Band In A Box Mac

PG Music’s Band-in-a-Box is a great program. Sadly, it is languishing on the Mac side. After not updating it for about 4 years, the updated it to version 12 to add Mac OS X support. The Windows version was updated to 2004. We are now almost into 2006, and the Mac version is not going to be updated this year. Instead, PG Music did a maintenance release of the existing to allow the use of new styles. No new features, nada. You’d think PG Music would have been working on a new version to add support for Garageband. Or perhaps the ability to use Garageband software synths. Nope. Just new styles.

I really hope they get another Mac programmer there to get this program rolling. When you compare the PC version and the Mac version, there is a HUGE gap.

Band in A Box 2006

PG Music has released the latest, greatest update to it’s awesome Band in A Box program. Version 2006 includes these features:

  • Live looping and playback control (for people who perform live with BinaB. Though I don’t think I’ll be using it)
  • Enhanced TC-Helicon Audio Harmonies (???? ok….)
  • New notation symbols
  • (woohoo..lead sheets!)
  • ASIO Audio/Software synth driver support, VST synth/plug-in support, Three new DirectX plug-ins, PG Vinyl, PG RTA and PG Vocal Remover (*yawn….what?)
  • Direct open or import of WMA, MP3, and CD-Audio files, Half-speed (and slower) audio playback (Interesting feature to allow you to load an audio file in and transcribe it)
  • Support for different instruments (patches) for the “a” and “b” substyle (this is neat!)
  • Multi-channel Leadsheet display and specific channel recording, MIDI normalize option, Piano Roll improvements, Bar range for MIDI file creation (Um…..won’t ever use them)
  • Two new ear training games (Games? Someone say games?)
  • 11th chord support (FINALLY!)
  • Batch conversion from Band-in-a-Box songs to MIDI files (Could be interesting…)

PLUS………

You get Styles 58, which sounds damn good. If you opt for the MegaPak ($99 from a previous version), you get ALL the styles. Some of them are very nice, like Styles 53 to 57.

Sadly, the Macintosh version is now seriously lagging behind the PC version. The Mac version is 12, the PC is on 2006, and they have been through 12, 2004, 2005. So we are three version ahead. Sad. PG Music is promising some add-ins soon for the Macintosh version. We will see.

In all, if you don’t own Band in a Box, get it. It is the best practice tool out there. It beats Smartmusic with both it’s arms tied behind it’s back, both legs tied, blind-folded, and suffering from the flu. Yeah, no comparison. SmartMusic does not let you print anything from it. Band in a Box will let you print lead sheets, piano parts, drum parts, solos, EVERYTHING.

My former teacher, Guido, has put away his Vinyl (yes, he uses records…..poor guy….probably also has a leisure suit somewhere as well that he wears, but I digress…..) Aebersold LPs in favor of Band in a Box. This version does not add a lot of really NEW features, but it is worth it just for the styles.

James Newton Howard On Scoring For King Kong

KongisKing.net has a couple of interesting videos about the post production of the new King Kong movie. Of interest are the post production movies of weeks 4 and 5.

Amazing that he does about 2 minutes of music a day, and then the copyists come in at like 4am to write out parts for the orchestra to play in the morning. Also amazing the amount of Macintoshes used 😉 Also of note is that it appears that Finale is used, by the look of a couple of the pieces of music in the videos, specifically in the Week 4 video, about 4:21 into it. Looks like Finale using Bill Duncan’s Finale Fonts

Smartmusic 9.0

SmartMusic has been updated to version 9. MakeMusic is hyping it with Wynton Marsalis who gives little “talks” about how to use the software. If you have used SmartMusic before, you know how the interface sucks. It still sucks. The sounds still suck. However, they have added some jazz things.

A couple of things sounded interesting, so I downloaded (finally!) the upgrade (500+ megabytes) and installed it. First off, NONE of the jazz exercises are printable. In fact, hardly anything is printable. In my opinion, it cripples the program. How can you promote the “on screen drum charts” when I doubt anyone can get their computer anywhere close to their drum set. Also, on the Mac Mini system I tested it on (1.42 gigahertz), the follow cursor (line or whatever you want to call it) seems to be behind the music, which kind of blows the whole reason for having the cursor there. SmartMusic needs to be able to PRINT examples, exercises, lead sheets. Adopt a print feature like MusicNotes.com has and print an “authorized for use by So and So” on the bottom right of every page.

SmartMusic has a lot to offer, such as great backgrounds to all kinds of Classical literature. Avoid the Beatles stuff in there, as it’s super cheezy. The Jazz stuff has a long way to go. There needs to be the ability to create loops, and perhaps freely take patterns and combine them with other patterns and create a practice loop. I’d recommend Band-in-a-Box over SmartMusic for Jazz any day of the week. Not only does Band-in-a-Box allow you to create progressions of any length or style, but you can PRINT out charts.

I give SmartMusic a 5 out of 10. It’s a love/hate relationship with this program. I like the classical pieces and hate the interface and sounds.

Sax Amplifiers??

Pimsoul writes “I play in a band, on alto sax. The think is, because the drums are loud the bass and guitar is loud, so i have to play loud too. But I can’t always keep up with loudness, so we thought about amplifieing my sax. Because it isn’t good for a normal guitar amplifier to use it for saxophone i’m looking for an alternative. I thinking about an amplifier for sax, but do they even exist? So yes, are these things expensive (when you compare it with the quality)? If they don’t exist, what are the other alternatives?
I would appreciate replies very much, thank you!
Kind regards, Pim
(excuse me for my bad English)”

There is not a “sax amplifier” per say. What you can use is pretty much any type of amp you want. Or a self powered speaker. Keyboard amps work great, something like Rolands KC350. Really depends on how much money you want to spend. And you would need a microphone as well, something like a Sennheiser 421.

But you might consider asking the other guys to play down at 11 rather than 13. If you can’t hear yourself play in a band, you have to wonder what the long term effects on your hearing (not to mention sanity). Is it worth losing your hearing to play really, really, really loud?

Boycott Sony Music

If you haven’t heard, Sony is installing DRM on its CDs. This DRM has also been exploited.
In fact, there is even a lawsuit over it.

Now, it seems even Mac OS X gets some sort of DRM with a Sony CD.

It’s time to boycott Sony Music.

Update: 11/13 20:27 GMT by E :There is an interesting discussion about Sony’s End User License Agreement on Slashdot.org. Amazing how this company is protecting it’s profits.

Xmas Guide 2005

Yes, it is only November. But there is no time like the present to start thinking of presents for people (woohoo, good play on words there E).

To start things off, iLounge has a very good, free, Holiday buyers’ guide available. Of course the guide is for people who own an iPod. And if they don’t own an iPod, that would be the #1 thing to get people. An iPod nano is only $199. Amongst the things they recommend are AKG’s new K 701 headphones. I own a pair of AKG 271 headphones, and they rock. The 701s are around $399.

Other things to consider getting a musician are:

This is just a start…..I’m sure there are other potential presents out there.

Jazz Saxophone Etudes By Greg Fishman

Greg Fishman has released a great new book titled Jazz Saxophone Etudes. What sets this book apart from others is the addition of two CDs, one for Alto and one for Tenor. You use the same etude for both instruments. So, you don’t have to deal with bad transposition jobs that you find in say, Bob Minzter’s books. Plus, the CDs feature extended rhythmn section only parts that allow you to stretch out and play on the tunes.

The tunes are based on standard changes. There are two blues etudes, two rhythmn changes etudes, and etude based on the changes to “A” Train, etc. All the etudes are named after streets in Chicago, which figures as Greg Fishman is from Chicago.

The one thing I would want more of in the book is voice leading. It would have been great to include the voice leadings to the solos, along with some analysis of what was used. It was mentioned briefly in the front of the book, then….nada. It would really make this book stand out if it had detailed, one page sheet on the voice leadings used in the solos. Anyhow, I’ve done a bunch of them for my students so they can see how he constructed the solos.

Rating for this book. 10/10. For $20, this book rocks. You get excellent solos, great sounding CDs, and a lot of information. Go get it!

Metal Mouthpieces and Spoilers

pika writes “What do people think about the metal mouthpieces with spoilers? How much louder do they make you sound(tener sax) because i was thinking about getting one for marching band. Email me if you know anything.”

First off, we don’t “email me if you know anything”. That also goes for people who “please email your XXXX arrangement”. You won’t believe how many times a week I get that. It is so Middle School.

Back to your question. A baffle indeed makes your mouthpiece louder. I think that is what you mean by “spoiler”. It would make a metal mouthpiece louder obviously. However, it does change the quality of the tone you get out of the mouthpiece. I tried Power Tone Baffles briefly on alto, and did not care for them. I got more volume, but the tone just didn’t sound good.

There is another thing you could try. If you put some paper underneath the reed (where the reed and mouthpiece contact), that will give you a little more buzz and power.

EM Reviews Field Recorders

Electronic Musician reviewed a bunch of field recorders, including the the Marantz 671, Marantz 660 and the Edirol R1 among others.

Basically, they panned the Marantz 671 (successor to the 670, which I love) for having firmware issues causing the mic preamps to be noisy. The Edirol R1 came out on top of the two Marantz units. Though I would really call the article a “introduction” to field recording. They do not list exactly what they tried to record, and with what. We all know that the microphone is key to getting a good recording.

I would totally recommend the Marantz 670. I used it this weekend and got some great recordings putting it about 6 feet infront and 7 feet above the band. Of course using my Rode NT4 mic (awesome piece that it is).

I imagine the issues with the 671 have been fixed. I would take the EM article with some grains of salt. The reviewer used these units to record a snare drum (why??), the “ambience in a suburban neighborhood” (um, ok), and dialog. Ok, great tests there. NOT.

Oh, and EM was reporting, like it was news, that Sony introduced a new format called MiHD. Um, guys, these things have been out for OVER A YEAR. Get with the program!

In The Xmas Mood

I did this last year. Resurrected it, and cleaned it up a little. It’s a bunch of Christmas Songs put around In The Mood. Score and Parts for Big Band (5 Saxes, 5 bones, 4 trumpets). Enjoy!

  •   XMas In The Mood - Parts (1.2 MiB, 318 hits)
    You do not have permission to download this file. Please either login or create an account first.

  •   XMas In The Mood - Score (421.1 KiB, 232 hits)
    You do not have permission to download this file. Please either login or create an account first.

RIAA Being Counter-sued Under The RICO Act

An Oregon mom is fighting back. She is suing the RIAA for being in violation of the Oregon RICO Act in addition to ‘fraud, invasion of privacy, abuse of process, electronic trespass, violation of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, negligent misrepresentation, the tort of “outrage”, and deceptive business practices.’ She is also demanding a trial by jury.

The Rico ACT. Basically, I think the RIAA is guilty of Extortion (as they sue, but demand a settlement. None of the suits have gone to trial). It could possibly be guilty of price-fixing. My problem with these RIAA lawsuits is that they are vague. They really prove nothing. They have not done a criminal investigation with any law enforcement agency (to my knowledge). All they have been doing is gathering IP addresses, making assumptions, and then suing.

Palm Keys on Tenor Sax

ladyzutano writes “Okay. I use a Selmer Tenor series III, and every time I play one of those chic little passages where versatility in the palm keys is required, I can reach the keys only by bending my wrist at an awkard angle. It’s almost a perfect 90 degrees! I tried moving the horn away from my body for a less cumbersome reach, yet by doing so I move the mouthpiece too far away. Any suggestions?”

Palm key risers. You can get Runyon Palm Key Risers or Oleg ones. I think the Oleg ones are also available individually. I used the Runyon ones for a long time, but switched to the Oleg ones because the Runyon ones tend to move after they have been on there a while.

Another solution would be to go to your local sax shop and see if they could build up the palm keys for you. That would be the best solution, and custom fitted to your palm.

Oodles Of Saxophones

I just received the latest Woodwind/Brasswind catalog. Have you seen the number of companies that make saxophones. Here is the list (in no particular order):

  • BandNow
  • Barrington (advertised heavily in the catalog)
  • Yamaha
  • Amati
  • C.F. Conn
  • Keilwerth
  • Blessing
  • Allora
  • Selmer
  • LA Sax
  • Jupiter
  • Chicago Jazz Series (LA Sax?)
  • Woodwind Brand
  • Yanagisawa
  • Unison (not in the catalog though)
  • Buescher (not in the catalog)
  • Selmer USA (not in the catalog)

Whew. And then there are different models from these guys. Selmer has at least 9 different alto saxophone models. Wow. Is there really a market for all these brands? Are any of them to be avoided? Did I forget any?