Computer-Music.com contains articles and product reviews related to making music using computers and creating 3D computer animation in sync with music. Computer-Music.com is also the home page of  Donald S. Griffin, an experienced professional composer, sound effects designer and audio consultant with an emphasis on computer games,  video games and internet music and sound effects. For pricing and contract availability send email to: DGriffin (@) Computer-Music (.) com

Computer-Music.com  contains articles and product reviews related to making music using computers and creating 3D computer animation in sync with music.
Computer-Music.com is also the home page of  Donald S. Griffin, an experienced professional composer, sound effects designer and audio consultant with an emphasis on computer games,  video games and internet music and sound effects. For pricing and contract availability send email to: DGriffin (@) Computer-Music (.) com

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All reviews on this site are always under construction. Additional information is posted as it becomes available.

PG Music Band-in-a-Box

This review is out of date.

This review is based upon a much earlier version of Band-In-A-Box than the newest version called Band-In-A-Box 2004 which is a major code rewrite containing lots of new and exciting features. I look forward to updating this review as time permits.

Band-In-A-Box (BIAB for short) is a unique program originally designed to allow you to quickly put together a MIDI accompaniment so you can have your own personal backup band. Over the years this program has grown in capability so that it can now produce complex enough music that you may want to use the MIDI it produces as a jumping off point for your own creations, to fill instrument parts where your arranging skills are a bit weak, or to quickly throw together a background to try out a new melody. You can even use BIAB to experiment and explore how your music or that of others would sound in playing styles or even different musical styles. I have been trying to get around to posting a review on this little gem for a long time. With the recent changes taking place I have finally found the time. Expect so see more about this program as this review grows.

The most important thing to know about BIAB is that it is centered around a chord display where you enter the names of chords and how many beats they will be played. You then select instrumentation and styles and voila! Out pops a musical accompaniment. In the latest versions you can add a specific melody so you can hear the whole song, not just the accompaniment.

This is a great tool for choir or band directors trying to find a way to show their individual singers/players how their specific part should sound and how it fits into the composition as a whole. I can see this program being used as a great second choice when your organist or pianist is not available. When using MIDI in its most straight forward use you would need the people to follow the MIDI player but use of other software or a MIDI controllers to control the tempo while the music is playing can be a good way of offering the choir director a bit more control over the tempo during a live performance. In the various musical groups I was in as a student there were always one or more players who were having trouble one or more important passages. The teacher could rarely spare the time to coach them but was hesitant to let the passage be played badly since it was an important part of the piece. The piccolo solo in Souza's Stars and Strips Forever is a prime example. While you could enter the piccolo solo into any MIDI sequencing software a player who struggles in private to perfect a solo often has trouble when then have to play it at the proper and steady tempo in front of a live band. With BIAB you could very quickly throw together an accompaniment that might be a good rough approximation of what would be happening behind the player during their solo and would allow them a chance to feel how their solo fits in with the rest of the action. With some additional effort you could manually enter the most important instrument parts into your sequencer then use BIAB to generate the less critical parts to enable you to quickly fill out the rest of the ensemble.

BIAB generates accompaniments styles using well proven techniques used by musicians for many years. So BIAB becomes a valuable teaching tool when a student types in a series of chords, made up or from a music book, then picks some styles and studies what notes and rhythmic patterns BIAB chose to use.

BIAB also lets your program your own rhythmic patterns and styles so it is a good jumping off point for the study of algorithmic and interactive music. Students can design their own styles then study what happens when they are used in different situations.

As a composer I often put together a melody and maybe a little bit of critical counterpoint and need a client to give me an idea which one better matches their expectations. Unfortunately most people can not hear just a melody and get a feel for the finished composition so they may reject a perfectly good melody only because they perceived it as inadequate because they could not imagine how it would sound in the full composition. BIAB allows you to very quickly throw together a temporary back up to that melody just to give the client a better idea of how it will work in the full composition. It can do the same for you.

As a composing tool I have suggested in the past that composers try wildly different instrumentation or musical styles behind their melodies to see if they sound better against a very different background. BIAB makes this task very easy.

PG Music also makes a MIDI sequencer named Power Tracks Pro. BIAB can directly import Power Tracks native format so you may want to consider the possibility of using Power Tracks Pro for your sequencer in conjunction with BIAB. I focused most of my attention on BIAB so I did not delve very deeply into Power Tracks Pro's inner recesses but my first impression was that its interface is a bit old fashioned. Of course those were the days when MIDI sequencers were a lot easier to use so you should at least give it a look especially if you are new to MIDI and may become overwhelmed with some of the more powerful MIDI sequencer software available. If you are looking for other easy to use MIDI sequencers to use with Band In A Box I suggest you look into Musicator GS for Windows, Overture 2 from Cakewalk, and Cakewalk Pro Audio also from Cakewalk, probably in that order. Cakewalk is the product line of Twelve Tone Systems.  

You can link to PG Music's web site at http://www.pgmusic.com/


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