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Band In A Box

Posted: Fri Apr 20, 2018 4:53 pm
by DannyCam
Hi all - didn't know where to place this question...

Back in the day I had a full throttle set-up. These days, not so much. I've been using Band in a Box to create the bulk of my demos.
Thoughts? Likes? Dislikes? Etc? - thanks! Dan

Re: Band In A Box

Posted: Fri Apr 20, 2018 6:26 pm
by hummingbird
I use Band in a Box to work out arrangements and to provide worktapes of my songs for feedback or share with a collaborator. I think BiaB is great for getting feedback on the composition, lyrics, melody, a la, arrangement, before going into production. I would not consider the end result of BiaB to be decent enough quality to use as demos to the industry. That's just my opinion, though. You might be better off, once you have your arrangement set & have had good feedback on the song & are ready to take the next step, in hiring a singer/guitar player or singer/piano player to do a stripped down version of the song; or finding a collaborator who has a track record of successfully producing music in your target genre. JMHO.

Re: Band In A Box

Posted: Sat Apr 21, 2018 12:16 am
by Len911
Well Dan, this is just my opinion. There's a midi side and a sample side. Firstly it's an arranger. On the midi side you can actually
program you're own midi phrases also or edit or use the existing ones, then it's up to your sampled instrument. On the sample side,
or the live instruments they have is not unlike audio samples. For example, they could have one long wav file of an instrument with all the phrases, and program the location, beginning and end of each phrase and use pitch shifters and audio stretchers, just like you would use with audio samples in a daw. It would be cool if it had the ability to use 3rd party samples, but I don't think it does.
The problems are when you compose. If you want to write a melody and harmonize it. You almost need to write the melody to the arrangement and pre-recorded phrases, whereas using audio samples you can edit the phrases and pitch and time stretch, etc.
However, you could also edit in your daw after recording the audio. If you do that, then I suppose it's about how economical and how well you like the sampled instruments and phrases versus using sample packs. It's also about workflow and what you find most practical.

Re: Band In A Box

Posted: Sat Apr 21, 2018 12:33 am
by cosmicdolphin
I've always thought it was fairly terrible personally. Like a glorified version of a cheesy home keyboard auto accompaniment button.

I've never owned it although I think I've demo'd every few years to see where it's at and I've certainly done collaborations with folk who have used it to sketch out songs but I can't recall ever keeping any of the tracks it produces in the final version.

If you can't record it live there's enough Vsti's out there that can do a better job of specific instruments

Ez keys, RealGuitar , Addictive Drums..etc..... I agree with Vikki though that BIAB just doesn't cut it for TV/Film Licensing


Re: Band In A Box

Posted: Sat Apr 21, 2018 1:28 am
by Kolstad
Ive sometimes been fooled by a bib demo, but not if you hear several tracks in a row. It has that local momn pop sound to it, and if you have good production skills, you may be able to make it work for some things, some times.

But as a general advice, no.

Like Vikki, I also use it for practicing, composing and arranging. Digitech has implemented band-in-a-box in their pedal Trio+, which I use. Its great for that, but I wouldnt use it for recording. Check it out

Sometimes I use it to record temp tracks, eg a bassline for a smooth jazz track, and use that as a rough guide and then replace it with my own bassline. Can be really helpful for that.

Re: Band In A Box

Posted: Sat Apr 21, 2018 10:52 am
by LamarPecorino

As a long time PG Music user (25+ years), I find it to be a amazing product. That being said, it really depends on what you are genres you are recording. Some times, it makes more sense to not use PG Music's RealTracks and record it all myself. Other times, it is not achievable on my own i.e. Big Band.

The challenge in using RealBand is in editing like an arranger. The musicians that play on RealTracks are world class. However they are playing short phrases which the algorithms select to create phrases. Most of the times the phrases make sense. Then there are other times that they don't. Think of it as sentence structure. There is a significant difference in "the dog chases the car" and "the car chases the dog". That's where the editing as an arranger comes into play.

Last year, I had a song forwarded that I had written in the early 80's with Sinatra in mind. I had never been able to record a demo that remotely sounded like the song that played in my mind. I was able to use RealBand effectively enough to get the song signed to an exclusive Music Library. I currently have two songs that were forwarded to a HBO listing that required a Big Band approach.

I hope that helps some.

Re: Band In A Box

Posted: Sat Apr 21, 2018 2:33 pm
by Tunesmith
I just have to throw in that I used Band in a Box on the Atari ST in the 80's early 90's to arrange customized special occasion songs I recorded for $40 a song. I did Valentine songs, Bdays, anniversaries, etc..saved me a lot of time.

I also had clients who played live with hardware sequencers who hired me to put together their set list. Did all the arranging on the Atari with BandinBox and dumped it seamlessly into Alesis and Roland sequencers. I still have some of the Roland MC50 disks.

I never considered using it for my own song recording tho. I felt it too automated..

I forgot all about PG systems and Band in the Box till I saw this post. Glad it's still around!


Re: Band In A Box

Posted: Mon Apr 30, 2018 9:13 am
by Telefunkin
I have a few thoughts to throw in on this Dan, mainly about Real Band. Just my own views though, and others may see it differently.

I think the old Band-in-a-box (or BIAB) that we've all seen at some point in the past is technically impressive but not very interesting as a serious music generator. That's mainly because everything is midi driven and the end result sounds like the jazzy demo tracks on inexpensive home keyboards.

PG Music must have recognised this several years ago when they started to offer Real Band (or RB) as a separate similar program along with BIAB, and it is far more sonically impressive. Many of us like software such as EZdrummer that generates complete parts using real drum sounds, and many of us like using loops (as phrases) in our compositions. RB does both of those things.

I never use BIAB. I don't use RB much now either, but I have done in the past and have a few tracks signed to a library that were generated partly or wholly by it. The big advantage is that RB can use audio phrases of real instruments that were played by really good musicians. Who'd turn down Brent Mason if he wanted to play a bit of guitar for you? He's in there (amongst many other good players) for a few styles of real tracks! :) Just like BIAB, all you need to do is type in the chords into RB, pick a style, and click 'generate'. As has been said, editing the results to sound like a proper performance might then take some effort, but that can be a whole lot easier than working from scratch, especially if you have no players, instruments or skill. I've sometimes generated several versions of say, a lead track, then flipped back and forth between those version to get the best result, and sometimes swapped out the drum track for a better one. I've also generated a real drum track on its own to fit something else I was working on, and that's very easy (all you need input is the structure and style without caring what the chords are).

I think it will always be hard for BIAB to escape its past reputation for cheesy jazz and sadly that also affects RB, yet you can just as easily generate a very passable Stevie-Ray Vaughan style blues guitar track with RB. I have done, and a library signed it :). What if you wanted a small jazz combo track, then also wanted a big band version of the same piece (chord-wise) at a different tempo and key? Its quite possible to do such things with a few clicks and have the sound of real instruments as phrases played by real musicians. I can't think of any other tool that would do this more easily, or would make a better job of it. If thats how you want to work then its a fine piece of software. Anyone who hasn't got the foggiest idea about chord structures will find both BIAB and RB an uphill battle. Anyone who wants to lay down some hip-hop beats, or experimental ambient textures, or who is more focused on recording and/or using VIs would probably be better off looking elsewhere. That's not its forte.

Negatives? PG Music offer a bewildering array of versions of the BIAB/RB combo that include some proportion of all the available add-ons (midi tracks, real tracks, etc), and always have some impossible to refuse additional offer on top of that if you're willing to pay just a bit more. It can get pricey to buy the lot, although you do get a lot for your money even if you'll never use about 75% of it. Styles are expanding across genres, and you often have to get a whole mix of stuff you don't want in order to get a good offer on the stuff you do want. Of course, everything gets updated every year, and for a bit more money again you can upgrade to get the latest features that you can't possibly live without, then pay a bit more on top of that yet again to get all the latest add-ons and tracks, etc. They're not alone in doing these things though - its modern marketing! :) After many years, I still think the BIAB and RB interfaces (which are very similar) look like they need a pro make-over and there are some quirky features, but I don't recall either program crashing on me. They don't stand comparison with any fully-fledged DAW (and you wouldn't expect that for the price), but its easy enough to export tracks and pull them into your DAW afterwards if needed. Finally, I'm not sure whether there's a 64-bit version on offer yet, but I might be wrong.

In summary, I remain open-minded about RB. Horses for courses and all that, but I've not been on that course for a while :).

Re: Band In A Box

Posted: Mon Apr 30, 2018 9:20 am
by Paulie
Think about what BIAB is intended for. Long ago it was basically a customizable Aebrosold tool that people could use to learn songs. It was also used to create basic arrangements for educational purposes. It has evolved, and I own a current copy, but I would never use it alone as a recording tool, nor would I use the output for a Taxi submission or Library submission. BUT, I've heard Taxi panels that said positive things about obviously midi-sounding tracks, so you never know.

Re: Band In A Box

Posted: Mon Apr 30, 2018 12:47 pm
by Len911
There is a different approach, Ludwig 3.
How Ludwig compares to automatic Band programs:

Ludwig is different from automatic band software you might know. Most programs follow a simple concept: The accompaniment consists of pre-recorded patterns which are glued together in short building blocks. This sounds great in demos because the recording is often done with real musicians. However in songwriting this creates problems because arrangement and melody do not fit together.

Ludwig on the other hand writes parts note by note like a human composer would do. This is based on artificial intelligence algorithms. The accompanying parts are adapted to fit the melody. For example the shape of the bass line strives for contrary motion with respect to the melody to create an independent and satisfying bass part.

you need to write the melody and either add chords or let the program choose them. You can also get pretty deep into it by creating
your own styles and edit parameters. The thing is, it takes time especially if you create a different style for every song you write.
And ultimately it's going to sound as good as the samples you use. Because of it's programmability, I can see where a professional arranger could use this program, to automate their writing. You can assign what instrument plays main melody, doubles the melody, a fifth or octave up or down, counter melodies... and at what drama stages, which are like sections or transitions in a song.