Tag Archives: accompaniment

Band in a Box 2012 for Mac

I recently reviewed version 2011.5 of Band in a Box. Partly because I had to upgrade in order to participate in the Beta for 2012. Now that Band in a Box 2012 is out, lets look at what it offers and what issues it still has to fix.

Off the bat, you get more RealTracks in the new version. That alone is worth it. More Mike LeDonne Organ, Fusion, Jazz Funk styles are included in the update. That alone is worth the $99 upgrade.

A few versions ago, PG Music added a DAW feature where you could generate and drag Midi or Audio tracks to your favorite DAW (Logic, Garageband, ProTools, etc). This version, they added the reverse. You can now import Loops (audio or midi) INTO Band in a Box. It sorta works, and I imagine in future versions it will work better.

Guitar Amp. They worked out some sort of arrangement with AmpliTube to bundle it with Band in a Box. So now you can tweak the guitar sounds coming out of a real track. Kinda cool.

Various other fixes as well such as the “Same but Different” when generating a track so it doesn’t always play the same thing. Seems more natural now. Nothing OMG is introduced in this version other than maybe the ability to add loops into Band in a Box.

Bugs and problems and other things
I’ve participated several times in the Betas Band in a Box. There are TWO long standing issues that I keep mentioning. The first is Open Song by Title. On the windows version, this will show you a great view of all the songs in a Band in a Box folder including if it has a melody, and what style it is using. It also parses through subfolders. On the Mac version, it doesn’t parse through the subfolders. Which is stupid since there are thousands of free band in a box files out there, and putting them all into ONE folder seems stupid.

Second, there is a saving bug that if a song has a long filename, when you Save As you get _BOSORNB demo (140bp#AD7428.SGU

Also, there are various little things like not being able to size windows at all, such as the Open Song by Title window. This is probably due to it being a cross platform program and having more roots in the Windows side than the Mac side (though I think the program started on the Atari ST, cause I remember a version when I was a kid that ran on my Atari ST).

Preferences in Band in a Box are a nightmare. I’d suggest doing preferences sorta like how Finale does preferences (another program that is cross platform).

No full screen for Lion though it runs just fine on Lion (2011 and 2011.5 version did as well). Some windows resize, but a lot don’t. That needs to be fixed to make the program more Mac like.

Buttons. There is NO WAY to customize the buttons in the program.
So you can’t get rid of things you don’t need that are cluttering the display, like the Vid.Help button, or the things that are redundant like having a PGMusic button (which takes you to their website but that is also in the Help menu). It would be nice to be able to get rid of some of the excess buttons if you don’t need them just to un-clutter the interface, especially if you have a MacBook Air (not that I do) and a small screen.

AND there is this great feature in the program called Woodshedding, which is buried in Preferences 2 menu. This feature will include the speed of a song by a certain number up to a certain number. So you could have say 8 bars of a solo you want to shed. You start it at 120, and tell it to increment every loop by 5 up to 220. BUT THERE IS NO BUTTON FOR THIS. Say what? Yup.

That’s a rap
So, is this still a program you should spend $329 (download only) to $399 (hard drive version) or $99 to upgrade to? Yes. If you are going to study jazz, this is a program you should have. If anything, it will play for itself by you NOT having to buy Aebersold play-alongs. You could simply buy a “Real Book” and Band in a Box and save a lot of money and gain the ability to practice Impressions for 40 choruses in a Funk style…..or Bluegrass….or Gypsy Jazz style…..or 12/8 Rock style….and in any key you want at any tempo. The Real Tracks are very convincing, and even the Midi generated tracks can sound great if you put them into something like Garageband.

Yes, this is something you should get. Great company and people making a program that simply does stuff nothing else does. 11 out of 10.

Band In A Box 2011.5

So, it seems I never spoke about the latest and greatest from up north. As in Canada. As in PG Music. The Wizards of the North released back in the fall an update to Band in a Box that tighten things up and brought some fixes for the newer OS X systems.

Hopefully you already know about Band in a Box. I’d rank it an essential piece of software. Sort of like owning a good horn, music stand, and metronome. Lately, the .5 releases of the program don’t add a lot of features but do add a bunch of new styles. Notable fixes and new features include:

  1. improved waltzes (which were good with one chord per bar, but sucked with 2 chords)
  2. Pedal Bass (Finally!)

The real value of the $129 upgrade though are the new styles. 70’s soul, Groovin’ Jazz Funk, Gypsy Jazz Latin, Jazz Guitar with Oliver Gannon and the awesome Mike LeDonne Organ styles are work the price alone. You also get some other styles (Country….not sure I’d ever use those) as well.

Gripes about the program? My long standing issue that the Open By Song Title only finds things at in the root of the folder and does not traverse the folders in the folder. I don’t know if they will ever fix that. Which sucks cause over the years I’ve collected maybe 13,000 band in a box files, and its a pain to find stuff. The Windows version, at least the version I last had on Windows, which I think was 2006, doesn’t have this problem. It finds all files in folders up to like 12,000. AND the interface desperately needs to be “modernized”. Modernized to what, not really sure, but if they made it look more like Garageband or Logic……that would be a start. Floating windows, etc.

In all, this is still an awesome program. The ability to “type” in a chord progression and get a very realistic sounding accompaniment track in pretty much any style (or styles…since you can use multiple styles in a song) with however many choruses in whatever key and tempo you chose…..it’s the best practice tool or play tool I know of. It is well worth the investment. I give it a 10 out of 10.

Seems a friend of mine is going to be involved in a recording session (engineering) involving a pianist and PG Music. Will be interesting to get his view of how they record the stuff.

Band-in-a-Box 2010.5 – Mac

PGMusic just released Band In A Box 2010.5 for the Mac. Improvements? Yes, several. Here are a few that I think are noteworthy:

  • Styles can now be made that are set to use Half-Time and Double-Time RealTracks. For example, you can make a Jazz Ballad style (tempo 65) that uses a Sax Soloist at tempo 140 (playing double time).
  • For RealTracks, many Jazz comping styles now play triads (instead of 7ths) when simple triads are entered, instead of “jazzing them up” to 7ths chords (e.g. Guitar: Freddie, Wes Piano: Some Jazz. All Stride, Rehearsal). If you prefer this “the old way”, where triads are automatically “jazzed up” when comping using Jazz RealTracks, then you can set the Prefs-Realtracks settings option to force 7ths for triads.

Plus, you get a bunch more RealTracks. One of the Paks comes with some B3, and other has some excellent Jazz Guitar.

Is it worth the money? Yes, I think so. It is a great tool for musicians who want to practice 50 choruses of soloing…..at whatever speed……in whatever style……in whatever key. Or perhaps you’ve like to figure out some chords for a song you were working on? Done. BinaB can help you there. Or maybe figure out what chords were played in a song? Yep, it can help you there too. So many uses for this program…..it should really be a REQUIREMENT for a Musician to own it.

UPDATE: A few of the RealTrack Saxophone tracks are Eric Marienthal. How cool is that???