Tag Archives: Aebersold

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.

How Aebersold Needs To Embrace Technology

A while ago, I wrote a post/rant about Aebersold pushing the Superscope Elevation software. Enough said about that. But I get these mailings from jazz books.com about sales, and they are still pushing these Superscope CD things that are like $999. Insane.

It makes me wonder WHY Jazzbooks/Aebersold has not embraced the digital age yet. The writing has been on the wall for about 2 years now that print media is a dying business. As is the making of CDs. Aebersold is running the risk of becoming like Kodak.

So, how to change this? Here is what I would propose if I was in charge. First, offer digital versions of the catalog. The play-alongs, put them in Amazon and iTunes for $.99. When someone buys the them that way, they also get the lead sheet in C/Eb/Bb/Bass clef. Would I put them out as tomes like they are now? No. What I would do is fully embrace technology and develop an App that would allow purchases of new songs within it. So, if someone ends up buying 100 songs that Aebersold produces, then they will be within the app, easily searchable, indexed, etc. You could just display the Eb versions, or whatever. And allow annotations of the lead sheets (i.e. let people mark up the sheets if they want).

The App would also have a slowdown function, and the ability to loop sections. Heck, some of the FREE slowdown things on the iPhone/iPad do this already. The ability to change the pitch would also be included, as would the ability to record what you are playing and the ability to hear just what you did, or you with the track. And you can mix it when you are playing back. And send it to like Garageband if you wanted. Or get it out of the App. The annotations that you did you could send via email, or print, or make a PDF.

So, the base App would be free and include maybe a couple of freebee tracks to entice people. Then in-App purchases would be $.99 for a new song complete with Eb/Bb/C/Bass lead sheet.

Ok, that takes care of the legacy Play-Alongs, but what about all the books that they publish. I’m not sure how they would do as EPUBs like in the iBook store. They might do better as a Textbook created with iAuthor. I would think that most of these could be make into PDFs fairly easily. Regardless, they need to be digital. PDF would be great, EPUB if possible, or maybe even an App for each book (like Greg Fishman’s stuff). Though, I would think that if they went the App per book route, they could use the engine that the play-alongs use. Then everything would be all together and you don’t end up with 30 apps for everything.

I don’t know if Aebersold is planning this sort of thing, but they need to. All these sales emails has me concerned, and it just makes more sense. With the iPad continuing to be a huge hit……who wants to carry around huge books or Superscope devices when an iPad can all that and more….

Superscope Elevation (Stay away…..zombies!)

So I get the Jamey Aebersold jazzbooks emails. In their latest “Economic Stimulus Sale!” one, at the bottom something got my interest. Elevation Software play-along offer. Hmm…sounded interesting. So I decided to go to the site, www.superscopetechnologies.com and check it out. Downloaded the demo for Mac…..and then the disappointment happened.

$149 for this piece of crap? That is all I can really think of after using the demo. Let me list the disappointment for you shall I?

1. Drag and Drop works….but not for AAC (m4a files) formatted files. So, anything that you get off of iTunes or perhaps have already ripped into AAC format (which is BETTER than mp3) won’t work with the program.
2. The IMPORT dialogue box is NOT mac like at all. I dunno where they got it, but it looks like a Linux box. So, I don’t have access to my sidebar favorites, nor can I use my Default Folder program to navigate to my files.
3. The program crashes like it is in a demolition derby. I mean, I maybe got it to work twice correctly. And I’m still on 10.6.8.

So, why would I spend this much money when programs like The Amazing Slowdowner, or Transcribe! can do what this program does at half the price. And they don’t CRASH! And support AAC files.

People, avoid this software at all costs. AT ALL COSTS. DO NOT GET IT. STAY AWAY. Imagine it is Zombie-fied and going to eat your brains if you download it.

On a side note, I kind of wish Jamey Aebersold would release his play-alongs in a APP format that includes the books and a way to slowdown/speed up, record, and put the songs in other keys. I think Aebersold is missing and/or has missed the boat in this. Instead of selling physical CDs and books, embrace technology. Make an iPad app that has say volume 1, with the tunes, with a metronome. That perhaps you can drop out the piano and bass or whatever. That you can change the pitch and speed of. That sells for the same price in the App store. You’d sell more, and you would ditch the printing and cd costs. The 30% or something Apple would take is easily less than what it actually costs to make the books, cds, and do the packaging.

The Real Book Play-Along – Volume 1

Hal Leonard is selling a CD set of backgrounds to ALL the songs in the Real Book Vol. 1. For about $100, you get 12 CDs of piano, bass and drums background that range in time from about 2 1/2 minutes to 6. Depends on the song. A couple of songs, like Wave, have guitar on them….sorta….it almost sounds like a synth patch. Or it was added as an afterthought. Some of the tracks could have been better with just guitar, bass and drums (like wave or Summer Samba). A couple of songs they took the piano out and replaced it with an electric keyboard type sound (like Sugar) which isn’t bad, but it isn’t as good as, say, a good B3 type of sound.

Is it worth the $100? Yes. Originally I thought this would be sort of a lame package, or something that wouldn’t really add anything to the songs one might already have the Aebersold versions of. Or maybe that my favorite program, Band in a Box could do what this offers and more. The backgrounds on these discs are accurate playings of the songs found in the Real Book that Hal Leonard publishes (or if you still have the “illegal” version that used to float around until Hal Leonard picked it up). The guys on the discs will give you whats on the page. I suppose that Band in a Box could do that too with some work, but it still couldn’t capture the drum hits on songs like Some Skunk Funk.

9/10. It’s a little costly, some of the songs aren’t as long as I would have liked, and I wish there was more variety than 90% if the tracks being Piano, Bass and Drums, but it still offers a lot of songs (240 according to my iTunes playlist after I imported all of them) to practice with.

JAM for iPhone/iPod Touch

I’ll admit I am an unabashed Apple fan. I do use a PC for menial tasks like generating Band in a Box backgrounds, or to download some Bittorrent stuff. Anyhow, when the iPhone came out, I got one within the first week. It has been amazing. Then they opened up the OS on the iPhone (and iPod Touch) to developers……which has lead to something like 10,000 applications, of which about 40 some (mostly free) have found a home on my iPhone.

Enter JAM. Jam is a very interesting product from some blokes down under. Think Aebersold, but better. You buy JAM for $9.99, and you get 5 “Cassettes” (I guess CDs haven’t made it down under yet?). Each Cassette has an interface something like this
jam cassette screen You can control the volume of each instrument, or mute it. Or mute multiple tracks. The tracks are played by real musicians (no Band in a Box here), just like most all of the Aebersold volumes.

Is this a perfect application? It is close. One thing it really needs is a slider to let you fast forward or rewind the song. Also, pitch shifting, speeding up or down, and looping would be nice. There is no reason why it couldn’t do it, as the iPhone/iTouch can run some pretty impressive games.

The Developers who were kind enough to send me a free be of the program said that they are working on some (or perhaps all) of these for a future update. That would be great. I’d also like to see them add the ability to make your own tracks and have them be able to be loaded into the program (like an Open Jam or something).

If you have an iPhone or iPod Touch, and want some new backgrounds to practice with, JAM is something to look at. 8/10 (2 points deducted for no ability to rewind or fast forward the songs or even pausing them…..which is kind of important).