Five-Part Harmony With Hayden & Kevin

I’ve been experimenting with Band-in-a-Box automatic harmonies combined with the voices of Synthesizer V. I find they work well together!

So just for fun I came up with this little ditty – a demo of the possibilities of what can be done very easily. I typed in some chords in BIAB, played a crazy melody on a single track and told BIAB to generate 5-part harmony and ran it through Synthesizer V with Hayden & Kevin. Nothing else, just let BIAB write the parts, and it was quite intelligent about what notes to choose in this style.

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Very cool! And really well done! Do you know if the harmonize feature comes with the basic version of BIAB? Could not find info about this on their website. Or are there other tools that ca do this?

All the versions of BIAB have the automatic harmony function used in this demo.

There are two ways it can harmonize, either by MIDI or Audio. For MIDI you have to play (or write) the melody on your keyboard, or for audio you have to sing and record it. They both work fine, but I just used the MIDI.

I have been writing harmonies for a long time, and know a lot of different ways, so I was just seeing how smart BIAB is at doing it to combine with Synth V.

Normally I just duplicate a track and manually alter the duplicates to have the harmonies I want. But this example took just a few minutes, and the workflow is super-simple once you get used to it. I could have done it manually but it would have taken at least a half-hour or more of moving each note on each word on each of the four duplicate tracks to do what BIAB did instantaneously.

So I will likely use both methods, sometimes manually writing harmonies and other times bringing in BIAB to automatically do something fast when I know exactly what it will do. BIAB has over 200 different styles and ways of harmonizing (2-part, 3-part, 4-part, 5-part, open, spread, closed, chorale, and dozens more) and it is VERY intelligent (in intelligent mode) of knowing what composers do with non-chordal, chromatic and passing notes. And, of course, it is not a binary choice of having to use just one method or the other. You can start with automatic BIAB harmonies, and then manually alter them further yourself.

I should mention that to use BIAB fast with Synthesizer V, I used the output from RealBand, which is free with the purchase of BIAB. RealBand exports the harmonies each on a separate track, which is what Synth V needs, whereas I don’t know how to separate the harmonies in BIAB (maybe you can.)

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Big thanks for this helpful and detailed explanation. :grinning:
But after watching the official BIAB harmonize tutorial video at PG Music I got confused as it only mentions working with audio files and it looks very complicated and unintuitive. And I just remembered that I once installed a trial version of BIAB (trial not available anymore due to file size) but I could never make sense out of it. I’m used to working in a DAW (Logic since many years) and I don’t read music.
BTW, how can BIAB harmonize an audio file without information about chords, key and mode?
You mention using midi as input and maybe that wasn’t available when the video was made in 2018?
Have you also entered the corresponding chords on a separate track before generating the harmonies?
You mention RealBand? Does it output midi? Or does it export midi files?
Sorry for many (stupid) questions but I really don’t understand how BIAB works.

  1. BIAB can harmonize a melody that is either MIDI or Audio. But maybe “harmonize” is not the right word for what you are thinking of, because it cannot take a melody alone, without the chords and key, and write the harmony parts. You have to first enter chords for it to know what harmony notes to apply to the melody.
  2. The reason the 2018 video is about audio harmonizing is because they already had MIDI harmonizing for many years, and users knew about that, but in 2018 the audio feature was new. However, the method for either Audio or MIDI is the same. If you have a melody in MIDI, or write one, you can get MIDI notes of harmony parts from it, and if you have an Audio file of a melody, or sing it, you can get audio files of the harmony parts. MIDI is faster for use with Synthesizer V because you can directly import MIDI into the program and assign it to singers. Audio parts are also now possible using the new feature in Synth V of “audio-to-midi” so if you wanted to sing a melody in BIAB and make the harmony parts, you could then convert them inside Synth V that way, but it would take one extra step.
  3. Both RealBand and BIAB can output MIDI or Audio (or both.) The only difference I can see is that BIAB puts all the harmony parts on one track, but RealBand can put them on separate tracks, which make it easy to import into separate voices in Synth V.
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Thanks ThomasS!
I will buy the basic version of BIAB even though $129 is a lot of money for the harmonize feature alone. But maybe there are other features that are useful as well! :grinning:

Yes, just for harmony is a lot if you are not using the rest of the program. The difference in cost is that the higher versions have thousands more of what they call “RealTracks” which are samples of live players on all instruments which are extremely high-quality and realistic for making song backtracks. The $129 version has a few hundred of these too, but the highest version has nearly 5,000 recordings of real instruments playing on all chords. I think if you like the basic version you can later upgrade for a reduced price, but maybe you should check.

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I understand that “RealTracks” are very good indeed and maybe I will find them quite useful! But to begin with, I’m very happy if I can figure out how to use the harmonize feature. Again, your video was so impressive that I simply must try this route!

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One thing I should mention - in order to use BIAB vocal harmonies with Synthesizer V the way I did it, you need RealBand, which comes free with the purchase BUT ONLY FOR WINDOWS.

I assume you are using a Mac (because you have Logic) and without RealBand I don’t know if BIAB alone will be good for you. The only issue is that BIAB puts all the harmony parts on one track, but RealBand can put each harmony line on a separate track. Synthesizer V needs each harmony line on a separate track.

Before purchasing BIAB (if you have a Mac) I recommend:

  1. go to https://www.pgmusic.com/ and hit live-chat in the upper right and ask if there is a way for BIAB (not RealBand) to put each MIDI harmony line on a different track, the same way RealBand can do. Make sure to tell them that you are talking about MIDI harmony, not audio, like in the video.

  2. If they tell you how, please let us know!

  3. If they say no, then you have to find a different way of converting a single midi track with several parts to separate midi tracks with one part each. Maybe Logic can do this, but don’t be confused by the feature most DAWs have of converting “pitches to tracks” which is for separating drum parts, where it makes a separate track for each note.

  4. “Explode” is a different function which puts all the highest notes in one track, the second highest in the next track, and so forth. This type of conversion can be done in Sibelius, Finale, Dorico, and MuseScore. MuseScore is free for the basic version, and the others cost a lot. If you don’t own one of the others I think the free version of MuseScore will do the job, but you should check to see that the free version has the function called “explode.”

  5. So if you only have BIAB (not RealBand) and PG Music doesn’t tell you how to do it in BIAB, you can take the extra step of exporting the midi out of BIAB, opening it in MuseScore, exploding it, and then saving it as MIDI again, which will then work with Synth V.

  6. Everything I wrote here is only if you want to use MIDI harmonies from BIAB in Synthesizer V. BIAB can actually put AUDIO harmonies on separate tracks, so if you want to sing your melody, instead of playing it on a keyboard, you are fine. But then you would have to convert each audio track to a midi track inside Synthesizer V, which is possible but an extra step. I think if you contact pgmusic as above they might be able to add this feature to MIDI in BIAB, or maybe tell you how to do it already.

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Oh! :scream: I thought RealBand was a normal part BIAB. Problem is that I went ahead and placed an order for BIAB Pro Mac at Sweetwater as they had a cheaper price. But the order was put on hold for some unknown reason. An automated email said that they will investigate during business hours! Meaning earliest Tuesday, next year! Their chat is not available today.
Maybe I can cancel the order?
Or maybe I could use midi files with all all harmonies on the same track?
Any chance you could share such a file so I can try? Could be anything and just a couple of bars. Maybe a failed experiment? Just as long as there are some harmonies on the same track. The more voices the better.

RealBand is a normal free part of BIAB, but not for Mac (only Windows.) I’m almost certain that PG Music can add the feature of MIDI harmonies to separate tracks, or maybe even it can be done now. I will write to them and ask, and let you know the answer. They are very quick in responding.

In any case, if it really can’t be done in BIAB just go to this website Download | MuseScore
and get the free version of MuseScore. Then when you make harmonies in BIAB save it as a MIDI file and open that in MuseScore, then hit “explode” and re-save the MIDI file and open it in Synth V and you will be fine.

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Thanks ThomasS!

I’ll just have to wait and see what Sweetwater says! And I will download MuseScore. In Logic it is very quick and easy to select the highest or lowest notes via a keyboard shortcut. Then you can cut and paste them on a new track. That might work.
Will report when I get BIAB.
Any tips for good getting started tutorials? Besides the ones on PG Music’s Youtube!

You can download MuseScore, since it is free, but I have also discovered a different way to do it completely inside BIAB using a different method. It might take a few extra steps but it should work, and I am experimenting with it now. I will let you know shortly if it works!

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Thanks again! :grinning:

OK, here is the new way, with no need for RealBand or Musecore…

Best Way to Use Band-in-a-Box to Generate Vocal Harmonies for Synthesizer V

  1. After you have your chords, play the melody on one track of BIAB, or if you have a MIDI file of the melody you made in your DAW, import that to the melody track of BIAB.

  2. Hit F10 (or Top-Menu>Harmony>Melody Harmony) and choose whatever harmony style you want. There are 227 different types of harmony, or you can create your own custom ones too.

  3. Now your melody track should play the harmony, so you can hear it to see if you like it, or undo and try another.

  4. To get it into Synthesizer V:

  • Mute every track except the melody track (this is important)
  • Hit File>Save Special>MIDI>Type 1
  • Import the MIDI file into Synth V, either the VST plugin or the Standalone.
  • Enter the lyrics and you’re ready to go.

TIP: To save time, you might want to edit your melody track to not have gaps between notes in a phrase, because this will then have to be corrected by Synthesizer V later. One option is to run your melody first through a DAW that has the function of “legato quantize” or “length quantize” or similar, so that all notes within a phrase are connected. You can do this first to your melody before harmonizing, or you can do it later to each harmony line, but it is slower to do it once it is inside Synthesizer V.

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Thanks so very, very much for taking the time to help me!
I was not happy with the way Sweetwater handled my order so I sent a reply with some emojis to express my huge disappointment. To my surprise a representative got back almost immediately with an apology and said that the order was now complete and I am downloading right now! :grinning:
Download may be a bit slow because of heavy traffic but I will try your process as soon as the software is downloaded and installed. I’m in Europe so two and a half hours to midnight!
Most likely I will look at this next year! I.e. tomorrow!
Happy New Year!

In BiaB, the WAV dropdown includes options for separating individual tracks, also to normalize each track and set it flat, dry and center, which you may or may not find useful depending on your workflow.
I am not clear - how did you enter the lyrics? I write a melody in Sibelius, add the lyric there (and any other voices if need be) then save as a MIDI from Sibelius, when i open it in Syn V, the lyrics are already in place. Never tried directly working between BiaB and SynV. I will have to try this… :smiley:

Hummersallad, I have used BiaB for years, and spring for the hard disk, everything in full WAV format - the normal files are compressed, perfectly fine for normal (or live) use, but I create backing tracks for gigs. I’ll have Ron Carter on bass, Alex Al or Mike Clark on drums, if I need horns I’ve got Eric Marienthal and Phil Woods with Jeff Lorber or Neil Larson on keys. Like ANY powerful app, it takes going through a learning curve, and relies heavily on understanding chord progression (but there are hundreds of standard tunes that are ready to download and go.) If you are successfully using Syn V, BiaB is a snap.
But you REALLY need to get a version that includes RealTracks to make it worth using - or even listening to. Here is a link to one of three CDs i created for my now defunct, thank you Covid, bar gig, all using BiaB: Especially For You Too

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Hey Soundsmith,

Listening to your album and specifically Wichita Lineman right now. Very impressive, both your playing and the background music. Would never have guessed that BIAB was involved. Sounds like it was played by real musicians in a studio. Besides harmonies, I don’t really know how I can/will use BIAB, time will tell. Buy maybe I need to invest in more RealTracks, we’ll see…

Basically the tracks WERE played live in a studio. Then they were chopped up and stuffed into a database much like Soros or Solaria. I tell the app Bb7 in a track with Ron Carter’s bass. It analyses where we are in the music - first bar of a four-bar phrase? or middle, or last. Then picks licks from that section and collates them. All transparent to you.
The kind of music you create will determine if MIDI tracks are appropriate or if you need actual musicians. A LOT of pop can go all electronic.