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F.A.Q. Frequently Asked Questions

Here are the most frequently asked questions. Click the question to read the answer. The questions are listed in the order in which they were asked so there is no particular organization or grouping of the questions. Do you have any questions you would like to see added? E-mail your request to Norton Music.


Are your disks different from the ones that were included in my Band-in-a-Box program?

In a word, Yes. Each musician has his/her own style of playing. Bob "Notes" Norton, the author of the Norton Music Style and Fake disks is a world famous, career professional musician, multi-instrumentalist and musical arranger. You get the benefit of his musical experience.
(See the FAQ: What are your qualifications to write styles?)

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Will your disks appear in the Band-in-a-Box Style Picker Window? (Do they work just like the PG Music styles?)

The styles work just like the PG Music styles (except they will sound better). As long as you have a fairly recent version of Band-in-a-Box, they should also show up in the Style Picker window. If you have an ancient version of Band-in-a-Box, pressing F9 on your computer will allow you to load any of my styles.

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Are the parts in your styles live entered or step entered (quantized) and why does this matter?

First of all, why does this matter? Step entry and/or quantization will make the music sound mechanical and less expressive. Just as we don't talk like those old-fashioned equal spaced computer voices musicians don't play the notes in the exact mathematical divisions designated by the music.

Most musicians play in what is commonly called a groove. Different beats and sub-beats are either played a tiny bit ahead or behind where the notation states. This is nothing new. If you listen to a Strauss Waltz played by a world-class symphony orchestra, you will hear the second beat of every 3/4 measure played ahead of the beat.

High-end (and high priced) hardware and software sequence manufacturers have put plenty of devices into their products to try to create a groove in step-entered music. Swing filters, change filters, groove filters and groove templates are just a few. The problem with this is that in modern popular music, each song has its own groove, and often different parts of the song have a different groove. So you would need an infinite number of groove templates to make it work.

These timing differences have been scientifically analyzed and reported in trade magazines like Keyboard Magazine, Electronic Musician Magazine, Music & Computers Magazine, and others.

The parts in Norton Music styles are imported from MIDI files that are either [1] entered live [2] imported from MIDI files played by a live musician and/or [3] in some cases imported from auto-play keyboards (see disks #4 and #5) or found on the Internet (freely distributed MIDI files only) and then matched to the groove of the live parts using the groove matching device in Cakewalk with only a couple of exceptions (which follow).

I've been programming styles for BiaB since it was an MS-DOS program (that was a long time ago). In the early days we had no choice but to use a device called the drum grid. This only allowed step entry and the only anti-stiffness device was the swing feature (PG calls it late triplets). My earliest styles used a combination of drum grid (with swing feature when needed) and live entry. I played the instrument sounds live and used slight variations of the live part rhythms to create a gentle groove. Too much groove would sound too out of sync with the drummer.

Ever since the "Live Drums" feature came out (BiaB version 7) I have used the "Live Drum" feature exclusively (for other advantages, see FAQ question about "Live Drums"). All the parts in these styles were played live into a MIDI sequencer and imported into the Band-in-a-Box StyleMaker.

All this is done to assure you that the music coming out of your Box will sound like live musicians are playing it, instead of a machine. The only way to make the music sound live is to input the music live, in real time.

In addition, Techno and a few other styles of music demand quantization to sound right. These mechanical forms of music are supposed to sound mechanical. I step-entered or quantized the parts of these music forms when necessary to make them sound authentic.

Unless the style demands it, the Norton Music styles are never step entered.

Back to the Questions

Do you use the Band-in-a-Box "Live Drums" feature? What are the advantages?

Ever since Band-in-a-Box came out with the "Live Drums" feature, I have used "Live Drums" for all my styles.

The biggest advantage to using the "Live Drums" feature is that I can get the drums to sound like a human drummer instead of a machine. The old fashioned drum grid sounds machine like, when properly programmed by a talented musician the "Live Drums" will sound like a human being.

Technically speaking, the Band-in-a-Box drum grid has a maximum resolution of 8 clock ticks per quarter note (8ppq). This means you can divide each beat in no more than 8 divisions. This is crude timing by musician standards. The Band-in-a-Box "Live drums" has a resolution of 120ppq. This allows more of the subtle nuances that separate machine music from live music to be expressed.

But increased resolution is not the only advantage.

The old drum grid drummer has a very limited number of drums. They are: one bass drum, one snare drum, open and closed hi hat, rim shot, cowbell, one ride cymbal, one crash cymbal, three tom toms, two conga drums, one timbale, tambourine, hand clap, and two shakers. I find this very limiting, especially for Jazz, Latin American, Caribbean, Fusion, Funk, Dance, etc., and somewhat limiting for Rock, Country and R&B.

Even for the most basic forms of music, a live drummer can get more than one sound out of each drum. That makes one snare drum, one ride cymbal, and one crash cymbal even more limiting than it sounds.

The Band-in-a-Box "Live Drums" feature allows the style program to use the entire General MIDI drum set, which consists of over 50 drum sounds. Included are 5 hand drums (who can live with two?), agogo bells, a couple of ride cymbals, a ride cymbal sound as if struck near the bell, vibra-slap, claves, guiro, wood blocks, triangles, bell tree, a few different crash cymbals including a Chinese cymbal, and so many more. Not that you would use each and every one of these sounds in every song, but when you need one, it is good to have it.

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Are your styles key specific?

As you know, Band-in-a-Box asks has a drop down box where you are supposed to enter the key of the song you are entering. That is because there are key-specific attributes a style writer can add to an individual pattern in a style. If you are in a different key, these key-specific attributes won't work right.

At Norton Music, whenever I put a key-specific pattern in a style, I also put a fail-safe, pattern that will be played if you are not in that key. So Norton Music styles are not key specific. Each Norton Music style will work perfectly in each and every key.

Why is this important? The majority of songs change the key somewhere in the song, a "B" section or bridge, a modulation or even a momentary and temporary key change. Often, these key changes are transient in nature and the key signature of the song does not change. If the key change is of a long duration, the composer will often change the key signature. You can usually (but not always) recognize a transient key change by the accidentals (added sharps or flats) appearing in the music.

There are 30 different keys (15 major keys and 15 minor keys) and blues based pop music (like R&B, Rock, etc.) is played in a hybrid of minor and major scale tones you can add 15 more modes. Since in each group of keys, three are them are enharmonic (Gb is identical to F#, etc.), that leaves 12 musical versions of each key (excluding those enharmonics), or 12 major keys, 12 minor keys, and 12 blues keys (or modes). Most Western music falls into these 36 keys or modes.

If I were to write key-specific styles, I would need 36 copies of each style, one for each musical style, to play them in all 36 keys or modes. So if I were to write a style called Rok.sty, I would need to duplicate it 36 times and write RokC.sty, RokCm.sty, RokCBlues.sty, RokC#.sty, RokC#m.sty, RokC#Blues.sty, etc., etc. Since I have over 300 styles, which would take over 10,800 slots in the style picker window (which in version 11 of BiaB has a limit of 2,424 slots).

In addition, Band-in-a-Box does not have any provision to change keys in the middle of a song. As I mentioned earlier, most songs do change keys in the middle of the song. Sometimes they go through many different key changes, or flip-flop back and forth between two different keys (songs with an A and B section typically do this).

So using the standard logic I learned in high school:

 A style were written to be truly key specific, and if was so important to necessitate writing 12 major key styles, 12 minor key styles and 12 blues styles

 Every time the song changed key you would have to [1] change the key of BiaB (which is something BiaB cannot do in the middle of the song) and [2] change the style to reflect the new key. Both would have to be done or else the style would not play correctly, and since you cannot change the key mid-stream in BiaB, it would render the style practically useless. (Of course you could program each key change as a separate BiaB song, save them all to MIDI file and splice them all together, but that is very time consuming.)


The style was written so that it still plays correctly when the song changes key

The style isn't really key specific at all and there is neither a reason to spend the extra money for multiple styles nor is there any reason to over-fill the BiaB style picker window.

In summary, in my opinion, writing styles that will work in all keys is best way to write styles. They [1] save you money by not forcing you to purchase 36 copies of the same style (12 major, 12 minor, and 12 blues) [2] won't take up 36 slots per musical style in Band-in-a-Box's style picker and [3] will play perfectly through the key changes that naturally occur in most songs.

Back to the Questions

What are your qualifications to write styles?

Bob "Notes" Norton is a multi-instrumentalist (all saxophones, flute, wind synthesizer, guitar, bass, keyboards, and drums), vocalist, music instructor, arranger, master sequencer, musical software programmer, composer, author, and the owner of Norton Music. He is currently residing and in Fort Pierce, Florida. Bob started his formal musical education in the Florida public school system. He was chosen by The Florida Bandmasters Association as the best saxophone player in the state (first chair all-state band) each and every year he was in school. He continued his education by taking courses provided by Broward Community College, Berklee College of Music, and private instructors in Florida, L.A., Michigan, Jamaica, and Puerto Rico.

Bob's contributions to contemporary American music are recognized by his inclusion in the Marquis Publications' Who's Who in the South and Southwest (1993 to present) Who's Who in America (1996 to present), Who's Who in Entertainment, and Who's Who in the World (1996 to present). Bob is also included in the International Biographical Centre of Cambridge England's Men Of Achievement publication, their Dictionary of International Biography, Edition XXIII, and Outstanding People of the 20th Century. In addition to all this, he will be featured in the next edition of International Who's Who of Information Technology and Stratmore's Who's Who.

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Are your disks easy to install?

In a word, Yes.

For Windows users, there is an automatic, easy installation program

For Macintosh users, simply drag and drop the files into the Band-in-a-Box folder

Complete, easy to follow instructions are included. These instructions have been refined and revised since 1992 in response to novice questions to the point where I haven't had anyone have a problem following the instructions in many years.

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How does e-delivery work?

After your credit card is approved, my shopping cart will send you to a site where you can download your disk(s). Simply click the link and your disk will download. Complete, easy-to-follow instructions for installing the disks are included.

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What should I do in the unlikely event that I have trouble with e-delivery or installation of my disk.

In the unlikely event you have trouble, simply e-mail me. The E-mail link is on the top of every Norton Music web page.

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How does e-delivery save me money ... and ... Do you offer Discount Packs?

E-delivery gives you three ways to save money --- and the savings add up!!!

  1. Pay no postage. E-delivery is FREE!!! This immediately saves you $3.85 or more depending on where you live and how fast you want it delivered.

  2. Multi-Disk Discount - The more you buy, the more money you save - in addition to the savings on postage: Purchase one e-disk, save $1.00 -- plus your savings on postage and handling! Purchase 2 e-disks, save $4.00 -- plus your savings on postage and handling! ($2.00 discount per disk) Purchase 3 e-disks, save $9.00 -- plus your savings on postage and handling! ($3.00 discount per disk). Purchase 5 e-disks, save $15.00 -- plus your savings on postage and handling!. Purchase 10 e-disks, save $50.00 -- plus your savings on postage and handling!. Purchase 20 e-disks, save $100.00 -- plus your savings on postage and handling! - And the more disks you buy, the more money you save.

  3. International customers do not have to pay Import Tax (Customs Duty - Douane)

Back to the Questions

What is the difference between Style Disks and Fake Disks?

The style disks create the rhythm accompaniment to a song. In other words, the style disks determines whether the song will be played as a waltz, cha-cha, rock, techno, salsa or any other type song.

The fake disks are collections of songs that can be played back using whatever style you choose.

Back to the Questions

Do I need to purchase style disks to use the Fake Disks?

In a word, "No". You can use any style you want with any song in the fake disk. When compiling the disks, I chose a style which I think suited the song well. If you do not have that style you can choose another. If you do have that style, you can still choose another. You may not agree with my choice.

Back to the Questions

Are the melody and lyrics included in the Fake Disks?

The melody and lyrics are not on the fake disk, but only in the optional fake book. Why? The copyright holders wanted to charge me up to $2.50 per song to include the melody and/or lyrics on the disk. This would make the disk too expensive (my disks have up to 750 songs on them). Since the price per song is as little as 8˘ per song in a fake book, I chose to write fake disks and offer the accompanying book at a discount. You can open the book, load the song and have a party.

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What are the copyright restrictions and license terms for your style and fake disks?

Legal use of copyrighted style and song files for Band-in-a-Box. (Copyright laws in simple English.)

What you can and what you cannot legally do with following products:
* Norton Music User Styles for Band-in-a-Box
* Roy Hawkesford Arrangement Disks for Band-in-a-Box
* Jim Wedd's Chord Substitution disks for Band-in-a-Box (distributed by Norton Music)
* David Bailey Fake Disks for Band-in-a-Box (distributed by Norton Music)
* Norton Music Fake Disks for Band-in-a-Box.

We truly hope the products you purchased from us help you make a double platinum CD, write a movie soundtrack, land a choice gig, get chosen in an audition, get your song published, have a number one hit on Billboard, and/or win a Grammy and an Oscar. WE WISH YOU GREAT SUCCESS, and you won't us an extra penny, even if you make a fortune using our products, as long as you use them according to the terms of this license agreement.

THIS LICENSE APPLIES ONLY TO THE ORIGINAL PURCHASER AND IS NOT TRANSFERABLE. If you sell or give away your computer, you are required by law to remove these files before it leaves your possession.

NORTON MUSIC, AND ROY HAWKESFORD STYLES ARE ROYALTY FREE STYLES. In addition, Norton Music Fake Disk, Jim Wedd Chord Substitution Disk, David Bailey Fake Disk, and Roy Hawkesford arrangement disk files are Royalty Free songs. You have our permission to use any MIDI files and/or audio sound recordings made with our style/song files for Band-In-A-Box without paying any royalties to us (audio recordings include; records, tapes, CDs, video soundtracks, radio spots, WAV files, AIFF files, MP3 files, MPEG files, MOV files, etc.). You also have our permission to use these files in a public performance without any paying royalties to us.

NORTON MUSIC, ROY HAWKESFORD, JIM WEDD, AND DAVID BAILEY style, arrangement and fake disks contain chord progressions only. No copyrightable lyrics, melodies, melody fragments or song specific riffs are included. Many songs usually share the same chord progression and as far as I know, a chord progression itself cannot be copyrighted. If you use these chord progressions to play copyrighted songs, you are responsible to comply with all local, national and international copyright laws.

IF YOU PRODUCE A COMMERCIAL PRODUCT WITH THIS SOFTWARE, we do ask that you notify the copyright holder, and that you give the copyright holder credit in the appropriate area of the product, near the other credits (song writer, arranger, musicians, etc.). Suggested credit is "Band-in-a-Box style by Norton Music" (or whoever).

Although you have a license to use the software in the above-described manner, it is understood that NORTON MUSIC, JIM WEDD, DAVID BAILEY AND ROY HAWKESFORD RETAIN ALL COPYRIGHT OWNERSHIP OF THEIR RESPECTIVE SOFTWARE. (All rights Reserved.)

YOU MAY NOT DISTRIBUTE ANY NORTON MUSIC, JIM WEDD, DAVID BAILEY, OR ROY HAWKESFORD PRODUCT FOR BAND-IN-A-BOX (either modified or in its original form) IN ANY FILE FORMAT THAT CAN BE LOADED INTO THE BAND-IN-A-BOX PROGRAM, (with the exception of the aforementioned MIDI files which are allowed). This means you cannot share files with the following extensions:
[A] In the case of a Style Disk or a style file *.STY
[B] In the case of a Fake Disk, Arrangement Disks, or a song file, *.SG?, *.MG?, etc.

NOTE: This includes either for profit or not for profit distribution. One of the biggest misconceptions on the Internet is that if money doesn't change hands, anything is legal. Nothing can be farther from the truth. ACCORDING TO INTERNATIONAL COPYRIGHT LAW, SHARING A COPYRIGHTED FILE IS ILLEGAL AND CAN SUBJECT YOU TO A JAIL TERM AND/OR FINE EVEN IF NO MONEY CHANGES HANDS.


The purchaser of a Norton Music, Jim Wedd, David Bailey, or Roy Hawkesford file or disk is hereby given permission to duplicate the style or disk ONLY FOR BACKUP PURPOSES and/or install the information on a hard disk for his or her own personal use--on a single machine only--provided it bears this copyright notice.


Back to the Questions

Which style disk should I purchase first?

This is a very difficult question for me to answer, as I don't know your particular tastes in music.

For style disks, I advise you to listen to the demo files yourself at . The number of the style disk that each style is located on is between the style name and the demo file.

For fake disks, go to each fake disk page and read the songs. The complete song list is in the gray column on the right of the page.

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What happens if I cross grade to another computer operating system?

E-mail Norton Music. There is no charge for cross-grading if delivery is done on the Internet. If you require physical disks, I'll have to charge you for shipping, handling and supplies.

Will these disks work with my Macintosh computer?

In a word, Yes. They work with all versions of the Mac OS, including OSX. You will need to be able to unzip a file (as far as I know, all modern Mac computers can unzip).

Back to the Questions

Doesn't it seems costly to buy a styles disc when I'm only looking to add one style or a few styles?

On the surface, this seems like a good argument, but when you think about it, it isn't so simple.

Anybody who has purchased a fake book knows that they will probably not play every song in the book. But buying a single sheet music chart might cost $3.00-$5.00 per song, but when purchasing a fake book the cost per song is more like $0.10 per song. If there are enough songs in that fake book to make the total cost per song less than the sheet music cost, the fake book becomes a great deal. That is why the fake books are some of the best selling titles in the publisher's catalogs.

The songs that you don't like in that fake book might appeal to someone else, so different people buy that fake book for different reasons, and they both get something different out of the book.

The beauty of this comes in the economy of distributing a collection of songs as opposed to a number of songs with individual catalog numbers, spaces on the retailers shelf, space in the wholesalers warehouse, copyright arrangements with the publishers, Visa/M.C./Amex or other credit card charges for each transaction, bank charges for each business deposit, time spent keeping up the inventory, time spent in the additional accounting, time spent fulfilling each individual order, etc. etc.

It is much cheaper to stock and distribute a single book with a large number of songs than to release each song as an individual sheet music. The Ultimate Country Fake Book has over 700 songs in it, the Ultimate Jazz Fake Book has over 600 songs; can you imagine the cost of stocking and distributing these songs in an individual format? Can you imagine paying $ 2,450.00 for the sheet music price (at $3.50 per song) of the songs in a fake book that has 700 songs?

Styles are much the same way. If PG, Norton, Hawkesford and the other style makers were to sell styles "by the style", the price would be much higher than the "about $1.00 per style" that the current price is. I would think the price would be more like $5.00 to $10.00 per style. In fact, I have seen prices of $12.00 per style on the Internet. At that price, if you like 3 styles on one $33.95 disk, you break even and get all the rest free -- you get 27 free styles! If you like 4 styles on the disk, you just got yourself a great deal on the styles you purchased plus a bunch of free styles.

So the object is not to think about how many styles on a disk you don't want, but how many styles on a disk you do want. If there are enough styles on that disk to make it worth the money, think of the styles you don't want like the songs in the music book you won't play -- the extra free fluff.

Many other things work like this. How may people make every recipe in a cookbook? How many people look up every word in a dictionary? How many people look up every topic in an encyclopedia (CD or Tree-Ware)? How many people use every feature in Band-in-a-Box, Word, Page Maker, Pro Tools or most other software applications? How many people use every sample on a sample CD disk? How many people watch every channel on their Cable TV or Satellite TV service? How many people make every drink in a bartender's guide? How many people play every voice on a synthesizer or computer sound card? How many people use every feature that comes with a computer? (I've never used a joystick, played Free Cell, or used Outlook or the Windows Paint Program to name a few). The list goes on and on.

So is it stupid to buy a cookbook, a dictionary, an encyclopedia, a software application, a sample disk, Cable or Satellite TV, a bartender's guide, a synthesizer, or a computer because we won't use 100% of the features?

Absolutely not!

We purchase these things for what we want in them, not for what we don't want in them. The economy of mass-producing and distributing collections of items makes large numbers of the individual items in the collection affordable for us. If everything was custom made and custom fit for each and every one of us, the cost would be prohibitive for most people and very few people would be able to afford them.

So purchase a style disk for the styles you want, and think of the styles you don't want as the free styles. As long as you are paying less than $10.00 per style that you will ever use, you are getting a deal.

Back to the Questions

Can I un-do the assigned volume of each style?

It's one of darned-if-you-do and darned-if-you-don't situations. I assigned a volume level for each of my styles. Read on, I'll tell you why and how to un-assign that volume level.

First the why...

There are a lot of free-ware amateur styles floating around on the Internet. Some of them are very poorly written. Some of them have outlandish volumes assigned to the styles. This works fine for the style in question, as long as you are using the same sound card or synthesizer as the person who wrote the style; but as soon as you use a different style, you are in trouble.

Say for instance, if the person writing the amateur freeware style the drums on his/her synth playing too loudly because he/she wrote the velocity levels of the drums all at 127 (maximum velocity loudness), he/she might compensate by turning volume of the drums down to about 64 (out of 127). Then you load the next style (or song with style assigned to it) that has no volume setting, and BiaB does not reset the volume back to the default, and the next style still has the volume of 64. The result is you can hardly hear the drums on the next song.

This works for other instruments as well, but I simply used drums as the example because they seem to be the most common offender.

I received many tech help calls and e-mails about this very situation so I decided to assign more or less standard volume levels to my styles in the StyleMaker. This resulted in more tech help calls from people wanting to know how to un-do the volume changes, but in the long run, it has resulted in fewer calls so I left the volume assignments in.

So how do you undo it? It's easy.

  1. Load the style you want to change
  2. Open the StyleMaker to Edit the Current Style by either pressing CTRL SHIFT F9 or using the mouse on the menu bar (either click Style or User depending on your version of BiaB and then navigate the drop down menu to Edit Current Style). This opens the StyleMaker and it is ready to edit the style.
  3. Click MISC on the button bar and a dialogue box opens
  4. Un-check the box labeled "Allow Volume Changes With Style"
  5. Click OK -- this closes the dialogue box.
  6. Click SAVE in the button bar.
  7. Click EXIT in the button bar, the StyleMaker closes and you are all done.

Back to the Questions

Do I need Band-in-a-Box to use these disks?
Will the styles work with my auto-accompaniment keyboard (Yamaha PS, Korg i, Technics, etc.)?

The styles will only work with Band-in-a-Box -- however, you can use these styles in Band-in-a-Box, export them as a Standard MIDI file (General MIDI) and play the MIDI file in most modern auto-accompaniment keyboards.

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