I’ve been using Band-in-a-Box for many years for a number of musical tasks and have enjoyed reporting on its progress to Macworld Australia readers over that time. It’s an incredibly feature-rich music tool for musicians, students and teachers of music at all levels.
For a detailed overview of what Band-in-a-Box is all about and what features it was offering by version 11 perhaps have a look at what I wrote here. At that time I was very excited with the arrival of Real Tracks – manipulable audio segments recorded by pro musicians -– which added a whole new dimension and realism to the sounds. Since then the Real Tracks library has expanded significantly including an ever-widening range of musical styles.
Version 12 introduced the feature of Direct Input in the Real Tracks section. These are ‘clean ‘ versions recorded without any effects, particularly for guitar, so you can do your own postproduction in Amplitube for Mac 3 which comes bundled or in GarageBand . Many of the Real Tracks which the folk at PG Music thought sounded a bit too busy were reworked with simpler variations which removed some of the clutter to let your own light shine through.
Loops support was also added in version 12 which let you add your own loops to any track. You can also add MIDI tracks from other BIAB songs to your current song.
The killer new feature in 12.5 is MIDI Super Tracks. Instead of generating MIDI tracks using (very smart) algorithms which tend to sound a little repetitive after a while, Super Tracks are MIDI recordings of actual performances by studio musicians. This gives the user the authentic aspect of Real Tracks with the added flexibility of MIDI.
While Real Tracks can be manipulated in tempo and pitch to some extent without sounding weird, MIDI Super Tracks let you change the instrument, the velocity, tempo and pitch in any way you wish without any loss of quality. You can even change the feel from straight to swing and vice versa and edit individual notes.
In 12.5 there is a fairly modest selection of these tracks (46) but a peek at the Windows 13 version assures me you can expect more in the future.
For the cognoscenti BIAB can now recognise additional chord types – the diminished fifth, and the added second, both major and minor.
Notation features have been rewritten from the ground up and an array of new functions offer a much-improved experience for those who like to see the notes.
A new editable notation mode lets you click and drag notes and rests around the score with your mouse. There are also significant improvements in the display of lyrics.
So, BIAB keeps getting better. When I compare the robotic repetition of early versions what I’m listening to today continues to amaze me. It’s really something out of the box! Check out the wide range of purchase and upgrade options at PG Music.
And finally, I’ve knocked up a demo for you to demonstrate a little of what BIAB can do:
Using the Melodist feature and selecting a New Age style I generated a complete song in seconds with melody, bass, drums, guitar and strings.
The screen grab below illustrates the sophisticated chord progressions generated by BiaB. All MIDI at this stage. Selecting one track at a time I changed MIDI to Real Tracks.
For the string section I chose a pedal steel guitar, a finger-picked acoustic for the guitar part, a mellow electric piano for the melody and an electric bass. All done in five minutes. Enjoy.