The 2nd track from our album Sampler
The album and audio samples available at: http://store.cdbaby.com/cd/jamesgilbert11
This is part of my continuing series providing what are essentially liner notes for the tracks on my album. Please leave a comment if these liner notes are of interest or I may be inclined not to do notes for all the tracks on the album.
There is a piece of software out there that professionals I’ve run across don’t like to admit they use. Or maybe they don’t want others to find out how helpful it can be. From an educational point of view, it is an excellent way to learn about many aspects of popular music styles. That program is Band in a Box. It would not surprise me if many pieces of music out there aren’t straight from the program with little more than simple mixing added.
For those that don’t know, Band in a Box, from PG Music, lets you enter the chords symbols and structure of a piece of music, choose a style and press play. Depending on the style selected (and other factors) one will then hear either recordings of live musicians playing based on the chords or midi instruments playing whatever instruments & software you’ve assigned Band in A Box to play. All in whatever style you’ve selected. What is heard, again depending on the style, are drums, piano/pads, guitar(s), bass and strings/brass/other. You can export, depending on the style, either audio files of each instrument (stems) or midi files of each instrument (and sometimes a combination of them) as well as an audio of the stereo mix. This program is light years ahead of similar iOs apps I’ve run across.
For this track I chose a midi only style – a style that only creates midi notes. I exported the midi tracks. I took the midi files created by the program, loaded them into my DAW (Reaper) and adapted, changed or added to those files. I then bounce the midi instruments to audio files and mix and master as usual.
The bass part is a cello like patch from the Novo expansion pack 1 by Heavyocity. For the drums I used the Afro Shop Kit in Battery 4 from Native Instruments. The piano part I used the Emotional Piano from Soundiron with Solid Bus Compressor from Native Instruments. For the pad part I used Soundiron’s Mercury Elements Amb F with Solid Bus Compressor. For the string part I used Spitfire audio’s Bernard Herrmann composer toolkit Studio Orchestra patch, long articulation. For the melody I used Exhale from Output with Solid Bus compressor and Replika XT Tape 30fps Delay.
I typically make modifications to any default patches in the above instruments. I did not keep detailed enough notes to know exactly what changes I made to the patches. For the strings, I duplicated the audio track (after bouncing from midi) on another channel. I then panned the original string channel hard left and the new one hard right pitching the left down in pitch ever so slightly and the right one up ever so slightly in pitch. This helped to give the strings a wide sound.
As with the first track of the album, I used a master folder on which any effects or mastering plugins went. All the tracks mentioned so far route to it. I then sent some of the master folder to the reverb track (in this case, not part of the folder). I used the RC48 delay unit from Native Instruments modified from the Small Church reverb preset. On the master folder I put the Solid Bus Compressor from Native Instruments with a modified mix glue preset.
It doesn’t look as though I did anything on the master bus for mastering purposes. Between what Band in a Box does and what the midi instruments I chose do, there wasn’t much need to anything special with the mastering as I did on many of the other tracks.
This track I suppose is about the most mainstream, pop sounding of any of the tracks on the album, with the exception of maybe one other piece.
Hope you enjoyed this track and the notes. Questions and comments are welcome.
Notes about the rest of the tracks will be in future articles if I get enough feedback from those of you reading this.