Tag Archives: PGMusic

Band in a Box 2014 Mac

PG Music just released an update to one of the best programs out for Apple using musicians….Band in a Box 2014 for Mac

What is new? Well, they are touting their “GUI has been redesigned” thing. Here is what it looks like: Screen Shot 2014 06 08 at 3 30 07 PMwhile it’s a little better than it was, it still has a LOT of issues. First, you can’t really get rid of any of the unnecessary buttons. Like say you never ever are going to use the Video Help. Or you never want to do StyleMaker. Or the Jukebox mode. You are stuck with them.

More RealTracks. Even some Phil Woods and Gary Smulyan….though the way Band in a Box “puts together” a Phil Woods solo, it sounds strange. Not very Phil like at all for me.

The other “big” thing is that you can start adding your own loops to chords and stuff. “And, if you add an Acid loop that is on a certain root (e.g. F), Band-in-a-Box will instantly allow you to use that as a complete style, by transposing that loop to the current chord of the song in Band-in-a-Box, so that the loop follows your chord progression.” Which is great news.

Gripes….yes, of COURSE there are gripes about the program.

First, besides the cutter and button problems from above, lets talk about their Yellow and Green boxes. Instead of using the Notification center like a good Mac OS X program, it uses these hack-y little green and yellow boxes. They are really addicted to them. So much so they even have a “FlashMessageLog.txt” feature they added to show you a log of the messages. Come on people, if you did it in Notification Center, you wouldn’t need to do that. 

Second, serial numbers. For a long…..long time. Since the beginning……there has NEVER been a serial number to use Band in a Box. Ever. EVER. Even back on the Atari ST days……no serial numbers. Hello 2014……you get a serial number. Not sure if it actually goes anywhere and checks to see if you have used your allocated number of computers (which is generous, 3). But still……serial numbers? That is not going to stop anyone. Even Adobe’s creative cloud stuff is out there for download and fully operational with serial/auth hacks. I guess it is more the “between friends” sharing then? I dunno. Does it check in with something? I guess I will find out, since I technically have 4 macs which I can install this on….so yea….

Third, full screen. They say they have a Full Screen mode, but its not a Mac full screen. Its more a NO TOOLBAR clutter mode.

So, besides the little gripes I have, this is still…..BY FAR……one of the best programs for a musician. Anyone getting this NEEDS to have the FULL thing, with all the RealTracks (or at least the ones you are interested in). It’s yet another refinement of an excellent program. Lets hope next year’s version (2015) comes sporting a 10.10 style redesign.

Band in a Box 2014 for Windows

PG Music has been hard at work, and released Band in a Box 2014 for Windows yesterday. Notable features include:

  • 28 New Jazz Realtracks including tracks by Ron Carter, Kenny Barron, Lewis Nash, Gary Smulyan, Pat Martino and Phil Woods
  • 32 Country Realtracks (as you can see, I don’t care about those)
  • 41 Pop/Rock RealTracks including New Orleans Boogle styles, Horn Sections, and 70s grooves
  • 54 new MIDI SuperTracks (quite honestly, just started using these a lot and they are pretty cool)

One thing PG Music did was “overhaul” the interface. It’s really hard to tell exactly what they mean by this, as there are no screen shots I can find. Sort of looks Microsoft Office like I would say in it’s use of ribbon like things. They eem to have put a tab thing in the upper right where you can easily switch to the mixer and some other views (like Piano to see what notes are being played). A lot of this new UI stuff seems to come at the cost of seeing the actual chords on the screen. I hope there is a way to toggle back some of those Microsoft Office like ribbons. And then there is the “handwritten font” thing. I’m not a fan of that faux handwritten stuff anymore. It’s too 1990s for me.

So, should this be on your late Chanukah/Christmas list? Absolutely. Anyone who plays music should have this program. Are you working on solo changes? Working out a new chord progression for a song? Just want to explore what Giant Steps would sound like as a Country Bluegrass song? Then get this program. It’s a tool that you will use countless times.

Band In A Box 2013 Macintosh


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.


Seems Samsung is not the only company that copies others. PGMusic’s Band-in-a-Box is clearly the target of BandMaster‘s photocopier.

BandMaster is $29 accompaniment software solution for Mac. No idea how it sounds (no videos or audio available), but it does have some minor interface improvements compared to Band in a Box (i.e.: Time Line).

With no audio or video, I’d be a little concerned about how this program is going to sound. Band in a Box is STILL the leader in the sort of program, and still my hands down “GET IT” choice.

Band in a Box 2012.5 for Mac

This week has been amazing. First, on Wednesday, we had Apple announce the iPhone 5. On Friday, PG Music unleashed Band in a Box 2012.5 for Mac. I shudder to think what next week will bring (other than actually receiving an iPhone 5 on Friday!).

Like the iPhone 5, Band in a Box 2012.5 is more tweaking of an already great product. I still am surprised that more musicians do not know of this amazing piece of software. Or maybe still dismiss it as this midi tool (which it was back in the 90s) that uses Quicktime to generate cheesy backgrounds. It is not that. These people also probably still believe we didn’t go to the moon.

Band in a Box, if you read this site, I always rave about. For anyone learning jazz, or just music in general, it is an invaluable tool. You simply type in a chord progression, tempo, key (if you want), and then pick a style. There are sooo many styles. There are quite a few midi only tracks that, depending on your setup, can sound very very good. But the program has really shines in it’s use of “RealTracks”. The software pretty much seemlessly takes real performances and will piece them into the song. So, if you wanted your masterpiece in the key of Db in the style of a Pop song with Electric keyboard, fretless bass, drums, and a Smooth sax soloing….it can do this. And it sounds damn good. Every version of the program, like every revision of the iPhone, tweaks and improves upon what they had before.

New things in this version of Band in a Box:

There were some other tweaks to the program to. There is a simplified saving to M4A or AIFF from the File Menu (though I did want this to be a pop up dialog in the beta test so you could easily select say a DropBox folder to save them to rather than the program just dumping it into folder where the source file exists. Last beta still did it that way :-(). The program does load a little faster than the 2012 as well.

There are still some annoyances. I swear every beta test I am involved with, I complain about the “Open Song By Title” thing, which will display the song title, file name, if it has a melody, and the style. Great tool. Except the Windows version will traverse folders in that folder (nested folders), and the Mac version just does the files in the folder. So the 10,000+ Band in a Box files I have would have to be all in ONE folder instead of sort of organized into subfolders.

Another annoyance, or rather, something they need to bring to the fore in the program is the “Woodshed Tempo” thing. It is buried in Preferences 2 in the program. Basically, what it does is that every time you end a loop of a song, say you get done with the 5 choruses of Giant Steps at 160, it will bump up the next loop of the song by a certain number of beats per minute. So you can practice changes to a song, and start it at say 140, and have it bump up every loop by 10 clicks every time. Amazing for practicing. I keep lobbying for them to make a button for this, or at least make it so it’s not buried in the program. It’s a great tool to use…..and few seem to know it’s there.

So, the verdict. Of course it is a BUY. If you are learning music, and specifically, Jazz (or soloing), you need this tool. And you need to splurge and get ALL the real tracks (or AT LEAST the styles you like). The BEST version to get is the Hard Drive version, which PG Music will send you a hard drive that has lots of extra space, and the program and all the styles and real tracks. And it’s portable, so you can take it between home and the studio, or use it on another computer. The program takes something like 65 gigs to install.

Yes, it is expensive to get the whole thing. But like any good tool, it is an investment. And PG Music’s upgrades are very reasonable (usually the upgrades to all the new real tracks and stuff is $129).

Get this program. Or put it on your Christmas list.

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 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???

Band in a Box 2010 for Macintosh

It has been really hard keeping the cat in the bag (I was a beta tester for the last 2 weeks or so), but tonight PG Music finally released Band in a Box 2010 for the Macintosh. As was the case in the previous version, this version is Intel only. So, you people with G5s or other PowerPC chipped computers….you are out of luck. Though the speed increases in this version (more on that in a sec) probably would have made Band in a Box 2010 tolerable for G5 Macintoshes.

There are quite a few new features, and I’ll list the ones that I think are the best.
1. “No more long waits for RealTracks to generate! RealTracks generate much faster, 4X faster on average. A typical song with RealTracks that took 20 seconds to generate will generate now in about 5 seconds. And if you freeze some or all tracks in the song (see below), playback of RealTracks is almost instantaneous.” In Band in a Box 2009.5, generating Real Tracks took FOREVER. Even on a MacPro, it took a while. On an iMac…..it could take nearly a minute in some cases. NOT ANYMORE. On my iMac from 2006 (a lowly 2 Gigahertz Core 2 Duo iMac), it was fast in generating real tracks. Most took maybe 5 seconds to do. I think the longest (like 10 choruses with 4 real tracks and a real soloist) took maybe 10 seconds. Ok, 12. But that was still totally fine. They are NOT kidding about the speed. It is way faster. Useable fast.

2. “Time for generation of MIDI arrangement is much faster – now ‘instantaneous (less than 1 second)!” Yup. Midi arrangements are nearly you press play and it goes. Even if you do 20 choruses with 5+ instruments.

3. “There is now a “Plug-in” mode for your favorite sequencer (GarageBand, ProTools, Logic, Nuendo, Reaper and more). With the new plug-in mode, BB is open as a small always-on-top window, and acts as a plug-in for your favorite DAW/sequencer, so that you can Drag-n-Drop MIDI and audio (AIFF) tracks from BB to your favorite sequencer. Work in your favorite sequencer, type a progression in Band-in-a-Box, and then simply drag the track from Band-in-a-Box to your sequencer’s track at the desired track and bar location.” This is actually really cool, though how it works is a little strange initially. You can, say, load up Garage Band, and say you have been working on a tune that is in 3/4 and is in the key of A and you need a guitar line. Or solo. You can fire up Band in a Box, type in some chords, select a style or soloist or real track, or real soloist (or whatever they call it), and switch Band in a Box into DAW mode, tell it you want to generate AIFF or m4a audio tracks or Midi tracks, and drag the track right into Garageband. Boom. (I did leave out one step, but I feel you need to SEE it to understand it)

4. “Freezing (locking) MIDI or Real tracks/RealDrums. Any track can now be frozen (MIDI or Real track). When frozen, it won’t get changed or re-generated. This saves time when replaying previous songs, and allows you to freeze an arrangement that you like. If you freeze the whole song, you don’t have to wait at all for the song to regenerate. Next time you play, it is ready to go. (Note: this new freeze feature is different than the previous limited freeze feature that renders the whole arrangement to the audio track)” Kinda cool, but since it is so much faster overall in generating tracks I didn’t really use it much. Though if you FREEZE all the RealTracks, it plays back the song instantly.

There are some other things like it will Normalize a rendered Audio file, Endings of songs work better, you can resize the window, things are saved with the song. All good stuff. But the 4 listed above I think are the bread and butter. Ok, so, there are still some things that are in the Windows version of Band in a Box that are not present in the Macintosh version. Most notable is the Ear Training part (which is really nice). It doesn’t detract from the overall amazingness that this program has. If you do music, you NEED to have this program on your computer. If you are a Jazz student, or someone who plays jazz, this program is something you need to have for working out that new chord progression at whatever tempo, for 30 choruses, in a Polka style. Or whatever.

Upgrade price from Band in a Box 2009 is $159. First time purchasers $399. You get something like nearly 70 gigs of stuff. Amazing sounds. Totally worth it. 10/10 (and I can’t remember the last time I gave something a 10 out of 10)

Band-in-a-Box 2010 for Windows

PGMusic announced today that they are out with the latest, greatest version of BinaB for Windows (no new Mac version yet). Nothing really “whoa” in this version, other than if you upgrade from the previous version you can get ALL the RealTracks. Some of the highlights of the update I found interesting are:

  • Plug-in mode….generate tracks and drag and drop them into your DAW like Sonar, FL-Studio, and ProTools. Kinda cool.
  • 3x faster generating RealTracks and freezing of tracks (so they don’t have to be generated again)….finally!
  • RealTracks support Shots, Holds and Pushes….finally
  • Double time/Half Time support for RealTracks
  • 999 undo levels

Best deal for previous owners is the $139 USB hard drive “UltraPlusPAK” or the “EverythingPAK”. You really don’t want to download it. I did…it was painful. Band-in-a-Box is a great program, on any platform for people wanting to practice changes, songs, or even use it for composition. I couldn’t count the times I’ve used BinaB generated drum and bass parts (and sometimes piano) for arrangements…..

Santa says go get it!

Band in a Box 2009.5 – Mac

After YEARS of waiting, and PG Music saying it was coming…it is here. Band in a Box 2009 for Macintosh. I could hardly believe it myself. Yes, the languishing program that was 7 versions behind the Windows version (2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2007.5, 2008, 2009) has been brought back to life. I wondered what happened to Dr. Frankenstein….seems he was hired to bring the Mac version of BinaB to life again.

I always thought it strange that PG Music made a HUGE effort to move Band in a Box to OS X with their version 12, but then promptly let it sit for years and years while the Windows version added more and more features. It was mentioned years ago they were planning on a new version but….nothing ever materialized. Well, no more. The 2009 version pretty much brings the Macintosh version up to the Windows version.

First off, the program is HUGE if you want to download it, you better have a high speed connection. A real FAST high speed connection. We are talking 20+ gigs of stuff to download if you purchased/upgraded the version with RealTracks (more on that in a minute). PG Music offers digital downloads in addition to physical media available on DVDs or an 80 gig hard drive (same price). As a previous owner of version 12 for the Mac, I opted for the “Everything PAK” and the 24 PAK upgrade that included some extra stuff. It was $184.

Ok, now……lets dive into the program, the features it has, what works, doesn’t work, and what is still missing in the Mac version that the Windows version has….
Continue reading Band in a Box 2009.5 – Mac

HELL HAS FROZEN OVER – Band In A Box 2009 for MAC?!?!

I could NOT believe my eyes this morning. Band in a Box 2009 is FINALLY out for Macintosh. After being behind 7 versions (2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2007.5, 2008, 2009), PG Music has LEAP FROGGED the Mac version to the latest Windows version.

Amazing. And to get it all up to date on a Mac is $159?!?! Say what? No…….really? I get ALL the features of the PC version? Even the “Direct-to-Disk” Audio Rendering? YES, you do Virginia.

So…….one of the most valuable teaching/learning Jazz/music software programs is now fully available on the Mac. GET IT NOW!

UPDATE: The download version is HUGE. Like, not quite as bad as downloading ProTools 8, but close. On first glance, it seems there are still things missing in the Mac version. There is no ear trainer (which is a cool feature), No Piano Roll window (edit: oops, it is in there, just not out in the open), practice window and the Soundtrack thing. These seem to be missing. Maybe in a maintenance version?

UPDATE: Ok, it is WAY BIGGER THAN PROTOOLS 8 WAS. Seriously, I have downloaded 10 gigs so far, and I’m on RealTracks 11-12, which is 3.2 Gigs (downloading). I still have 10 more parts to download……probably another 20 gigs?? Yikes!!!