Band in A Box—Adding instruments

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Copyright 2006




LGM Productions

Guitars at Musician's Friend

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   Dynamics 101




     The menu we’re going to use to come up with the instrument in the style we want is the style chooser menu which is accessed by clicking on the STY button. On the left side of this menu is the main style category list (country, pop, rock, etc). I usually pick the all styles option because you can never tell which style is going to work until you listen to it.


     The majority of the screen (click for example) is taken up with the list of styles within the category you’ve chosen. Each style has attributes that tell us whether the style is a waltz or not, if the style swings, if the style is an 8 or 16 beat style and the suggested tempo for the style.


    Swamp Thing is an 8 beat, swung style so the guitar part we want to include needs to be of the same type unless the style is 16 beat and close to twice the tempo of the song we’re doing. I selected an 8 bar style that works well with the piano part and has a jazzy feel to it.


    Choosing a style and double-clicking on it will automatically preview the style based on the progression you’ve input. What I generally do is mute all the instruments except the one I’m interested in and then preview the styles. When I find something I like, I save it as a midi file and insert it into the Sonar project. At first, it’s a lot of trial and error but after a while, you’ll be able to know instantly if something will work or not.


     I also picked a different bass line because the one that comes with the original style (Dr. John) was pretty simple. This one’s a little more involved but not so much that it distracts from the song overall. I thought maybe an organ would sound good but after adding it, it just sounded too cluttered, especially since I plan for a trumpet lead line and backing horn section.


     As you can tell by listening to what I have so far, there a couple of places where the guitar and the piano step on each other but I’ll edit those parts note by note. I plan on finding a trumpet/brass plug-in to experiment with the melody part and maybe something else to play around with the horn section. 



      Swamp Thing is a catchy little chord progression but in my opinion, it still needs at least one other instrument to round out the sound before we start adding the lead instrument. Whenever I do this, I prefer to add instruments from another style. By doing this, it makes the arrangement sound more authentic because it has the effect of different people playing their own style. Unfortunately, Band-in-a-Box doesn’t really have a function for doing this but I am able to accomplish it by creating a midi file of the instrument in the style I’ve chosen and importing into Sonar.