Intro to Full Band Pathing (beingmused)

This is a reformatted response beingmused wrote for one of the many people on scorehero that have asked him or others how to path for a band.

Basic Steps

Go to Kawigi's path stats site and bookmark it:

Download the pathing template v3 if you have Office 2007/2008, or the v2 .xls if you have Office 2003/2004.

Here's a quick guide to the spreadsheet. See the screenshot of a filled-out path so you can know what I'm referencing. I'll tell you how to create one from scratch once you know what the columns do.

Column A - measure numbers

I make sure mine line up with the excel row number just to avoid confusion.

Column B - OD Beats per measure

To understand this, you need to know how whammy works. A full bar of OD is 32 beats worth - half a bar is 16, what you need to be able to activate. A regular OD phrase with no whammy gets you 8 beats of OD.

But while 90% of the time overdrive drains at a pace of 4 beats per measure - aka, a full bar of OD will last you 8 measures under such circumstances (32/4 = 8), sometimes this is a different amount. The screenshot example I'm providing is from a path for Working Man, and you see that for a section the OD beats are 8, which means a full bar of OD would only get you 4 measures.

Column C - Chart Notes

This is where all of the OD and activation points are laid out. You get this info (along with all the other info you need to fill out this template) from Kawigi's path stats, and it is important to realize that what measure an OD is marked in is typically the measure the OD is AVAILABLE. Note in measure 163 it says Bass OD - well this means that the actual OD phrase is in 162, but that OD is available to be used starting in 163. This is important to keep track of, so you know whether or not an activation will pick up an overdrive along the way or not. You're always going to have to reference the chart itself (ajanata's charts) so that you know your activations will work out as planned.

Column D - Measure Score

This is the score during that measure. Pretty simple.

Column E - Drum Fill Cover

If there is a value in here, that means DURING THAT MEASURE that drums will have a drum fill, providing they have sufficient overdrive 1.2 or so seconds prior to the fill (luckily ajanata's charts show the time between the previous OD phrase and any drum fill). In other words, each number here shows where a potential drum activation would be (that would start on the next measure).

Column F - Drum Fill Show

You put an X here if drums has enough OD such that the fill (detailed in column E) will appear. This helps you see when drums can activate, and it also removes those fill-covered-up points from your total score.

Columns G-J

This is here you do the actual pathing. Using the data from columns A-F, and looking at Ajanata's charts (which show vocal activation spots in red), you figure out good places to activate together. Try one out by looking for high-scoring measure where you can get 3 or all 4 instruments activated on the same time. Make multiple copies of the tab to try out different paths to see which one ends up with the highest score.

Column K - Multiplier

This will automatically change from 1 to 2 to 4 to 6 to 8 depending on how many Xs you have in that row. The new template v3 has support for half-measures of OD, which you indicate using a "y".

Column L - Real Measure Score

This is the base measure score times the multiplier.

Column M - Cumulative Score

This tallies up the total score so you know what your path predicts.

Column N - OD notes

Blank. You can add in notes here particular to each path if you want, like "This has to be a vox reverse squeeze" or something like that.

Columns O-S Average scores.

These columns help you identify high scoring areas, good places to activate. Bassically each column shows you the average score of the next 4, 6, 8, 10, or 12 measures. In the v3 template, this is chagned to the average score PER OD BEAT, which makes it easier to identify path "hot spots" when the song shifts between different OD beats. Higher than average spots are marked in green (the more green, the higher from the average), and lower spots in red.

Starting a Path

How do you go about making one of these paths? Well, on that path stats site, you want to copy out all of that into a blank spreadsheet (I keep a tab open in my blank path template for this). Copy and paste special the text only into this tab of the worksheet. Highlight row 1 and delete it so that measure numbers and row numbers align (there are never notes in measure 1). I like to do a find and replace (ctrl+H) to replace all "drum act, " with nothing as well as all "drum act" with nothing - while Kawigi has that in his path data, I find it is redundant with column E and clutters up Column C. Then copy out the data - which will be aligned for you and everything - into the path tab. You don't need the instrument-specific breakdown which is the 2nd half of the path stats info.

Any questions? Getting the hang of how to do all this will take a lot of practice, but with time, anyone can get it. If you want to try a practice path, I'd be happy to critique it and show what things one can do to improve it.

While you'll have to find strategies that work for you, when I'm dealing with an important path I like to come at it from lots of different angles. First I'll start with drums and try to "path around" that part. Then I'll do the same with vocals (especially if the song has only a few vocals windows). Then I might do one where I start from a high-scoring area to make sure everything is aligned perfectly for that section and work my way backwards.