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Creativity and the Use of BIAB and Loops

Posted By: Michael Zaneski

Creativity and the Use of BIAB and Loops - 11/01/15 02:01 AM

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

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Posted By: John Staples

Re: Creativity and the Use of BIAB and Loops - 11/01/15 03:27 AM

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!
Posted By: Vicarn

Re: Creativity and the Use of BIAB and Loops - 11/01/15 05:26 AM

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.


Posted By: DonnaMarilyn

Re: Creativity and the Use of BIAB and Loops - 11/01/15 11:58 AM

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
Posted By: Colin Ward

Re: Creativity and the Use of BIAB and Loops - 11/01/15 02:06 PM

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.
Posted By: Ray E. Strode

Re: Creativity and the Use of BIAB and Loops - 11/01/15 04:48 PM

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!
Posted By: John Lawrence Schick

Re: Creativity and the Use of BIAB and Loops - 11/01/15 06:08 PM

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
Posted By: Colin Ward

Re: Creativity and the Use of BIAB and Loops - 11/01/15 06:10 PM

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.
Posted By: Michael Zaneski

Re: Creativity and the Use of BIAB and Loops - 11/01/15 07:45 PM

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
Posted By: Michael Zaneski

Re: Creativity and the Use of BIAB and Loops - 11/01/15 07:52 PM

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
Posted By: Michael Zaneski

Re: Creativity and the Use of BIAB and Loops - 11/01/15 07:57 PM

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
Posted By: Michael Zaneski

Re: Creativity and the Use of BIAB and Loops - 11/01/15 08:08 PM

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

Posted By: Michael Zaneski

Re: Creativity and the Use of BIAB and Loops - 11/01/15 08:16 PM

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
Posted By: Michael Zaneski

Re: Creativity and the Use of BIAB and Loops - 11/01/15 08:38 PM

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


Posted By: John Lawrence Schick

Re: Creativity and the Use of BIAB and Loops - 11/01/15 10:32 PM

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.
Posted By: Everett Adams

Re: Creativity and the Use of BIAB and Loops - 11/01/15 11:36 PM

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.
Posted By: John Staples

Re: Creativity and the Use of BIAB and Loops - 11/02/15 03:54 AM

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.!
Posted By: Andy K

Re: Creativity and the Use of BIAB and Loops - 11/02/15 04:40 AM

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.
Posted By: Michael Zaneski

Re: Creativity and the Use of BIAB and Loops - 11/02/15 09:01 AM

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
Posted By: Michael Zaneski

Re: Creativity and the Use of BIAB and Loops - 11/02/15 09:04 AM

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
Posted By: Michael LeBlanc

Re: Creativity and the Use of BIAB and Loops - 11/02/15 02:52 PM

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!
Posted By: Kolstad

Re: Creativity and the Use of BIAB and Loops - 11/03/15 01:10 AM

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.
Posted By: Michael Zaneski

Re: Creativity and the Use of BIAB and Loops - 11/03/15 01:59 AM

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
Posted By: Michael Zaneski

Re: Creativity and the Use of BIAB and Loops - 11/03/15 02:11 AM

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
Posted By: Michael Zaneski

Re: Creativity and the Use of BIAB and Loops - 11/03/15 02:18 AM

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
Posted By: MidniteBob

Re: Creativity and the Use of BIAB and Loops - 11/03/15 04:32 AM

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
Posted By: Pat Hardy

Re: Creativity and the Use of BIAB and Loops - 02/23/16 11:03 AM

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".
Posted By: R&M

Re: Creativity and the Use of BIAB and Loops - 04/09/16 08:44 AM

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.
Posted By: niteshift

Re: Creativity and the Use of BIAB and Loops - 05/12/16 08:17 PM

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

Posted By: Barry David Butler

Re: Creativity and the Use of BIAB and Loops - 05/13/16 12:30 AM

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
Posted By: John W. Selleck

Re: Creativity and the Use of BIAB and Loops - 06/01/16 03:43 AM

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.
Posted By: Barry David Butler

Re: Creativity and the Use of BIAB and Loops - 06/01/16 06:53 AM

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..
Posted By: Michael Zaneski

Re: Creativity and the Use of BIAB and Loops - 06/01/16 07:46 AM

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
Posted By: R&M

Re: Creativity and the Use of BIAB and Loops - 06/28/16 04:33 AM

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.
Posted By: Pat Hardy

Re: Creativity and the Use of BIAB and Loops - 03/04/17 06:34 AM



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.
Posted By: Trentb

Re: Creativity and the Use of BIAB and Loops - 03/04/17 06:51 PM

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.
Posted By: Martin Lide

Re: Creativity and the Use of BIAB and Loops - 04/19/17 06:05 AM

Just saw this.thread....

Michael

You've taken biab (and whatever else you use) beyond a sketch tool or a work up tool. I contend that a band or singer-songwriter with a following could take your work product and sell it to their fans and most if not all would accept it simply as their music, unaware and uncaring of how it was generated. Non musicians dont listen close enough to notice or care. They just like or dont like.

A few years ago I heard someone throwin shade on Faith Hill for using auto tune. There would be some of that but I doubt enough to matter.

Your knowledge of the software, coupled with your sensibilities takes biab to a higher level than Ive personally heard...on these songwriting sites. Im sure that there are a growing number of biab wizards out there. Ive witnessed a couple of sound engineers who could make an empty soup can rolling down a concrete driveway sound good with any software. Please dont ask under what circumstances I witnessed this.

No doubt something very good done with biab could be made flawless by gifted sound engineers and session players and gifted producers...but...I contend that most of the time there is no practical reason to pay for the upgrade.

The reality is that the day is soon coming that an algorithm writes and records a #1 hit.

Major artists have the money and backing to make everything air tight and they need to, but I have no doubt that there are songs that a big name could make top ten with only Michael Zaneski. Eric Church comes to mind.

Am afraid that there is no chance for me to do that Michael...but I hope that a twenty year old Joe Nichols finds you.



Your admirer,

Marty. smile
Posted By: Brian Austin Whitney

Re: Creativity and the Use of BIAB and Loops - 04/19/17 11:43 PM

I saw a short doc on youtube about 5 recent new advancements in AI and it's both exciting as well as a tremendous red alert level warning to current human existence, not that we'd be eliminated, but that we'd become integrated in an irreversible way. But among the lesser eye opening ones was a story on AI original music composition. This was to band in the box what a fingersnap is to a hydrogen bomb. Using primarily classical music (like ALL of it) as a learning tool, as well as all the other disciplines it had been taught, it composed original music which was shocking. It wasn't derivative like lesser forms have been, nor experimental as others, or generic or predictable, nor even overly unpredictable. It was truly an original voice/thought/composition with an artistic style that was accessible but unique. It had flavors of jazz (which is freeform) and orchestral (which is often more rigid in arrangement ideas, at least that's the best way I can think to explain it). It was like a new artist who had learned music at university/symphony level combined with a garage band/club performer. There were no lyrics, and I think the weakness might have been melody, but it was startling because it seemed like a truly new musical voice. And they said they had barely started teaching it. That Google in particular will be feeding ALL known music into it along with context, information on the w, w, w, w, w and h's of each piece, each composer, each player, each music manufacturer and beyond so they it is like an all knowing musician with deep expertise and understanding of not just the mechanics and rules/rule breaking, but also the life experiences of that which created it combined with the unfathomable collective knowledge of Google. So not only could it replace musicians to a further extent than the industry already has, but at the same time it could take music to places we can't yet imagine.

The other stories included showing AI a photo, without any other instructions but to ask it what happens next. So the computer created a new photo, with movement by moveable objects (planes in the air, people on a beach, birds, the ocean) and things that don't move at all or as quickly (buildings, the sun etc.) Further, it was asked to make a photo of flowers that were simply described in words (not dimensions or building instructions, just colors etc.) and it produced a wide array of photo realistic flowers out of the ether. They were a little fuzzy (sort of like a slightly out of focus camera) but otherwise were accurate. The ramifications are that between human instructions, knowledge database and the ability to know all things at all times up to the microsecond of knowledge, we won't be able to believe anything we see or hear (voice synthesis will allow them to take actors long dead and make new films etc.) or to make "news" show us anything it wants to show us from complete recreations of unseen events in news to complete propaganda doing the bidding of a political ideology.

Brian
Posted By: Ricki E. Bellos

Re: Creativity and the Use of BIAB and Loops - 04/20/17 12:22 AM

Gulp!
Posted By: Vicarn

Re: Creativity and the Use of BIAB and Loops - 04/20/17 12:53 AM

I doubt that anything technology can turn out will ever replace the human input and output.
Tools they are and although exciting and interesting, they will always be tools.
As long as humans exist that is.
Posted By: Brian Austin Whitney

Re: Creativity and the Use of BIAB and Loops - 04/20/17 06:02 AM

Originally Posted by Vicarn
I doubt that anything technology can turn out will ever replace the human input and output.
Tools they are and although exciting and interesting, they will always be tools.
As long as humans exist that is.


When a machine can think like humans (they already have far more knowledge than any human will have) with personalities, preferences based on criteria beyond what we could develop, I think creativity can be equalled and then surpassed. We're in a pre-toddler infancy stage at this time, but already they are finding that AI, instead of waiting for humans to get smarter in order to solve problems, are simply improving their own programming and actually are starting to solve complex problems like physics etc. before humans have been able to catch up, and once we have (based often on an enlightening new direction the AI has gone we hadn't contemplated) we check the work and learn things that it is already teaching us. And it is a never ending, boundary pushing, speed of light processing monster which will eventually surpass us. Already it is able to use 3D printing to make not only functioning replacement organs, but to adjust underlying DNA to fix problems, improve functionality and in one of the stories, they showed why things die (something about DNA strands that replicate eventually get shortened in each new iteration until eventually it causes fatal flaws, and how they are closing in on fixing that problem in certain animals (supposedly human experimentation isn't happening, but I wonder, don't you?) with positive results so far.

Music and entertainment is an after thought in AI capabilities, but they were showing with even minimal effort, that AI can equal the composition skills of most professional musicians. To think it won't quickly surpass us is to have your head in the sand (and I don't blame you, it's frightening). The bottom line is we've created AI, but it is showing that it can working beyond us at a speed we can't approach with feeds on itself exponentially. The question, both scientific and morality wise, is do we let it surpass us in ways that may initially seem helpful, but which could quickly go places we may wish we'd never gone. Already they can (in theory) eliminate many health problems in embryos in the womb by altering DNA. How long until that is corrupted and what if we learn that the collective defects in our DNA make life what is most worth living and gives us as a species ways to think differently, albeit imperfectly, at problems to go in directions a "perfect" version of us would never go? And of course the stuff of nightmares such as the early 20th century eugenics movements which looked to eliminate the "undesirable" humans from the gene pool which was started under hyper racist Woodrow Wilson and picked up by the Germans pre WWII. This stuff has so many moral warning signs that it's frightening. What happens when the 1% owns our DNA and the ability to live forever and choosing life or death on their whims. This is no longer just dysphoric science fiction, it's actually technology that we know about and who believes for one moment that the limits to what they can already do are known by all? Do we pre-emptively slow it down to wrap our collective heads around it, or is it just full speed ahead and let happen whatever happens?

Music is such a minor side effect, but one that at least is more interesting than frightening. I wonder how many of us could choose the human made music from the AI created music?

Brian
Posted By: DonnaMarilyn

Re: Creativity and the Use of BIAB and Loops - 04/20/17 06:02 AM

Fascinating information, Brian.

Donna
Posted By: Everett Adams

Re: Creativity and the Use of BIAB and Loops - 04/20/17 11:18 AM

Scary. Humans will invent the means of our own destruction one way or the other. I wonder if this is what the bible in referring to when it says the image that talks, also beast with faces of animals on four sides. knowledge is a great thing but man can't help himself from pushing it to a limit where it should not go.
Posted By: Martin Lide

Re: Creativity and the Use of BIAB and Loops - 04/20/17 02:25 PM

What Brian said about AI.
For my money...all true.

Computers and AI overall is a wonderful thing...with some eerie unintended consequences. My personal biggest fear is the centralization of power. I shudder to think of some of these mega wealthy globalists, who, if given a choice, would let me and my entire extended family die rather than sacrifice their four year old daughter's miniature poodle....yet, being able to walk into a single room and tell one guy to dispatch 500 weaponized drones against someone that this person "deemed" an enemy.

I see songwriting machines as a much lesser concern.

Sorry about the digression Mike.
Posted By: Michael Zaneski

Re: Creativity and the Use of BIAB and Loops - 04/20/17 05:41 PM

Originally Posted by Martin Lide


I see songwriting machines as a much lesser concern.

Sorry about the digression Mike.


No worries, Martin, and btw thanks for the kind words in your prior post . smile

I agree that "songwriting machines" and "art machines" are no threat to creativity, though the face of what creativity entails seems to be changing.

It's still up to someone to decide, among the thousands of permutations on a given theme that a computer may spit out what is good and what is not.

This points to a paradigm shift in what we think of as creativity in general. A shift towards passive listening (and choosing what is good) as a foregrounded part of an artists' process seems inevitable. For centuries, creativity has followed what I call "The God Model" (yes, I've thought about this a lot, LOL) which entails the simple process of imagining things and then choosing from among those imaginings, editing, and proceeding from there. This includes art that comes to an artist in all-at-once fashion. "Let there be light" as it were.

With the glut of tools available, much art is now created with computer assistance that usurps the role of the imagination and foregrounds a process of choosing from tangible permutations/examples. This is basically what using Band-In-A-Box means and does, but at a primitive level compared to what AI is capable of at this point as Brian has talked about.

But as godlike as a computer's art might be, it still comes down to what folks will choose to like.

For decades computers have had the capability of giving us "advanced art" but few want or desire this art. Ask any kid at Berklee or Julliard who Milton Babbit is and they'll be vague at best, whereas thirty years ago, his computer aided music was at the foreground of modern classical music studies. The lesson to be learned here is that, though computers can give us the music of the future, the simple fact is..it's not the future yet..or better..the future unfolds day by day.

But popular taste will probably never embrace whatever cutting edges that computer generated art can create, and popular taste should never be confused with art. Plus, it's still up to humans to do the choosing, and as I said, this is where the paradigm shift is, and something definitely worth pondering philosophically: what are the long term ramifications of a more passive imagination in the creation of art?

Mike
Posted By: niteshift

Re: Creativity and the Use of BIAB and Loops - 04/20/17 06:17 PM

Hey Michael,

I don't think of technology as a threat to art at all. In fact I believe it enhances it. I always use the example of James Cameron who waited ten years to make Avatar because he could visualise what he wanted to do, yet didn't have the tools he needed at the time. Peter Jackson is another example. But the technology came......

Only thing is, that the tools need to be used as an extension, and not an excuse or replacement for solid training and creative thought. There's no easy road to making great art.

cheers, niteshift
Posted By: Michael Zaneski

Re: Creativity and the Use of BIAB and Loops - 04/20/17 06:30 PM

Originally Posted by niteshift
Hey Michael,

I don't think of technology as a threat to art at all. In fact I believe it enhances it. I always use the example of James Cameron who waited ten years to make Avatar because he could visualise what he wanted to do, yet didn't have the tools he needed at the time. Peter Jackson is another example. But the technology came......

Only thing is, that the tools need to be used as an extension, and not an excuse or replacement for solid training and creative thought. There's no easy road to making great art.

cheers, niteshift



Hi Niteshift,

I concur. As I said, I don't think technology is a threat to art either (.."art machines" are no threat to creativity), just that for many of us our "process" is much different now then it was a decade or so ago, and that's worthy of thinking about.

Although it's kinda "apples and oranges" --what you are talking about and what Brian and I are referring to. You are talking about folks that are still using technology, albeit new technology, in an Old School, God modelled way, in that folks like Cameron and Lucas had a "vision" of what they wanted and needed to wait for technology to catch-up.

Whereas Brian and I are talking about using technology to create content. Something that used to be relegated to ones' imagination. We're talking about the equivalent of a computer writing the script to Avatar.

Mike
Posted By: niteshift

Re: Creativity and the Use of BIAB and Loops - 04/20/17 06:49 PM

Hey Mike,

Yep, agreed.

It's simply easier, faster, and more precise.

Though that may also lead to the lack of self filtering in the absence of industry filtering ...... another topic. smile

cheers, niteshift
Posted By: Martin Lide

Re: Creativity and the Use of BIAB and Loops - 04/20/17 08:06 PM

Originally Posted by Michael Zaneski
Originally Posted by niteshift
Hey Michael,

I don't think of technology as a threat to art at all. In fact I believe it enhances it. I always use the example of James Cameron who waited ten years to make Avatar because he could visualise what he wanted to do, yet didn't have the tools he needed at the time. Peter Jackson is another example. But the technology came......

Only thing is, that the tools need to be used as an extension, and not an excuse or replacement for solid training and creative thought. There's no easy road to making great art.

cheers, niteshift



Hi Niteshift,

I concur. As I said, I don't think technology is a threat to art either (.."art machines" are no threat to creativity), just that for many of us our "process" is much different now then it was a decade or so ago, and that's worthy of thinking about.

Although it's kinda "apples and oranges" --what you are talking about and what Brian and I are referring to. You are talking about folks that are still using technology, albeit new technology, in an Old School, God modelled way, in that folks like Cameron and Lucas had a "vision" of what they wanted and needed to wait for technology to catch-up.

Whereas Brian and I are talking about using technology to create content. Something that used to be relegated to ones' imagination. We're talking about the equivalent of a computer writing the script to Avatar.

Mike



I don't think that technology is a threat to art either. I think that AI will produce some magnificent art in all forms. However, I do think that technology is a threat to the livelihood of the humans who produce art. The day will come when they make a Star Wars film with the money guy and two or three other people he pays to manage the software.

Everything in human existence can somehow be quantified with mathematics. What a mother feels as she gazes upon her newborn can be quantified with mathematics and reproduced in some form. WestWorld is not science fiction. It's a harbinger. From what I have read, the incredible ancient mathematicians such as Pythagoras viewed mathematics mystically and somewhat interchangeable with a notion of God in that math could be used to explain and organize the underpinnings of their seemingly chaotic world. I think it was Steven Hawkins who said that he can't show you God but he can show you how God thinks.

And now we are well into the Renaissance and what the ancient Greeks started 2400+/- years ago... Beginning with Edison et al, our civilization has begun an acceleration that looks like an F-35 in a power dive.

The question for a lot of people is....will it be the worst thing that could happen or the best?

Disclaimer...I may not know what I am talking about, but that didn't stop me. wink




Posted By: Michael Zaneski

Re: Creativity and the Use of BIAB and Loops - 04/20/17 08:52 PM

Originally Posted by Martin Lide
Originally Posted by Michael Zaneski
Originally Posted by niteshift
Hey Michael,

I don't think of technology as a threat to art at all. In fact I believe it enhances it. I always use the example of James Cameron who waited ten years to make Avatar because he could visualise what he wanted to do, yet didn't have the tools he needed at the time. Peter Jackson is another example. But the technology came......

Only thing is, that the tools need to be used as an extension, and not an excuse or replacement for solid training and creative thought. There's no easy road to making great art.

cheers, niteshift



Hi Niteshift,

I concur. As I said, I don't think technology is a threat to art either (.."art machines" are no threat to creativity), just that for many of us our "process" is much different now then it was a decade or so ago, and that's worthy of thinking about.

Although it's kinda "apples and oranges" --what you are talking about and what Brian and I are referring to. You are talking about folks that are still using technology, albeit new technology, in an Old School, God modelled way, in that folks like Cameron and Lucas had a "vision" of what they wanted and needed to wait for technology to catch-up.

Whereas Brian and I are talking about using technology to create content. Something that used to be relegated to ones' imagination. We're talking about the equivalent of a computer writing the script to Avatar.

Mike



I don't think that technology is a threat to art either. I think that AI will produce some magnificent art in all forms. However, I do think that technology is a threat to the livelihood of the humans who produce art. The day will come when they make a Star Wars film with the money guy and two or three other people he pays to manage the software.

Everything in human existence can somehow be quantified with mathematics. What a mother feels as she gazes upon her newborn can be quantified with mathematics and reproduced in some form. WestWorld is not science fiction. It's a harbinger. From what I have read, the incredible ancient mathematicians such as Pythagoras viewed mathematics mystically and somewhat interchangeable with a notion of God in that math could be used to explain and organize the underpinnings of their seemingly chaotic world. I think it was Steven Hawkins who said that he can't show you God but he can show you how God thinks.

And now we are well into the Renaissance and what the ancient Greeks started 2400+/- years ago... Beginning with Edison et al, our civilization has begun an acceleration that looks like an F-35 in a power dive.

The question for a lot of people is....will it be the worst thing that could happen or the best?

Disclaimer...I may not know what I am talking about, but that didn't stop me. wink





Originally Posted by Martin Lide
Originally Posted by Michael Zaneski
Originally Posted by niteshift
Hey Michael,

I don't think of technology as a threat to art at all. In fact I believe it enhances it. I always use the example of James Cameron who waited ten years to make Avatar because he could visualise what he wanted to do, yet didn't have the tools he needed at the time. Peter Jackson is another example. But the technology came......

Only thing is, that the tools need to be used as an extension, and not an excuse or replacement for solid training and creative thought. There's no easy road to making great art.

cheers, niteshift



Hi Niteshift,

I concur. As I said, I don't think technology is a threat to art either (.."art machines" are no threat to creativity), just that for many of us our "process" is much different now then it was a decade or so ago, and that's worthy of thinking about.

Although it's kinda "apples and oranges" --what you are talking about and what Brian and I are referring to. You are talking about folks that are still using technology, albeit new technology, in an Old School, God modelled way, in that folks like Cameron and Lucas had a "vision" of what they wanted and needed to wait for technology to catch-up.

Whereas Brian and I are talking about using technology to create content. Something that used to be relegated to ones' imagination. We're talking about the equivalent of a computer writing the script to Avatar.

Mike



I don't think that technology is a threat to art either. I think that AI will produce some magnificent art in all forms. However, I do think that technology is a threat to the livelihood of the humans who produce art. The day will come when they make a Star Wars film with the money guy and two or three other people he pays to manage the software.

Everything in human existence can somehow be quantified with mathematics. What a mother feels as she gazes upon her newborn can be quantified with mathematics and reproduced in some form. WestWorld is not science fiction. It's a harbinger. From what I have read, the incredible ancient mathematicians such as Pythagoras viewed mathematics mystically and somewhat interchangeable with a notion of God in that math could be used to explain and organize the underpinnings of their seemingly chaotic world. I think it was Steven Hawkins who said that he can't show you God but he can show you how God thinks.

And now we are well into the Renaissance and what the ancient Greeks started 2400+/- years ago... Beginning with Edison et al, our civilization has begun an acceleration that looks like an F-35 in a power dive.

The question for a lot of people is....will it be the worst thing that could happen or the best?

Disclaimer...I may not know what I am talking about, but that didn't stop me. wink



Hi Martin,

As I eat some lunch I realize I'm enjoying this conversation immensely, so I'll "talk out-of-turn" if you will. smile

Interesting..the mention of "Westworld" --as it's the most thought provoking show (it and "The Leftovers") out there.

The main difference between the kind of tech you're talking about, Martin, and human beings, is that we can pull the plug on it, but it can't pull the plug on us..which is an idea that obviously has excited folks like Michael Crichton and the Westworld writing team, as this is one of the main themes examined in the new HBO series.

Technology has been replacing people since the Industrial Revolution, and similar cautionary thoughts have followed closely behind ever since.

When presented with an nth degree scenario like you do, it does kind of resemble a "tree of knowledge (of good and evil)" and maybe we'd be wise to give a lot of thought to tempering advancements if they can't help but displace the livelihood of humans.

But I think if two or 3 people could create something like "Star Wars" then sooner or later everybody can and then we'll simply have a glut of movies that appear shiny and tech savvy, but probably most of them will still not be very good, other than for the special fx, cuz story-telling, acting, directing..these are things that those 2 or 3 folks had better be really hip to, or there movie will suck, special FX notwithstanding.

But we can use the changes in the music industry to help move our thought along here, since we have already arrived at a place where anybody can make music, and yes there's a glut, and though more folks are making money at it, the money for most is pennies compared to what it used to be. So perhaps there's something very relevant to what you are saying.

I will ponder this more..back to work.. smile

Mike
Posted By: sjames17

Re: Creativity and the Use of BIAB and Loops - 04/21/17 03:04 PM

No doubt that somebody good can use BIAB very well and sound very good, but I dont think it's a matter of people just "Accepting" the sound. The average listener rates all music by how it sounds. If you dont sound as full and as vibrant and clean as major artists on the radio, then they dont think you are as good. They may not know why they dont think its as good, they just know that it doesnt sound as good as the music they buy...or steal

To me its not the idea of using samples. Its the idea that no matter what you do, BIAB will only be a nice sounding demo maker
Posted By: Martin Lide

Re: Creativity and the Use of BIAB and Loops - 04/21/17 04:42 PM

Originally Posted by sjames17
No doubt that somebody good can use BIAB very well and sound very good, but I dont think it's a matter of people just "Accepting" the sound. The average listener rates all music by how it sounds. If you dont sound as full and as vibrant and clean as major artists on the radio, then they dont think you are as good. They may not know why they dont think its as good, they just know that it doesnt sound as good as the music they buy...or steal

To me its not the idea of using samples. Its the idea that no matter what you do, BIAB will only be a nice sounding demo maker



With each day that passes, these software developers are closing the gap between what BIAB will produce and what is produced in a good studio by good people.

I disagree with you that an average listener can tell the difference (in many cases) between studio produced tracks and what Michael would produce. I'm not saying that top grade mics and an engineer that has been great with ProTools for years won't be more sophisticated etc...I don't know.
But the difference in the resultant sound for many songs, particularly singer-songwriter stuff, won't be perceptible to an average listener....imo.

Martin
Posted By: Michael Zaneski

Re: Creativity and the Use of BIAB and Loops - 04/21/17 05:49 PM

Originally Posted by sjames17
No doubt that somebody good can use BIAB very well and sound very good, but I dont think it's a matter of people just "Accepting" the sound. The average listener rates all music by how it sounds. If you dont sound as full and as vibrant and clean as major artists on the radio, then they dont think you are as good. They may not know why they dont think its as good, they just know that it doesnt sound as good as the music they buy...or steal

To me its not the idea of using samples. Its the idea that no matter what you do, BIAB will only be a nice sounding demo maker


Hi James,

Keep in mind BIAB consists of several thousands of performances, and these are mostly competently performed by excellent session musicians such as Brent Mason and John Jarvis on the country side. These are not phoned in performances, either. So how can having top flight Nashville musicians on one's country demo be a bad thing?

The key to BIAB, like any software, is..you have to tweak it and tweak it to really get something good out of it. The band may be in the box, as it were, but it's not gonna sound great 'til you do a lot of picking and choosing, cross-fading one performance with another, using polyphonic pitch correction tools like Melodyne to actually bend and morph performances into what the user is envisioning.

Vision is still what makes (non-experimental based) art good art. Without it, BIAB sucks. With it, it's an important tool in one's toolbox, and can assist in the creation of wonderful demos.

Having said all this, I still think BIAB works best with background tracks and soloists. It can't for instance, echo a song's primary melody, unless you get lucky. Virtual and real instruments work best in those instances.

Mike
Posted By: Michael Zaneski

Re: Creativity and the Use of BIAB and Loops - 04/21/17 06:11 PM

Hi Martin,

Been thinking about your harbinger post.

Haven't economy and efficiency always been an important part in the thought process of inventors and creators and toolmakers of all kinds? Aesthetically at least, there's an urge towards economy in the act of inventing and creating and tool-making, and this seems to encompass creating/inventing tools/tech that do what used to take many people to do--ie making tools/tech more efficient. I think there's a deeply rooted creative urge towards this.

One thing I'm pretty sure about. We can't "dumb down" our creators and inventors. And pressing a "reset button" only works in Damon Lindeloff run shows like Lost. smile

I like to think that the future will involve some kind of "reverse social entropy" where technology may make many jobs extinct, but that there will be other work, and if not, this will be an area where some creative think-tankers can and must apply their minds.

What you present is a true world class ethical dilemma, for sure. Something to keep in mind as we enter the future day by day. smile

Mike
Posted By: sjames17

Re: Creativity and the Use of BIAB and Loops - 04/21/17 11:51 PM

Martin the average listener probably can't tell any kind of software is being used, but it's never going to sound what radio artists are using for their hit song releases.

If a band in a box recording went between a hit by Taylor Swift , and a hit by green day on the radio, it would sound like an auto jingle

It's not to knock biab or anyone using it, but to think plopping down a few hundred bucks on band in a box, and it can rival what hundreds of thousands of dollars can sound like is not realistic.
Posted By: sjames17

Re: Creativity and the Use of BIAB and Loops - 04/22/17 12:01 AM

Michael, that's exactly what I'm saying, that the software works best as an accompaniment for soloists and people wanting to practice. That is what it was originally designed for, as a backing band for blues and jazz musicians

As a guitar player, it always sounded like elevator music to me. Using real instruments with it helps it a bit

But you are right, it's not great for playing melody or supporting melody, it just plays chords. It doesn't know your song, it only spews out some basic supporting chords over your melody. I think you can now change voicing of chords, which helps it sound a bit reader, but it's still generic stuff, it has to be, In order to accommodate millions of users.

The real test is recording covers with it. When you try to record a cover, you soon realize how limited it is. You may end up recording all the unique parts of the song yourself, with biab just filling in the fullness of it

When doing originals, it's easy to pretend that the arrangements are part of your song, but that is because nobody knows your song yet, and they accept what they hear as part of your song.

Again, I think band in a box is great for practice and great for demos and great for lyricists who may not have a lot of musical ability, but I just don't see it as a professional album producer

Posted By: Martin Lide

Re: Creativity and the Use of BIAB and Loops - 04/22/17 01:00 AM

Originally Posted by Michael Zaneski
Hi Martin,

Been thinking about your harbinger post.

Haven't economy and efficiency always been an important part in the thought process of inventors and creators and toolmakers of all kinds? Aesthetically at least, there's an urge towards economy in the act of inventing and creating and tool-making, and this seems to encompass creating/inventing tools/tech that do what used to take many people to do--ie making tools/tech more efficient. I think there's a deeply rooted creative urge towards this.

One thing I'm pretty sure about. We can't "dumb down" our creators and inventors. And pressing a "reset button" only works in Damon Lindeloff run shows like Lost. smile

I like to think that the future will involve some kind of "reverse social entropy" where technology may make many jobs extinct, but that there will be other work, and if not, this will be an area where some creative think-tankers can and must apply their minds.

What you present is a true world class ethical dilemma, for sure. Something to keep in mind as we enter the future day by day. smile

Mike


Westworld seems to mainly be about when artificial intelligence and emotion transcends into actual intelligence and emotion.

This robotics convergence seems different.
I don't think that anyone should tell people not to innovate or to hold their innovations off the market. That seems a deprivation of freedom and a stillborn idea.

In the last two hundred years innovation has come fast and many occupations were made obsolete. But, there is something different looking about this software/robotics/internet convergence. It is coming on real fast and has a wide breadth.

Trains, cars and airplanes eliminated the horse and coach industry but created the need for miles of rails and paved roads. Robotics and mechanization and the internet, so far, look like they are going to replace humans at many existing tasks, but not create anything else for the displaced to do.

One wonders if the unemployment rate is going to soar in the next twenty years. I'm reading about suggestions such as giving every human being a living stipend out of the profits that machines generate.

Maybe it will all be fine, but if you have multitudes of people without incomes and desperate...bad things happen.


Posted By: Martin Lide

Re: Creativity and the Use of BIAB and Loops - 04/22/17 01:08 AM

Originally Posted by sjames17
Martin the average listener probably can't tell any kind of software is being used, but it's never going to sound what radio artists are using for their hit song releases.

If a band in a box recording went between a hit by Taylor Swift , and a hit by green day on the radio, it would sound like an auto jingle

It's not to knock biab or anyone using it, but to think plopping down a few hundred bucks on band in a box, and it can rival what hundreds of thousands of dollars can sound like is not realistic.


I disagree. I think BIAB or something similar will be indistinguishable in the hands of someone like Mike in just a few years.

I know how to use recording software a little bit and sort of. I know how to use architectural software well. In my lifetime I've watched it become a curiosity and then a substitute for drafting and then a magnificent tool capable of all sorts of things. Now I'm watching it evolve into a magnificent tool that can employ itself.

Music is on the same track.
Posted By: Michael Zaneski

Re: Creativity and the Use of BIAB and Loops - 04/22/17 02:54 AM

Originally Posted by sjames17


it just plays chords.




James,

The accompaniment performances DO NOT just play chords. They add in all kinds of non-chordal notes: passing tones, lower and upper neighboring tones, grace notes, appoggiaturas, etc. BIAB has always considered non-chordal tones as part of what makes up a given style, and so every style has plenty of non-chordal tones that will happen in any given accompaniment, and over any given chord. But of course, you want the BIAB performers to be following your chart, and these performances sound like real musicians with their own quirks and predilections and riffs because they ARE real musicians with their own quirks and predilections and riffs, and the performances are far from vanilla, though I suppose this point may be a matter of subjective opinion. I wouldn't want to tell John Jarvis or Kenny Barron that their BIAB performances were vanilla, though, because they are pretty sweet, actually. These guys (and all the BIAB musicians) did for BIAB what they do in ANY session situation: they follow a chart and put their personalities into it, and they don't play safe or hold back.

Maybe you have an image in your head of what BIAB was about ten years ago. BIAB has been using real performances from real world class musicians since about 2009. These performances are committed to high quality audio formats and all told there's almost two terabytes of audio (with the Audiophile version) or about 2,600 hours, laid out end-to-end.

This is the equivalent of having hundreds of great session musicians at your disposal. Strike that. This IS having hundreds of great session musicians at your disposal. And if not, it's the next best thing.

The one point we are in agreement is that for a foregrounded melody that echoes a melody in ones' song, BIAB will be clueless--because it's not a mind-reader--it never claimed to be a fully functional digital audio workstation. But at this point it, with a little smoke-and-mirrors and elbow grease, can certainly be one of the pillars upon which one produces great tracks. Combined with real instruments, virtual instruments, and an artistic vision--you're set. smile

Mike

Posted By: Michael Zaneski

Re: Creativity and the Use of BIAB and Loops - 04/22/17 03:03 AM

Originally Posted by Martin Lide


Westworld seems to mainly be about when artificial intelligence and emotion transcends into actual intelligence and emotion.




And it's a great hook. The best thing about Star Trek TNG (other than Patrick Stewart's great elocution) was the character of Data.

We are to artificial intelligence what God is to man. I cannot, at this point claim to think that AI will never achieve sentience, and wonder what that will ultimately mean. smile

As to Westworld, waiting two whole years for season two is gonna be hard. Delores, Delores, Delores.. (shaking my head in disbelief..)

Mike
Posted By: sjames17

Re: Creativity and the Use of BIAB and Loops - 04/22/17 03:43 AM

Martin dont get me wrong, I think AI WILL change the game, and in some ways already has.

I think our generation and probably the next will be ok for our music endeavors, but beyond that...I have been loathing this idea for a while now

I just don't think we are there yet, this stuff is still in its infancy. Imagine wearing a head band, that has electrodes, you simply think a bass line, and it comes through the electors, into a daw, and then you just choose what bass, what sound, and it plays what your brain was thinking?

Now THAT would be cool. I'm not as excited about machines doing all,the creative stuff though

Anyway,we can agree to disagree on band in a box.
Posted By: sjames17

Re: Creativity and the Use of BIAB and Loops - 04/22/17 03:53 AM

Michael, what I meant was the software doesn't play to you, you have to play to it. It plays riffs and passing melodies, but it's not made for your song

Two people can release two different songs, and you both could end up with the same bass line. It would take more than a thousand possibilities, the human mind has millions, and it grows

its probably the best thing we have for that cost and practicality but it's not a replacement for real musicians.

Drums seem to be fine, I have ex drummer and I can get Ez drummer to play exactly what I want it to play, I can't do that with other instruments.

The other thing to consider is if you are going to devote that much time into making band in a box a detailed music accompaniment and doing all,the things you mentioned, you could argue that learning to actually play the other Instruments would be as easy!
Posted By: Michael Zaneski

Re: Creativity and the Use of BIAB and Loops - 04/22/17 04:26 AM

Originally Posted by sjames17
Michael, what I meant was the software doesn't play to you, you have to play to it. It plays riffs and passing melodies, but it's not made for your song

Two people can release two different songs, and you both could end up with the same bass line. It would take more than a thousand possibilities, the human mind has millions, and it grows

its probably the best thing we have for that cost and practicality but it's not a replacement for real musicians.

Drums seem to be fine, I have ex drummer and I can get Ez drummer to play exactly what I want it to play, I can't do that with other instruments.

The other thing to consider is if you are going to devote that much time into making band in a box a detailed music accompaniment and doing all,the things you mentioned, you could argue that learning to actually play the other Instruments would be as easy!



James,

For exactitude, I would never use BIAB. When I want specific melodic lines, I wouldn't use BIAB.

In fact, a third of my time is spent writing soundtrack kinda stuff for music libraries, and I never use BIAB for that stuff.

As to "playing to you" vs. "you playing to it." When dealing with accompaniment, most of the time one is not gonna want the session musicians to be playing any more "to you" than they do in a given style. You choose a style of performance, and that is usually "to you" enough. If I want a musician quoting a singers' melody a bar later, like I say, I wouldn't use BIAB for that. Wrong choice of tool.

If you had Native Instruments' Kontakt you would find that the world of virtual instruments has improved significantly as well. Every instrument under the sun potentially at your fingertips, sampled deeply, and with the scripting you never hear a "machine-gun effect" of repeated notes.

I was a guitarist for over thirty-five years. I hurt my chording hand thumb from busking 5-8 hour days out at Balboa Park. Must've been pushing my thumb too hard into the neck, LOL. I miss Travis picking especially..

No, it's not a replacement for real musicians but it is the next best thing, since you are getting many hours of performances from each (real session musician) that you can be creative with. It's really a great tool.

Mike
Posted By: sjames17

Re: Creativity and the Use of BIAB and Loops - 04/22/17 04:48 AM

Man that sucks about your thumb, sorry to hear that, that's a tragedy for a musician.

Well, I think the specific parts/melodies is what makes the arrangements great. Like the guitar is playing a half chord with a melody, and then the bass comes in and slides down to a higher octave, and hits the third of the chord, then plays its own little melody before the singer sings the next line.

Meanwhile the piano tinkles to a higher range so to not clutter that range of the arrangement, while the sax plays a few wailing harmonies of what the guitar might be doing.

I mean I may not have described that very well, but there is nothing like an arrangement that is working together to create a great track.
Posted By: Michael Zaneski

Re: Creativity and the Use of BIAB and Loops - 04/22/17 06:44 AM

Originally Posted by sjames17
Man that sucks about your thumb, sorry to hear that, that's a tragedy for a musician.

Well, I think the specific parts/melodies is what makes the arrangements great. Like the guitar is playing a half chord with a melody, and then the bass comes in and slides down to a higher octave, and hits the third of the chord, then plays its own little melody before the singer sings the next line.

Meanwhile the piano tinkles to a higher range so to not clutter that range of the arrangement, while the sax plays a few wailing harmonies of what the guitar might be doing.

I mean I may not have described that very well, but there is nothing like an arrangement that is working together to create a great track.


Yeah, it's like getting electrical shocks down the base of my thumb whenever I press it against the neck. Nerve damage. frown

Well there's nothing wrong with a Brian Wilson kinda control over arrangements. In fact if you hear all that stuff, go for it. smile

But the thing I've learned about making demos, for clients especially, is that oft times they don't desire too much detail put into instrumental parts that are supposed to be background accompaniment, cuz they distract from the singer and the song. Most of the time, my clients want their lyrics and melody front and center. Besides, the (BIAB) session players "know" the style I've chosen for them and play "to it" quite well. Most of the time I mix styles together, and this will comprise 60-70% of an arrangement, with virtual and real instruments comprising the rest--usually foregrounded stuff.

There's often foregrounded music going on in any given song at any given point, whether we're talking fills or counterpoint, and for this stuff virtual instruments get the call, especially if I'm quoting the songs' melody. So I usually end up doing much detailed work on any given demo, but use the "listener can only follow one thing at a time" approach.

I can understand the enjoyment of detail and control like you describe, but find the human ear can only really hear one thing at a time (though as a listener, I love free jazz). The trick is to always, magician-like, be leading the listener to be hearing what you want them to with a musical sleight-of-hand.

Mike
Posted By: sjames17

Re: Creativity and the Use of BIAB and Loops - 04/22/17 03:21 PM

People hear a wall of sound, they hear specifics only subconciously. The end result is the melody stands out because of everything going on around it. if you arranged a pop song like a grateful dead song, you would have people tuning out

playing f# in the bass of a d chord changes the whole dynamic of the chord. playing the root of everything and the same voicing gets boring.

You couldnt compete with pop radio using band in a box arrangements, but you can get solid results.

I remember in music appreciation class they used to make us listen to one part only of a song, and you hear say the bass line as never heard before, alone. alone it often sounds like nothing, mixed with everything else it sounds great

One time I was getting my tires changed at this garage, and the garage was big and boomy, walk this way came on, and i was tuned into the bass line

The bass line is freaking great! but youd never notice it if not listening directly for it, but when listening to a song you hear it all as one sound

Give it a try, the bass is so cool on aersosmiths walk this way!
Posted By: sjames17

Re: Creativity and the Use of BIAB and Loops - 04/22/17 03:49 PM

lets say you wrote Sir Duke.

How in the world could you get band in a box to play all this? (they may actually have a preset version of sir duke in band in a box, but thats different, here you are trying to arrange your song from scratch using band in a box

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s6fPN5aQVDI
Posted By: sjames17

Re: Creativity and the Use of BIAB and Loops - 04/22/17 03:52 PM

or this...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PdLIerfXuZ4
Posted By: sjames17

Re: Creativity and the Use of BIAB and Loops - 04/22/17 03:57 PM

or this? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O9TunCtR3dQ

or this? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JGBXnw86Mgc

or this? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IGZSv_Y36rc
Posted By: Michael Zaneski

Re: Creativity and the Use of BIAB and Loops - 04/22/17 04:33 PM

Like I said, BIAB is not the tool of choice when specific melodies, riffs, etc. are in mind, unless you know certain BIAB performances will give you that. But with the music meant as background, you don't want it to distract too much--that foregrounds it to some extent. If I write something really clever for a virtual musician playing in the background, clients often ask me to simplify. It's important to decide what is background and what is foreground, in any given piece. With foregrounded stuff, you basically, usually, just want one thing at a time to be foregrounded (the singer when they're singing), otherwise it can be distracting. When speaking in generalities one has to be careful, cuz there are always countless exceptions, though, such as riffs and grooves that run through pieces.

Most recording sessions involving good session players involve them playing using only a chord chart. Most of the time they are not reading an exact musical score that they must reproduce note for note, but interpreting things themselves, the best they can, unless they've been given discreet instructions. So how is this situation different from BIAB? Here's how..in real life, Stevie Wonder might chime in by singing relevant parts to the various guys, but when those parts aren't happening (in the song) the session players more than likely "default" back to playing what they feel. And this is where, in home studio recording, you say "the best tool for this Sir Dukish part is not BIAB but my virtual clavinet (or whatever) and I will write this part out, note for note, using Kontakt's clavinet, but for the "default" stuff, I'll use BIAB.

Sometimes in a real life recording session, a player will do something, on his own that you like, and you say, "hey, do that again..let's use that!" This is an ongoing happy accident in BIAB. My point being, even though BIAB can't give a specific melody (wrong tool) --it can and often will surprise with something delightful that sticks..just like in real life, in a real live recording session, with session players you trust to add their own input into a chart--if one is open to that in a studio situation. You site this as a negative thing, but it's not. It's often the correct tool--especially for parts meant as background. Well played stuff, but not so idiosyncratic that they are distracting and becoming foreground by there very idiosyncratic nature.

We are talking apples and oranges a bit, I think. BIAB is not the right tool when specific melodies are in mind. But often when making demos, and even when creating full-on final versions, one doesn't need to thoroughly compose every note for every part. Usually that's just for foregrounded stuff. Fills and counter-melodies, intros, outros, and solos..but I must say the latest iteration of BIAB has a lot of tasty playing that I'm using for fills at the moment..the dobro work is especially exceptional..

Mike
Posted By: tanell59

Re: Creativity and the Use of BIAB and Loops - 04/29/17 06:28 PM

I dont mind BIAB, it's just there will always be a great amount of "settling" or "good enough" going on.

A human session musician is there playing with the music, and they are usually such pros that whatever they play is perfect for the song, semi composing the song as they record.

I know you are saying specific parts is not for BIAB, but how much does BIAB add to your song just playing safe melodies and chords

Posted By: Dave Rice

Re: Creativity and the Use of BIAB and Loops - 04/29/17 08:04 PM

Hi Mike and fellow Threadsters:

This has been an interesting "set of conversations" to say the least. A couple of the early posts implied, "Whatever Works!" and I'm pretty much a part of that camp. Don't get me wrong, I'd love to have the talent of Andres Segovia... or Mozart (yeah, I know there were more than one... LOL!) but being old and arthritic has limitations. My theory is: If it sounds good to my ears... that's as good as it gets.

If you are capable of milking subtle nuances out of a kazoo and your "hit single" is flying off the virtual shelves of Internet Record Shops... isn't that all that matters. I loved John's early example of hunting and skinning the goat in order to create your own drum-skins... for the sake of authenticity.

As a songwriter, I am an untrained vocalist and would-be musician. I do the best I can with what I have to work with, knowing full well that someone else might take my song to heights I never could even imagine. That is precisely what I seek. Song creating is not about me (other than I'd like one of those money making hit-singles or albums... or live performances that get the gold in my grubby little grips) but merely conveying a somewhat musical and lyrical idea... a song.

Many of us here at JPF are songwriters. Others are only lyricists. Few are Singer/songwriter/musician rolled into one complete package. What a remarkable gift that would be... but, in my defense, I have a musical inner-being and I appreciate good music and songs. (Don't we all?) Naturally, each of us will be tuned to a different frequency when it comes to musical tastes.

To me, there is no "argument" here. If you like what you hear, buy it! LOL!

Thanks, Mike... for all you have brought to the JPF community. Your demos and creativity are remarkable.

----Dave
Posted By: tanell59

Re: Creativity and the Use of BIAB and Loops - 04/29/17 08:28 PM

Mike can make very solid recordings, my opinion of biab doesn't discredit his work, no need to go to bat for him.

There is a big difference between demo and radio ready recordings.

I enjoy listening to stripped down stuff just as much as full throttle stuff.

but the average fan of music and buyer of music compares it to the best productions out there. If Taylor swift did her own demo in her room, using biab, she would not get radio play with it or sell much, maybe some curious fans would buy it, but there is a standard a recording must meet to receieve air play, although internet radio has a lower standard

It's not a knock of anyone or anything, not many people have 100 grand or more to spend on a song
Posted By: Dave Rice

Re: Creativity and the Use of BIAB and Loops - 04/29/17 09:09 PM

Hi tanell59:

To my way of thinking, your last line says it all. Prior to that, you mentioned Taylor Swift. Successful and talented as she may be, I don't buy her songs regardless of the degree of "production" backing. Compared to other artists in her genre (Teen Pop to me) she is the crème-de-la-crème... but only to those who buy her music. I respect her and regret the recent trend she seems to be following.

A friend once chided me about the way I create songs. "That's cheating!" he exclaimed. My reply: Did Frank Sinatra also write the music and lead the orchestra?

Your point about "air play" rings a bit hollow simply because big box stations only play from the playlist provided by the "mothership." It isn't about taste... it's all about money. Little box stations won't allow wannabees airplay because they fear copyright infringement, etc.

On the other side of the coin... there are artists who practically sing acapella or with minimal backing and they sound just as great in the genre they serve as those backed by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir... LOL! Remember the young black girl artist (Tracy something) who took the airwaves and record shops by storm with her plain spoken, honest vocals? I'm thinking it was back in the 80's but fading memory cells and pure laziness prevent me from researching further.

No matter, my friend. We are each entitled to our opinions... and before I forget... "Welcome to JPF!" ----Dave
Posted By: tanell59

Re: Creativity and the Use of BIAB and Loops - 04/29/17 10:02 PM

Yes Dave, I'm not a big fan of Taylor Swift either, that's not the point. The point is there's no Grammy, there's no album sales, there's no radio play, there's no millions of fans, etc, if not for top of the line production on her recordings.

whether you like Willie Nelson, Taylor Swift, Prince, Gren day, or any huge artist out there, you are getting the best recording money has to buy.

The point is band in a box has never been used on a major artists recording, and never will. There is no reason to, a 200 dollar software will never sound like a tens of thousands of dollars recording. Not never ever!

Your point about radio playing what they want to play is irrelevant, if you were looking to get on radio, youdhave zero chance using band in a box, whether they wanted to play your music or not.

I think the home recording industry has pulled the wool over artists eyes. No matter what you do with home gear, even stuff way better than biab, you can't compete with pro engineers, pro musicians, pro producers, pro arrangers.

Go and listen to the demos on biab website, if you hear one that sounds comparable to what's on the radio, let me know which.

You can compete with underground musicians. Lower budget diy friendly station and websites.



Posted By: Dave Rice

Re: Creativity and the Use of BIAB and Loops - 04/29/17 10:55 PM

Hi again, Mr. T:

Interesting argument. (I'm using the term "argument" as one would use it in a court of law.) My response is one I cannot prove. Simply put, if I were soaking in ready cash (millions) and decided to "promote" a talented and popular BIAB artist, I believe I could get him/her serious airplay... given the fact that payola survives even today. (Again, I would be hard-pressed to prove that, LOL! but everyone believes it still exists.)

Too many folks buy music without having any music appreciation of any description. In those cases, most are looking for violent and disgusting "lyrics" written with the attitude and intelligence of a three year old. I believe ASCAP sent us a pie chart showing how one-sided this market is today in comparison to the other genres.

Thanks for sharing your opinion. It's always good to know what others believe.

----Dave
Posted By: tanell59

Re: Creativity and the Use of BIAB and Loops - 04/29/17 11:23 PM

If you were soaking in millions, you wouldn't be using biab, or promoting somebody who uses it.

Lol, well I'm glad you don't take it as a fight, cause it's not one.

Most of us get by with what we have, necessity is the mother of invention.

It all depends what your genre is, if your genre is low fidelity rock, you can make recordings that rival some of the greats of yesteryear with modest home gear.

If trying to top the charts,that's not gonna happen

But as long as we are happy with our results, that's most important. most of us are not ever going to find out whether or not biab can compete with err....
Fall out boy....
Posted By: Vicarn

Re: Creativity and the Use of BIAB and Loops - 04/30/17 02:12 AM


Biab is meant for demos.
If you can make a decent demo with biab and some A&R man thinks he can improve on it, what's wrong with that?

I hear that most pro studios use loops now and use musicians for hooky riffs.

Vic
Posted By: Martin Lide

Re: Creativity and the Use of BIAB and Loops - 04/30/17 04:06 AM

Originally Posted by tanell59
If Taylor swift did her own demo in her room, using biab, she would not get radio play with it or sell much, maybe some curious fans would buy it, but there is a standard a recording must meet to receieve air play, although internet radio has a lower standard

g


Wrong.
Depending on the song, her fans would love it. You could give Adele's piano player a good midi and BIAB or many other softwares and the two of them could put out a recording of "Make You Feel My love" that would work...and raise no flags. Not in five years but right now. With the money that she has behind her...why skimp? but with her massive talent, she could do a compelling recording on several songs that her fans would love, as would Taylor's.

Beyonce's dad has a studio a mile from my house. Used to get a good deal on time down there. Used a sound guy named Nino who did some Beyonce tracks as well as her sisters. Four years ago, he said that people at that level were supplying music, to him, for them, done with a midi. I didn't interrogate him about it, so I don't know all the details but that's what I recall him saying.

Heard a tennis player say once..."People bitch about their racquet not being this and not being that....but a good tennis player can beat a bad tennis player with a coke bottle." True in music and a lot of things.
Posted By: tanell59

Re: Creativity and the Use of BIAB and Loops - 04/30/17 04:57 AM

Nothing wrong with that @Vic, that's exactly what it's for. Well not exactly, it's exact,y for musicians to practice their jamming and copping skills on blues and jazz tunes.

But it's a great scratch maker, I have no arguments about that
Posted By: tanell59

Re: Creativity and the Use of BIAB and Loops - 04/30/17 05:04 AM

@ Martin, I said Taylor's fans might buy out of curiosity, and allow her to make a stripped down album, they did it for Springsteen on Nebraska, which he recorded all acoustic on a tascam 4 track, and mind you, if not for the top notch songwriting, it would have been a chit listen. Tons of noise and hiss, and no volume out of it. But it's consideed a great low fi album, because of the songwriting.

Having said that, if Taylor Swift didn't have any fans yet, and the record company says, hey I like this kid, let's sign her, and release her first album using band In a box tracks...well safe to say we wouldn't be hearing from her again

I have heard and can paste recordings from Pete Townshend, Paul Simon, John Mellancamp, I could post their demos of famous songs. And they sound fantastic, even stripped down and lower fi, With real instruments, Townshend playing drums bass and keys himself, but they knew that they couldn't release them as is, they had to redo them. That's what demos are for

I wish somebody famous would show up and settle this for us. I'm thinkin Eric Clapton would giggle at the idea of using biab for an album, but I bet he'd think it was great for practicing the blues,
Posted By: Martin Lide

Re: Creativity and the Use of BIAB and Loops - 04/30/17 05:14 AM

Tanell...believe what you like. Technology is moving incredibly fast. Leave a little space in your psyche for seeing this wrong.

And have your spiei lined up for why you were actually right..people just misunderstood what you said.

Thats a page out of economic forecasting. May come in handy for you.
Posted By: tanell59

Re: Creativity and the Use of BIAB and Loops - 04/30/17 05:32 AM

Vic didn't misunderstand what I said, and this guy does very well with band in a box. Nobody said it sucks, I said it's not nowhere near what hit songs sound like. I dont know how you can argue that

I have no doubt that tech is going to improve but we were discussing band in a box, and whether or not It can be used to cut a major artists album.

Ask some of th Nashville guys here, guy who try to write for Nashville, ask them what the labels and publishers want these days, they want a recording so good that the singer just needs to sing over it, ready for commercial radio.

But we'll leave it alone



Posted By: Martin Lide

Re: Creativity and the Use of BIAB and Loops - 04/30/17 05:38 AM

Got it. Still suggest that you leave a little room for error on this. Just a little.
Posted By: Martin Lide

Re: Creativity and the Use of BIAB and Loops - 05/22/17 01:09 PM

Somewhat related

http://www.nbcnews.com/mach/technology/what-happened-when-algorithm-invented-new-colors-n762121
Posted By: Iggy

Re: Creativity and the Use of BIAB and Loops - 05/22/17 05:39 PM

A large percentage of the hip-hop community has done quite well using loops with no “real” musicians. Same thing with techno. I found it funny that The Who’s “Who are You” was used as an example of what BIAB can’t do. The songs intro riff is a synth “playing itself”. The band then played along to it. Keyboard players use MIDI and various sound triggers all the time both live and recorded.

Playing in bands all my life, I consider myself a musician, and I love BIAB. Using it as an extension to what I can already play, it’s awesome. It’s like anything else, the more you know about it, the better results you will have.

I have no problem putting BIAB recordings up on the web or sending them out as demos. Much easier than getting the whole band together to record and the sound, to me, is acceptable. Would I release a CD of my original songs using all BIAB? No!

Here’s a link of me using BIAB to record some well known Beatle and ELO cover songs. Keep in mind I use BIAB more to back up what I can’t play.


http://www.badbetsy.com/covers/

Good discussion….Carry on!
Posted By: Martin Lide

Re: Creativity and the Use of BIAB and Loops - 05/26/17 02:09 PM

The pace is accellerating...

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencet...s-create-computer-writes-folk-music.html
Posted By: Michael Zaneski

Re: Creativity and the Use of BIAB and Loops - 05/27/17 06:10 PM

Originally Posted by Martin Lide


Cool article!

I used to joke that one day there will be software that can take a recorded singing voice and with the press of a button, change it into one sounding like (among others) Bob Dylan's..

I think this is all good. What's wrong with the "act of composing" including the idea of "choosing" between various permutations that a modern piece of algorithmic compositional software may spew out? Aren't we doing that anyway? Choosing between various things when we compose? Perhaps at a more subatomic, subconscious level, but "choosing" all the same.

One fun thing I've been doing since the eighties is to take a midi file and literally flip it upside down, and then listen. This transforms any song into a completely different song, sometimes a more interesting, less cliched composition than the original. Major chords become minor and vice versa, chord changes up a fourth become down a fourth, etc.

Posted By: Martin Lide

Re: Creativity and the Use of BIAB and Loops - 06/30/17 02:09 AM

https://www.newscientist.com/articl...igent-painters-invent-new-styles-of-art/
Posted By: PeteG

Re: Creativity and the Use of BIAB and Loops - 09/28/17 04:08 AM

If you can spend some time with this u-tube video -you will hear the amazing sound creation that this sound track composer is able to pull out of tiny bits of sound using a newer technique called granular synthesis

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=35hDHgH_fdA
Posted By: Brian Austin Whitney

Re: Creativity and the Use of BIAB and Loops - 10/05/17 07:03 PM

Originally Posted by PeteG
If you can spend some time with this u-tube video -you will hear the amazing sound creation that this sound track composer is able to pull out of tiny bits of sound using a newer technique called granular synthesis

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=35hDHgH_fdA


In the right hands, very rudimentary gear can sound better than a lesser talent with all the money, gear and facilities you can imagine. Talent usually wins the day no matter what gear is being used.
Posted By: PeteG

Re: Creativity and the Use of BIAB and Loops - 10/07/17 10:19 PM

I thought the producer of this video showed both talent and imagination to produce some very usable sounds that could be adapted to, (and maybe with some development) become part of a soundtrack. I felt he explained his steps, and it was beyond my understanding, but basically he created them out of bits of sound that he had written and recorded previously. And it was a live experiment, though he was thankfully able to run his equipment well, I thought. In some way similar to dropping a stylus on a spinning record, but the record is spinning at a very slow speed and the stylus is listening intently.

I'm not sure talent always wins the day, or if it should even be about winning and losing, but a good voice is a good voice , and a good mic produces a good voice, but a great mic makes a good voice sound great, and on down the production line. Pete
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