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#1131048 - 09/26/17 02:24 PM Making Great Demos with BIAB  
Joined: Jul 2006
Posts: 4,608
Michael Zaneski Offline
Top 100 Poster
Michael Zaneski  Offline
Top 100 Poster

Joined: Jul 2006
Posts: 4,608
California
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..

Mike

Last edited by Michael Zaneski; 09/26/17 09:11 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)
#1131054 - 09/26/17 04:51 PM Re: Making Great Demos with BIAB [Re: Michael Zaneski]  
Joined: Apr 2001
Posts: 18,264
Brian Austin Whitney Online content
Brian Austin Whitney  Online Content


Top 10 Poster

Joined: Apr 2001
Posts: 18,264
Indianapolis, IN USA
Thanks for sharing your tips and thoughts Mike!


Brian Austin Whitney
Founder
Just Plain Folks
jpfolkspro@aol.com
Skype: Brian Austin Whitney

"Don't sit around and wait for success to come to you... it doesn't know the way." -Brian Austin Whitney


#1131058 - 09/27/17 07:46 AM Re: Making Great Demos with BIAB [Re: Michael Zaneski]  
Joined: Jan 2009
Posts: 6,127
Douglas Murphy Offline
Top 40 Poster
Douglas Murphy  Offline
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Joined: Jan 2009
Posts: 6,127
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
OH! This post? smile

This is one of the things I am looking for. What you have explained here is great. I, probably like many others, have to consider the cost and expertise needed. I use Band In The Box to create a base, then use Audacity to mix and play. From that, I can entertain myself and create something that is pleasing to my ears [I do not mind listening later to those songs I have done.] and decent enough to share.

So here I will ask you for your advice in improving vocals. I am slow so go slow and list it out any way you can that says something like, "First do this and then add that and etc..," smile

Thank you for chiming in Mike. "Advice is always welcomed.

Douglas


"Is this a practice? They are all practices." John Denver

www.soundclick.com/dougmurphy

Skype Contact: douglas.murphy8
#1131070 - 09/27/17 10:06 PM Re: Making Great Demos with BIAB [Re: Michael Zaneski]  
Joined: Feb 2005
Posts: 6,234
Dave Rice Online content
Top 40 Poster
Dave Rice  Online Content
Top 40 Poster

Joined: Feb 2005
Posts: 6,234
Texas
Hi Mike and Doug:

I was hoping you (Mike) would chime-in on this subject Doug mentioned on another forum. Wow, what a wealth of information. Ingenious combination of ways to turn BIAB into a Super Power and a major music making method when orchestrated by skillful and knowledgeable talents. I was especially impressed with what I saw on various video demos about Melodyne. It appears it can be bought in pieces to suit the needs of the individual... whether it be the vocalist or, like in Mike's hands, a full blown producer and demo artist combined.

Mike, from a vocalists point of view, which version of Melodyne do you recommend? Realizing that I (at present) record everything onto only one track, I'll have to adapt to using at least a separate vocal track in order to use Melodyne.

Can you see the bells, whistles and light bulbs going off inside my brain? LOL!

Thanks for sharing. More questions later.

Regards, ----Dave

#1131072 - 09/27/17 11:31 PM Re: Making Great Demos with BIAB [Re: Michael Zaneski]  
Joined: May 2017
Posts: 207
Gavin Sinclair Offline
Serious Contributor
Gavin Sinclair  Offline
Serious Contributor

Joined: May 2017
Posts: 207
Conover, North Carolina, USA
Mike, you sound like a far more competent version of me:)

I like BIAB because it suits my style of writing. I always begin with a melody in my head and it's usually pretty much fully formed, with at least some of the lyrics. Then I go to my keyboard and work out the chord progression, before I ever go near a mic or a computer. Then BIAB is a bit like having a band that you go to and say, "Hey guys, I've got this great idea for a song. It goes like this."

I have never used a BIAB solo. I always create instrumental solos (sax, fiddle, harmonica, cello, etc.) with real or virtual instruments and lay them over the BIAB background. I'm interested that you have had success with the BIAB solos. Whatever you're doing sounds great, so maybe I need to investigate this further.

I only discovered Melodyne recently. I tend to use it sparingly, because I feel it can suck the life out of a vocal, if you're not careful. Not that it necessarily creates that awful autotune effect, but that it seems to kind of flatten things sometimes, especially as a lot of the stuff I do depends on having a warm, conversational tone. I think it's great for conventional pop songs, where you're not really listening too closely to the singer. Your approach of only using it on individual notes probably eliminates the problem I'm talking about. When I use it, I do use the macros, but I choose a relatively low percentage correction to get rid of the real bum notes without imposing an unrealistic perfection.

I use Mixcraft as my DAW, and the Pro version comes with the basic version of Melodyne integrated as part of the DAW. It's quite an economical way to get Melodyne, if you don't need the upscale features.

#1131079 - 09/28/17 12:10 PM Re: Making Great Demos with BIAB [Re: Michael Zaneski]  
Joined: Jan 2005
Posts: 13,066
Michael LeBlanc Online content
Top 10 Poster
Michael LeBlanc  Online Content
Top 10 Poster

Joined: Jan 2005
Posts: 13,066
Louisiana
Thanks Mike!I found out real quick how much BIAB is limited.I have gotten real frustrated trying to get things to sound like i want but couldn't and had to settle for far less.About the best i can do is put a little something to my lyrics just to get them out of the notebook so to speak.I'm sorta pleased with some of my songs that i do on my own even though i know they're not 100% the way i hear them in my head.I'm pretty sure that's why i slowed down lately in my songwriting.I still enjoy it though when i do hit on it again.It was interesting to see how you get things done,i really enjoyed it. Mike

#1131080 - 09/28/17 12:54 PM Re: Making Great Demos with BIAB [Re: Douglas Murphy]  
Joined: Jul 2006
Posts: 4,608
Michael Zaneski Offline
Top 100 Poster
Michael Zaneski  Offline
Top 100 Poster

Joined: Jul 2006
Posts: 4,608
California
Originally Posted by Douglas Murphy
OH! This post? smile

This is one of the things I am looking for. What you have explained here is great. I, probably like many others, have to consider the cost and expertise needed. I use Band In The Box to create a base, then use Audacity to mix and play. From that, I can entertain myself and create something that is pleasing to my ears [I do not mind listening later to those songs I have done.] and decent enough to share.

So here I will ask you for your advice in improving vocals. I am slow so go slow and list it out any way you can that says something like, "First do this and then add that and etc..," smile

Thank you for chiming in Mike. "Advice is always welcomed.

Douglas


Hi Douglas,

Audacity appears to allow the use of audio effects and so is a good basic piece of multtrack recording software.

Your vocals are decent with an old school Pete Seeger-ish kind of flair, but do suffer from some pitchiness that could be dealt with by loop recording verse-by-verse several takes and then compositing and choosing the best bits. They aren't boomy or dull sounding so not much EQing or compression would be needed, not unless you remixed the music to be more impactful. A little mid-sized room reverb (set somewhere between 20-45% wet) would help give your vocals on a song like "Daisy May" for instance, a little sheen, applied on the vocal's channel. Less is definitely more, with reverb. The minute you notice it's there, it's probably too much, unless you're a Goth band, LOL...

How much energy one puts into making their song "great" is totally in relation to what one intends to do with it. My demo work gets all my skills thrown at them, whereas with my more personal work, it varies, but I do tend to take more risks and do more experimental stuff with my own music, library or otherwise.

One doesn't want to suck all the fun out of any of the work, though, and so it's often a compromise with the areas of recording art that are less fun than others, such as, for instance, mulling over "syllibants" that are too loud, etc..this is why folks use "de-essers" (or nothing) rather than dealing with each ess and tee seperately, on an individual basis (by simply lowering the volume on the ess or tee in question, using automated volume envelopes), though this latter way gets the best results..

Something we are just going to circulate among friends and stream on the Net might find us thinking "these vocals are just fine," and certainly, if that's true for a particular thing we're working on, then it's true, cuz we're the boss of our own stuff--even though we know that perhaps they could be better vocals with more work--it's always a kind of compromise. Sending stuff to publishers or making demos with the intent of having them "go someplace" entails a completely different mindset and approach towards the work, though.

Mike


Last edited by Michael Zaneski; 09/28/17 06:34 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)
#1131081 - 09/28/17 01:08 PM Re: Making Great Demos with BIAB [Re: Gavin Sinclair]  
Joined: Jul 2006
Posts: 4,608
Michael Zaneski Offline
Top 100 Poster
Michael Zaneski  Offline
Top 100 Poster

Joined: Jul 2006
Posts: 4,608
California
Originally Posted by Gavin Sinclair
Mike, you sound like a far more competent version of me:)

I like BIAB because it suits my style of writing. I always begin with a melody in my head and it's usually pretty much fully formed, with at least some of the lyrics. Then I go to my keyboard and work out the chord progression, before I ever go near a mic or a computer. Then BIAB is a bit like having a band that you go to and say, "Hey guys, I've got this great idea for a song. It goes like this."

I have never used a BIAB solo. I always create instrumental solos (sax, fiddle, harmonica, cello, etc.) with real or virtual instruments and lay them over the BIAB background. I'm interested that you have had success with the BIAB solos. Whatever you're doing sounds great, so maybe I need to investigate this further.

I only discovered Melodyne recently. I tend to use it sparingly, because I feel it can suck the life out of a vocal, if you're not careful. Not that it necessarily creates that awful autotune effect, but that it seems to kind of flatten things sometimes, especially as a lot of the stuff I do depends on having a warm, conversational tone. I think it's great for conventional pop songs, where you're not really listening too closely to the singer. Your approach of only using it on individual notes probably eliminates the problem I'm talking about. When I use it, I do use the macros, but I choose a relatively low percentage correction to get rid of the real bum notes without imposing an unrealistic perfection.

I use Mixcraft as my DAW, and the Pro version comes with the basic version of Melodyne integrated as part of the DAW. It's quite an economical way to get Melodyne, if you don't need the upscale features.




Hi Gavin,

Melodyne is indispensable for pro quality demo making, but depending on what one intends to do with their finished work, it may not be a necessary tool.

Never use the Melodyne presets--they tend to make things worse. I loop a few bars of vocal audio while looking at the Melodyne blobs, and set the pitch grid to "no snap" and nudge offensive notes "into the ballpark" which is generally towards the center but not on it. You can retain the style and sound of the original vocals by simply getting the bad notes within 10 or 15 cents minus or plus, but keeping a flat note flat and a sharp note sharp keeps the style and sound intact, I found, through years of experimenting.

Rather than sucking the life out of a vocal, I've found Melodyne has done just the opposite, with me. It free's me up to really "go for it" since I'm not worried about hitting every note. I can put my full concentration on dynamic, exciting performances, verse-by-verse, chorus-by-chorus..

Mike

Last edited by Michael Zaneski; 09/28/17 01:11 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)
#1131082 - 09/28/17 01:18 PM Re: Making Great Demos with BIAB [Re: Dave Rice]  
Joined: Jul 2006
Posts: 4,608
Michael Zaneski Offline
Top 100 Poster
Michael Zaneski  Offline
Top 100 Poster

Joined: Jul 2006
Posts: 4,608
California
Originally Posted by Dave Rice
Hi Mike and Doug:

I was hoping you (Mike) would chime-in on this subject Doug mentioned on another forum. Wow, what a wealth of information. Ingenious combination of ways to turn BIAB into a Super Power and a major music making method when orchestrated by skillful and knowledgeable talents. I was especially impressed with what I saw on various video demos about Melodyne. It appears it can be bought in pieces to suit the needs of the individual... whether it be the vocalist or, like in Mike's hands, a full blown producer and demo artist combined.

Mike, from a vocalists point of view, which version of Melodyne do you recommend? Realizing that I (at present) record everything onto only one track, I'll have to adapt to using at least a separate vocal track in order to use Melodyne.

Can you see the bells, whistles and light bulbs going off inside my brain? LOL!

Thanks for sharing. More questions later.

Regards, ----Dave


Hi Dave,

I use Melodyne Editor (up to version 2.0.1), which is basically their "single track" offering and the least expensive.Single track just means one track per instance. The track can be a mixdown of several things, or a solitary lead vocal, and one can have several instances on several tracks, if one wants. One puts it into the vocals' channel and then clicks the "transfer" button so it turns orange and then Melodyne captures the vocals into it's software, and it's fairly intuitive to use, though I can't imagine how some people use the Standalone version that comes when one purchases the software--I just use it as a VST effect in FL Studio..

Thanks, btw, for the kind words..it's fun trying to be helpful!

Mike



Last edited by Michael Zaneski; 09/28/17 01:23 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)
#1131083 - 09/28/17 02:03 PM Re: Making Great Demos with BIAB [Re: Michael Zaneski]  
Joined: Feb 2005
Posts: 6,234
Dave Rice Online content
Top 40 Poster
Dave Rice  Online Content
Top 40 Poster

Joined: Feb 2005
Posts: 6,234
Texas
Thanks, Mike:

I'll be checking Melodyne Editor (up to v 2.0.1) at one of the big box stores in Ft. Worth next time "the Boss" lets me out of the Kennel... LOL! I always prefer to have the entire package, box, cd, instruction pamphlet (if included) and verify it will run on my "stand-alone" system under XP. Looking on-line, it appears to cost about $99 bucks but they are not clear about which Windows OS is required, etc.

I've been tardy about letting you know the entire album's worth of demos of my songs you did for me are on my ShowCaseYourMusic Page 'cause they've been "down" for at least two days. (Finally came back up this morning... so maybe some of our folks "sitting on the fence" about that demo will be able to determine your versatility and complete set of skills.) My current plan is to leave the page "as is" for at least three more weeks, then I'll decide if I'm going to "submerge" for a while.

Thanks for all you do to encourage and support folks at JPF. I remember the initial contact with you about making a demo for me... and from that point forward... it has been smooth sailing. There is something really rewarding to hear how someone else will Perform (and in your case, Produce) one's original song. I'm still collecting candidates for the next batch I plan to send your way.

Regards, ----Dave

#1131084 - 09/28/17 02:37 PM Re: Making Great Demos with BIAB [Re: Michael LeBlanc]  
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Originally Posted by Michael LeBlanc
Thanks Mike!I found out real quick how much BIAB is limited.I have gotten real frustrated trying to get things to sound like i want but couldn't and had to settle for far less.About the best i can do is put a little something to my lyrics just to get them out of the notebook so to speak.I'm sorta pleased with some of my songs that i do on my own even though i know they're not 100% the way i hear them in my head.I'm pretty sure that's why i slowed down lately in my songwriting.I still enjoy it though when i do hit on it again.It was interesting to see how you get things done,i really enjoyed it. Mike


Hi Mike,

Your demos function just fine in the capacity to give us listeners a really good idea of a song's strength and weaknesses. Your vocal phrasing is strong and I am sold on your songs based on that much of the time. BIAB can function from anything from a sketch pad at one extreme, to a part of a full blown demo making process, on the other, and that's what makes it great software and so much fun to use. I am starting to learn the names of all the loops' performers. It makes it feel more real and reminds me these are real people playing these things.

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)
#1131085 - 09/28/17 02:41 PM Re: Making Great Demos with BIAB [Re: Gavin Sinclair]  
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Gavin,

Depending on what it is about the real track solo performances that you don't like, as long as you find you like "bits and pieces" of them, then you can make them work with the "stacking and cross-fading method" I describe. Add Melodyne into the mix to get exactly the notes you want..I think if you do this you will find most of the solo performances can really be fantastic sounding!

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)
#1131086 - 09/28/17 02:42 PM Re: Making Great Demos with BIAB [Re: Dave Rice]  
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Originally Posted by Dave Rice
Thanks, Mike:

I'll be checking Melodyne Editor (up to v 2.0.1) at one of the big box stores in Ft. Worth next time "the Boss" lets me out of the Kennel... LOL! I always prefer to have the entire package, box, cd, instruction pamphlet (if included) and verify it will run on my "stand-alone" system under XP. Looking on-line, it appears to cost about $99 bucks but they are not clear about which Windows OS is required, etc.

I've been tardy about letting you know the entire album's worth of demos of my songs you did for me are on my ShowCaseYourMusic Page 'cause they've been "down" for at least two days. (Finally came back up this morning... so maybe some of our folks "sitting on the fence" about that demo will be able to determine your versatility and complete set of skills.) My current plan is to leave the page "as is" for at least three more weeks, then I'll decide if I'm going to "submerge" for a while.

Thanks for all you do to encourage and support folks at JPF. I remember the initial contact with you about making a demo for me... and from that point forward... it has been smooth sailing. There is something really rewarding to hear how someone else will Perform (and in your case, Produce) one's original song. I'm still collecting candidates for the next batch I plan to send your way.

Regards, ----Dave



Thanks, Dave,

I love your songs and look forward to working on more of them. 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)
#1131101 - 09/29/17 07:57 AM Re: Making Great Demos with BIAB [Re: Michael Zaneski]  
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Thanks for the tips but for me it sounds way too confusing and way too much work.
You do make great demos though and good melodies.

#1131102 - 09/29/17 08:03 AM Re: Making Great Demos with BIAB [Re: Douglas Murphy]  
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Hey Douglas....in my opinion which is just mine don't concentrate on all the gimmicks
on your voice and sing from the heart with emotion. Sing like you believe it and sing relaxed and conversational. If somebody picks the song up they just want to hear that. Of course all the bells and whistles and gimmicks for our demos are OK and many use them so that's my two cents. BUT Mike makes great use of his equipment and also has lots talent....

#1131103 - 09/29/17 08:16 AM Re: Making Great Demos with BIAB [Re: Michael Zaneski]  
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Thank you, Barry. That is one of my problems, trying to improve what just might be good. I will take those two
cents and use them. smile

Douglas


"Is this a practice? They are all practices." John Denver

www.soundclick.com/dougmurphy

Skype Contact: douglas.murphy8
#1131112 - 09/29/17 10:52 AM Re: Making Great Demos with BIAB [Re: Douglas Murphy]  
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I learned a hard lesson years ago and along the way. Don't try and sing like a singer you like or just a singer. You are a Singer Songwriter and must sing from the heart with warts and all. Be convincing and don't be afraid if it doesn't sound smooth and slick. Listen to Rod Stewart or Bob Dylan or Joe Cocker or even a guy like Harry Chapin.... I know older guys but they sang their songs they way they interpreted them. I think people love when there are singers with flaws as we all have flaws. The technology is ok but you are cutting songs where probably others would probably sing and record and they must FEEL your vocal and song....

#1131116 - 09/29/17 03:23 PM Re: Making Great Demos with BIAB [Re: Michael Zaneski]  
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I think it depends a bit on the type of song, Barry. Your songs mostly call for that conversational style, as do a lot of mine. Every so often, though, I write something that calls for a bit more actual "singing." You actually need to hit the notes and hold them. I don't have that ability. Melodyne can help me at least produce something that's less embarrassing to present to a real singer or stick up on SoundCloud..

#1131120 - 09/29/17 07:57 PM Re: Making Great Demos with BIAB [Re: Gavin Sinclair]  
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OK that sounds reasonable. Good Luck.

#1131129 - 09/30/17 01:28 AM Re: Making Great Demos with BIAB [Re: Michael Zaneski]  
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Hey there Barry!

I totally agree with you about "singing like you really mean it" and not worrying about hitting every note perfectly, but then it seems we veer into totally different paths.

I tend to think of tools like Melodyne and "choosing the best bits from several 'takes' " (aka compositing a vocal track) as actually doing the opposite of what you say they do. These tools are meant to free up the singer to really "go for it" and not worry so much about pitch (cuz you know you can 'fix' really bad notes), cuz again, we're agree-ing that there's probably nothing worse than a "too careful" vocal fueled by a worry over missing notes. "Sing it like you mean it" --that is always and absolutely the first order of business.

I just think that, once you've got a killer emotive vocal, and one that might be a little pitchy (cuz again, the singer "went for it", but did take after take) that it's nice to know that there are tools that one can choose to use and steps that can be taken to make a good performance perhaps even stronger by making obvious sour notes a little sweeter. It seems a little strange to advocate singing one's heart out but just saying "no" to tools that can make that heartfelt performance..perhaps better?

I am simply advocating having tools in ones toolbox that can help build the solid foundation of strong vocals. Singing with "heart" is the correct place to start.

Anyway, I always tell the singer-songwriters I produce to "sing with style and flair and don't worry about hitting every note perfectly" --or some form of that statement.

Certianly singer-songwriters have more leeway in terms of pitchiness, and as I said, "it depends on what our intention is" with our music--in terms of how much work we might want to put into a given piece. But even a Bob Dylan who was notorious in his later years for going into the studio "cold" --even Dylan's vocals have so-called gimmicks of compression and EQing and reverb on them to make them sound more professional.

ANyway, you've "caught the spirit" I was hoping for in my thread, here. We all have different ways of doing things and I appreciate you sharing your "method" a little bit. You are more a Cassavetes and I'm more a Kubrick, but both made some really great movies. smile

And what I layed out in my first post was how I make demos for clients, and I carry the mantra "it's not done until it's done" with me as I work on each cuz I can't do good work if I'm worried how long it might take.

And as I said, when I do personal stuff and stuff for fun, my "process" is usually a bit less rigorous. But rigorous, in my case, usually produces the kind of results that I can then feel good about handing a finished demo to a client.

Mike

Last edited by Michael Zaneski; 09/30/17 02:20 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)
#1131131 - 09/30/17 01:36 AM Re: Making Great Demos with BIAB [Re: Brian Austin Whitney]  
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Originally Posted by Brian Austin Whitney
Thanks for sharing your tips and thoughts Mike!


Thanks, Brian. smile


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)
#1131135 - 09/30/17 07:43 AM Re: Making Great Demos with BIAB [Re: Michael Zaneski]  
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I agree mostly what you say. I don't have the money for anything these days and can't post any new songs as my computer won't let me upload a cd anymore. I still use old crap like a Boss 8 track and an outdated piano with some rhythms on it. I used to make demos with all kinds of bells and whistles and spend days on them until I realized that with my expertise and equipment a simpler demo would suffice. I also found that I used to bury my voice and use too much this and that and I felt I lost that raw sound I have. SO I love your demos and if I had one extra dime I'd probably use your services. But for now going forward I'm not going to write any new songs if I can't post them. I have MANY Songs at my youtube page already. I do write a lot of lyrics also. Keep em coming and thanks for the comment.

#1131136 - 09/30/17 07:56 AM Re: Making Great Demos with BIAB [Re: Michael Zaneski]  
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Hi Folks:

I suppose it's all about perspective. Have you ever spent hours prepping for a recording. then laid down a nearly perfect vocal except for one stinking note? Since I don't do 8 track recordings, my only choice is to "let it slide" and put out an imperfect recording... or start over and do the whole darn thing again.

That's what got me excited about the Melodyne method. I know it means I'll have to start doing at least two tracks (vocal & music) but being able to save all that work, especially when (in my delusional mind... LOL!) I "nailed it" except for that one cotton picking note. When it comes to learning new methods and software, I'm also a bit leery of all the work it represents... but success can be so rewarding.

After "flying the new method around the patch" a few times... it tends to get easier and eventually, viola! Success.

Yeah, I know, this is a bit over-simplified, you are probably thinking, but... if you never try, you never fully understand. I also agree with Barry. If you don't sell your song with all the emotion or sincerity... or even comedy if required, nothing else will come to your rescue. A bad vocal is a bad vocal.

On the other hand, if you have mastered your vocal abilities and are already at the professional level, all this technological stuff is probably a waste of time. Then there is the story going around that nearly every "artist" uses some kind of pitch correction technology... or it all gets done "magically" by the recording techs behind the scenes after the session is over.

Being the "Klutz" I tend to be, what do I know? Very little, it seems. But sometimes it pays to try. What if Mike had never given technology a shot? A tremendous resource would have never been available to us! That's my story and I'm stickin' to it!

The easy "out" for most of us is to "hire" someone with more talent to do a demo of our song for us. Compare what it would cost to get a Nashville Demo done and you'll do cartwheels when you hear Mike's quote!

Regards, ----Dave

#1131142 - 09/30/17 09:18 AM Re: Making Great Demos with BIAB [Re: Dave Rice]  
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No matter how good our demos are it doesn't make it any easier to get a song to Tim McGraw or a new Artist. Even if it was perfect it wouldn't matter. Without some connections to somebody in Pop, Rock or Country it doesn't matter. I am always looking for a playwright who wants to make their play into a musical...That would really be fun,,,,

#1131143 - 09/30/17 09:34 AM Re: Making Great Demos with BIAB [Re: Michael Zaneski]  
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Well,
While it is hard to get a song to anyone these days some, usually Nashville Publishers want a polished demo made in Nashville to even take it in their catalog. Some people will want a raw demo and tend to turn down the polished, over polished demo, usually producers seeking songs for an Artist they are producing. I have had requests for more songs with just my own Guitar/Vocal. If you have what they are looking for, the demo will make little difference. I used to worry of how good my demos were. While there is practically no place to pitch songs these days, If I think I have something the producer is looking for, even if it is my Guitar/Vocal, I will send it. In the past I have had the worst of my Guitar/Vocals demoed by a demo service to make it a bit better. I still have songs I would like to have a Pro Demo made but with no place to submit to I will not go any further.


Ray E. Strode
#1131152 - 09/30/17 03:14 PM Re: Making Great Demos with BIAB [Re: Michael Zaneski]  
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I totally agree with Mike about how these tools free you up to put your heart into it. You can just go for it, even improvise on the fly, and know that you can "fix" it later, either with something like Melodyne or just splicing in another take that was better.
I'm working on a song right now, which is actually pretty difficult to sing. My pitch was all over the place, but I just kept plugging away and did a number of imperfect takes, chose the best one and fixed a few spots with cut and paste from other takes and then followed Mike's advice and used Melodyne to fix individual notes. It's still me singing, but the difference between the original and the "fixed" version is pretty amazing. I'll post a link to it here in the near future. I definitely won't post a link to the original version!

#1131282 - 10/07/17 12:22 PM Re: Making Great Demos with BIAB [Re: Gavin Sinclair]  
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That's pretty cool news, Gavin.

Melodyne is a great tool, and after several years of use, I can offer this advice:

ALWAYS work with NO SNAP in the Pitch Grid so you can move notes individually, cent by cent, and "nudge" them towards the center but not too close to it. Within 8-15 cents is usually fine, and if you have a good ear, always use THAT instead of what Melodyne is showing. Pay more attention to the orange line which is the actual pitch than the blob which is Melodyne's "guess" as to the note.

NEVER ever ever use the "Pitch Modulation" part of the Pitch Tool to "flatline" a note. This is how to make a natural sounding note into a "robotic" one, in that it sucks all the nuance and quaver out of the note.

Use the normal "top" Pitch Tool to move notes upwards and downwards, cent by cent, and also use the "Pitch Drift" part of the Pitch Tool by "Left Click Holding" onto the note in question and scrolling up or down to "center" or "anchor" a note with the aim of making it more balanced from left to right on that note. You will notice that all the nuance of that note is still there, just within the same pitch range and not, say, starting fifty cents high and ending fifty cents low.

Lastly, use the "Note Separation Tool" on the far right to chop up complex legato notes, aka cells and phrases that Melodyne "hears" as single notes. These will happen often if you ornament sung vowels at the end of a phrase with more than one note, or add grace notes or other types of ornamentation to your vocals.

Melodyne doesn't do it's best work with notes that have heavy vibrato on them. This is an observation more than advice. Pay close attention to what you hear coming out of Melodyne and you should be okay. smile

Mike


Last edited by Michael Zaneski; 10/07/17 12:32 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)
#1131292 - 10/07/17 09:11 PM Re: Making Great Demos with BIAB [Re: Michael Zaneski]  
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Thanks for sharing Michael.

Melodyne is built into the DAW that I have. I bought the stand-alone program a few years ago. When I want to use it, though...I send a WAV to you. Nonetheless, it's interesting to read what you write about your techniques..

Martin

#1131355 - 10/11/17 03:39 AM Re: Making Great Demos with BIAB [Re: Michael Zaneski]  
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People must understand that anything you use from "realtracks" are in the public domain. So, if you register an SR Copyright, only the truly unique portions of the recording will be protected (anything but the realtracks). But, caveat: I'm not a lawyer.

#1131356 - 10/11/17 03:42 AM Re: Making Great Demos with BIAB [Re: Barry David Butler]  
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Originally Posted by Barry David Butler
No matter how good our demos are it doesn't make it any easier to get a song to Tim McGraw or a new Artist. Even if it was perfect it wouldn't matter. Without some connections to somebody in Pop, Rock or Country it doesn't matter. I am always looking for a playwright who wants to make their play into a musical...That would really be fun,,,,


I've been thinking about a musical, for a long time. Been studying the genre, how musicals are made, the nuts and bolts stuff, and the pitfalls. i'm finding that It's probably tougher to make a successful musical ( one that, say, gets as far as an off - broadway production ) than it is to write a song that actually becomes a hit.

#1131361 - 10/11/17 07:22 AM Re: Making Great Demos with BIAB [Re: Pat Hardy]  
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I agree about a Musical....Impossible to do.

#1131388 - 10/12/17 11:35 AM Re: Making Great Demos with BIAB [Re: Martin Lide]  
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Originally Posted by Martin Lide
Thanks for sharing Michael.

Melodyne is built into the DAW that I have. I bought the stand-alone program a few years ago. When I want to use it, though...I send a WAV to you. Nonetheless, it's interesting to read what you write about your techniques..

Martin


Thanks, Martin.

The program can't be explained well in three paragraphs, those are just some ground level things. All the tools therein have some use. I DO find, though, that vocals w/vibrato are often given blobs that are too sharp and that if I were to take Melodyne's word and nor use my ear it would be a sad state of affairs.

Thanks again. 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)
#1131389 - 10/12/17 12:37 PM Re: Making Great Demos with BIAB [Re: Pat Hardy]  
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Originally Posted by Pat Hardy

People must understand that anything you use from "realtracks" are in the public domain. So, if you register an SR Copyright, only the truly unique portions of the recording will be protected (anything but the realtracks). But, caveat: I'm not a lawyer.



Pat,

http://www.pgmusic.com/forums/ubbthreads.php?ubb=showflat&Number=348403

http://www.pgmusic.com/forums/ubbthreads.php?ubb=showflat&Number=244842

http://www.pgmusic.com/forums/ubbthreads.php?ubb=showflat&Number=248234

http://www.pgmusic.com/forums/ubbthreads.php?ubb=showthreaded&Number=99943

You most certainly can copyright a sound recording with Realtracks in them, of course the Realtracks themselves are not "protected" in the sense that other BIAB users can create music culled from the same Realtrack performance, but that doesn't mean that you have to worry about that when having your sound recording that has Realtracks on it copyrighted--there's no need to mention them at all. BIAB users simply know (that other BIAB users might use similar Realtrack performances in their sound recordings) going in, and none would claim SR copyright infringement (over this particular issue), and neither would BIAB (they state clearly the music we create with Realtracks is royalty-free), and neither would the Realtrack performers (BIAB owns the work they did).

And since BIAB software chops up the Realtrack performances into much smaller chunks (of one to four bars per chunk, usually) based on ones chosen chord progressions, the odds of any two songs having specific parts that are identical for more than a few bars is very small.

It's kinda like if different producers use the same session musician. The session musician has a certain style and certain chops, and if one was to listen to various songs the session musician was on, one would be able to spot signature phrases the session musician likes to use. But that fact doesn't render those performances "uncopyrightable" cuz they are not unique.

Careful how you choose to use the words "public domain" as that means a specific thing, as in music with NO copyright claim of ownership, and BIAB (not the Realtracks performers) owns their software and the raw Realtrack performances from which BIAB users then chop up to create their songs with.

The word "unique" is mainly used (in the context of SR Copyright Law) when talking about the overall actual recording in question. The overall sound recording needs to be unique--not every constituent part, like you seem to suggest. In other words, with clearance, I could theoretically use all the samples that make up an old Beck song, for instance. But I can't use them exactly like Beck did, in the same places in the song, with the same chords and rhythms, etc..that would basically be stealing the musical bed he created for that song.

"Sound recording copyrights were intended…to protect against bootlegging,…the unauthorized copying and sale of a recording,…and against illegal sampling,," * --Realtracks does none of that.

BIAB has covered the licensing. Most folks who make and sell loops don't use a two-tier approach of a cheap license for personal use and a "pro" for commercial use, and BIAB has made it clear one's recordings are one's "own" even with Realtracks in them. The BIAB Realtracks session musicians were paid, I imagine, on a work-for-hire basis.

BIAB uses the "session musicians for hire" model from top to bottom. Using Realtracks is not so different from hiring a session musician to play (on a work-for-hire basis) on one's song. The main difference being with a LIVE musician one can hopefully cull more nuance specific to the song in question. wink When using Realtracks one has to apply craft to achieve similar results.

The only thing you can't do is sell Realtracks in their raw state as "loops." BIAB allows for there usage in any type of recording and demo, and one need not put an asterisk in one's SR copyright request. They are just like any loops that you buy. The license allows one to use them in any way you see fit except to turnaround and sell them as loops.

If a BIAB Realtracks sessions player had an issue with their performances being used in a commercial recording (and they haven't), their issue would be with BIAB, not the licensed user, but it would never even come to that. But if I actually had made a bunch of money on a song with a BIAB performance, I'd track down the performer and sweeten his or her Christmas for sure. smile

Mike

* https://www.lynda.com/Audio-Music-M...recording-copyright/197192/378157-4.html

Last edited by Michael Zaneski; 10/13/17 02:01 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)
#1132526 - 11/17/17 09:27 AM Re: Making Great Demos with BIAB [Re: Michael Zaneski]  
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Joined: Nov 2017
Posts: 78
North Carolina
Hi Mike,

I just stumbled across this since I just joined the forum. I am a pro user of Band-in-a-Box and actually started the beginner's forum over there.

Your article is great and certainly lays it all out clearly.

In its simplest terms I think a lot of folks misunderstand Band-in-a-Box. If you have the audiophile version you can essentially generate the kind of .wav file instrument tracks that would come out of a professional studio--with 5,000 + possibilities of "styles" at a bare minimum--5,000 x 5,000 if you experiment.

But in any studio, a bare track is a bare track. You still have to put those tracks in a real DAW (I use Sonar) and then go to work with your EQ-ing and mastering tools. (I have about 300 plug ins, many of which I got free from the Focusrite collective, but some of which I paid for from IK Multimedia and Izotope.) With those plug-ins I can do just about anything I want. I saw a video a few months ago and it looks like I have the same set-up more or less that U2 has. For about $300 bucks almost anyone can get close to what U2 has, unless they decide they really, really, really want to go into a studio and use that 64 track board and soak up a few suds.

I think some people expect BIAB to work miracles, but the pro users on the BIAB forum (of which I am a hyper active member) know the workflow. You find a good style in BIAB that is "close." I have found some 2017 styles that sound so close to 2017 John Mayer it is scary. Then you doctor them, add other parts. Then you either export them, or open them up in Real Band (the free BIAB DAW) and fiddle some more with track gain and so forth. Maybe add a few more tracks. I actually record all my audio in Real Band because it is so simple and is very easy to work with as an audio editing tool. Then I export.

Then I load those tracks into Sonar, turn on the amp, plug in the Tele, grab the Taylor, tune those puppies up and get down to work.

For that, BIAB is an absolute miracle and Godsend.

But, it does not mean you don't have to play producer. You do have to spend a year teaching yourself how to be an engineer. I think that's the part a lot of folks don't get.

Thanks for a great post.

As you mentioned, there are a gazillion tutorials and constant education on the tools at www.pgmusic.com for folks who want to sign up.


David Snyder, Composer, Author
Singer-Songwriter, Producer
Regional Chapter Coordinator, NSAI
www.davidsnydermusic.com
#1132531 - 11/17/17 10:25 AM Re: Making Great Demos with BIAB [Re: Michael Zaneski]  
Joined: May 2017
Posts: 207
Gavin Sinclair Offline
Serious Contributor
Gavin Sinclair  Offline
Serious Contributor

Joined: May 2017
Posts: 207
Conover, North Carolina, USA
Great post David.

I started with the most basic version of BIAB, because the prices for the more upscale versions were a bit high for me. Then last year around Christmas I got a really great deal on an upgrade to the EverythingPAK which opened up so many possibilities. It's worth keeping an eye open for these deals.

#1132593 - 11/18/17 06:32 PM Re: Making Great Demos with BIAB [Re: David Snyder]  
Joined: Jul 2006
Posts: 4,608
Michael Zaneski Offline
Top 100 Poster
Michael Zaneski  Offline
Top 100 Poster

Joined: Jul 2006
Posts: 4,608
California
Hi David,

Great post!

I looked at Real Band a few times and never bothered using it..it's good to know it functions as a DAW.

BIAB still needs some work under the hood, imo..the "pushes" aka syncopations are pretty unusable as they make the performance change style to a slow strum and it sounds like just one sample there, used over and over again throughout the song, which can make for a pretty spastic sound, lol..

Try getting any BIAB strummed guitar to mimic the opening guitar sequence of "My Sweet Lord" for instance, where Em starts the strum and the A occurs on the upbeat, the AND of the fourth beat..it can't be done without those awful sounding "pushes." Then there's the 'double the tempo' theory cuz then you could simply write the A major chord on the fourth beat (of the same song at twice the tempo), but this only works well when the doubled tempo is below 200 BPM or so, and one was lucky enough to find a performance that worked well in the given song, at that ultra-fast tempo.

I found the best way is a workaround in one's DAW. I recently did a song for Ricki requiring a chord change on the upbeat after the second beat in every bar in the verses, mid-tempo, swing eighths, and what I did was first create a chart of the song with that chord change on the very next downbeat--in this case, beat three, then render the tracks and load them into my DAW. Then I made a copy of the BIAB strummed guitar and automated its volume down to zero, and moved it one swing-eighth ahead of the original strummed guitar file. Then I added automated volume to that main strummed guitar, and every time it came to the AND (upbeat of the second beat in this case) I'd lower the volume of the main guitar strum and cross-fade it with the copy, sometimes cutting and stretching the syncopation well beyond the third beat--whatever sounded good. When I figured this out, I realized there were many new options that opened up, using this method, and it became a breeze creating a really dynamic guitar part with chord changes on an upbeat, though it did take a couple hours, but it was time well spent, and it won't take that long next time..

I am having fun applying odd effects to some BIAB performances as well..things like their chamber strings--I'll sometimes put a 'gate' on them that allows sound to only pass through on a defined rhythmic sequence, and then either soften the settings to make it sound natural, or go strict "on and off" with the rhythm for a more electronica sound.

But BIAB is a miracle and a Godsend, I agree. Used in tendem with polyphonic pitch correction like Melodyne expands it's usage beyond the given performances into near infintity..

Thanks again for the great post!

Mike

Last edited by Michael Zaneski; 11/18/17 07:08 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)
#1132594 - 11/18/17 07:27 PM Re: Making Great Demos with BIAB [Re: Michael Zaneski]  
Joined: Aug 2007
Posts: 884
Martin Lide Online content
Top 500 Poster
Martin Lide  Online Content
Top 500 Poster

Joined: Aug 2007
Posts: 884
Houston, Texas
David and Mike,

Thanks for your posts. You guys are great to have around.

Martin


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