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#1094829 - 10/31/15 10:01 PM Creativity and the Use of BIAB and Loops  
Joined: Jul 2006
Posts: 4,420
Michael Zaneski Offline
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Michael Zaneski  Offline
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Joined: Jul 2006
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California
Hello all,

Because of recent conversations on certain threads here at JPF, I've been doing a lot of thinking about the nature of creativity. After all, nobody wants to feel like they are "creatively lazy." I personally do not use store-bought musical phrases--loops, but DO use BIAB and Virtual Instruments, and I lump loops in with BIAB since they pretty much are the same thing.

First, I offer some background into "loops." Store-bought musical phrases, oft times referred to as "loops" are not to be confused with virtual instruments, which, when played on a keyboard, will play "as if" they were a particular instrument or ensemble of instruments. Whereas store bought (and Internet bought) loops and phrases are musical phrases of an instrument or ensemble, usually of a length of 2, 4, and 8 bars. They are easily tweaked pitch-wise and time-wise so as to fit into any piece. Sony itself spearheaded this "musical phrase mania" that peaked about ten years ago with the introduction of a piece of musical software called "Acid." Nowadays, loops and musical phrases are a common way for many folks to work at creating a piece of music. Some are so ensconced in this method that they hear these loops in their creative imaginations, so they cannot be a crutch for "the real thing" when they are exactly what a creator's vision is imagining!

And BIAB (Band-In_A-Box)..think of BIAB as a smart, musical phrase assembling machine. You tell it the chords and it renders a performance in any one of thousands of styles. These can be tweaked to one's heart's content.

But onto my main argument. Does using real instruments and having live band mates playing in the same room insure against creative laziness? I am not so sure it does. Players fall into routines, creative individuals get into ruts. Perhaps, sometimes these ruts are the results of never changing up ones routine? A prudent suggestion might be to expand ones tools, and use unfamiliar ones, forcing one to think "out-of-the-box" about the musical vision, the piece at hand. Colin recently had a beautiful piece where he heard a fiddle part in his head, and he hired Ian Cameron, a fine Canadian gentleman whom I hired myself, a few years back.

But if using looped musical phrases and BIAB are creatively lazy, how is that any different than hiring a musician to flesh out a chord chart? You send an Internet Musician chords with the request that he/she send, say, a file of the guitar part and the keyboard part, and the musician fulfills the request, you pay him, everyone is happy. Now you have your files--your guitar part and your keyboard part, and you probably payed more than you would if you had bought a disk or two of musical phrases, and certainly payed more than the cost of using BIAB. After all, looped phrases and BIAB use real musicians, too. Musicians got payed, in the making of the store bought musical phrases and The BIAB software. You are still supporting musical commerce when you use them. The only difference is you probably get a performance that will never appear on anyone else's recordings, with the musician you hired.

Yes, there's more of a potential to create and foster new relationships when playing with live band mates and going through a well connected recording studio--and even when sending a chord chart off to a single musician who will render an instrumental part..but is this more "creative" than deciding what musical phrase to use off of a disk, or BIAB? BTW, I have actually formed relationships with a few "mom and pop" companies who make virtual instruments and samples, like "Orange Tree Samples" and "Acousticsamples" and they are very responsive to tweak their software and samples to makes their customers happy--so the idea of "forming relationships" is not something that only happens in a recording studio and with band mates. Not by a long shot.

My main caveat with BIAB is that the more people that use it, the more likelihood our mutual pieces will have similar stems of instruments duplicating the same lines. But this does not make a user creatively lazy, and it doesn't even mean that the piece won't end up sounding unique, after other things are added. The BIAB user can be anyone from 9 to 90, and the demos made with it can range from not-so-great to pretty-damn-good, and works best, I believe, when worked in with other things, like real and virtual instruments.

I think being creative and NOT creatively lazy comes down to being "true" to the vision we have for the particular piece we are working on. I think the lazy/not lazy criterion should fall to the composer/creator himself. Only the creator knows for sure, if he/she has been "true" to his/her music vision, and is or is not being creatively lazy.

So to suggest that only "real performances by real musicians" are the only way that can be NOT creatively lazy seems pretty shortsighted to me. Once I incorporate another musician's work into my piece, I have done pretty much the same thing as incorporating a series of store bought musical phrases or used BIAB, except for the one difference that these may possibly occur on another's recording. That IS, the only difference, after all, and it says more about utility than creativity, and ultimately it makes the argument that "everyone who use BIAB is creatively lazy" sound rather elitist, to me, since oft times it's not a matter of choice for poor musicians who cannot afford to pay a live musician, nor have the ability to play the instruments himself. If you have a shirt that Calvin Klein made personally for you, that certainly will get more attention than buying one of his lines of shirts, but it says absolutely nothing about creativity, unless the ultimate argument is that "true creativity is the luxury of the rich."

It is interesting from a psychological standpoint, to me, also, that those who suggest that anything other than doing it all yourself and/or using live band mates, or going through a well connected recording studio is "creative laziness" are those that tend to have always done it themselves and otherwise employed the help of their band mates or gone through well-connected recording studios! What we invest time and energy in tends to make us wary of other methods and other ways of doing things. It seems to be human nature. But if we step back, it's not hard to see that all these things--real band mates, our own chops, virtual instruments, store bought music phrases and BIAB--these are ALL just tools. Tools to help us achieve our particular musical vision for a particular piece, and I always thought and still DO think that the more tools you have in your arsenal, the better!

This elitist argument seems to fall apart, the more unique and perhaps "exotic" these musical phrases are. If our musical vision hears a Bulgarian bagpipe made of sheepskin, it would seem the elitist argument would suggest one hires such a musician, or learning to play the Bulgarian bagpipe, or nixing the idea cuz one can't do it without samples. But to me, as I have shown, hiring a Bulgarian bagpipe musician is no more and no less creative. It just costs more. Learning to play the Bulgarian bagpipe means being able to buy one first, and then all the time and energy--and maybe we just hear this on one piece, haha. Nixing the idea of using the bagpipe altogether is interesting. To me, that would be a betrayal of one's creative vision, and as a result would be creative laziness in its purest form.

Anyway, thanks for listening, and I welcome others' opinions and ideas on this.

Mike

****************************************************************

Last edited by Michael Zaneski; 11/01/15 03:41 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)
#1094830 - 10/31/15 11:27 PM Re: Creativity and the Use of BIAB and Loops [Re: Michael Zaneski]  
Joined: Aug 2013
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John Staples Offline
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John Staples  Offline
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Chicago, IL
My personal opinion is you should always use whatever tools you have access to in order to create your art. You owe no explanation or rationale to anyone for any reason!

I have used a variety of drum loops and find them to be a godsend! The last thing I want to do is learn to play drums. And I don't wanna invite a drummer into my home studio to lay down drum tracks when I can get what I want with drum loops!

Recently I have purchased Kontakt and a few other libraries and if I can learn to use those virtual instruments to my satisfaction I'll replace some of my live playing with them too! And be damn glad to do it!

The end product is what counts. And if you are happy with what you created then you have succeeded! Don't ever let some elitist convince you that you must hunt and skin your own goat, make drums from the hide and play those drums yourself in order to be authentic!

#1094832 - 11/01/15 01:26 AM Re: Creativity and the Use of BIAB and Loops [Re: John Staples]  
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Vicarn Offline
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Vicarn  Offline
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UK
Michael.
A musician uses any tool he can lay hands on.

BIAB is just one of those tools but you have to be a musician to use it.




It's never too late? Yes it is, so do it now.

If, given time, a monkey can write the complete works of Shakespeare maybe there's hope for me.
http://www.soundclick.com/vicarnold

http://soundcloud.com/vic-arnold
#1094836 - 11/01/15 07:58 AM Re: Creativity and the Use of BIAB and Loops [Re: Michael Zaneski]  
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DonnaMarilyn Offline
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DonnaMarilyn  Offline
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Good topic, Mike. And an interesting and informative piece.

As John says: 'The end product is what counts.'

Vic sums things up nicely: 'A musician uses any tool he can lay hands on.
BIAB is just one of those tools but you have to be a musician to use it.'


As do you here: 'I think being creative and NOT creatively lazy comes down to being "true" to the vision we have for the particular piece we are working on.'

I think of my frequent collaborator Billy, who's an excellent guitarist and bass player (and also plays drums well).

He doesn't play piano or cello, or certain other instruments, but sometimes uses cleared, top-quality library samples in his tracks, painstakingly weaving them in. People - including pianists - have praised the 'keyboard player' in some of his songs. And tracks that feature cello or violin - even a didgeridoo - have had comments like 'The music brought tears to my eyes' or ' hauntingly lovely', or ' heart-wrenching', and so on.

A good songwriter/composer creates pieces that touch people's hearts in some way. And surely this is at the root of art? One of the main reasons people write (or compose, or paint, or sculpt, or whatever) is to communicate, to elicit an emotional response.

I'd say that 'all is fair in love and war and art'. wink

Oddly, although to a much lesser extent, I've also heard the 'elitist' argument applied to the writing of lyrics. More than once I've heard/read a - mostly beginner - lyricist claim that he or she considered it 'cheating' to use a thesaurus or a rhyming dictionary. Bizarre attitude.

Donna


Honour the Earth. Without it, we'd be nowhere.

Life is too important to take seriously.

http://www.reverbnation.com/donnamarilynrichblend

Guild of International Songwriters and Composers


#1094839 - 11/01/15 10:06 AM Re: Creativity and the Use of BIAB and Loops [Re: John Staples]  
Joined: May 2006
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Colin Ward Offline
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Saint Petersburg. FL
Originally Posted by John Staples
Don't ever let some elitist convince you that you must hunt and skin your own goat, make drums from the hide and play those drums yourself in order to be authentic!


I think that says it all! Ultimately, your music will be judged by the end result.

I have had two guitar lessons this weekend. I saw Mark Knopfler Friday night and Carlos Barbosa-Lima (one of the 10 best classical style guitarists in the world) last night. I cannot play guitar anywhere like these guys but I am not going to quit and sell my stuff because I enjoy what I do and some people like it, which is the goal.


Colin

I try to critique as if you mean business.....

http://colinwardmusic.com/

http://rosewoodcreekband.com/


#1094843 - 11/01/15 12:48 PM Re: Creativity and the Use of BIAB and Loops [Re: Colin Ward]  
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Ray E. Strode Online content
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Ray E. Strode  Online Content
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Humm,
Just think what Beethoven and Mozart could have done with those Computer Programs! And to think, Mozart wrote over 600 works if I'm not mistaken!


Ray E. Strode
#1094845 - 11/01/15 02:08 PM Re: Creativity and the Use of BIAB and Loops [Re: Ray E. Strode]  
Joined: Dec 2008
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John Lawrence Schick Offline
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John Lawrence Schick  Offline
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PA
Good read Mike!

I doubt Beethoven or Mozart would have any use for modern computer software. Though they'd probably use the notation software. Beethoven could have avoided the conflicts with his copyist if he had the music notation apps.

Computer music programs are cool. But also can restrict creativity. Rather than use someone else's drum loop, better to create your own drum loop. Just as easy and more creative.

John smile

#1094846 - 11/01/15 02:10 PM Re: Creativity and the Use of BIAB and Loops [Re: Ray E. Strode]  
Joined: May 2006
Posts: 7,714
Colin Ward Offline
Colin Ward  Offline

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Saint Petersburg. FL
Originally Posted by Ray E. Strode
Humm,
Just think what Beethoven and Mozart could have done with those Computer Programs! And to think, Mozart wrote over 600 works if I'm not mistaken!


I never liked their lyrics.


Colin

I try to critique as if you mean business.....

http://colinwardmusic.com/

http://rosewoodcreekband.com/


#1094848 - 11/01/15 03:45 PM Re: Creativity and the Use of BIAB and Loops [Re: John Staples]  
Joined: Jul 2006
Posts: 4,420
Michael Zaneski Offline
Top 100 Poster
Michael Zaneski  Offline
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Joined: Jul 2006
Posts: 4,420
California
Originally Posted by John Staples
My personal opinion is you should always use whatever tools you have access to in order to create your art. You owe no explanation or rationale to anyone for any reason!

I have used a variety of drum loops and find them to be a godsend! The last thing I want to do is learn to play drums. And I don't wanna invite a drummer into my home studio to lay down drum tracks when I can get what I want with drum loops!

Recently I have purchased Kontakt and a few other libraries and if I can learn to use those virtual instruments to my satisfaction I'll replace some of my live playing with them too! And be damn glad to do it!

The end product is what counts. And if you are happy with what you created then you have succeeded! Don't ever let some elitist convince you that you must hunt and skin your own goat, make drums from the hide and play those drums yourself in order to be authentic!


Hi John,

Haha, Skinning a goat to make a drum kit is just hilarious. I can imagine a Family Guy episode with a "build-it-yourself" drum kit.

Thanks for voicing your thoughts; I agree wholeheartedly.

Mike


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)
#1094849 - 11/01/15 03:52 PM Re: Creativity and the Use of BIAB and Loops [Re: Vicarn]  
Joined: Jul 2006
Posts: 4,420
Michael Zaneski Offline
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Michael Zaneski  Offline
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Joined: Jul 2006
Posts: 4,420
California
Originally Posted by Vicarn
Michael.
A musician uses any tool he can lay hands on.

BIAB is just one of those tools but you have to be a musician to use it.




Hi Vic,

I agree--the more tools the merrier. Some will get used more than others but all can contribute.

BIAB does take skill to get beyond obvious things. One must at least know enough music theory to write a chord chart. I always dump the results into my sequencer to add effects, VSTs, etc, so I'm not so sure how self-sufficient BIAB is in terms of delivering a finished song from within it, but I imagine with all their updates this is now doable.

Thanks for your comments!

Mike

Last edited by Michael Zaneski; 11/01/15 07:00 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)
#1094850 - 11/01/15 03:57 PM Re: Creativity and the Use of BIAB and Loops [Re: DonnaMarilyn]  
Joined: Jul 2006
Posts: 4,420
Michael Zaneski Offline
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Michael Zaneski  Offline
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Joined: Jul 2006
Posts: 4,420
California
Hi Donna,

I've never heard anything from Billy that I didn't find moving in some way. He weaves loops in seamlessly and one hears a "piece" and not an assemblage.

I agree-- all is fair in love and war and art.

And yes, the end product and being true to ones vision of that end product might lead one to using any number of different tools--especially if one has those different tools in their toolbox, and not just one or two.

Thanks for adding your voice which I respect so much. smile

Mike


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)
#1094855 - 11/01/15 04:08 PM Re: Creativity and the Use of BIAB and Loops [Re: Colin Ward]  
Joined: Jul 2006
Posts: 4,420
Michael Zaneski Offline
Top 100 Poster
Michael Zaneski  Offline
Top 100 Poster

Joined: Jul 2006
Posts: 4,420
California
Originally Posted by Colin Ward
Originally Posted by John Staples
Don't ever let some elitist convince you that you must hunt and skin your own goat, make drums from the hide and play those drums yourself in order to be authentic!


I think that says it all! Ultimately, your music will be judged by the end result.

I have had two guitar lessons this weekend. I saw Mark Knopfler Friday night and Carlos Barbosa-Lima (one of the 10 best classical style guitarists in the world) last night. I cannot play guitar anywhere like these guys but I am not going to quit and sell my stuff because I enjoy what I do and some people like it, which is the goal.


Hi Colin,

I like that you call your concert goings "guitar lessons"--I get that, and it's my experience as well. Sometimes I shudder before a concert when the musicians play instruments I play, cuz I know I will not be the same when I come out, and as enjoyable as it is, it's a bit scary for me, too.

Keith Jarrett is the scariest, for me. I've seen several solo concerts of his where he is basically creating from a void, with no preconceived notions of what he will play, and I feel so close to the source of creativity after his shows that I am on a creative high for weeks. I have come to think of creativity as more of a passive than an active thing, where it's often best to quietly listen to what's going on inside. Jarrett has taught me so much about composition, and all from simply listening and observing his creative process.

Knopfler is one of my favorites, too. Absorbing him for a night sounds like a beautiful evening and a fantastic lesson. smile

Thanks for commenting and voicing your thoughts!

Mike



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)
#1094858 - 11/01/15 04:16 PM Re: Creativity and the Use of BIAB and Loops [Re: Ray E. Strode]  
Joined: Jul 2006
Posts: 4,420
Michael Zaneski Offline
Top 100 Poster
Michael Zaneski  Offline
Top 100 Poster

Joined: Jul 2006
Posts: 4,420
California
Originally Posted by Ray E. Strode
Humm,
Just think what Beethoven and Mozart could have done with those Computer Programs! And to think, Mozart wrote over 600 works if I'm not mistaken!


Hi Ray,

LOL. If they were alive today, I just hope they wouldn't be too distracted by HBO and The Internet.

Indeed, how much help would those guys really need from a computer program? And yet, if they liked to examine various permutations of a melody, there's software that helps lessen the time taken for that, and other compositional aids they might find useful, as well as the notation programs that John mentions.

Thanks for the comments, Ray. smile

Mike


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)
#1094864 - 11/01/15 04:38 PM Re: Creativity and the Use of BIAB and Loops [Re: John Lawrence Schick]  
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Michael Zaneski Offline
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Originally Posted by John Lawrence Schick
Good read Mike!

I doubt Beethoven or Mozart would have any use for modern computer software. Though they'd probably use the notation software. Beethoven could have avoided the conflicts with his copyist if he had the music notation apps.

Computer music programs are cool. But also can restrict creativity. Rather than use someone else's drum loop, better to create your own drum loop. Just as easy and more creative.

John smile


Hi John,

I agree with "Computer music programs are cool. But also can restrict creativity." The important word in there, for me, is can. I like that you qualify your statement, and agree wholeheartedly.

With your other comment, I think we are approaching the heart of the argument, if I may be so bold.

If I read your statement, "Rather than use someone else's drum loop, better to create your own drum loop. Just as easy and more creative" correctly, it seems that you posit that it is more creative to write something from scratch than to choose from set of pre-existing things? This I find very interesting.

I compose both ways. The traditional way I call "the God model" because we basically create the (musical) world from nothing, and every note is a note we have ordered within the composition. This is the best way to work, I believe, when one has a fully wrought vision of the piece they would like to write. But how fully wrought is that vision, in terms of every single note? Usually, don't we just enter the process with a sketch? Isn't there always feedback going on, in the compositional process?

The other way I work is to set up a "system" within either my sequencer or a more algorythmically friendly piece of musical software, whereas I introduce elements into the software that will basically "spit out" thousands of ideas and permutations of those elements. Then, I choose which ones I think are interesting, and those interesting ones basically tell me what the piece is. Writing this way has one killer thing going for it: you will get ideas and musical lines you would never ever have conceived of, using the traditional approach.

At times, I am vary wary of my own musical imagination, and if I've had too much coffee to drink, I can literally trace my musical ideas to where they came from, in an endless abysmal chain of memories of things past. This can be disturbing if I am trying to write something "different" sounding, for sure..but ultimately both ways of working seem useful, in the end.

So getting back to your comment, I am not so sure that "choosing" is any less creative, and in fact, can springboard new ideas one would never have conceived otherwise. And what if one finds exactly or close to what one needs, in a certain store-bought loop? How does playing it ones self, say, on a keyboard with a virtual instrument, or on the actual instrument--how exactly is that more creative? If ordering the notes ones self is the criterion, and one knows that order, and one finds a loop with that order or close enough to it, how is using the loop less creative?

And if we allow that there is a certain amount of feedback that takes place, in the composition process, loops and such seem to be in a position to actually aid the feedback process rather than to hurt it, since we are throwing something "strange" in our path, in the auditioning of these loops and such. And by "strange" I mean--something our brain would not normally throw at us.

Thanks for saying it how you feel it and helping bring this, perhaps, to the heart of this age old argument.

Mike



Last edited by Michael Zaneski; 11/01/15 04:47 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)
#1094868 - 11/01/15 06:32 PM Re: Creativity and the Use of BIAB and Loops [Re: Michael Zaneski]  
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John Lawrence Schick Offline
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Yes, ideas and inspiration can come from countless sources. Samples often give me ideas. The Masters gave me years of ideas. My piano teacher would play all these obscure piano pieces. Opened my mind up to music I never knew existed. Expanded my palette of possibilities.

Ideas from others (and technical wonders) can broaden one’s creativity and more important – inspire. I compose mostly from the acoustic piano. Notating all the melodic and chordal parts. The beats/ rhythms I do from the fly, though often I have a broad idea of what I’m shooting for.

Using anything and everything that aids in our music creations is a reasonable approach. Though the term "creation" isn't really accurate in my thinking. I think composers are more arrangers, i.e., arranging all the musical elements that already exist in different ways. I reckon I wandered from the topic of using BIAB and loops in music. Kind of thinking out loud. So yeah, use whatever works – short of stealing another’s work.

#1094875 - 11/01/15 07:36 PM Re: Creativity and the Use of BIAB and Loops [Re: John Lawrence Schick]  
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Everett Adams Online content
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As a songwriter my forte(if I have one) is words and ideas. My guitar playing is suspect to say the least and my singing is even worst. I try my best to get the idea across to my demo studio how I want the song to go, I hear it in my head but can't get it to come out of my mouth. The feeling of how a song is played and sung can make or break a song. Over the years I've had about five to six hundred songs demoed, 99% of them I am happy with, either the demo studio captured what I wanted or even improved on what I wanted. Sometimes a songs has to grow on you by repeated listening to it. The one percent that missed the mark or I didn't like for some other reason, I scrap or if I liked the song enough, I would get it re-demoed at another studio. The right instrumentation of a song can give the right feeling to that song or take away from it. When I get a new demo back, I sort of cringe until I've heard it through at least once, hoping that the studio caught what I was hoping for.

#1094893 - 11/01/15 11:54 PM Re: Creativity and the Use of BIAB and Loops [Re: John Lawrence Schick]  
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John Staples Offline
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Originally Posted by John Lawrence Schick
Computer music programs are cool. But also can restrict creativity. Rather than use someone else's drum loop, better to create your own drum loop. Just as easy and more creative.

You could say the same thing about chord progressions...cool but they restrict creativity. Heck, you could say the same thing about western music scales. Or about guitars. Etc.

Most music is building on prior work and that is just fine! You don't need to create your own music system or your own chords or build your own guitar. And nowadays, you don't have to actually own or play an instrument to include it in your creations.

I view that as a Very Good Thing! grin Each person gets to decide where they want to draw the line between creating and arranging and adapting and etc.!

#1094898 - 11/02/15 12:40 AM Re: Creativity and the Use of BIAB and Loops [Re: John Staples]  
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Quote
Don't ever let some elitist convince you that you must hunt and skin your own goat, make drums from the hide and play those drums yourself in order to be authentic!


If this were the primary criteria for defining creativity, I'm probably one of the most creative people on these boards. I designed and built or modified many of the instruments, most of the amps and effects, and some of the recording equipment I use. I'm even producing my own electricity (my house runs on solar power) to run this stuff. I even grow a significant portion of the food I eat to provide me the energy to do all this.

But I also use a lot of loops and samples to go with all the instruments I play (guitar, bass, mandolin, keyboards, some percussion, and vocals). A lot of effort goes into finding and selecting the loops and samples and often tweaking and modifying them to make them work in the song.

I don't have BIAB, but do have Jammer, a competitor. Jammer has the capability to actually modify the algorithms that determine what the accompaniment will be. In every case where I did use a Jammer part in a recording (maybe 5 out of over 50 recordings I've done had a Jammer part in them), I had to tweak these algorithms to get the part to sound and feel right. Even then I usually still manually changed a few notes to get the part to feel right. A lot of work, but it was still easier than learning to play the instrument with acceptable skill from scratch.

Initially, the goal is to get the recording to sound like what was originally in my head. If I get live musicians to play the parts, they usually vary a lot from what was originally in my head. This often is not bad, as it may push the song in a good direction I hadn't considered. But the same is true with loops, samples, or Jammer. In trying to find something close to what is in my head, I often stumble upon stuff I hadn't considered. A whole new song may come out of these happy accidents.

These happy accidents are responsible for much creativity. It doesn't matter what triggers them, as long as they keep coming.


Stone Marmot
nouveau retro pop-rock music
http://www.stonemarmot.com
Check out our latest song, "Miss Chameleon"
#1094900 - 11/02/15 05:01 AM Re: Creativity and the Use of BIAB and Loops [Re: John Lawrence Schick]  
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Michael Zaneski Offline
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Originally Posted by John Lawrence Schick
Yes, ideas and inspiration can come from countless sources. Samples often give me ideas. The Masters gave me years of ideas. My piano teacher would play all these obscure piano pieces. Opened my mind up to music I never knew existed. Expanded my palette of possibilities.

Ideas from others (and technical wonders) can broaden one’s creativity and more important – inspire. I compose mostly from the acoustic piano. Notating all the melodic and chordal parts. The beats/ rhythms I do from the fly, though often I have a broad idea of what I’m shooting for.

Using anything and everything that aids in our music creations is a reasonable approach. Though the term "creation" isn't really accurate in my thinking. I think composers are more arrangers, i.e., arranging all the musical elements that already exist in different ways. I reckon I wandered from the topic of using BIAB and loops in music. Kind of thinking out loud. So yeah, use whatever works – short of stealing another’s work.


John,

I can hear an abundance of sources in your music. Your music is rich, like that.

I worked in record stores for half my life and absorbed a lot of different things, too. But it was Mr. Cooper's first year theory class that gave me the bug to write.

Interesting, you say arrangers is more accurate a description. I agree, and think it definitely gives one more of a sense of humility about the art of choosing notes and pitches, from "the fullness." Perhaps creation is God's thing, we are simply "choosers."

Not wandering at all, it's important to think about the source of creativity, if one wants to get anywhere--knowing what constitutes the truly creative!

Mike


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)
#1094901 - 11/02/15 05:04 AM Re: Creativity and the Use of BIAB and Loops [Re: Everett Adams]  
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Michael Zaneski Offline
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Hi Everett,

I agree, "The right instrumentation of a song can give the right feeling to that song or take away from it."

Songs are like people and each kind of want to be adorned in different ways. This is what makes arranging so much fun! Putting my ear to the song and listening--not just to the chords and melody and all--but listening for it to tell me what it wants! Songs whisper like that, to me. They say, "I want a resonator here and a fiddle there" kind of thing.

Mike


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)
#1094914 - 11/02/15 10:52 AM Re: Creativity and the Use of BIAB and Loops [Re: Michael Zaneski]  
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Michael LeBlanc Offline
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without my BIAB i'd be just writing just lyrics still.I'm no musician,i can't tell you an A from a G but i do know what my ears like and i'll put in chords until i hit it.I'm guessing i'm only using about 10% [at the most]of what BIAB offers.It is a lot of work,creativity and arranging for me but so much fun putting a song together.I love having the choices of instruments that make up a certain song at my fingertips.So if only for me,i will write my songs and share them here and there.I'm sure one of them will make someone some money after i'm dead and gone.I'm just that lucky!

#1094940 - 11/02/15 09:10 PM Re: Creativity and the Use of BIAB and Loops [Re: Michael LeBlanc]  
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Kolstad Offline
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I think it's all in how it's used.

Loops and samples can get you into a comfort zone, where you bring nothing new to the table. So it becomes reproductions of reproductions, which basically is acceptance of cliché. That's when it can hurt creativity, imo, because much of art making is about avoiding the cliché, or be creative in the reference to it.

This can be hard for amateur musicians to recognize, because the cliché is appreciated as something well known, and therefore as the ultimate proof that you really ARe a musician after all (I could get the Hendrix guitar sound, yay). But you are also free to tweak it, re-engineer it, re-produce it, chop it up and re-assemble it and thereby make it your own, or break the cliché.

With samples the difference is more subtle, imo, but still there, imo. In EDM styles and film music, some are going out of their world to create their own samples, and use them instead of the stock mainstream offerings. Even the old school dudes use samples. I once read that soul legend Steve Cropper sampled a bouncing basketball and used that as a kick drum in one of his productions.

Sometimes samples can limit creativity too, though, if you use sounds that are stale and lifeless. Then you don't react to your own playing as well as you could hope for, and end up with sub-par performance.

Also, if you have to cycle through 1000 loops before you play a note, you can have lost all the energy that should drive your music making, so I believe the criticism can have some merit from a musicians standpoint.

If you shift to a producers standpoint, you may even prefer loops and samples sometimes because you may gain some control and influence over the sound design and arrangement. So a producer may even get a creativity boost, which is great if you are working totally DiY from idea to iPod :-)

On BIAB specifically, I see it as a great mock-up tool, both for songwriters and teachers. That is not music production, where you need the hihat to exactly follow the great guitar riff and go half time to prove a lyrical point in the bridge. You just need something that can reproduce some chords and instrument sounds and do it well enough to be recognized as reproduced music. The recognition factor, time spent, and ease of use means more than any type of artistic expression in those uses.

So, I don't think it's either-or good or bad. It's a both-and, there's good and bad, and careful considerations of the limitations of loops- and sample uses, can make you even more creative and innovative.


Buzz Tracks
Making media sweeter

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/buzztracks
#1094941 - 11/02/15 09:59 PM Re: Creativity and the Use of BIAB and Loops [Re: Andy K]  
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Originally Posted by Andy K
Quote
Don't ever let some elitist convince you that you must hunt and skin your own goat, make drums from the hide and play those drums yourself in order to be authentic!


If this were the primary criteria for defining creativity, I'm probably one of the most creative people on these boards. I designed and built or modified many of the instruments, most of the amps and effects, and some of the recording equipment I use. I'm even producing my own electricity (my house runs on solar power) to run this stuff. I even grow a significant portion of the food I eat to provide me the energy to do all this.

But I also use a lot of loops and samples to go with all the instruments I play (guitar, bass, mandolin, keyboards, some percussion, and vocals). A lot of effort goes into finding and selecting the loops and samples and often tweaking and modifying them to make them work in the song.

I don't have BIAB, but do have Jammer, a competitor. Jammer has the capability to actually modify the algorithms that determine what the accompaniment will be. In every case where I did use a Jammer part in a recording (maybe 5 out of over 50 recordings I've done had a Jammer part in them), I had to tweak these algorithms to get the part to sound and feel right. Even then I usually still manually changed a few notes to get the part to feel right. A lot of work, but it was still easier than learning to play the instrument with acceptable skill from scratch.

Initially, the goal is to get the recording to sound like what was originally in my head. If I get live musicians to play the parts, they usually vary a lot from what was originally in my head. This often is not bad, as it may push the song in a good direction I hadn't considered. But the same is true with loops, samples, or Jammer. In trying to find something close to what is in my head, I often stumble upon stuff I hadn't considered. A whole new song may come out of these happy accidents.

These happy accidents are responsible for much creativity. It doesn't matter what triggers them, as long as they keep coming.


Hi Andy,

Much creativity, no doubt, goes into "rolling your own." You know what makes your instruments tick, and there's a distinct creative advantage to know ones tools that intimately.

I smiled when I realize that you also use loops and samples, and yes, BIAB and Jammer are similar, and force the individual to work in "top down" mode rather than linearly. "Top down" as in one scans a complete part and then tweaks it accordingly.

Yes, happy accidents can happen with any tools--if our "feedback process" allows us to hear them when they do. And they do. It's great when our inner listener can go "whoops..NO..what was that..let's make that mistake again, it sounded kinda cool!"

Thanks for posting; I had no idea you made your own instruments! I would love to try a string instrument of some kind, before I shuffle off..

Mike


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)
#1094943 - 11/02/15 10:11 PM Re: Creativity and the Use of BIAB and Loops [Re: Kolstad]  
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Michael Zaneski Offline
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Originally Posted by Kolstad
I think it's all in how it's used.

Loops and samples can get you into a comfort zone, where you bring nothing new to the table. So it becomes reproductions of reproductions, which basically is acceptance of cliché. That's when it can hurt creativity, imo, because much of art making is about avoiding the cliché, or be creative in the reference to it.

This can be hard for amateur musicians to recognize, because the cliché is appreciated as something well known, and therefore as the ultimate proof that you really ARe a musician after all (I could get the Hendrix guitar sound, yay). But you are also free to tweak it, re-engineer it, re-produce it, chop it up and re-assemble it and thereby make it your own, or break the cliché.

With samples the difference is more subtle, imo, but still there, imo. In EDM styles and film music, some are going out of their world to create their own samples, and use them instead of the stock mainstream offerings. Even the old school dudes use samples. I once read that soul legend Steve Cropper sampled a bouncing basketball and used that as a kick drum in one of his productions.

Sometimes samples can limit creativity too, though, if you use sounds that are stale and lifeless. Then you don't react to your own playing as well as you could hope for, and end up with sub-par performance.

Also, if you have to cycle through 1000 loops before you play a note, you can have lost all the energy that should drive your music making, so I believe the criticism can have some merit from a musicians standpoint.

If you shift to a producers standpoint, you may even prefer loops and samples sometimes because you may gain some control and influence over the sound design and arrangement. So a producer may even get a creativity boost, which is great if you are working totally DiY from idea to iPod :-)

On BIAB specifically, I see it as a great mock-up tool, both for songwriters and teachers. That is not music production, where you need the hihat to exactly follow the great guitar riff and go half time to prove a lyrical point in the bridge. You just need something that can reproduce some chords and instrument sounds and do it well enough to be recognized as reproduced music. The recognition factor, time spent, and ease of use means more than any type of artistic expression in those uses.

So, I don't think it's either-or good or bad. It's a both-and, there's good and bad, and careful considerations of the limitations of loops- and sample uses, can make you even more creative and innovative.


Hi Magne,

Not only how it's used, but what ones goals are. I think a lot of amateurs who settle for cool beats or a Hendrix sound, upon closer examination, have achieved pretty much what they set out to achieve, and then find no more interest in pursuing things further. But can't the same be said for folks who take up the guitar or piano? It seems we rise to the level of our own desires/goals and there we tend to stay. Perhaps until we realize we've been stagnanting, then we re-evaluate things.

I know there were days when I busked on automatic pilot, not really doing anything other than trying to duplicate the performance I heard in my head, rather than actively listening to what I was doing to get something more immediate and real happening.

But your post is very true: it's both creative at times, and other times not-so-much..using these tools. Comfort zones can grow too big and ruts are then easy to fall into.

Great post, many great ideas in here!

Thanks for posting. smile

Mike

Last edited by Michael Zaneski; 11/03/15 06:48 AM.

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)
#1094944 - 11/02/15 10:18 PM Re: Creativity and the Use of BIAB and Loops [Re: Michael LeBlanc]  
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Michael Zaneski Offline
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Michael Zaneski  Offline
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Originally Posted by Michael LeBlanc
without my BIAB i'd be just writing just lyrics still.I'm no musician,i can't tell you an A from a G but i do know what my ears like and i'll put in chords until i hit it.I'm guessing i'm only using about 10% [at the most]of what BIAB offers.It is a lot of work,creativity and arranging for me but so much fun putting a song together.I love having the choices of instruments that make up a certain song at my fingertips.So if only for me,i will write my songs and share them here and there.I'm sure one of them will make someone some money after i'm dead and gone.I'm just that lucky!



Michael,

You may have a certain kind of advantage that a trained musician wouldn't, using BIAB, in that you might throw a chord progression in there that a Berklee student would never consider, given his/her schooling. The auditioning/feedback process may very well be the most important part of creativity, I think, and based on what I've heard from you, you choose some great, oft times unique sounding progressions.

Thanks for your take!

Mike

Last edited by Michael Zaneski; 11/02/15 10:19 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)
#1094950 - 11/03/15 12:32 AM Re: Creativity and the Use of BIAB and Loops [Re: Michael Zaneski]  
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MidniteBob Online content
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MidniteBob  Online Content
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Raleigh, ya'll
I'm posting this, not because it has anything to do with the subject...But Jody Whitesides posted in the "General" Forum..

It's way over my head....But he took the time...And I think that someone here might know what he's talking about...

Midnite


Satchel was right. Something is gaining on me.

The Shoebox & Dinner at Eight trailers available at:

http://www.twometer.com/Two_Meter_Studios/HOME.html
#1100879 - 02/23/16 07:03 AM Re: Creativity and the Use of BIAB and Loops [Re: Michael Zaneski]  
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pathardy Offline
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BIAB was never meant to be a finish production tool. Aside from it being a jam-along-with tool, it can be used as a production sketch tool, a way to put together a sketch demo to show to other artists a quick idea for a song ( if BIAB can accommodate it ).

BIAB works really well for vintage styles. I use it because I'm into jazz and it's various flavors, and BIAB is good for that.

However, if one wants to submit to a label or a publisher a track using BIAB backing up other instruments or vocals, you must understand that BIAB tracks cannot be copyrighted, or if incorporated in a track, the copyright will not cover the BIAB tracks, only "unique" tracks, and thus BIAB tracks cannot be considered "unique".
If you had a vocal track that was backed entirely by BIAB, anyone could sample the backing tracks with impunity, therefore. But, caveat, "IANAL".

Last edited by pathardy; 02/23/16 07:03 AM.
#1104376 - 04/09/16 04:44 AM Re: Creativity and the Use of BIAB and Loops [Re: pathardy]  
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R&M Offline
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I used a beat from my synth once for an internet recording. I guess that would qualify as using a beat loop.
But I feel myself that the confines of form restricts me. Although I derive from forms - improvise.
I am far behind the curb with software; or hardware for that matter. I don't understand the language and don't want to do loops.
What types of software are best with BIAB? I currently use Audacity to multtrack. The members have terms that I have heard of yet am not familiar with.
Whether I qualify as a musician or not, I would not want to loop my way with my heart and soul.

#1106935 - 05/12/16 04:17 PM Re: Creativity and the Use of BIAB and Loops [Re: R&M]  
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Hey Michael,

About 10 yrs back, I would never consider using loops and samples in finished production.

These days ? They're so damn spot on the money, and it's simply not worth the hassle and the time to mic up really simple stuff in a studio, where all you need is a guy strumming a guitar, or simple piano chords.

I think they are a fantastic tool in the toolbox, BUT should only be used as a production tool, and not a replacement for good writing and arrangement.

If you know the theory and structure of music, and know how a string section, or a brass section actually sounds, then for simplistic notation and arrangement, and knowing how to produce a tune, I see no bother. It makes your work quicker, with beautiful tonal results.

If however, you wish to put forward an orchestra, without any knowledge how to score a piece, the outcome is obvious.

Cheating ? Not really, just using the tools available.

cheers, niteshift


#1106950 - 05/12/16 08:30 PM Re: Creativity and the Use of BIAB and Loops [Re: Michael Zaneski]  
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Barry David Butler Online content
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All this sounds great but I'm so poor I can't afford to buy it...lol

The MOST important thing is a great story and a great melody.
Barry

#1108065 - 05/31/16 11:43 PM Re: Creativity and the Use of BIAB and Loops [Re: Barry David Butler]  
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NJ
I agree with Michael Le. I played music in a high school band and in a rock band in the '60s. I was never a real "Musician". When I found BIAB, it allowed me to put music to my lyrics. I only use about 1% of the program. I use the chord generator with a style, and to a BPM I like, then sing a melody to that and adjust as much as I can, then take the whole to a real musician and he helps me with adjusting as needed. For a while I just took the lyrics to a musician and had him put music to it. It never really came out right and he was much happier working with my BIAB creations. BIAB is very affordable, and a good solution for people who really can't "Write" music.


Have a goodun,

John W. Selleck BMI Songwriter
A day without learning is a day lost

http://www.soundclick.com/johnsings
http://www.soundclick.com/johnwselleck
http://www.soundclick.com/johnselleck
#1108070 - 06/01/16 02:53 AM Re: Creativity and the Use of BIAB and Loops [Re: Michael Zaneski]  
Joined: Jun 2011
Posts: 2,237
Barry David Butler Online content
Top 200 Poster
Barry David Butler  Online Content
Top 200 Poster

Joined: Jun 2011
Posts: 2,237
Sebring, Florida USA
Thanks for taking ALL that time ...
I don't think it matters a whit how the demo comes out or how creative and clean your demo is....No Chance, No Dance ...
I'll just stick to a5 year old Boss BR 900 CD...8 Track..

#1108073 - 06/01/16 03:46 AM Re: Creativity and the Use of BIAB and Loops [Re: niteshift]  
Joined: Jul 2006
Posts: 4,420
Michael Zaneski Offline
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Michael Zaneski  Offline
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Joined: Jul 2006
Posts: 4,420
California
Originally Posted by niteshift
Hey Michael,

About 10 yrs back, I would never consider using loops and samples in finished production.

These days ? They're so damn spot on the money, and it's simply not worth the hassle and the time to mic up really simple stuff in a studio, where all you need is a guy strumming a guitar, or simple piano chords.

I think they are a fantastic tool in the toolbox, BUT should only be used as a production tool, and not a replacement for good writing and arrangement.

If you know the theory and structure of music, and know how a string section, or a brass section actually sounds, then for simplistic notation and arrangement, and knowing how to produce a tune, I see no bother. It makes your work quicker, with beautiful tonal results.

If however, you wish to put forward an orchestra, without any knowledge how to score a piece, the outcome is obvious.

Cheating ? Not really, just using the tools available.

cheers, niteshift



Hi niteshift,

I totally agree with everything you say, although I've been using samples and loops, here and there since the mid-eighties. I remember when a bandmate bought one of the first samplers to come out--that created a musical Renaissance for awhile, just in terms of the creative fun one could have with sound manipulation.

When you say, they are "tools in the toolbox" you are hitting the nail on the head.

I only ask if any think it's "cheating" or if sample/loops users are "lazy" because there is a contingency of folks that indeed have a low opinion of those that use these tools.

But I'm glad I started this thread cuz I can see that most are in agreement with you and me--these are just tools. They don't replace good musicianship by any means--there are no tools that do that..but BIAB and virtual instruments can certainly help get musical ideas across, and do so anytime, anywhere..they have there place in the pantheon of music making, that's for sure!

Mike


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)
#1109530 - 06/28/16 12:33 AM Re: Creativity and the Use of BIAB and Loops [Re: Michael Zaneski]  
Joined: Jul 2011
Posts: 437
R&M Offline
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R&M  Offline
Top 500 Poster

Joined: Jul 2011
Posts: 437
I have been looking at the adobe line.
I have the issues with not knowing the form. But people think it seems to be a sign of laziness trying what is not known by hand.
Even a lot of professionals that are multi-instumentalists would not trust themselves professionally. So I guess I can only do so much not being dedicated in that way.

I am in a media studies class that does a lot of bumpers and commercials.
I am reluctant to do what is done by my hand and slant, even though my instructor encourages that.
And I am on here expecting members to understand me with these forms I don't know much about.
Part of me is stuck on these early alternative acts like Aztec Camera, Caberet Voltaire, and The Velvet Underground. I would like to be my own idea of The Cars sound. But I am not that interesting. But it is easy to get suck in to something not knowing a thing about it.
I am looking to get back in to the muse of software and at the same time be myself in it.

Hear the exchange of members being individual with these samples and loops.

#1124858 - 03/04/17 02:34 AM Re: Creativity and the Use of BIAB and Loops [Re: Michael Zaneski]  
Joined: Sep 2011
Posts: 501
pathardy Offline
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pathardy  Offline
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Joined: Sep 2011
Posts: 501


One thing that is important to know about using BIAB "real tracks". Since they are prerecorded and available to anyone, they cannot be protected by an SR copyright registration.

If someone sampled them, you'd have no recourse. I don't think a new chord sequence derived from public domain tracks are protected, either. but, talk to a lawyer to be sure.

#1124870 - 03/04/17 02:51 PM Re: Creativity and the Use of BIAB and Loops [Re: Michael Zaneski]  
Joined: Feb 2017
Posts: 165
Trentb Offline
Serious Contributor
Trentb  Offline
Serious Contributor

Joined: Feb 2017
Posts: 165
In years and years of listening to online demos, I have yet to find any production using biab to be great demos. I have heard plenty that sound goodish, and acceptable, and compared to tracking bad sounding instruments and weak playing yourself, it is superior. Also, less experienced users can sound awful.

Biab is good for demos, trying out ideas. It's just that there is nothing original about the music. You end up fitting your song to the biab, as opposed to making biab fit your song. It's great for practicing your musical chops, that is what it was originally invented for, jazz and blues players just learning how to solo or comp over chord progressions.
When you consider originality is all most of us have to offer, biab fails for original music, other than demo purposes.

@Barry, it might never matter for your songwriting career whether or not you get quality song demos, being the market virtually excludes everybody, but it does matter as far your satisfaction and your fan appreciation. If you were making really good sounding demos,you'd get a lot more people stepping up and saying how good you are. Perception is reality, people can say they just like a good melody and lyric, but when they hear a great sounding production, where the sound is big, and pleasing, with great vocals, they immediately think the song is great.

People equate great tracks with great songs, and great performances with great songs. In other words your only as good as you sound.

I recall a great jazz musician saying that musicians need to concentrate on their sound, cause that is what people hear, they don't hear guitars, they hear the sound the guitar makes They don't listen to songs, they listen to recordings and performances of songs. So it has to matter what it sounds like.

Last edited by Trentb; 03/04/17 02:58 PM.

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