Band-in-A-Box...Worth it??

Discussion in 'Digital & Modeling Gear' started by trauma15, Dec 17, 2009.


  1. trauma15

    trauma15 Member

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    hey, found out about Band in a box. Looks like a really useful practice tool for a jazz musician. Wondering if anyone has it or has used it and if you could comment on the quality/usability of this product and whether or not it is helpful.
    The sound clips on the website for the 2010 version sound pretty good.

    The reason why im looking at the product is because I would like to have more flexibility with backing tracks so i can practice outlining changes of tunes in different tempos, styles, and keys.

    Im thinking I could instead buy a slowdowner program like "the amazing slow downer" so that I can take Aebersold backing tracks and slow them down/speed up or change key. Band In a Box might be more flexible in that i can decide if the rhythm section is in 2 for a part or in latin, etc. Im just trying to see if this band in a box is a good idea for what im looking for, or if im just going to be wasting time on the computer with bad sounding junk and confusing stuff while i could just be using aebersolds or just playing along with a real recording.
    thanks,
    trauma
     
  2. Dickie Fredericks

    Dickie Fredericks Member

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    It is a good practice tool. Thats about all I can say for it. I have it. I use it.
     
  3. Bobbyoso

    Bobbyoso Member

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    Totally worth it, esp. for what you're doing, IMO. You can certainly get cheesy sounding output with it--but learning it is easy, getting pretty good with it is also easy, and once you get a couple hours into it, and you learn how to change styles per instrument, create cuts, fills, etc., you can generate some pretty good practice tracks, and very quickly.

    It's also really great for composing too. I've found more than once that a tune which I thought was going to work in a Dozier-Holland-Dozier Motown vein, for example, wasn't knocking me out. So then I start running through all the idioms and shadings thereof, and find that it kills as a reggae piece, or a Jimmy Reed style blues. It's great for figuring out instrumentation as well--would a fretless bass sound better here, or a slap bass style, etc.

    You can cut and paste sections and try out different song structures as quick as you can think about it. You can loop sections to superimpose and work out solo concepts. I've even used it when trading eights with students, to demonstrate certain elements of ensemble playing that would be pretty difficult to address in the standard 1:1 mode.

    I've never even gotten into the harmonization styles or many other options, but it is a very capable program, and will prove useful in dozens of ways you didn't think it would be. I've even imported sketches of new tunes into Sonar, Cubase, ProTools, etc., as guide tracks for myself and other musicians to generate ideas, and play off of, then erase them from the final recording. I've also left tracks in, on several occasions, because they worked so well.

    I often find myself thinking that the time I invest in learning computer DAWs and technology like modellers, multieffectors, virtual instruments, drum programs, etc. often isn't as worthwhile as spending that time on the all-important goal of becoming a better musician (YMMV, and mine does too). However, I can say I've never thought that when using BIAB. Max bang for the buck, and max bang for the time invested in creating something with it. .
     
  4. Scott Peterson

    Scott Peterson Staff Member

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    I've heard of it before; I used it way back in the day.

    I've never considered it before as a composing tool; that's a great idea. Watching their demo video now. Got me thinking...
     
  5. Flyin' Brian

    Flyin' Brian Member

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  6. d l x r e v e r b

    d l x r e v e r b Member

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  7. Bobbyoso

    Bobbyoso Member

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    Yeah, it really is pretty useful for composition. It's also pretty good as a "bring a reasonably jelled demo to the guys" tool, especially when you've got creative bandmates with a lot of idiomatic ability that you'd prefer to focus in on a particular style, like a cut-time samba, rather than everyone going off all over the map from a "blank sheet" starting point.

    Like Scott, I started using it years ago, and I'm amazed how much real functionality has been added since its inception, unlike a lot of programs that seem to get rev'd per a revenue-generation business model. The inclusion of RealDrums for example, made a large difference.

    Just to be forthcoming, I have no vested interest in the product, and there may be other similar software offerings elsewhere that work better for others. It's just one of those things I was happily surprised to find myself using in ways I hadn't originally thought of.
     
  8. guitarist58

    guitarist58 Member

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    It has some insanely powerful features, and I should learn it and use it (I really don't have the time now, but should when I do). I'm not sure if the version I have runs on a new Intel Mac, though. Can't even remember what version I have or where it is.......
     
  9. touji

    touji Member

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    Also, if you're doing the whole jazz thing... you can download the entire Real Book for BIAB!
     
  10. Bobbyoso

    Bobbyoso Member

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    Thanks for that link! Even more useful now...
     
  11. BeowulfKingsley

    BeowulfKingsley Member

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    I've been really enjoying BIAB as well, both for practicing and songwriting. Being able to run through various styles while writing is both useful and really fun ("Ahh, lemme try that as a Zydeco tune"), and editing is fast and easy. Also re-keying is a great function if you're singing and want to find an optimal key. Can't beat it for the price. There are piles of functions I haven't used, and lots I never will, but it's the same for Wavelab and Cubase and lots of other programs.
     
  12. BeowulfKingsley

    BeowulfKingsley Member

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    I should also say that as a non-keyboardist, I HAVE nabbed keyboard backing tracks and used them in recordings...that's very useful!
     
  13. jzucker

    jzucker Supporting Member

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    definitely worthwhile as a practicing tool. Unfortunately, it has sort of a wedding band feel to the backings.
     
  14. 62Tele

    62Tele Supporting Member

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    My kids are in an excellent music program and their instructor recommended this for them. I just reviewed the 2009.5 demos on the website. Looks like it could be pretty decent, especially at their level. Are you guys referencing the 2009.5 version or the older midi stuff?
     
  15. MikeT

    MikeT Member

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    The really need to rework their Webpage, it's very confusing and for a BIAB-newbie like me it's difficult to get the differences between the various editions, styles and options. Just my 2cents.
     
  16. 62Tele

    62Tele Supporting Member

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    +1 :jo
     
  17. FirstBassman

    FirstBassman Member

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    I agree, it is confusing.
    I’ll try and simplify it. (This only applies to the Windows PC version. I know nothing about the MAC version.)

    The current version of BiaB is 2010.

    The great leap forward that BiaB has made in the past year is the migration from MIDI instrument patches to so-called “Real Tracks” (R/T).

    The R/Ts are short live recordings of human playing real instruments.
    The application is able to combine these short passages into seamless playing.

    So, if one selects a Rock Blues “Style” and enters the chords: E, B7, A, E, BiaB will play back a “band” combination (guitars, bass, drums, etc.) playing a song with those chord changes.

    There are two downsides to this approach however:

    The recorded sound files take up a huge amount of disk space. *

    The various R/T Styles cost money.

    In order to get the most out of Band in a Box, one needs to draw upon a fairly wide range of Real Tracks and Styles.

    The minimum package to get, therefore, is the “Ultra Plus Pak.”
    Unfortunately, for a first-time buyer, that costs around $450.

    But to get BiaB and not take advantage of the Real Tracks really to me really doesn’t make much sense.

    I should also warn everyone that the current version still doesn’t seem to have worked out all the bugs yet entirely. But it is still an amazing application.

    * The Ultra Plus Pak is shipped on a USB hard drive can be run completely from the hard drive if you don’t have enough space on your PC.

    Hope that all helps.
     
  18. GregoryL

    GregoryL Supporting Member

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    I agree it's a useful program, but IMO the user interface could be significantly improved ... it's so busy with icons and drop-down options, and while less-important, the look is really out-dated.
     
  19. MikeT

    MikeT Member

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    Thanks for the explanation!

    I just can't live with the UI. I may look at it again when they decide to work on it. I really hope they get more competition...

    I also don't need it that bad. I usually just jam/practice to recordings, lay down my own backings, or use tracks from Aebersold. I can see the use for one-man-band stuff but that's not my cup of tea.
     
  20. jzucker

    jzucker Supporting Member

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    one man band use of BIAB is lame. It's a practice tool but even with realtracks ends up sounding like wedding band jazz.
     

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