Band in a Box

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Copyright 2006




LGM Productions

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   Dynamics 101




     One thing that’s great about it is that you can jump right in and play around with the chord entry and compose something within a few minutes of starting the program. The chord entry portion takes up most of the screen. As you will notice from above, the default key is C, the first chord is C. If you change the key (to the right of the yellow style box), you’ll get a dialog box that asks you if you want to change the chords to match the key. If you’re adventurous, you can chose not to do so and what you’ll get is something of a modal nature which can be interesting (or not).


      So let’s jump in and put in some chords. We’ll stick with C for the first chord. By hitting the tab key, the place marker goes the to second beat of the song. You can enter a  chord on each beat, on 2 beats (1 and 3, 1 and2, 1 and 4, 2 and 4, etc), any 3 beats or on all 4 beats. This allows you to fit the rhythm to the rhythm of your creation. For this exercise, we’re going to use 2 chords per measure for the first 8 bars and on chord per bar for the second 8 bars for a total of 16 bars. The second chord of the 1rst measure is going to be Em7 on the 3rd beat. To enter that chord, you just type it in just like it’s spelled. There’s a function for entering more complex chords but we’ll get to that in a later article.


      The next measure is going to begin with F on the first beat followed by a G7on the 3rd beat. The pattern for the first 2 measures continues on for the first 8 measures which will be the verse. The next 8 measures will be our chorus section. At this point the pattern changes from 2 chords per measure to 1 chord per measure. The tempo doesn’t change but it does feel as thought the song has slowed down a bit. The 1st measure will be Am followed by G then C and then F. This continues on for 8 measures with one minor change—on the 3rd beat of the last measure of the chorus we’re going to change to a G7.


      If you’ll notice above, the first measure is preceded by a blue box. This tells the program to use the “a” sub-style until it’s told differently. We’re going to change to the “b” sub-style for the chorus by clicking on the number 9 until it changes to green. This also tells the program to play a rhythm fill immediately prior to the change. Having each measure selected as either “a” or “b” will play a fill on each measure. 


     Note that to the right of the key selection box, there’s the tempo selection box. To the right allows you to select what measure the song begins on so you can have an into. Right of that is the number of measures selection box and to the right of that is the number of repeats the “chorus” has. Don’t let this confuse you. If we change the number of measures to 16 and leave the number of repeats at  3, what we have is a ABABAB song that has no into and no outro. We’ll get into how to add bridges, etc as we go along.


     I’m going to select a swing style since the chord progression is kind of simple—Dr. John swing 8 bar, which means the rhythm is based on a 8 beat pattern and it swings (sometimes called 6/8 feel). Swinging, musically speaking, is kind of hard to describe but you know it when you hear it. After saving it as a midi file and opening it in Sonar, I selected a fretless bass, a jazz drum kit and a stereo piano as the instruments. I rendered the file as a .wma using Sonar’s export feature and uploaded to the server. You can listen to it by clicking here


Next Month—Chord Subs and expanding the song

    This month, I going start the process of taking you, the reader through the ins and outs of Band in A Box. The graphic below is a screen shot of the main screen of the interface. There’s a lot going on but we’re going to take it step by step so that you can feel comfortable enough with it to consider purchasing it for yourself and it is something you should consider because it is a powerful tool for composers and producers.