments for. BIAB has it's limitations. You can't force it to copy a singers' chorus melody to use for your opening mandolin solo, at the start of the song. As good as the BIAB session players are, they are "dumb" when it comes to re-using the chorus melody in the Intro..or any specific melody, for that matter. The Realtracks in BIAB are simply the wrong tool for that, and so over the years, I've bought licenses to hundreds of sampled instruments and effects, and use these to do what they do best. In fact, when I'm not making "demos" I rarely use BIAB at all. I do a lot of intrumental library music and rely solely on my arsenal of virtual instruments and the occasional soft synth for more Electronica outings..

I gotta stop for now, but want to add one more thing..back when I started with computers and music, I found the Internet was a great place to learn how to do stuff AND to find legal (yet) free instruments and effects--many that to this day I still use..

So be industrious! Be resourceful! The BIAB forum is a great place to learn BIAB, and there are many tutorials on youtube..

I'll be glad to answer any specific questions about BIAB (and demo-making in general); I'll look in on this thread when I can, probably once a week, and BIAB users, please contribute your thoughts and/or methodology if you're feeling it. I bet we all have different ways of getting stuff done. It might be helpful to BIAB newbies..


Last edited by Michael Zaneski; 09/26/17 10:11 PM.

Fate doesn't hang on a wrong or right choice
Fortune depends on the tone of your voice

-The Divine Comedy (Neil Hannon)
from the song "Songs of Love"
from the album "Casanova" (1996)