PG Music has released the latest greatest version of Band in a Box for Macintosh. This is one of my favorite programs, hands down.
Here are some of the new featuresI like:
- 31 More Jazz RealTracks, 35 Rock-Pop RealTracks.
- New Song Form feature.
- Remembers recent RealTracks that you selected
- Easy Buttons for Transposing (Display only) to Eb, Bb and other clefs/instruments
- Woodshed Tempo button
They also have some “SuperMidi” things, to make the midi tracks sound better. The main feature for me in this update was the Woodshed Tempo button. Now, Band in a Box has HAD this function for a while, buried in the preferences somewhere. I believe during the 2012.5 Beta test I suggested it would be a good idea to put it in a button and move it out front. PG Music did just that. The Woodshed button works by you giving it a start tempo, say 120, and then tell it how fast to get to (say 240) and in what increments. It’s very very nice to have. I’m hoping that they add the ability to have the Woodshed stuff be able to be dumped into an audio file at some point. They seemed interested when I made that suggestion. I think it would be VERY useful for making practice for students and stuff.
Some of the new Real Tracks are amazing, and at least one (Euro Dance) is crap. PG Music STILL hasn’t fixed/added a feature I think is essential, the ability to have the Open by Title be able to traverse subdirectories. It is a great feature, Open by Title, that shows the song name, key, tempo, and style for all the files in that directory. BUT if you have a subdirectory, it doesn’t open and do those files. That is stupid. It is easy to have upwards for 5,000 band in a box files (I have something like 12,000) if you download all the free fake book changes and what not freely available on the internet. Does PG Music want us to store everything in ONE directory? Yikes!
I still rate Band in a Box is an ESSENTIAL tool for anyone learning Jazz. Or learning music. Or composing. The ability to pick a key, type a chord progression, pick a tempo, and then a style and go is amazing. And the Real Tracks add to the program. Anyone buying this program needs to pony up for the Real Tracks, or at least the Real Tracks they would be using. Once you start using them, the Midi Stuff is just so 1990s.
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:
- improved waltzes (which were good with one chord per bar, but sucked with 2 chords)
- 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.
There seems to be a lot of these “lists” that magazines/newspapers/your mom are doing right now. Anyhow, the New Yorker published it’s “100 Essential Jazz Albums“. I think it is kind of bogus. No Herbie Hancock? At all? Nada? Eric Dolphy is in there twice, and Josh Redman is in there, but not Herbie?