Thursday, 31 March 2011


My music comes out of my three computers from software like Real Band, RealGuitar and RealStrat, B4II, Gigastudio, Garritan Personal Orchestra and Sonivox Muse. One piece of hardware creates sounds, the Yamaha VL70m. A mixer box takes all sounds from wherever and merges them they way I want them. They then go to amps and then to speakers. I group sounds into seven channels, 1) Drums, 2) Base Guitar, 3) Keyboards/Strings/Misc lead sounds, 4) Horns, 5) Guitar 6) Lead Voice, and 7) Harmonizer Voices. The Base and Drums each feed into one side of a Cerwin Vega CV1800 and then into two Wharfedale Pro EVPx 18B speakers and re-feed into a CV900 powering two Wharfedale Pro VS 12x speakers on stands. The keyboards/strings and the horns feed into a second Cerwin Vega CV1800 and then into huge Wharfedale Pro EVPx215 speakers. The Guitar sounds go into a Realistic 100 watt amp and a pair of home-built 12" speakers. Both vocal tracks share a self-powered base speaker, a Wharfedale Pro SVP 15PB and then each have their own self-powered Wharfedale Pro SVP 15P speakers on stands. All the tracks use one side of a stereo amp. I have a stage plan on my site at showing these speakers and their locations.   

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Basic Hardware

My core hardware is two CME keyboards, a UF5 and a UF6 with 49 and 61 keys respectively. They cost me $760 but they were velocity sensitive and had breath controller inputs. I took them all apart and cut up the case quite a bit to make a Hammond B3 kind of console. In between the two keyboard pieces and the slider controls, I built downward facing holes for two full width rack mounts. In there, I immediately was thinking of putting a TC Helicon Voiceworks ($750) for my harmony voices. On the other side, I put an M-Audio M400 Firewire interface with 4 in and 10 outs. That cost me $410. Later on, I filled up the rest of that space with a very special Yamaha VL70m Acoustic Tone Generator which was $840. It uses physical modeling technology which seems to do a phenominal job on saxophone, one of the main reasons I wanted it. It also has independent reverb, chorus, variation and distortion effects. It's important to remember though, it's monophonic, meaning it will only produce one solo instrument. What made this awesome is that I coughed up an extra $340 to get a custom chip from Patchman. This makes a huge improvement in the fairly ordinary sounds that come from this piece. Finally, I stuck a Korg Nanopad in the far right corner which I hope to put to good use.

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Square One

I hope this might be useful to somebody out there and I hope it's not too boring. I absolutely love this music thing and am super excited to be on the brink of this experience. Still in front of me though is the creation of every single music track in these 250 songs as well as setting up the effects for all those instrument tracks as well as all my vocals. Obviously, there will be a lot recorded into Real Band, especially base and drums. Otherwise, I will be creating as much as possible live. Background voices will always be recorded but will be created by me but most harmony voices will be created live by my Voicemaster box. Almost all Beatle songs will use this technique. If a background voice occurs at a different time than the lead voice and if I can possibly sing it myself, I will do that. I have two mics going into different equipment and effects processors so that I can move over two inches and sing into the other mic.
I will be recording all my songs for my website on a Yamaha AW4416 using 8 tracks. I expect to be able to feed these 8 tracks into my equipment for sound checks and adjusting the placement of my equipment in different venues. I have 12 speakers for 5 music channels and 2 voice channels. Four of these are huge at over 100 pounds each. My first gig will undoubtedly take two hours to deliver and set up my stuff. Hopefully, it will get faster as I go. I built a 10'x16' studio in my back yard to simulate my stage and I hope that helps me to get used to where everything goes. I want this blog to chronicle my progress and maybe drive me a little. My last task is to finish building my mixer. You can look on my website Photo page if you want to know more about it.


Hi, I'm Brian. I have been working for the past few years on building equipment and a decent repertoire of 50s and 60s music for what I call Black Box Band. I got the idea because my main midi console is a big black box when it is packed up for transport. I have two computers inside of it running software like Real Band by PG Music which is very similar to Band in a Box, also by PG. Lots of other software produces very realistic sounds like Real Guitar by Music Lab, B4II (Hammond B3 sounds) by Native Instruments, Gigastudio 3 by Tascam (now sold) and Garritan Personal Orchestra 4 (who bought the Gigastudio rights).

I created a website a while back called but I also have the name It's pretty low key, since I'm only doing this for the enjoyment and maybe I can bring some joy to others with my music. I have assembled pretty well everything that I need to make my music and have learned 250 songs so far, mostly 50s and 60s songs that I really like.

I have decided to create this blog to document my journey from here.