BAND IN A BOX - Intelligent Music Accompaniment Software.

(reviewed by John Verity)

Most educators reading this will be familiar with the name, but this reviewer doubts that many will be aware of the advances made to the package in recent years. The program is vast, however the developers have managed to keep it relatively easy to use despite its size.

Simply type in the chords for a song using standard chord symbols, choose tempo and time signature together with a song style from a huge range of choices and BIAB will do the rest.

The programme relies quite heavily on MIDI but also includes a large range of 'Real Tracks' - actual recordings of top studio musicians. There are many BIAB styles that use Real Tracks and they can be built in to replace the bass, guitar, piano or strings part. There are also soloist (or melody) parts that can be included if required. The 'Real Drums' facility is particularly impressive, providing inspiring drum parts played by experienced players with real feel.

So, a Student/Learner can easily create backing tracks for accompaniment in practice or performance situations, utilising the track mixer in BIAB to set the required balance of each instrument, whilst muting any instrument parts not required. 

Once the track has been created it can be easily exported for use in any device for practice or performance playback, in a full range of formats - for example WAV, MP3, or CD.

Educators working with Music Technology will find the export (Render) facility useful for quickly creating, then transferring individual tracks to a DAW as work files for new students practicing their mixing skills, without the the need for a full range of available studio musicians to hand. Drums are, however limited to a stereo file...

Original scores can be generated from pieces created in BIAB for sight reading exercises, with tempos and keys easily transposed as required.

Easily create simplified arrangements for less advanced students, and generate tracks to use for solo practice.

There is a dedicated Guitar Window: 

Practice sight reading following on screen notation or watch the notes being played on a guitar fretboard or the Big Piano Windows.

In use, the programme loaded quickly and performed flawlessly throughout the review period. A number of pieces were created across a number of styles, and examples were exported (Rendered) and imported into a DAW successfully.

There is an Educators Forum with discussions about the use of BIAB in the classroom, plus lots of useful support provided by PG Music - the creators of Band In A Box. Home

The following links provide useful information to those interested in finding out more...

Support: Video

Tutorials: How to

FAQ: FAQs

Educational pricing is provided through the PG Music website, in '5 seat' packs: click here for pricing

Conclusion:

An excellent resource for the music educator and learner.

Consistent, easy to use and capable of high quality results.

>Highly recommended. Especially useful in situations where learners don't always have access to able musicians when preparing performance material. The Style Picker gives access to a huge range of popular material, however learners can easily create professional sounding accompaniment for original pieces in just about any style they wish.