How to add lyrics to your band-in-box backing track

If you want a detailed step-by-step guide on how to make and perform with Band-in-a-Box backing tracks, have a look at my eBook "Band-in-a-Box 101: A  beginners guide to making and performing with Band-in-a-Box backing tracks"

I get quite a few questions on how to add lyrics to your backing tracks so that you don’t have to have an extra sheet of paper or file open on your computer when you play along to your tracks. The idea is that the lyrics scroll along with the chords of the song and you can sing and play along, karaoke style. 

There are many ways to skin this particular cat and I have tried some of them. Some with more success than others. 

In November 2016 I described how I used to go about making MP3+CDG files using a product called Karaoke CD+G Creator from Power Karaoke. Here is a link to that blog post.  MP3+CDG files are the old fashioned way that was used to write karaoke files to a CD. The MP3 file contains the audio and the CDG file contains graphics that play along with the audio file.

After a while I got tired of exporting the MP3+CDG files to video before uploading to Youtube so I moved onto learning how to make karaoke/play along type video files (mp4)  using a tool call Youtube Movie Maker.

In March 2017 I wrote about how I go about making MP4 videos like this.

Here is a link to that blog post.

Both of these methods required you to export your band-in-a-box song to an MP3 before making the video. The disadvantage of this is that if you mess about with your band-in-a-box song (for example say you decide to change the key or the tempo) then you have to remake the video from scratch.

So today I am going to write about how to put your lyrics right into your band-in-a-box song itself. Like this

I have used what PG music calls "bar based lyrics" to set this up and in this blog post, I will describe my workflow. PS You can download this Band-in-a-Box SGU song file with the lyrics inside (and others) for free from my website.

1. Make your backing track

If you are unsure how to create a backtrack in Band-in-a-Box this blog post will walk you through it.

2. Get the lyrics into notepad

Just google the name of your song plus the word "lyrics" and cut and paste the lyrics into notepad.

3. Format the lyrics

Now, the trick is to format the lyrics so that the lyric for each bar starts on a new line. Use a blank line if there is a bar with no lyrics on it.

So the lyrics for "Leaving on a Jet Plane" came out of Google like this.

All my bags are packed 
I'm ready to go 
I'm standin' here outside your door 
I hate to wake you up to say goodbye 
But the dawn is breakin' 
It's early morn 
The taxi's waitin' 
He's blowin' his horn 
Already I'm so lonesome 
I could die

So kiss me and smile for me 
Tell me that you'll wait for me....etc

I changed them to the following:

All my bags are packed  
I'm ready to go 
I'm standin' here  
outside your door 
I hate to wake you  
up to say  
goodbye 

But the dawn is breakin' it's  
early morn 
The taxi's waitin' he's  
blowin' his horn 
Already I'm so  
lonesome I could  
die 

So kiss me and  
smile for me 
Tell me that you'll  
wait for me....etc

4. Set up Band-in-a-Box to use bar based lyrics

Pull down the chord display button

Select layers>bar lyrics

You will see a blue line appears above your chords.

5. Copy your lyrics to the lyric bar

Select your lyrics from your notepad file and copy them to your clipboard by pressing CTL-C. Now double click your mouse in blue space above the chord in the bar where the lyrics start (in my case it is bar 5). The color of the bar will change from blue to purple.

Now press CTL-V to paste the formatted lyrics from your clipboard into Band-in-a-Box.

6. Fine tune 

If you find that Band-in-a-box has placed the lyrics into the wrong bar then just click your mouse at the start of the lyrics you want to move and press "enter" to move them one bar to the right and "backspace" to move them one bar to the left. Note; this gets easier the more you do it and you learn pretty quickly how to format the lyrics (as described in step 3) so that Band-in-a-Box puts them in the right place the first time.

7. Change the size of the lyrics

If you are like me and not be able to see the lyrics very clearly you may want to increase the font size of the lyrics. You will need to use the Band-in-Box display settings and these will depend on whether you are using the "Normal screen mode" or the "Minimal screen mode". My examples all show Band-in-a-Box in "Normal screen mode".

To change the display settings enter Options>Preferences>Display

You will need to mess about with all the settings and parameters highlighted below. Warning: some of these parameters don't always work as expected. When you are happy you should SAVE THE SCHEME so that you can use the same scheme each time you set up new lyrics in Band-in-a-Box.  The following picture shows which parameters you will need to experiment with.

I have two schemes saved. One for when I am in "Normal screen mode" (this one is named "lyrics half screen") and the other for when I am in "Minimal screen mode" (which is named "Lyrics video" since these are the settings that Band-in-a-Box uses to make the videos).

I will be covering how I go about making an MP4 video like the one that is on Youtube in a future blog post.

Happy music making!

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