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Band-in-a-Box® 2019 for Mac® User's Guide

Chapter 6: Making Songs

Now that you know how much fun it is to play music with Band-in-a-Box, you’ll be pleased to see how easy it is to make songs of your own.  This chapter shows you how to make a new song, with step-by-step instructions from start to finish.

Starting a New Song

Clear the Chord Sheet

Click on the [New] button or use the keystrokes +N to blank the Chord Sheet.

Name the song

Enter the title of the song by clicking in the title area and typing in the name.

Select a Key

The key signature of the song is displayed in the Song area.

You can quickly type in a key in either the Chord Sheet or Notation window.  Type tkc and press Return key to set the key signature to C.  Typing tkbb would set it to Bb.  To transpose from another key to Bb you would type trbb.

Another way to set a key signature is to click on the [Key] button and choose the key of your song from the lists of all major and minor keys.  If you select from the “Transpose and Set Key Signature” column the song will be transposed to the new key signature you choose.

If you select from the “Just Set Key Signature (no transpose)” column, the key signature will be changed but the song will not be transposed.

You can have multiple keys in a song by changing the key signature in the Edit Settings for Current Bar dialog (F5 function key).  The new key signature is shown on notation.

Set the Tempo

The tempo is displayed next to the key signature.  An easy way to set the tempo is to type it in the Chord Sheet or Notation window.  Type t125 and press Return key to set the tempo to 125, type t80 to set to 80, etc.  You may use the [ and keys to change the tempo by 5.

Another way to set the tempo is to click on the [Tempo] button and type in a tempo in a dialog.

You can also click on the arrow buttons to adjust the tempo.

  • LEFT-click to change by 5 beats per minute at a time.
  • RIGHT-click to change by 1 beat per minute at a time.

Setting the Relative Tempo

 This button allows you to quickly set the relative tempo.  Click the button and choose a percentage or use the Custom Tempo % menu item to set any value between 1% and 800%.  1% would be 1/100 of the original tempo and 800% would be 8 times the original tempo.  Hotkeys are available: control - (minus key) for half speed and control = for normal speed.

Tap the Tempo

Not sure of the tempo for your song?  Tap it in real time on either the [-] key or the [=] key on your computer keyboard.  Four taps on the minus key sets the tempo, four taps on the equal key sets the tempo and starts the song playing. 

Not sure of the tempo for your song?  Tap it in real time on either the [-] key or the [=] key on your computer keyboard.  Four taps on the minus key sets the tempo, four taps on the equal key sets the tempo and starts the song playing.  As you tap more than 4 times, the accuracy will improve (through averaging) and you can continue to tap until the target tempo has been reached.  For example, in a 4/4/ style, once you tap 4 times a tempo will be set.  But you can keep tapping and the tempo will change every beat, based on the average tempo that you have typed. You can also click on the [-] and [=] buttons to the right of the tempo box.

You can change the tempo at any bar in the song with the Edit Settings for Current Bar dialog.  Press F5 or the keystroke combination option+B or go to Bar Settings in the Edit menu to open the dialog.  The tempo change you enter takes effect at the beginning of the bar and remains until a new tempo change at another bar is inserted.

The tempo can also be typed into the Main Settings dialog, which opens from the menu Edit | Song Form | Title/Key/Tempo/Embellish, or with the keystrokes +K.  You can click 4 times on the metronome in this dialog to set your tempo.

Frame the song (Intro, Choruses and Endings)

Framing a song designates the first and last bars of each chorus and the number of choruses Band-in-a-Box will play before playing the standard 2-bar ending.

A typical song has the following elements:

  • Introduction (Intro).  If present, typically 4 bars long.
  • Chorus(es).Typically, 3 or 4 choruses in a 3-minute song.
  • Ending.  Typically, a 2-bar ending following all the choruses.
Note: We use the term “chorus” as commonly used in Jazz music.  A chorus therefore means once through the entire form of the song.  A typical length of a chorus is 32 bars.  A song may have the form AABA where the A sections are verses and the B section is the bridge.  This entire form AABA is called one chorus.

For this song, bar 1 is the first bar of the chorus and bar 32 is the last bar of the chorus.  The chorus will play three times, jumping to the two-bar ending the third time through.  You can click these buttons to change the setting.

You can also type special words to set the beginning and end of the chorus, and the end of the song.
begin + return sets the beginning of the chorus to the current bar
chorusend + return sets the end of the chorus to the current bar
end + return sets the end of the song to the current bar

Another way is to right-click a bar in the Chord Sheet to set it as the beginning or end of the chorus or the end of the song from the settings in the context menu.

Adding an Intro

You select the beginning and end bars of the chorus.  If you select a bar greater than 1 for the first bar of the chorus, then Band-in-a-Box knows that you want the previous bars for an intro.

Song Settings

Song settings include the title, key signature, and tempo for a song and the Band-in-a-Box style for its arrangement.

Main Settings

The Main Settings dialog shows all the settings for the song.  Click on the title area or go to Edit | Song Form | Title/Key/Tempo/Embellish or use the keystrokes +K to open the dialog.

Transpose: If you change the key you can transpose all the MIDI parts to the new key by checking the Transpose box.  This is especially useful when loading in new songs and transposing them to other keys. If you’ve entered a progression that you intend for a particular key, and then choose the key afterward in order to show the correct key signature, you would leave Transpose unchecked.  Then the key signature will change to the new key you type in, but the chords you entered will stay the same.

Embellish Chords: The Embellish Chords setting enables live embellishment of the chords.

Additional Song Settings

The [Song Settings] button on the toolbar or the [More…] button in the Main Settings dialog opens the Additional Song Settings dialog.

This dialog has arrangement options like rests, pushes, chord embellishment, tags, endings and more that turn a standard Band-in-a-Box song into an arrangement.  They are saved with the song.

Vary Style in Middle Choruses - If checked, the song will play in substyle B throughout the Middle Choruses.  The Middle Choruses include all choruses except the first and last.  If not checked, the middle choruses will play “a” and “b” substyles as set in the Chord Sheet with part markers. For example, in Jazz Swing, since the “b” substyle is Swing, all the middle choruses will have swing bass.  (The “a” substyle is playing half notes on the bass.)

Allow Pushes in Middle Choruses - This is used if you have put pushes into a song, but don’t want the pushes to play in the middle choruses.  The middle choruses are usually used for soloing, so you may not want the pushes to play.

Allow Rests in First Chorus - This is used if you have put rests into a song, but don’t want the rests to play in the first chorus.

Allow Rests in Middle Choruses - This is used if you have put rests into a song, but don’t want the rests to play in the middle choruses.  The middle choruses are usually used for soloing, so you may not want the rests to play.

Allow Rests in Last Chorus - This is used if you have put rests into a song, but don’t want the rests to play in the last chorus.

Allow Pedal Bass in Middle Choruses - This determines whether Pedal Bass effect will be allowed in middle choruses.

Song – Simple Arrangement (non-embellished) - This makes the RealTracks play a simpler (less busy or embellished) arrangement.

Tip: If you are hearing flat 9 and flat 13 embellishments on a C7 chord that is clashing with the melody, you should rename the chord C9 or C13, which will ensure natural 9 and 13 embellishments.  To disable the embellishment for a certain song, uncheck this option.  There are very few situations that you wouldn’t want it on, especially if you name some chords as C9 instead of C7 in situations where the melody clashes with the embellishment, as discussed above.  You would need to uncheck it for any song that you don’t want it on.

Ending Options - A tag (or coda) is a group of bars that are played in the last chorus of a song.  If you check the “Tag Exists?” field, then the tag will play during the last chorus of the song.  The tag begins after the bar you specify as “Tag Jump After Bar #.”  The song then jumps to the “Tag Begin at Bar #” and plays until “Tag Ends After Bar #.”  At the end of the tag, the song then plays a 2-bar ending as usual.

Generate 2-Bar Ending for This Song - You can disable the ending for a certain song.  You can disable the endings for all songs by clearing the checkmark for the “Allow Any Endings” setting in the Preferences dialog.

Use 4-Bar Ending for RealTracks -Adds two bars on the end of the song for the ending note on RealTracks to fade (decay).

Start the ending 2 bars early - The usual Band-in-a-Box ending is 2 bars appended to the end of the song.  This option gives you an alternative to end the song on the last bar of the song.  Band-in-a-Box will still play an ending on the chord that you specify, and the ending will occur as a 2-bar phrase beginning 2 bars before the end of the form.  This results in more natural endings for many songs.  For example, the song Old Folks At Home is a 32-bar chorus song from bar 1 to bar 32.  It ends with the last melody note on bar 31 with the word “home,” but Band-in-a-Box normally plays a 2-bar ending, starting at the end of bar 32 and going for 2 bars more.  For a song like this, it is more natural to end the song at the end of bar 32.  To set this in Band-in-a-Box set “Start the ending 2 bars early” to true.

Note: “Auto Endings”
If you’ve made a style, and haven’t included an ending, a 2-bar ending can be generated automatically, based on the style.

Fadeout ending # bars  - You can quickly choose a fadeout ending.  Just press the Fade button and Band-in-a-Box will fade out the last “X” bars of the song (you can specify how many bars).  Alternatively, customize the fadeout with precise values for each bar.

Solos should have a “bluesy” feel - If set, major triad chords in your song (C, F) will be treated like C7 or F7, so that the solos have a “bluesy” feel.

Allow RealTracks substitution based on tempo - When set, the program will find the best RealTracks to use at the current tempo.

Allow RealTracks Shots, Holds, and Pushes - When set, this song will support Shots, Holds, and Pushes for those RealTracks that have them (as shown in the “H” column of the RealTracks Picker).

Allow RealTracks Half-Time/Double-time - If set, this song will allow RealTracks to play at half time (twice the usual tempo) or double time (half the usual tempo).

Ignore Slash Root of Slash Chords (eg C/E) except Bass Track - If this is set, the RealTracks other than the Bass track will not play the slash root of chords.  For example, the RealTracks will play C instead of C/E.

Avoid transpositions in RealTracks  - If this is set, RealTracks will try not to transpose.  This will result in better quality, but less variety in the arrangement.

Natural Arrangements - If you give a pro musician a complicated chord progression with fancy extensions like C7b9b13 or Gm11, the musician may reinterpret these rather than playing them exactly as written.  This can achieve a much better sounding arrangement because the musician has freedom to choose from similar chord extensions.  You can get Band-in-a-Box to do the same thing with this option for all tracks in the current song.  (Note: To set this feature for all tracks in all songs, use the option in the Preferences dialog.  To set this for specific track(s) in the current song, right click on the track radio button, go to Track Settings | Set Natural Arrangement, and select an option.)

Allow Style Aliases (auto-sub of style) for song - If set and “Auto-replace MIDI styles with RealTracks styles when songs loaded” is checked on the RealTracks toolbar menu, auto-substitution with a RealStyle is allowed.

This song has play problems, disable fast generation - On slower computers, songs with lots of RealTracks might have playback problems (stuttering).  If so, check this option to disable Fast Generation for this song.

Volume Boost (this song only) in dB - This allows you to adjust a volume in the current song.

Transpose audio track by _ semitones - If this option is enabled, then the Audio track and any Artist Performance tracks will be transposed (pitch stretched) by the amount entered here.

Entering Chords

Typing Chords

The basic way of entering a song in Band-in-a-Box is by typing its chords into the Chord Sheet. 

The location of the highlight cell determines where chords will be entered.  Use either the mouse or the cursor arrow keys on the computer keyboard to move the chord highlight cell around the Chord Sheet.

Click on any bar to select a cell, and then type in the chords for that bar.

The highlight cell covers two beats, or half a bar in 4/4 time.  Two chord names can be typed into the highlight cell (separated by a comma e.g. C, C#dim) so up to four chords per bar may be entered.

To enter a chord, type its name using standard chord symbols (like C, or Fm7, or Bb7, or Bb13#9/E) and press the return key.  The chord name(s) you have typed will be entered in the Chord Sheet at the current location of the highlight cell.  Each time the return key is pressed the highlight cell advances 2 beats, or ½ a measure.

Note: To view a list of Band-in-a-Box chord names, please refer to the Reference chapter of this manual.

To start typing in chords:

  • Go to the top (bar 1) of the Chord Sheet by clicking on measure 1.
  • Blank the Chord Sheet by clicking the [New] button, or with the keystrokes +n.
  • The highlight cell will be at the start of bar 1, reposition it if desired.
  • When you have the highlight cell positioned where you want to enter a chord, type the name of the chord you would like.  For example, type c6 to get the C6 chord. 

You should never have to use the shift key, as Band-in-a-Box will sort this out for you.  Here are some other tips for easy chord entry:

  • Use b for a flat, e.g. Bb7.  It is not necessary to type upper or lower case; the program will sort this out for you.
  • Use # or 3 for a sharp, e.g. F#7.  (# is the uppercase symbol of 3, so you can type F37 to get F#7.  Band-in-a-Box will sort out the case, saving you the effort of using <SHIFT>3 to type the # symbol).
  • Use / for slash chords with alternate Roots such as C7/E (C7 with E bass).
  • Use a comma (,) to enter 2 chords in a cell.  In the example below, we would type Ab9,G9 to get the 2 chords in the cell (on beat 3 and 4 of bar 2).

The sequence of keystrokes to enter all these chords above would be c6>am7>dm7>ab9,g9>c6/e>>a739. 

The > indicates cursor key to the right.

(We are able to type A7#9 as a739 because Band-in-a-Box knows to use the uppercase of the 3, which is #.)

Tip: The fastest way to type in chords is to use your left hand to type in the chords.  Your right hand stays on the cursor keys (or mouse) to advance the highlight cell to the next bar/beat after you’ve typed in the chords.

A setting in the Display Options for ‘11th chords’ allows display of ‘9sus’ chords as ‘11’ (e.g., Bb11 instead of Bb9sus).  This only affects how the chord is displayed, not how it is stored, and you can type either C11 or C9sus to enter the same chord.

The “Display ‘2’ as ‘sus2’” and “Display ‘sus’ as ‘sus4’” settings in the Display Options dialog will show suspended chords more explicitly: ‘sus’ implies ‘sus4,’ and ‘2’ implies ‘sus2,’ but you might want to see the full extension name.

Shortcut Chords

If you enter a lot of songs, you will appreciate these shortcut keys:

  • J = Maj7
  • H=m7b5 (H stands for Half diminished.)
  • D=dim
  • S=Sus

Example: To type CMaj7, just type CJ (it will be entered as CMaj7).
When entering chords on the Chord Sheet, there are shortcuts available for entering rests over a range of bars

  • type h4 for a chord, and this will copy the rest/hold/parameters on the first beat of the cell for 4 bars
  • type ,h4 for a chord, and this will copy the rest/hold/parameters on the second beat of the cell for 4 bars
  • type h for a chord and it will copy the rests/holds/ until the next part marker
  • type a chord with a rest/shot/hold followed by a number (N), and it will do this for the next N bars
    • e.g.  C7...4  will enter held chords for 4 bars
    • e.g.  Gm7...bd5  will enter held chords (bd=except bass and drums) for 5 bars

Add your own chord shortcuts. 

Have you found a chord that Band-in-a-Box doesn’t recognize?  If so, add it to your chord shortcuts file, and Band-in-a-Box will allow you to type in that chord in the future.  You can also define chord “shortcuts,” one-letter abbreviations for longer chord names (“J” for “Maj7” etc.). 

To add your own chords and shortcuts, make a text file called shortcut.txt in your Band-in-a-Box folder.  Note that this file doesn’t ship with Band-in-a-Box; if it did it would overwrite your file!  Shortcuts supplied by PG Music are in a file named pgshortc.txt, which should be used only by PG Music.

If you find a chord that Band-in-a-Box won’t accept like Csus2, when it expects C2 instead, you can enter this as a single line in shortcut.txt, “sus2@2” (without the quotes).  Band-in-a-Box will then enter the chord C2 if you type in Csus2, in other words you can type in Csus2 and the program will accept it.  You can also use it for shortcuts, just as j@maj7 lets you type Cj for CMaj7.  See the file pgshortc.txt for examples of shortcuts.

Previewing Chords

This feature allows you to hear chords as you type them in.  When you are entering chords onto the Chord Sheet (or notation window), after you type a chord name, press shift+return.  This enters the chord onto the Chord Sheet and then plays the chord for you, using the patches on the Piano part and Bass part.  You can also listen to a chord that has already been entered, by just pressing shift+return after moving to that bar with the chord.  If there is no chord entered at that bar, you will hear the last chord that was entered.

You can also preview chords from the Chord Settings dialog.  Press option+Z to launch the dialog, and then press the [Preview] button to hear the current chord.

The [Previous Bar] and [Next Bar] buttons lets you go through the entire Chord Sheet without leaving the dialog.

The [Clear All Bars] button erases all Rests/Shots/Pushes/Pedal Bass from a song.

The [Clear Bar] button erases all Rests/Shots/Pushes/Pedal Bass from the current bar.

Support for Non-Standard Chord Display Types

In addition to the Standard Notation window, you can also enter or display chords in Roman Numeral notation, Nashville notation, Solfeggio notation, or Fixed Do notation.

For example, the chord Gm7 in the key of F would be displayed as IIm7 (in Roman Numeral Notation), 2m7 (in Nashville Notation), and Rem7 in Solfeggio.  In Italy and other parts of Europe, chords like C7 are always referred to by the Solfeggio name (“Do 7” for C7) regardless of the key signature.

These systems are very useful for learning or analyzing tunes, because they are independent of the key signature.  You can take an existing song and print it out in Roman Numeral Notation, so you can study the chord progression.  You can also just type a chord in any of these systems, like “4” which will enter the 4 chord in the current key, and switch between systems without having to retype the chords.

To change the chord display type, click on the [Chord Display] toolbar button, go to Choose type of Chord Display and choose from the list of five options.

When a new chord display type is selected, a message will report the change on the main screen.

The Roman numeral and other non-standard displays use superscript for the chord display when in the Notation window (or print out), so they look best in the Notation window.

Tip: Print out a song in Nashville Notation or Roman Numeral notation.  Then learn the song this way (i.e. 1maj7 4maj7 3m7b5 67b9).  You’ll then discover that it is much easier to play the song in any key.

There is an option to display the non-standard chord above the standard chord on the Chord Sheet.

Press the [Chord Display] button, go to Layers | Additional Chord Display, and choose from the list of four options.

Tip: The font and the height of the additional chord display can be selected in the Display Optionsdialog.

Entering Chords from MIDI Keyboard

Another way of entering chords is through MIDI chord recognition.  Play any chord on your external MIDI keyboard or MIDI guitar controller and Band-in-a-Box will recognize it instantly and insert it onto the Chord Sheet.  This allows you to enter an entire song without having to type any of the chords.  It’s also a good way to find the right name for a chord.

To use this feature, select the menu command Options | MIDI Patch Maps, etc. | Insert current MIDI chord, or press the control+return keys.  The last chord you played on your MIDI keyboard controller will be automatically inserted into your song (Chord Sheet or notation view) at the current cursor location.  Then, Band-in-a-Box is ready for the next chord.  You can insert up to two chords per bar in this fashion.

Chord Builder

This feature allows you to hear and build chords up by clicking on the root, extension (and alternate root if applicable).  You can launch the Chord Builder by choosing the Edit | Chord Builder menu option or with the keystrokes control+shift+H.

Clicking on the [<] & [>] buttons moves 2 beats and control+clicking on these buttons moves 1 beat.

You can click on the root of the chord (in the “Root” group), the extension (Maj7 etc.), and an alternate slash-note root.  For example, to make the chord F9/A, you would click on the “F” root, the “9” extension, and the Slash Root of /A.  As you click on them, you will hear the bass note played on the Bass part, and the extension played on the Piano track.

If you are happy with the sound of the chord, you can press the [Enter Chord] button to enter the chord at the bar and beat specified.  If you would like the chord to be inserted automatically when you click on the note/extension names, select the “Enter chord when clicked” option.  Change the Bar/Beat settings to enter at a different bar.

The Chord Builder can be left open as you work entering chords into Band-in-a-Box.  Remember that you can also play chords in from the MIDI keyboard by pressing control+return after you’ve played a chord on the keyboard.

Pressing the [Show More] button will open the Chord Theory section, which displays and suggests chords that are most popular in the current key.

The top row is diatonic chords.  Other rows add additional chords that are part of the key, such as dominant 7th approach, slash chords, parallel minor, diminished, and more.  This allows you to quickly enter chords by clicking on the most common chords in the key.  For example, if you stick to the top row (diatonic), the chord progression you enter will be a typical song progression.  Choosing from other rows will add variation and color to the progression.  This is a fun, interactive way to enter and explore chord progressions, and learn music chord theory at the same time.

For example, if you are in the key of F, the top row shows the most common chords in the key of F, which are the diatonic chords.  You can just click on chords on this row to enter your chord progression using the most popular chords.  Lower rows have additional chords in the key of F, like G7, A7, etc.

You can enable the “Jazz” checkbox to show jazz chords (e.g. sevenths like Maj7) instead of pop chords (e.g. triads like C). 

F              Gm          Am          Bb               C             Dm          Em7b5        (in pop mode)

FMaj7     Gm7        Am7        BbMaj7      C7           Dm7        Em7b5        (in jazz mode)

Diatonic - These are the diatonic chords, made up only of notes in the key.  They are the most common chords used in the key, with the 1, 4, and 5 chords being the most common.

Dominant 7 - These chords are considered to be in the key when they resolve up a 4th to a scale tone.  For example, A7 resolves to D, which is a scale tone in the key of C.

Slash Chords - The diatonic chords are also commonly used with different chord tones as the bass note.  They are called slash chords, like C/E.

Parallel Minor - For a major key like C, the chords from the Cm key are also used commonly.

Diminished/Half Dim. - The most common diminished chord used is the 1 diminished family [Cdim7, Ebdim7, F#dim7] in the key of C.  Half-diminished chords (e.g. #4m7b5 [F#m7b5] and 7m7b5 [Bm7b5]) are used as 2-5-1 leading to minor diatonic chords.

All (Common) - This row lists all commonly used chords with the root in the key.

Clicking on the small button on each row will list more suggestions.

Auto-Generate Chords for Intro

Press the [Song Form] toolbar button and select the menu command Generate Intro to open the Generate Chords for Intro dialog. 

You can also choose Edit | Intro Bars Auto-Generate menu option or use the keystroke control+shift+B to open this dialog.

This will create a chord progression for an intro of the song, based on the optional settings you choose.

Chord Types can be Jazz or Pop.

Intro Length can be 2, 4 or 8 bars to suit the tempo of the song.

Starting Chord (after intro) lets the intro lead in to the song correctly.

Pedal Bass has a list of pedal bass options, based in the key entered in the box.

Press the [(Re)-Generate Intro Chords] button to auto-generate chords for an intro.

Press the [Remove Intro] button to remove the intro from the song.

MIDI Chord Wizard (Enter Chords from MIDI file)

This allows you to read in the chords from any MIDI file and write them onto the Band-in-a-Box Chord Sheet.

First, blank the song by choosing File | New.  Choose File | Import | Import Chords from MIDI File (or press control+option+I).  You will then see the Chord Wizard dialog.

 Press the [Open (Change)…] button and select the MIDI file to import.

 Choose a preset, and the Chord Wizard will interpret the chords in that style. 

 Press the [INTERPRET CHORDS NOW] button to see the chords written into the Chord Sheet. 

 The dialog has options to read channels into the Melody and/or Soloist tracks.

Read in Chords from a PG Music or Band-in-a-Box MIDI file.

Many of PG Music’s programs have MIDI files with the chords in them.  You can open these files in Band-in-a-Box, and the chords will be imported onto the Chord Sheet.  To import the chords from a PG Music MIDI file (i.e. a MIDI file made by Band-in-a-Box, PowerTracks Pro or some other PG Music programs), choose the menu item File | Import | Import Chords from MIDI File and select “OK to use PG Music chord names from MIDI file.”  The chords will then appear on the lead sheet starting at bar 1, overwriting any chords that were there previously.

Audio Chord Wizard (Enter Chords from Audio File)

This amazing wizard automatically figures out the chords from any MP4, M4A, AIFF or other audio file and displays them in Band-in-a-Box.

Launch the Audio Chord Wizard with the toolbar button or with the Windows | Audio Chord Wizard | Run AudioChordWizard menu command.

Audio Chord Wizard Window

The Audio Chord Wizard window shows an overview of the open wave file with the bar lines and chords as interpreted by the wizard below.  Controls and settings are found in the toolbar at the top of the window, and the lower part of the window either shows chords and bars in a Chord Sheet view or notes in a Note Bars view.

 The zoom buttons at the bottom of the screen adjust the scale of the display.  The minus button shrinks the display to show more bars, the plus sign expands the display but shows fewer bars.

Primary Program Controls

 Toggle Play/Pause (Space bar or multimedia Play/Pause key).

 Stop play, rewind to start with Esc key or multimedia Stop key.  Press the letter W to rewind without Stop.

 Set the Bar One location.  The Audio Chord Wizard works best if you do this first, before any other actions. Moves nearest bar line to current play position.  Tab key also sets bar lines.

 Moves nearest bar line to current play position.  Tab or F8 keys also set bar lines.

 Exit and send chords to Band-in-a-Box.

 Average tempo, control+click the tempo box for options.

 Song time signature, 2/4 to 12/8 supported.

 Song key signature.

 Use to correct pitch of song if necessary to improve chord recognition.

 Select either the Chord Sheet view to follow along with the chords of the song, or the Note Bars view to see the notes interpreted by the Audio Chord Wizard in a piano-roll type of display.

Breaks: Rests, Shots, and Held Chords

Breaks are points in a song when one or more of the instruments rests, plays a shot, or holds a chord.


You can have any, some, or all instruments rest at any bar.  For example, you could rest all instruments except the bass for the first 4 bars, then add in the piano for 4 bars, and then add in the entire band for the rest of the song.  You may optionally disable the rests in the middle or final choruses (where people are likely taking solos, and rests are not appropriate).

A chord is specified as a REST by adding 1 period after the chord.

 indicates a C chord that is a REST.


You can make certain instruments play a “shot” where the chord is played and then a rest follows.  For example, the song “Rock Around the Clock” has a shot on beat 1 followed by a rest for 2 bars.

A chord is specified as a SHOT by adding 2 periods after the chord.

indicates a C chord that is a SHOT.

Held Chords

You can specify that certain instruments hold a chord sustained for a certain number of bars.  For example, you can have the bass and piano hold a chord sustained while the drums continue to play a pattern

A chord is HELD by adding 3 periods after the chord.

indicates a C chord that is a HELD.

In these examples, bar 1 has a normal chord and bar 2 has a chord with a break on it (a rest, shot, or held chord).

2 bars of C chord (no break on bar 2).

This is the usual situation without any break.  Note that the piano plays rhythmically on bar 2.

Rest on bar 2.

This rests the instruments until the next chord on the Chord Sheet.  The rest is typed in as a C chord followed by one period.

A shot is put on bar 6.

The shot plays a staccato chord on bar 6, and then rests until the next chord on the Chord Sheet.  The shot is typed as a C chord followed by two periods.

This illustrates a held chord on bar 10.

The chord on bar 10 is held (sustained) until the next chord on the Chord Sheet.  The held chord is typed in as a C followed by three periods.

“Breaks” for only some instruments.

You can specify that some instruments not be affected by the break.  The coded names for the instruments are:

  • B for Bass
  • D for Drums
  • P for Piano
  • G for Guitar
  • S for Strings - To exempt instruments, add their letters following the break. 
Typing will put a rest on all instruments EXCEPT the bass and drums.
C...p - This will put a held chord on all instruments except the piano.

Entering Rest/Hold Parameters for a Range of Bars

When entering chords on the Chord Sheet, there are now shortcuts available for entering rests over a range of bars

  • type h4 for a chord, and this will copy the rest/hold/parameters on the first beat of the cell for 4 bars
  • type ,h4 for a chord, and this will copy the rest/hold/parameters on the second beat of the cell for 4 bars
  • type h for a chord and it will copy the rests/holds/ until the next part marker
  • type a chord with a rest/shot/hold followed by a number (N), and it will do this for the next N bars
       e.g.  C7...4  will enter held chords for 4 bars.
       e.g.  Gm7...bd5  will enter held chords (bd=except bass and drums) for 5 bars.


Pushes in Styles

“Pushes” (also called anticipations) are chords that are played before the beat.  For example, in Jazz Swing, the piano player often “pushes” a chord change by playing the chord an eighth note before the beat.  Styles can push any instrument so that the instrument plays before the chord begins.  This is very common in Jazz and other Pop music and gives the music a more natural sound.

You need not be concerned with pushes that are in the styles as they happen automatically.  You need only to be aware that the styles can push the instruments.  This makes styles sound much better, and more syncopated.

Pushes in Songs.

Chords can be pushed by an 8th or 16th note.  For example, you can specify a chord to occur a 16th note before the beat and all instruments, including drums, will play this.

You can also specify that a chord change should happen before the beat.  To do this, you can use either keystrokes, or the chord options dialog box.  To use keystrokes:

Type the caret symbol (^) before the chord.  (The caret symbol is located above the 6 on the keyboard).

Type a single caret to get a chord an eighth note before the beat.
  e.g.      ^C7

Type a double caret to get a chord a sixteenth note before the beat.
  e.g.      ^^C7

In Jazz styles (and other triplet feels), the chord will be pushed by a triplet, regardless if there is a single or double caret (^^).

Shots, Holds and Pushes in RealTracks

Simply type in the chords as you normally would, adding periods (…) for shots and holds, and the RealTracks will play them.  Note that for this, you need the LibraryM/Holds folder in your RealTracks folder.

Not all RealTracks styles have shots, holds, and pushes available, so check the “H” column in the RealTracks Picker to see if the style has them.

  • If the column is blank, they are available and installed.
  • If the column shows the letter “n,” the Holds files are available but not installed.  Check the support pages of the PG Music web site,, for RealTracks updates.
  • If the column shows a dash “–” no holds are available for the style.

Assuming that you have the Holds files for the RealTracks that you are generating, then you just use Band-in-a-Box as you would normally, and type chords with shots (e.g. C..), holds (C…) or pushes (^C or ^^C for 8th or 16th note push), or combinations of push and hold (^C…).

Chord Settings Dialog

Chord settings control the “breaks” in a song when one or more of the instruments rests, plays a shot, or holds a chord.  These breaks are all referred to as Rest Types in Band-in-a-Box, and they can be entered along with the chord name or with keystrokes.  Chords can also be “pushed,” which makes them play early, i.e., ahead of the beat.

There is an alternative to the various keystrokes to put in rest types and pushes for chords.  You can use the Chord Settings dialog box instead.

Click on the cell on the Chord Sheet you want to edit.  Then, press the [C7] toolbar button or use the keystrokes option+Z

You can also open this dialog by selecting Chord Settings from the Chord Sheet right-click contextual menu.

Beat and Chord - First, you need to pick the beat in the bar where the setting will be applied.  You can also type in new chords on the different beats.

Pushes - “Pushes” (sometimes called anticipations) are chords that are played before the beat.  For example, in Jazz Swing the piano player often pushes a chord change by playing the chord an eighth note before the beat. Depending on the feel for the style in use, chords can be entered on either 16th or 8th note resolution.  You can specify a chord to occur a 16th note before the beat for example, and all instruments will play this, including drums.

Rest Types - The Rest Types are No Rest, Rest Only, Shot, and Hold Chord.

Rest Only - Rests can specify any, some, or all instruments to rest at any bar.  For example, you could rest all instruments except the bass for the first 4 bars, then add in the piano for 4 bars, and then add in the entire band for the rest of the song.  You may optionally disable the rests in the middle or final choruses (where people are likely taking solos, and rests are not appropriate).

Shot - You can specify certain instruments play a “shot,” where the chord is played and then a rest follows.  For example, the song Rock Around the Clock has a shot on beat 1 followed by a rest for seven beats.

Hold Chord - You can specify that certain instruments hold a chord sustained for a certain number of bars.  For example, you can have the bass and piano hold a chord sustained while the drums continue to play a pattern.

Pedal Bass - You can enter pedal bass with any chord.  For example, if you are in the key of F and would like to pedal on a C note for 2 bars (on an Fm7 chord), then type in the settings as above.  This will play the rhythm specified – in this case, the pattern will play on beat 2 and 4.  Other options are <No Pedal Bass>, Beat 2 and 4 Octaves, Beat 1 and 3 (Slow Tempos), Whole Note, and Eighth Notes.

The [Previous Bar] and [Next Bar] buttons lets you go through the entire Chord Sheet without leaving the dialog.

The [Clear All Bars] button erases all Rests/Shots/Pushes/Pedal Bass from a song.

The [Clear Bar] button erases all Rests/Shots/Pushes/Pedal Bass from the current bar.

Part Markers

Part Markers are placed on the Chord Sheet to indicate a new part of the song.  They are used to change substyles or insert drum fills.

  These are part markers.  They typically occur every 8 bars or so but may be placed at the beginning of any bar.

You can customize the display of the part markers in the Display Options dialog.  For example, you can pick a color for each part marker, draw part marker borders, show each part marker on the new line, etc.

Placing Part Markers

  • Move the highlightcell to the bar that you want the part marker at.  Then press the letter p on the computer keyboard.  Repeatedly pressing the letter p will toggle between the “a” and “b” part markers or no part marker.
  • Alternatively, you can position the mouse arrow directly over the bar line (or existing part marker).  Repeatedly click the mouse button to toggle between “a,” “b,” and no part marker.

Copying Part Markers

You can drag a part marker to copy it to other bars.



Changing Substyles

 The part markers also represent the available substyles (variations) for each style.  Most styles have “a” and “b” substyles.  Multistyles also have “c” and “d” substyles and could have from “a” to “x” for a total of up to twenty-four.

The song continues to play in one substyle until it encounters a new part marker.  There will always be a part marker at bar 1 so that Band-in-a-Box knows what substyle to begin with.

Substyle“a” is usually used for the Verses of the song.

Substyle“b” is usually used for the Bridge of the song, and for soloing in the Middle Choruses.  All the middle choruses of the song will automatically play in the “b” substyle.  This is great for Jazz songs, allowing you to play swing throughout the middle (soloing) choruses and revert to the “a” substyle for the last chorus.

Substyle “c” is usually used for the intro or for an opening verse or pre-verse.

Substyle “d” is usually used for a break or interlude.

Note: If you want to keep the same substyle in the middle choruses, you would need to uncheck the “Vary Style in Middle Choruses” option in the Additional Song Settings option on the Song menu.

Adding More Substyles


You can add more substyles to an individual song with a right-click on any bar number.  This opens the Substyle Change Menu where you can define up to 24 substyles, from “a” to “x.”


Band-in-a-Box MultiStyles have four substyles, “a” through “d.”

Standard Pop song form with 4 substyle MultiStyle

As a general rule for styles with 4 substyles:

  • “a” substyle is for the verse.
  • “b” substyle is for the chorus.
  • “c” substyle is for the intro (or first verse).
  • “d” substyle is for the break (or interlude).

Placing Drum Fills

A one bar drum fill will play in the bar preceding (leading into) a part marker, just as a live drummer will play a fill to accent the transition between sections of a song.  If you want a drum fill to play in bar 7 of a song, insert a part marker at bar 8.  You can either retain the current substyle or change the substyle (“a” or “b”) when you place the part marker.

Section Paragraphs

When you are reading a book, a new section begins on a new line, with space between.  Band-in-a-Box does that for chords too.  Whenever a new section occurs (a part marker), we start the new section on a new line and draw a grey line above to clearly mark the new section.  You will see each section on a new line so that the form of the song is easier to see.

For example, if you have a song with a 7-bar section, followed by 8-bar sections, earlier versions of Band-in-a-Box wouldn’t start the other sections on a new line.  The result was that it was hard to delineate the sections, as if an entire story was told within one paragraph.

With the Section Paragraphs feature, you will see each section on a new line so that the form of the lead sheet is easier to see.  Sections can be as short as 2 bars.

The feature is configurable and optional with the “New line for every section” setting in the Display Options dialog.  You can also set the minimum number of bars that is required to start a new line with the “minimum section” setting.  For example, if this is set to 8, then there won’t be a new line for the next part marker if that section has only 4 bars.

Song Form Maker

The Song Form Maker allows you to define sections of a song (A, B, C etc.), and then rearrange the song by simply typing the form you want (e.g. AABABAACA).  You can revisit the dialog to change the form at any time.

Press the [Song Form] button and choose Song Form Dialog from the dropdown menu.  You will then see the Song Form Maker dialog.

Then define your sections (e.g. A = bars 1 for 8 bars, B=start at bar 17, for 8 bars C=start at bar 25, for 4 bars).  Then type the form that you want (AABACABA).

Select [OK-Generate Form] then exit the dialog.  The form string and sections are saved with the song. 

You can revisit this dialog to re-order the sections.  Or change a chord in the “A” section of the Chord Sheet, and then use the Song Form Maker to propagate the changes through all of the “A” sections.

Use the [Undo] button to reverse your changes.

Uses for the Song Form Maker

  • Enter a song by simply entering each section once, and then visit the Song Form Maker, typing the form that you want and generating it.  Change the form without having to type in new chords, just redo the Form String (AABACABA, etc.).
  • Change chords in each section by simply changing the chord in the main section, and then regenerate the form.
  • Enter a melody once and copy it throughout the form by regenerating the form.

Editing Chord Sheet

Add Repeats and 1st/2nd Endings

Let’s add repeats and endings to a demo song “Miles1 Tutorial (no repeats yet)” in the Band-in-a-Box/Tutorials/Tutorial - Repeats and Endings folder.

From looking at the Chord Sheet, we can see that this 32-bar form consists of two 16 bar sections.  The first 8 bars of each section (bars 1-8 and 17-24) are the same.  The 8 bars from bar 9 to bar 16 are the 1st ending, and the 8 bars from 25 to 32 are the 2nd ending.

Right-click on bar 9 and select the Repeats/Codas/1st-2nd Endings menu item.

This will open the Edit Repeats and Endings dialog.

Select “1st/2nd Endings” as a type of repeat and ending.

Enter the following data.
- Repeat begins at bar # 1.
- 1st ending begins at bar 9.
- 1st ending lasts for 8 bars.
- Endings type 1st/2nd endings.

Note that by entering this data we have defined the complete 1st and 2nd endings: if the 1st ending begins at bar 9 and lasts for 8 bars, the 2nd ending must begin at bar 25 (17+8) (because there is an 8-bar repeated section from bar 1 to 8).

 Since this is an existing song and it already has all the bars laid out, do not select the “Generate (insert) new bars” option.

 Press the [OK-Make Repeat] button.
Repeat will be made, and the Chord Sheet redraws with the 1st/2nd repeat showing.

 Make sure you have the Fake Sheet mode enabled.

As you can see, there is a 1st ending at bar 9.  At bar 16 there is a repeat symbol, indicating that the form goes back to bar 1 for 8 bars, and then will go to the bar after bar 16 for the 2nd ending.  The 2nd ending is marked there (note that the bar number is 25, because the bars are numbered in linear fashion, and it is the 25th bar of the song as it would be played).  Then the song goes to the end, which is bar 32.

 Let’s disable the Fake Sheet mode.  We will then see a linear view, which is similar to the way it was before we enter the 1st/2nd endings.

This shows all the 32 bars, including the bars that are part of the repeat and are highlighted in gray.  Exposing these bars shows the linear view of the song, the way the song would be played.  It also allows you to enter custom information for any of the bars, including the bars in the “gray area.”  For example, if you want the chord at bar 21 to be an Em9 instead of an Em7, just type it in, even though it represents the repeated section leading to the 2nd ending.

Buttons in the Edit Repeats and Endings dialog

 This button opens the Display Options dialog, which includes an option to globally enable/disable the display of repeats and endings.

 This button attempts to determine the form of the song in AABA format.  Each number represents a 2-bar segment of the song.

 When you press this button, Band-in-a-Box will examine the song and try to detect any repeats in the song.

 This opens the Edit Repeats and Endings dialog, which shows you a list of repeats or endings that have been entered in the song and allows you to edit them.

 This opens the Song Setting dialog where you can set a tag ending.

 This will delete all the repeats that have been entered in the current song.

Auto-detect repeats for the song

There is also an auto-detect feature that analyzes the song and adds repeats and endings for you.

Don’t save the song because we want to use the original “Miles Tutorial (no repeats yet).MGU” song.  Just reopen the song so that no repeats are set in the song.

Click on the [Fake Sheet] button and select Auto-Detect Repeats now for this song.

In this case, Band-in-a-Box has figured out that 1st/2nd endings exist.  If you answer “Yes,” it will enter the same 1st/2nd endings that we entered manually.

Note that this “auto-detect” does not find every 1st/2nd ending, especially if the chords are different in the repeated sections, but it can be a time saver when it does find them!

Insert or Delete Bars

Inserting or deleting measures in the Chord Sheet saves a lot of copying or re-typing of chords when changes are made to an arrangement.  The commands to insert or delete bars from the Chord Sheet are:

  • To insert bars choose Edit | Insert Measure(s) or +i and you can insert a given # of bars.
  • To delete bars choose Edit | Delete Measure(s) or +d and you can delete a given # of bars.


The Shrink command will reduce durations of chords by ½ (e.g., 4beats>>2beats, 2beats>>1beat).  Expand doubles the durations of chords (e.g., 1beat>>2beats, 2beats>>4beats).

Unfold (convert to 1 big chorus)

If you have a song with 3 choruses and want to convert it to a single large chorus, this command “unfolds” the song into just that; one BIG chorus.  This is useful for customizing a song.
When selected, Band-in-a-Box will display all choruses and verses of a song without loops or repeats.  This is a useful command if you wish to make use of the Patch/Harmony change at any bar feature, or if you are going to generate a MIDI file for use with a sequencer or sequencing program.

Erase Chords

To erase chords, place the highlight cell over top of the chords you would like to erase and press the [delete] key.

Erase Chords and/or Melody

To erase chords with additional control for erasing the melody and/or soloist choose Edit | Erase From.. To.. or press option+K to launch the Erase Chords and/or Melody dialog box.

As you can see, you can erase several bars of chords and/or melody and/or soloist.  If you are erasing the melody and/or soloist, you need to specify which chorus you are erasing.

Copying and Pasting a Section of Chords

Since many songs repeat the same sequence of chords throughout, a faster method to enter a song into Band-in-a-Box is to COPY and PASTE the repeating chords.

Copying a section of chords is done in a manner similar to copying text in a word processor.  Highlight a section of chords by dragging the mouse over them while holding the left mouse button.  The area will be blackened/highlighted.

Tip: You can select a region of bars just by using the keyboard.  Hold down the SHIFT key and use the cursor keys (left/right/down/up).

Press +C or select the Edit | Copy menu item.  The highlighted area will be copied to the clipboard.  It can then be pasted back into the Chord Sheet at any location and reused as many times as you like.

Move the highlight cell to the bar that you want to paste the chords into, using the arrow keys or the mouse.

Paste the copied section with +V or select the Edit | Paste menu item.  The chords will then appear at the new location.  These features are also available from the control+click (or right-click) context menu.

Tip: Remember that the copied section remains in the clipboard and can be used repeatedly.  Example: If you are inputting a song with verse, verse, bridge, verse, you can just copy the first verse to the Clipboard, and then paste in the other verses.  The clipboard remains even if you load in a new song, so you can copy and paste between songs.

Copy Chords and/or Melody

Copy and paste the chords, melody, and solo for a range of bars in the Copy Chords and/or Melody dialog.

Select Edit | Copy Special | Copy From..  To, or press option+C to launch this dialog.

The settings allow you to specify the location to copy from, the number of bars to copy, the location to copy to, and the option to copy any or all the chords, melody, and/or soloist.

Copy Rests

The Copy Rests dialog is opened with the Edit | Copy Special |Copy Rests menu command. 

With this feature,you can copy the attributes of a chord over a range of other chords.  Rests also include shots and held chords.  The settings allow you to specify the bar and beat to copy from, the number of bars to copy, and the location to copy to.

Copy/Move Tracks

The Edit | Copy Special | Copy/Move Tracks menu command allows copying/moving of any track to any other track.  You can copy any channels from any track to any other track.

Examples of uses include:

  • Loading a MIDI file to the Melody track, and copying the bass part to the Bass track, and then freezing the Bass track.  This lets you setup a MIDI file with the same tracks as Band-in-a-Box uses.  Note: the command automatically freezes the destination track after the copy.
  • Getting the RealChart to play, to double a RealTracks part on another instrument.  To do this, generate a RealTracks for piano on the piano track.  Then copy the piano track to the strings track and set a strings patch.  You now hear a RealTracks piano, with the strings doubling the piano part.
  • Replace a RealChart with a MIDI version.  If a RealChart is available, copy the RealChart as in the example above.  Then eliminate the RealTracks on the original track.  You now have a RealChart MIDI part playing instead of the RealTracks, and you can edit that part etc. as with any MIDI track.

“Jazz Up”/“Jazz Down” the Chords

When switching genres (from Pop to Jazz, or Jazz to Pop), it’s often necessary to change the chords from “Pop/Rock” chords (C) to Jazz type chords (Like CMaj7).  Now you can quickly do this, by new menu options called “Jazz Up,” “Jazz Down.”  Choose the menu item Edit | Chords | “Jazz Up” or Edit | Chords | “Jazz Down” to do this:

  • “Jazz Up” - This function simply converts triads to 7th chords, producing a lead sheet more suitable for Jazz.  If you have a song with triad chords like C or Dm, you can choose to “Jazz Up” the chords.  When you do this, you get an option of whether you’d like to see Maj7, Maj6 or Dominant 7th for the major triads.
  • “Jazz Down” - This function converts 7th chords to triads, for a lead sheet more suited to Pop music.

Chord Sheet Context Menu

Most of the features for Chord Sheet editing are found in the right-click contextual menu.  Right-click on any measure in the Chord Sheet to open this menu.

Applying Styles

The chords, tempo, number of repeats and other information that you enter in the Chord Sheet tell Band-in-a-Box what to play.  The style you choose tells the program how to play it.  When a style is loaded, the song will be played play back in that style.

There are many styles available for use with the Band-in-a-Box program.  For the purposes of this program, styles refer to styles of music, i.e. Jazz Swing, Tango, Blues, Pop Ballad, etc.  Either before or after you have entered the chords to a song, you will have to pick one of these styles.  Once a style is loaded, the song will be played back in that style.

Types of Styles

Band-in-a-Box originally used MIDI styles, with well over one thousand available in a wide variety of musical genres.  This version also includes RealStyles with audio tracks generated from live recordings of top studio musicians.

User Styles

The user styles may be selected either by:

  • pressing the bottom half of the [Style] toolbar button and selecting Open Style from Disk,
  • selecting File | Load Style Special | Open a User Style From Disk menu item,
  • pressing  +u.

RealStyles and Styles with RealTracks

RealTracks, live audio recordings by top studio players and recording artists, replace MIDI tracks and can be controlled just like MIDI instruments (volume changes, muting, etc.).  Best of all, they follow the chord progression that you have entered, generating an authentic audio accompaniment to your song.  They are not “samples,” but are full recordings, lasting from 1 to 8 bars at a time, playing along in perfect sync with the other Band-in-a-Box tracks.  RealTracks can be built in to styles to replace some or all the MIDI parts.

RealStyles are Band-in-a-Box styles that use RealTracks only.  The style names for RealStyles are prefaced by an underscore, _. 

There are also Styles with RealTracks, a blend of MIDI tracks and RealTracks.  Style names for Styles with RealTracks are prefaced by an equals sign, =.

Styles with RealDrums

Many MIDI styles are available with RealDrums.  We always name the RealDrums style beginning with a minus sign, so that “-ZZJAZZ.STY” would be the ZZJAZZ style but using RealDrums instead of MIDI drums.

Options to auto-replace MIDI styles with RealTracks styles

If you have made a lot of songs using older MIDI styles, and would prefer that they play with RealTracks, you can do this easily by selecting the menu option File | Load Style Special | Auto-replace MIDI styles with RealTracks styles when songs loaded.  Then, if you have the needed RealTracks installed, your MIDI style will be intelligently replaced with a RealTracks style.  There is also a manual option to do this on an as-needed basis, or to disable the feature for a certain song, or reverse it if you prefer the MIDI style.

  • Style Aliases allows you to customize this feature by adding the name of a style that should get substituted for a certain style.
  • Find a RealTracks replacement for current MIDI style will manually substitute a RealTracks for the current MIDI style, if one is available.  For example, if the current style is the original Jazz style ZZJAZZ, then choose this to get a RealTracks style instead.  Note that a substitute only gets made if you have the RealTracks installed.
  • If a style replacement gets made, but you would prefer the original MIDI style instead, you can choose Restore Style prior to Style Alias.
  • If Auto-replace MIDI styles with RealTracks styles when songs selected, the style replacements will happen automatically for every song.
  • Suggest RealTracks style replacements when songs are loaded suggests possible RealTracks substitutions for the current MIDI style, but the replacement style is loaded manually.

These style replacement options are also available from the RealTracks button.

Current Style

The name of the current style displays in the window below the song title.

Song Demo / Audio Demo for Current Style

There is a convenient “Load Song Demo” option for style demos.  Click on the [Style] button, and the menu that displays will include the option to Load Song Demo for this Style.  You can also audition the audio demo for the current style if you select Play Premade Audition File Audio for this Style.

Open Style with the [Style] Button

You can open a style using the [Style] button.  This is a split button, with the top half being the default function, and the bottom half-listing different methods to load a style and allows you to set the default.

The StylePicker

StylePicker lists all the styles that are present in the Band-in-a-Box folder.  The StylePicker window has a great filter feature for finding a perfect style for your song by selecting elements such as time signature, feel, or tempo or by simply typing in a familiar song title.

You can browse styles by sorting columns or hear an “instant” preview of the style by double clicking on the list.  If style has both MIDI and RealDrums available, you can hear both, and choose which one you want.  This makes it much faster to find the style that fits your song.

If the style list needs rebuild when you open the StylePicker, it tells you this in the progress bar above the list.

While the style list is being rebuilt, you can see the progress in the progress bar

Style suggestion

Just type in a familiar song title, artist name, or genre of music, and the StylePicker will list styles whose genre, feel, tempo, and time signature are similar to that song.

Let’s find a style that is similar to the song “Amazing Grace.”  Type in “amazing,” click on a song to select it, and press [Enter].

This song is an even 8th folk song with 3/4 time signature, and the list will be filtered to show styles that match these elements.  You can see what filters are in place when you look at the “Style Filter by:” area.

Quick filter

Another easy way to find a style is using the text filter.  For example, if you want to find punk styles, simply type “punk” and the list will be filtered to show punk styles.  If there is a RealTracks musician that you want to check out, just type in his name, and the list will show styles with that musician in them.

You can also use the arrow button to select a category, time signature, feel, etc., and you will immediately see the filtered list.

Category - This lets you filter styles by a genre or category.
TimeSig - This allows you to filter styles by the time signature.
Feel - This sorts the list by feel (even 8th, swing 8th, even 16th or swing 16th).
Tempo - This sorts the list by the tempo.
Type - With this button, you can choose to display Real and/or MIDI styles.  The default is to display Real styles first and MIDI styles at the bottom, but you can change the default selection with the last menu item.
Other - This is a miscellaneous filter.  For example, the list can be filtered to show only your favorite styles, styles of a specific RealTracks set, or styles with soloists, or styles in a specific Xtra Styles set
If “Include Similar” is unchecked, then the filtered list will show the exact match only, but if this option is checked, then the list will show the exact match and the similar styles.  The [Clear] button will clear any filter, so all styles will display.

Automatic intelligent sorting of “best style” for the current song

 The StylePicker tells you how the list is currently sorted.

Instant Preview of Styles

You can audition a style without changing your existing arrangement, by using the preview control.

It has Play and Stop buttons, a progress bar, a Loop button, and a file button.

   If the selected MIDI style has two demos (one with MIDI drums and another with RealDrums), then you can hear both.  This button toggles between them.

  This will play a premade demo.  You can also double click on a style in the list to preview.

The style demos are found in 2 possible places:
1. On your hard drive, in the Band-in-a-Box/RealTracks/Data/Style Demos Audio folder.  (Some of the demos are included on disk, but to save space not all of them are included.)
2. On the Internet, at (All of the demos are there.)
When you demo a style, the program will play the version on disk if available; otherwise will play from the Internet. This all takes place very quickly, and inside the control, so no external browser is launched.

 You can download a file that is being played from the internet by clicking this button.  If the file is being played on your hard drive, this button will show the file in a folder.

  This button allows you to control the volume of demos.

Play Your Song with the Styles

You can also audition a style by actually playing it over the current chord progression of your song.

 The [Play] button will generate arrangement for your song with the currently highlighted style.  The [Stop] button will stop playback.

 You can speed up the generation if you enable this option, which will play only for the first 4 bars.

 The ideal tempo for the style is shown here but you can change it to any tempo by typing in the number or clicking on the [+] and [-] buttons.  You can even change it during playback.

 This will open the pre-made demo song for the currently selected style.  If the “Play Song After Loading Song Demo” option in the StylePicker Options dialog is enabled, pressing this button will load the song and play it.

Sortable and sizable columns

The styles list can be easily sorted by clicking on a column name.  Clicking again will reverse the order.  You can also resize the column width by dragging a column border.

Note: In order to toggle the sort between the forward and reverse order, you need to check the “Sort columns in forward and reverse order” option.
Each column provides following information for the style.
Name - This column shows the file name of the style.
Type - This column tells you whether the style has RealTracks only (“R”), MIDI only (“M”), or a combination of RealTracks & MIDI (“RM”)
TSig - This column shows a time signature (4/4, 3/4, etc.) of the style.
EvSw - The “ev” or “sw” indicates whether the style plays in an even feel or a swing feel.
Tempo - The tempo shown here is the tempo set in the style.
Long Name - This column shows the full name of the style.
Genre - This column shows the genre of the style.
Group - The styles are grouped into three groups: Pop, Jazz, and Country.
Date - This column shows the date when the style was made.
Set# - In this column, you can see which set includes the style.
#Instr - This column shows the number of instruments that are present in the style.
#Substyles - A style can contain as many as 24 substyles.
Other Genres - This column suggests additional genres of the style.


The new mixer-like control shows what tracks and instruments are used in the currently selected style in the list and color-codes them according to the track types (MIDI, MIDI SuperTracks, or RealTracks).

For each track, there is a menu button, which allows you to change the instrument, disable/enable the track, or perform other track actions.  Previously, you had to close to the StylePicker window to do these.

When the track is customized, an asterisk will be added to the name.

  When the “Custom” option is checked, the tracks of the currently selected style will be overridden with the choices you have made.

  The [Clear] button will clear any customized settings.

  Press the [Save as .STY] button to save the style that you have customized.  For example, you might add/remove a RealTracks and save that as a new style.  When you save the style, it will be added to the StylePicker list.


This area shows additional information about the style.  You can see instruments, artists, a brief description, and song examples currently selected style. If the style has Loops or UserTracks, you will see the names of the Loops or UserTracks.


 Clicking on this button shows you a menu with options to select/create User Category, add the current style to the User Category, set styles as a favorite, etc.  These options are also available when you right click on the list.

Mark as Prototype, and sort by Similar Styles to
This menu item will sort and filer the list by best to worst match of the prototype’s tempo, feel, genre, time signature, and more.  Once you do this, the sort status indicator will tell you that the sort is by prototype.

For example, if you choose _BUBLPOP as the prototype style, the list will be sorted with styles most similar to _BUBLPOP.  These are the styles with a similar genre, feel, tempo, and time signature.  Here is an example of the results of setting _BUBLPOP as the prototype.

Select/Create User Category
Unlimited User Categories can be created by users or third parties, to list their styles in the StylePicker by choosing their category.
To select an existing User Category by choosing Select/Create User Category.  When the dialog opens, select a category and press the [OK] button.

To make your own User Category, right click on the list, choose Select/Create User Category, and when the Choose User Category to display in StylePicker dialog opens, press the [Create New Category] button.
Type a name for your category and click on the [Save] button.

You can also enter a memo for your category.


Technical notes: User Categories are stored as .txt files, which just contain the list of style names.  The User Categories must reside in Band-in-a-Box/Data/StylePicker/User Categories folder.  You can re-arrange this folder by creating subfolders and moving the categories around to organize them.  You can also directly edit the .txt file in this folder.  If you have made any changes to this folder, remember to press the [Refresh] button in the Choose User Category to Display in StylePicker dialog.

User Categories are analogous to playlists in a song player.  You can create/edit them and choose to display only the styles from the category or all styles including the category styles that show with * asterisks.

Add Style to Current User Category
This menu item adds the currently selected style to the current User Category.

Save Current Style list as a User Category
This menu item allows you to create a new User Category and add all the styles currently displaying in the list to the new category.
To display only the styles from the current User Category, click on the [Category] button above the list and select Show this User Category.  If you want to see only the styles from other User Category, select Choose and Show User Category and choose a User Category from the list.

You will then see styles from the selected User Category.

Set Style as Favorite
This menu command will set the selected style as a favorite.  If the style is already a favorite, you can select the Remove style as a Favorite menu item.

Rebuild of Styles List

Press the [Rebuild] button and select [Fast] Rebuild of PG Music styles only after you install new styles from PG Music.  It takes about 30 seconds to rebuild the list.  The [Slow] Rebuild of PG Music and 3rd party styles menu item will find not only PG Music styles but also new or changed user or third-party styles.  It takes longer to rebuild the list.

Copy List

The Copy List to Clipboard menu item in the [Action] button saves the current list with all information to a tab-delimited .txt file and opens it in TextEdit.  In TextEdit copy all and paste it into a spreadsheet such as an Excel file.  You can then apply a hierarchical sorting of the list.


The Reset Dialog to Defaults menu item in the [Action] resets the dialog to default settings.


The Set Dialog Options menu item in the [Action] button opens the StylePicker Options dialog with additional options for the StylePicker.

Preferred listing of styles - This controls the default type of listing of styles (Real and/or MIDI).

Default display should include all styles (available and N/A not available)- If this option is enabled, you will see all styles including N/A ones even when all filters are cleared.

Show current style in list even if it doesn’t match the filter - This setting lets you choose to always show the current style even if it doesn’t match the filter.

Sort Columns in forward and reverse order - If this option is enabled, clicking on a column name again will sort the list in reverse order.

Always Change Tempo to best tempo for style whenever a style is loaded - If this option is checked, pressing the [OK] button in the StylePicker will always change the current tempo to the ideal tempo for the selected style.  Note: If the song is “blank” (no chords past bar 5), then the tempo will change, but if the song has chords in more than 5 bars, then the tempo will not change unless this option is enabled.

Change 4-bar Preview tempo to best tempo for style - If this is enabled, the tempo for the preview will be played at the best tempo for the style.

Use Internet to Audition Demos - If this is checked, then when a demo file isn’t found in the Band-in-a-Box/ RealTracks/Data/Style Demos Audio folder, a demo from the internet will be played instead.

Font Size - This allows you change the font size of the styles list.

[Defaults] - Press this button to set all options to default settings.

Song Title Browser

This window allows you to browse and filter the huge list of over 10,000 popular song titles.  You can, for example, filter the list by a certain artist, and then sort by tempo, key, feel, time signature, and more.
You can open this window by pressing the [Find Titles] button.

If the StylePicker window is not open, you can open the Song Titles Browser window by clicking on the [Style] button and selecting the Choose style from Song Title menu item.

There are Title/Artist/Genre/Key/Tempo/Feel/TimeSig/Decade/Vocals columns.  You can sort the list by any column.

Title: This shows you the song title.
Artist: These are the artist or artists most commonly associated with the song.
Genre: This is the musical genre that the song it typical played in.
Key: This is the song key that is usually associated with the song.
Tempo: This is a typical tempo for the song.
Feel: This shows you if the song is Even or Swing, and 8th or 16th cut-time.
Decade: This tells you the decade that the song is from.
Vocals: Typical vocals are shown: (M)ale/(F)emale, (H)igh/(L)ow voice.

You can filter the list by genres, time signature, feel, tempo, decades, and more.

The chord density filter is available.  Press the [Other] filter button and select one of the menu items below Filter by Chord Density.  For example, you can search titles that have chord changes in every 1-4 beats.  You can also filter the list by chord complexity.  This is scaled by 1 to 10; 1 means simple with few chord changes and 10 means complex with many chord changes.  Press the [Other] filter button and select one of the menu items below Filter by Chord Changes.

You can also type a text filter, and the list will be restricted to the songs that contain that keyword.

You can see song titles that will only work with the current style.

Pressing the [style: ] button will filter the list by the genre, time signature, feel, and tempo of the current style.  If the checkbox to the left of this button is enabled, then when you open the dialog, the list will be automatically filtered to show song titles that are similar to the current style.

  If you do not see a song title you are looking for, press the [Add] button.  This will launch your internet browser and open the PG Music forum page where you can request to add the song to the database.

This area shows a summary of the selected song title.

These buttons will launch the internet browser and let you browse for more info for the selected song or listen to the song.

  Once you have found a song, press the [OK - Find Matching Styles] button.  This will take you to the StylePicker window with styles that best match the tempo, feel, and genre of the selected song title.

Favorite Styles

Other options in the Style button menu include Recently Used Styles and Favorite Styles.  They open a dialog with separate lists of Recently Played and Favorite styles. 

The “Favorites” and “Recently Played” radio buttons toggle between a list of your recently played styles and your Favorite songs styles.  This lets you quickly load in styles that have been used your last few sessions with Band-in-a-Box.

The favorites list will start off as an empty one, but you can add songs/styles as your favorites by clicking the [Add Favorite] button.  (This button is also found in the StylePicker.)

Enable the “Play When Chosen” option to have Band-in-a-Box play your song immediately upon selecting a style.

When “OK to add recent files” is checked, Band-in-a-Box automatically adds styles to the list. 

Use the [Search] button to save time scrolling up and down the list.
When you have made your selection, press [OK] to load the chosen style.
Click on [Cancel] to return to the main screen without changing the style.

Band Styles (Best RealStyles)

The menu item Band Styles (Best RealStyles) for the [Style] button allows you to quickly choose the most commonly used RealCombo styles for Jazz, Pop, and Country.  The useable tempo range and instruments used for each style are displayed, giving a “thumbnail” summary (e.g. bass, piano, guitar, brushes, Alto Sax Soloist).

For example, in the Jazz section you will see styles for Jazz Swing, Jazz Waltz, Bossa, Gypsy, and Smooth Jazz.  Each heading opens a list of selected RealStyles, sorted by tempo and type.

You can also load in a song demo by choosing the menu item to load a song demo.

Note that the Jazz Swing style works for a wide tempo range, from slow ballads (tempo=50) to fast bebop (tempo=300).  This is because of the tempo swap feature that automatically chooses the best RealTracks, so that you hear ballads playing at the slow tempo, and bebop playing at 300.

Note: You should have tempo swapping enabled so that the styles will work over the widest range of tempos.  Band-in-a-Box will remind you about this (by a yellow message) if you have turned off tempo swapping.

Customizing the List

You can customize the list of styles with your own favorites.
To add new entries at the top of the list make a file called /Applications/Band-in-a-Box /Data/RealCombos_User_Top.txt.  To add entries at the bottom of the list, create a file called /Applications/Band-in-a-Box /Data/RealCombos_User_Bottom.txt.  Follow the example of /Applications/Band-in-a-Box /Data/RealCombos.txt but don’t edit the main file because it gets updated by PG Music.

Save as Plain Text

Create your text files in the TextEdit program found in /Applications/  It is important that you go to the Format menu and select Make Plain Text.  Otherwise, the file will be saved in Rich Text format (.rtf) and your list will include formatting code.
Enter your styles in the format shown.
----- My Favorite Styles -----
Style name$Style description

Then restart the program.

You can click the [Video Help] toolbar button for a video tutorial on how to edit the list.  This button takes you directly to the Band-in-a-Box Video Demos page at  Video demos and tutorials are continually updated, so it’s a good idea to check this page from time to time.

Keeping RealTracks and RealDrums in Songs

Selecting a new style won’t necessarily wipe out song-based RealTracks and RealDrums selections.  If you hold down the shift key when loading a style (from any style selection dialog), then the currently selected RealTracks and RealDrums won’t get wiped out.

If you load a new style (without holding shift as above), this wipes out any song-selected RealTracks and RealDrums (unless shift is held).  After loading the style, you can choose Undo, and the previous RealTracks and RealDrums come back.

Style Aliases

Let’s say you have a new style for Jazz called “Dizzy.”  You can create an alias so that when Band-in-a-Box looks for a Jazz Swing style, it will load in “Dizzy” instead, so you don’t have to change all your songs that were made with the old style.  And when you find a new favorite style, just change the alias.

Aliases are accessed by the File | Load Style Special | Style Aliases or Options | MIDI Patch Maps, etc. | Style Aliases menu item.

To make an alias, click on the [Choose] button under the “Original Style” heading to select the original style in the Styles folder.  Then click on the [Choose] button under “Substitution” to select the style you would like to substitute in its place.

The [Clear] button will clear the styles chosen for the style alias that is currently selected in the “List of Style Aliases.”

You can temporarily disable the Style Aliases feature by unchecking the “Allow Any Style Aliases” checkbox.

You can also have confirmation of substitutions by checking the “Confirm Substitutions” checkbox.

When you are using an alias, you will notice that there will be a small arrowhead in the Title window on the main screen indicating that you have an alias loaded.  Aliases are stored in files called *.ALI.

  The alias for ZZJAZZ.STY is indicated by the > symbol.

Enable/Disable Style menu item

The Styles button menu has an item to enable/disable the style.  When a style is disabled, the name of the style will have an X at the beginning, which indicates a disabled style.  The disabled style won’t sound or write any data to the MIDI file.  The most common use for disabling a style is when a MIDI file is loaded to the Melody track.  Then the style won’t sound and conflict with the full arrangement on the Melody track.

Forced Styles option

This allows you to keep a style in memory.  This way, subsequent songs that are loaded will not change the style (even if they have a different associated style), so you can easily play songs in the same style.  If you’ve found a new favorite style, you can try it out in all kinds of songs without having to reload the style each time.

For example, let’s say we’ve discovered the “GARNER” style, and want to try it out on all kinds of songs.  Select File | Style Load Special | OK to load styles with songs so that the item is NOT checked.  Now when you load a song, the new style doesn’t load and you can play the song in GARNER.STY. 

You can temporarily override this setting by loading in another style using the [Style] button or the File menu, and the new style loaded will stay in until you choose another one.


 Band-in-a-Box MultiStyles are styles that can have up to 24 substyles; original Band-in-a-Box styles had two substyles, “a” and “b.”  Band-in-a-Box MultiStyles typically have four substyles, but may have up to twenty-four, selected by using part markers “a” through “x.”

You can easily make your own MultiStyles, either from scratch, or combining parts from existing styles to make a MultiStyle.  For example, if you have 10 favorite Country styles, you can quickly make a single MultiStyle that has 20 substyles available within the same song.

There are 2 types of MultiStyles

  • MultiStyles in styles, working for every song (e.g. NR_CURR+.STY Nashville Rock Current MultiStyle).
  • MultiStyles for a specific song only.

MultiStyles in Styles (“+” Styles)

Styles can be made that have multiple substyles, and you can choose the various substyles using the letters a, b, c, d, etc. up to “x” for 24 substyles.
Our naming convention for MultiStyles is to use a + sign at the end of the style name.  For example, MyStyle+.STY would be a MultiStyle.

You can use these substyles easily; just enter the StylePicker and filter the styles list by the “+” character.

After you load a MultiStyle, right-click on a part marker and you will see that there are 4 substyles available.

Standard Pop Song form with 4 substyle MultiStyle
In NR_CURR+ (and as a general rule for styles with 4 substyles):

  • “a” substyle is for the verse.
  • “b” substyle is for the chorus.
  • “c” substyle is for the intro (or first verse).
  • “d” substyle is for the break (or interlude).

 Choose your substyle by clicking on the part marker, or right clicking to select and define substyles.  Here we have chosen “c” substyle, appropriate for the intro or first verse of the song (because the playing is sparse and sustained).

Making your own MultiStyles in Styles

You can make a style that is a MultiStyle in the StyleMaker.

  Open the StyleMaker.

  Press the [PATCH] button to open the Miscellaneous Style Settings dialog.

In the MultiStyles group box, type the name of a style that you would like to use for the c/d section.

If you’d like more substyles, add more styles separated by semicolons (e.g. “zzjazz;z5bossa;c_george”).  Then you would have 8 substyles from “a” to “h.”

Note that each of these styles can have a specific RealDrums style, either stored in the style itself (Miscellaneous Style Settings“ RealDrums Settings”) or substituted via MIDI substitutions in RealDrums settings.

MultiStyles in Songs

If you have a song, you can also use more than 2 substyles for that song.  For example, let’s say we have a song that is a Bossa Nova and you want to have a Jazz Swing section.  Rather than finding a MultiStyle that has this exact combination, we can make one, in the song, for this song only as follows:

Load a song like Band-in-a-Box/Style Demos/#00 Style Demos/ZZBOSSA.MG4.

Right-click on a bar number, and choose “Define c/d.”  Then choose ZZJAZZ.STY from the .

You will then see that there are 4 substyles now, a, b, c, d.  You can use the “d” substyle for Jazz Swing walking bass, since it is the same as the “b” substyle from ZZJAZZ.

Adding MIDI SuperTracks

MIDI SuperTracks are MIDI tracks that can be added to a track or a style and play like other MIDI tracks in a style.  They are called “SuperTracks” because they are generated using a different engine than typical MIDI style tracks.  Typical MIDI style tracks are generated from C7 patterns in the style and repeat these patterns over any chord.  MIDI SuperTracks use actual MIDI playing from musicians (similar to RealTracks in that regard), so are not based on patterns.

Using MIDI SuperTracks

To use MIDI SuperTracks, either:

  • Choose a style or song that has MIDI SuperTracks, and press [Play].  (Look in the MIDI SuperTracks Demos folder for these songs.)
  • Add a MIDI SuperTrack to a certain track.

For example, let’s add a MIDI SuperTrack to the Piano track. Right-click on the Piano track label at the top of the screen and choose Select MIDI SuperTrack for this track.

Alternatively, you can right-click on the Piano part in the Mixer and choose Select MIDI SuperTrack for this track.

You will now see a list of available MIDI SuperTracks. 

You can type a text or press the filter button [#] to narrow down your search.

There are memos describing the individual MIDI SuperTracks, and you can click on the memo for a big window.

You can audition MIDI SuperTracks by double clicking on the list or using the transport control in the dialog.

Choose a MIDI SuperTrack from the list and click [OK].

 You will then see that the Piano label has turned blue to indicate that it is a MIDI SuperTrack.

In the Mixer’s Plugins panel, you will see that a VST plugin and a Hi-Q MIDI instrument have been selected to the Piano track.

If you want to customize the sound, click on the VST name in the Mixer.  This will open the Plugins dialog as well as the VST plugin panel where you can change a Hi-Q MIDI instrument or apply effects to the MIDI track.

When you press [Generate and Play] you will hear a much more sophisticated MIDI arrangement than a typical MIDI style, since it is not based on C7 chord patterns; instead, it is based on hours of actual MIDI playing from a top studio musician.

Once generated, MIDI SuperTracks behave like a regular MIDI track, and can be saved as MIDI files etc.

Using RealTracks in Songs

Select Best RealTracks

This dialog shows you the RealTracks that best match the genre, tempo, feel of your song.  The list is displayed from best to worst.  For example, if you have a Jazz Ballad style loaded (tempo 60), the list will show Jazz RealTracks that will work well at a tempo of 60 at the top of the list.
To add a “best” RealTracks to any track, right click (or double click) on the Track.  You will then see menu items for “All” RealTracks, “Chording” RealTracks, and “Soloist” RealTracks.

The Select Best “All” RealTracks menu command will list all types (background and soloist) of RealTracks.  The Select Best “Chording” RealTrack menu command will show you a list of ill background (chording or melodic) RealTracks, and Best “Soloist” RealTracks will list the best soloist or background soloist RealTracks.  Selecting one of these menu commands will open a dialog that lists the best RealTracks, sorted from best to worst for the current style.

If you want to filter the list, enter text or press the [#] button.

You can audition the RealTracks by double clicking on the list or using the transport control in the dialog.

The [OK and Generate Now] button closes the dialog, entering the currently selected item, and generating the track.

You can also make your choice and press [OK] to return to the main screen.  When you press [Generate and Play] the song will be generated with the new RealTrack instrument.

Assign RealTracks to Track Dialog

The Assign RealTracks to Track dialog assigns a RealTracks instrument to any of the Band-in-a-Box instrumental tracks.  It also shows any RealTracks that are assigned to Band-in-a-Box tracks.

This dialog is launched by several ways.

1. Press the control+K keys.

2. Click on the [RealTracks] toolbar button and select RealTracks Picker Dialog.

3. Right-click or double click on an instrument name at the top of the main screen and go to Select RealTracks | Choose RealTracks.

4. Right-click or double click on an instrument name in the Mixer and go to Select RealTracks | Choose RealTrack.

5. Press the [Assign to Track…] button in the RealTracks Settings dialog.

The dialog allows you to assign a specific RealTracks instruments to a track in a song.  It also displays any RealTracks that are currently assigned to each track.

To use the dialog, first select the track that you want to assign.  Then, select the RealTracks from the list below it.

You can instantly hear an audio demo of RealTracks by double clicking a RealTrack on the list.  Since this doesn’t affect your song, you can quickly audition many different RealTracks, and find the best ones for your song.

You can choose which of band or solo plays first when you double click on the list, by the “Band (on dbl cclick)” checkbox.  The demos play from the Internet ( or your hard drive (/Applications/Band-in-a-Box/RealTracks-Demos folder).

 This button will generate a RealTracks instrument on the currently selected track.

 This button will close the dialog and assign the RealTracks instrument to the current track.  Then, when play is pressed, the RealTrack will generate.

Video RealTracks

When you load a video RealTracks, you can use it just like an audio RealTracks, but you can also generate a video, which will display the musician playing your song exactly as you hear it.  If you load one of the video RealTracks bands, you will have video RealTracks on 5 tracks, and you can make a video of 1-5 musicians.  You can also include a chord sheet or notation in the video.
You can easily find the video RealTracks in the RealTracks or RealDrums Picker.  The “Set” column will show “vid” if the video RealTracks is installed.

Note: The “Set” column will show “VNA” if a video is available but not installed.  Not all video RealTracks/RealDrums are included with a regular Band-in-a-Box package, so seeing “VNA” is normal unless you have purchased these add-ons.

When you select video RealTracks, [V] will show at the track buttons.


To make a video, click on the [Video] toolbar button and select Render Video(s) from the menu.

This will open the Generate Video dialog.

Drag one of the available tracks listed at the top of the dialog and drop it onto the layout selector below.  You can also drag and drop the chord sheet or notation (if available).  You can even drag a video file (.mp4 files and some .avi files) from the Finder and drop it onto the video layout selector.

If you are making a video of multiple tracks, you can choose a track layout.  For example, you can stack 3 tracks vertically for a 3-track video, or 3 tracks on the left and 2 tracks on the right for a 5-track video.

Right-clicking on the layout selector will show you a menu with options to flip a video, make a video for the left-handed, or select alignment for each video.

You can select the resolution for the video.  The aspect ratio is determined by which tracks are included and how they are arranged, but this allows you to make the final video smaller if you want.

 When you are ready, press this button and select the name and location for the video.

 While the video is being rendered, you can close the dialog and use other features in Band-in-a-Box.

 When the video has been rendered, you can click on the .mp4 file in the Finder to play the video.

Here is an example of a modern country band (electric bass, electric guitar, piano, drums, and pedal steel).

Using RealDrums in Songs

RealDrums Picker

Use the RealDrums Picker to choose RealDrums for the current song only.

RealDrums Picker opens by several ways:

1. Press the control+U keys.

2. Click on the RealDrums toolbar button and select RealDrums Picker Dialog.

3. Right-click (or double-click) on the Drums track button at the top of the main screen and choose RealDrums in the menu.

4. Right-click (or double-click) on the Drums track in the Mixer and choose RealDrums in the menu.

5. RealDrums can be added to any track, not just the Drums track, so you can have more than one drums track. To do this, right click on the track button and select Choose RealDrums.

You can double click on a RealDrums or on the Variation name of the RealDrums to audition each variation of the RealDrums.  For example, if you’ve found CountryWaltz^, you can now hear demos of the variations (CountryWaltz^1-HiHat,Ride, CountryWaltz^2-Brushes etc.).

Each demo has a “band” version with all instruments, and a “solo” version with drums only.

You can choose which of band or solo plays first if you double click on the list, by the “Band (on DblClick)” checkbox.  Otherwise, press the [Band] or the [Solo] button.
The demos play 4 bars of “a” substyle and then 4 bars of “b” substyle, using the current RealDrums (left hand panel) and the variation (right hand panel).

  The [Play Now] button loads the selected RealDrums and starts playback.  If you haven’t played the song yet, you will only hear drums since you haven’t generated non-drums tracks.  In that case, press shift+click this button to generate all tracks.

  Press [OK] to make your selection and return to the song.  When you press [Generate and Play] button on the toolbar, the song will be generated with the new RealDrums style.

RealDrums QuickList

This is the simpler dialog for choosing RealDrums, an alternative to the RealDrums Picker.  It displays all available RealDrums in a simple list, which can be easily filtered by genre, time signature, feel, and more.  The list can be set to show only RealDrums that are compatible with the current style of the song.  You can also set the highlighted RealDrums as a prototype RealDrums to find alternates to that RealDrums.

 To open the dialog, right-click on the Drums track button, and select [QuickList] RealDrums from the menu.

You can filter the list by genre, time signature, feel, tempo, and text.  Use the [Set to Style: ] button to see RealDrums that are compatible with the current style of the song.  The [Set to RD: ] button allows you to set the highlighted RealDrums as a prototype RealDrums so you can find alternates to that RealDrums.  Press the [Clear] button to clear any filter.

Adding UserTracks

UserTracks allow anyone to create their own audio styles for use in Band-in-a-Box.  With a UserTracks style, you can type in any chords into Band-in-a-Box, and the UserTracks style you made will play that chord progression!  For example, if you’ve made a UserTracks style by recording yourself playing a guitar groove, you can then type any chords into Band-in-a-Box, and the result will be that it will play your guitar groove over these completely new, original chord changes!  You can even change the tempo, or enter songs in ANY key, and it will still be able to play it!
You can use the UserTracks in a similar manner to using RealTracks.

Right click (or double click) on the track button at the top of the screen and choose the Select a UserTrack for this track command from the menu.

An alternative to the menu would be to select the track and then press the [UserTracks] button on the main screen.

Now you will see the Pick a UserTracks dialog.

You can preview the selected UserTracks by double clicking on the list or using the transport control buttons.

You can select a timebase (normal, half-time, double-time, or triple-time) for any UserTracks.

Tip: UserTracks can be made and preset to a timebase by the user.  For example, if you have a UserTracks in Ev 8 called “Santur,” you can clone the folder and rename the cloned one as “Santur [Double-Time].”  Then it will play in Double-Time Ev 16 half of the tempo.
Select a UserTrack and press [OK].
You will then see the selected UserTrack listed on the mixer.

Now the track behaves like other RealTracks.
Simply press the [Generate and Play] button to hear it.

Adding Custom MIDI Style (MIDI Track Picker)

You can add MIDI Tracks individually to tracks in your song (from any style) as easily as adding RealTracks. 

This can be done with a right-click on the desired part name on the main screen and selecting the menu command Select Custom MIDI Style for this track.

Alternatively, select the track and then click on the [MIDI Tracks] button on the toolbar and select menu command MIDITracks (from .STY).


You can select MIDI parts a few different ways:

  • [Choose Style with this instrument]  This launches the StylePicker, filtered to only display styles that contain the instrument specified.  For example, if you select “49 Strings,” it will then only show MIDI styles with strings.
  • [Choose from Presets]  This launches a dialog with preset “popular” choices for MIDITracks to add.  You can type a filter like “49” to only see entries for “49 Strings,” or type “Strings.”  This dialog shows you if the instrument is available in “a” or “b” substyle or both (“ab”).
  • The [Favs] button will remember your last few hundred choices, so you can re-use them.

Once chosen, the MIDI track will play on the track chosen.  Note that you can use the Strings part from a style and play it on any Band-in-a-Box track including Bass, Piano, Guitar, and even the Melody or Soloist track.

Adding Loops

You can add your own or 3rd party loops to any track.  Loops are audio files (WAV/AIFF/CAF/MP3/MP4/WMA) that reside in Loops folder (/Applications/Band-in-a-Box/RealTracks/Loops).  You can add your own files to this folder.

A file with metadata is supported.  This happens automatically, and more fields (tempo, # of beats, and root note) are recognized from certain audio files (Acidized WAV or AIFF with Apple® Loop).


Select a track and click on the [Loops] button.  This will open the Pick a Loop dialog.  You can also right-click (or control+click) on a track name and choose the menu command Select a Loop for this track to open this dialog.

When the dialog opens, select a loop from the list.

You can double click on the list or use a transport control button to preview the loop.

 Pressing the [No Loop] button is a quick way to clear a loop on a track, as opposed to scrolling up to “No Loop chosen for this Track.”

Press the [Audition] button to preview the loop.

Click on the [Rename] button to give a loop a new name.

Click on the [Clone] button to duplicate a loop.  You can then use it with different parameters.

Band-in-a-Box will automatically append numbers in sequence to the cloned file name, but you can also type in your own name for the cloned file if you prefer.

Loop Options

For a nature sound, you can leave these options at the default values.  But if you want to retrigger the loop every section/ part marker/ bar/ chord etc. then you can set them.

For a nature sound, there is no tempo, so you don’t want to select “Stretch Tempo.”

For a Drums or Guitar loop, you want to stretch the tempo.  Once you select “Stretch Tempo,” enter the tempo of the .m4a file (if known), and if not known, enter the # of beats in the .m4a file (e.g. 2 bars would be 8 beats).  For WAV files with Acidized information or AIFF files with Apple® Loop, tempo, # of beats, and root note fields will be automatically entered.

For a nature sound, you don’t want any transposition.  For a melodic sound, you might want to transpose to the root of the chord in the Band-in-a-Box song.  If so, enter the root of the .m4a file, and set the transpose type to “chord root.”

You can select a timebase (normal, half-time, double-time, or triple-time) for any Loop.

If you want a different sound for the “b” substyle, click on the [Choose] button to the right and choose another file.

The files are in the Loops folder inside the RealTracks folder (/Applications/Band-in-a-Box/RealTracks/Loops).

You can also open your Loops folder with the [Open Folder] button and add audio files (loops) to it.  If you add files, you need to press the [Refresh] button, or you can exit the dialog and re-enter it to refresh the list.

Adding Bar-Based Lyrics

You can enter lyrics in each bar on the Chord Sheet.

To enter lyrics, you first need to display the Bar Lyrics layer by clicking on the [Chord Display] toolbar button and selecting Layers | Bar Lyrics.

If the song does not have any lyrics, the Bar Lyrics layer does not appear on most lines, but it appears on the row where the bar is highlighted.  If you click on a bar on another row, the layer will appear on that row.

Double click on the Bar Lyrics layer on a bar where you want to enter lyrics.  This will change the color of the layer, which indicates that you can type in that location.

You can use keys to navigate through the layer: TAB to go forward, SHIFT+TAB to go backward.

Type a lyric and press the TAB key.  This will enter the lyric and move the editing bar forward.

To edit lyrics, go back there by clicking on that bar or using the SHIFT+TAB keys, and then retype.

If you have entered lyrics that were supposed to be spaced out over some bars, go back to the bar, and use the arrow key to move the cursor to the beginning of the lyric that should be in the next bar.  Then press RETURN.  This will push that lyric to the next bar and shuffle the lyrics in the following bars forward as well.
Example: You realize that “once was lost” in bar 13 should have been “once was,” and lyrics in bar 14 should have been spread over some bars.

Press SHIFT+TAB to go back to bar 13.

Use the left arrow key to move the cursor to the beginning of “lost.”

And press RETURN.  This pushes “lost” to bar 14 and “but now am found” to bar 15.

Use TAB or SHIFT+TAB to move through the bars, the left/right arrow keys to move the cursor within the bar, and ENTER or BACKSPACE to push lyrics, until the lyrics are in the correct bars.

The Bar Lyrics layer is designed so that you can even edit lyrics during playback.
Another way to enter lyrics is to copy lyrics from a text file and paste them directly to the Bar Lyrics layer.

First, prepare lyrics in the text file, and copy them to the clipboard.  Then, go back to Band-in-a-Box, double click on the bar where the lyrics should be inserted and press command+V keys.

Now all the lyrics are entered in the layer.

However, the lyrics are not quite in the correct bars, so you need to fix using the TAB, RETURN, or arrow keys.

There is an easier way for this copying and pasting method.  If the lyrics in the text file are arranged so that each line represents a bar, you need very little to fix after pasting.

First, edit the lyrics in the text file so that every line corresponds to a bar.  Then, copy them all to the clipboard.
Next, go back to Band-in-a-Box, double click on the bar where the lyrics should be inserted and press command+V keys.

The lyrics will be lined up perfectly!

Adding a Melody – MIDI and/or Audio

Recording a MIDI Melody

Band-in-a-Box has 2 built-in MIDI sequencer tracks, Melody and Soloist, so you can record and edit your own melodies or solos.  These tracks are recorded from a MIDI keyboard (or other MIDI controller) connected to Band-in-a-Box by your MIDI driver.

Press the [Record MIDI] button to begin recording.  This launches the Record MIDI dialog box.  You can punch in, overdub, and record directly to the ending or the tag.  Use the filter to choose which MIDI events are recorded.

Pressing the [RECORD] button will start Band-in-a-Box recording what you play on the Thru track.  An audible count is played in prior to recording.

Once you have completed recording your melody Band-in-a-Box will ask you if you would like to keep the take and if you would like to copy the recorded chorus to the whole song.

Tip: Looking for inspiration?  At the click of a button, the Band-in-a-Box Melodist will write completely new songs from scratch, complete with Chords, Intro, Melody, Solo, Ending, and even an original Title.  Or you can enter your own chord changes and let the Melodist create a new melody over them.  There are more than 100 Jazz, Pop, Rock, Latin, Country, and Classical melody styles.

Embellishing the MIDI Melody

When musicians see a Lead Sheet that has a melody written out, they almost never play it exactly as written.  They change the timing to add syncopation, change durations to achieve staccato or legato playing, add grace notes, slurs, extra notes, vibrato, and other effects.  You can have Band-in-a-Box do these automatically using the Embellisher.

You can enable the Embellisher from the [Embellish Melody] button menu.  Any Melody will be embellished as it is played so that you hear a livelier and more realistic Melody - and it’s different every time.

Embellisher dialog opens the Melody Embellisher dialog with many user options to control the embellishment settings.  The Embellisher Presets allow you to choose a combination of common settings for the Embellisher quickly.

Harmonizing the MIDI Melody

The Select Melody Harmony dialog box allows you to choose from any of the pre-defined harmonies and even allows you to define your own.

Press the [Harmony] button on the toolbar and select the menu command MIDI Melody Harmony.


This dialog also opens with the Harmony | Melody Harmony menu item or with the keystrokes control+option+H.

Select a harmony from the list and press [OK].

 This button opens the Harmony Maker, where you can customize Harmonists.

 This button is to turn off any notes that are stuck on.  (There shouldn’t be any.)

 Enter the number of the harmony you want to go to and press [Go To #].

  This button brings up your favorite 50 Harmony styles (based on recent usage) and allows you to choose one to use on the Melody track.  It also opens from the Harmony | Favorite Melody Harmonies menu item.

Recording a Live Audio

You can record an audio track of your live vocal or instrumental performance and save it to an audio wave file along with the Band-in-a- Box accompaniment.  Make sure that you have a microphone plugged in to your sound card, or a connection from a mixer, keyboard, or other audio device connected to the Line In jack on your sound card.

Press the [Record Audio] button to open the Record Audio dialog.

The [Audio Options] button will open the Audio Devices dialog where you can select a recording device.

The list of devices will update in real time if you connect or disconnect an audio interface.  If “Use default device” is checked, then the selected device will automatically update when you change the input device in System Preferences.  Checking this should also change to the system’s default input if that is not currently selected.
The [Set Recording Levels] will launch System Preferences > Sound where you can select a recording device and recording levels for that device.
Pressing the [Test Recording Level] will open the VU Meters.

The meters show the average strength of the signal, with a dB scale, and a clip indicator. Clipping indicates that the signal has overloaded and will sound distorted (clipped).
The green area represents normal levels, while red indicates an overload.
Ideally, the sounds should remain in the green and avoid the red altogether. Unlike analog recording, where it is good to get a “hot” high signal, digital recordings need to absolutely avoid high levels since any overload of the signal will result in clipping and a ruined recording.

Record Audio From - You can record from the start of the song or anywhere in the middle.

Punch-In Recording - This option allows you to punch-in record or overdub a section of audio.  For example, if you messed up in bars 2 and 3, then set these bars as your range.  Recording will take place only for this range.

Overdub underlying Audio - If there is already data in the Audio track and you want to overdub it (to add a harmony, for example), then you should enable this option.  It is not essential to select it at this point, since you will get another chance at the end of the recording.

Also Record MIDI? - You can simultaneously record MIDI to the Melody or Soloist track while recording audio.
Press the [Record] button to start recording.  If you have chosen to start recording from the beginning of the song, the song will start with a lead-in count.  If you are starting from elsewhere in the song, recording will start instantly.
Pressing the [Stop] button on the toolbar or [esc]key will stop the recording and open the Audio Recorded - Keep Take? dialog.

Copy 1st chorus to whole song - If you have recorded only the first chorus, you can choose the option to copy that to the whole song.  This will fill up the whole song with the audio by repeating it as many times as necessary.
Overdub underlying Audio - If this is enabled, any existing data in the track will be merged with the new recording.
Retain audio past last recorded - If this is unchecked, any audio that follows the end of the current take (i.e. recorded from a previous recording) will be erased.

Press the [OK - Keep Take] button if you are happy with the recording.  Then the audio will be added to the Audio track.  You can listen to the result by pressing the [Play] button on the toolbar.  If you are not happy with the results, you can go to the menu Edit | Undo Record Audio, and you will be back to where you were prior to the recording.  You can also reopen the Record Audio dialog and press the [Take Again] button to cancel the recording.

Adding a Solo

That’s right!  Band-in-a-Box can “solo like a pro” in hundreds of styles.

The [Soloist] button on the toolbar shows a menu where you can either choose a best RealTracks to add to the whole soloist track or open the Select Soloist dialog to customize the type of solo that you want (trade 4’s etc.).

If you choose Add Best RealTracks to Soloist Track, you will see a dialog with all RealTracks sorted from best to worst for the current style.  Use the Filter String to enter a search term, e.g. “piano” or “bossa,” to narrow the search to a particular instrument or style of playing.

In the Select Soloist dialog, you can choose from hundreds of soloist profiles, including RealTracks and MIDI SuperTracks, for authentic live solos.  The RealTracks soloists start at #361 in the list and there are well over 1,000 RealTracks soloists to choose from.

To make your selection easier you can:

  choose from the list of “best RealTracks

  or choose Favorite RealTracks from within the dialog.

Use the preset Soloist settings or choose your own Solo Mode and the Choruses where you want a solo.  The [Edit Soloist Maker] button gives access to the advanced settings in the Soloist Maker where you can edit existing profiles or create new Soloists of your own.

To see the Soloist part play in standard music notation, open the Notation window and press the [S] button at the far right of the row of instrument buttons.

Automatic Songs - “The Melodist”

Feel like composing a brand-new song?  With Band-in-a-Box you can compose a new song, in the style of your choice complete with intro, chords, melody, arrangement and improvisations, all created by the program!  All you have to do is select one of the Melodists and press [OK].  The program then automatically generates the intro, chords, melody, and arrangement in the chosen style.  It even auto-generates a title!

To launch the Melodist, press the [Melodist] button on the main screen, or use the shift+F5 hot keys.

Finishing the Song Arrangement

Use the powerful musical intelligence of features like the Harmonies and the Soloist to add the final touches to your song.  The Edit Settings for Current Bar dialog (option+B or F5) lets you fine-tune your arrangement by changing styles, RealTracks, RealDrums styles, patches, harmonies, tempo (absolute or relative), and meter anywhere in the song.  Changes can be applied to all choruses or just to a selected chorus.

Edit Settings for Current Bar

Bar settings let you change meter, tempo, styles, key, volume levels, patches, and harmonies at any bar.  They are a powerful tool for adding variety and dynamics to create a highly professional finished arrangement in Band-in-a-Box.
After you have selected a bar,press the F5 function key or the keystrokes option+B, or select Bar Settingsfrom the Edit menu, to open the Edit Settings for Current Bar dialog.  Settings such as number of beats per bar, tempo changes, style changes, patch changes, and harmony changes can be made in this dialog.

Tip: If the F5 key (or F8 key) does not perform the expected function in Band-in-a-Box, you will need to go to the Apple® System Preferences and uncheck the system setting in the Keyboard Shortcuts list.

Settings apply to Chorus # is a setting that lets you apply the changes at the specified bar in all choruses or just in the chorus you choose.

# beats this bar sets the number of beats in a bar.
The initial time signature of the song is determined by the style (e.g. Jazz =4/4, Waltz =3/4).  In certain songs, you will want to insert time signature changes at a certain bar.  For example, you might want a single bar of 2/4, or 8 bars of 3/4 time etc.
This option allows a change of time signature during a song.  The change takes place at the beginning of the bar and continues until a new time signature change is specified.  You can select # beats per bar from 1 to 4 beats per bar.  A setting of 0 beat/bar is used for no change of time signature.


  • A song in 4/4 time with a single bar of 6/4 time.  Since the maximum # beats per bar is = 4 we will split the 6/4 bars into 2 bars, a 4/4 bar and a 2/4 bar.  Insert a # beats per bar = 2 at the beginning of the 2/4 bar and then restore the time signature to 4/4 by assigning # beats per bar = 4 for the next bar.
  • A song in 5/4 time throughout: To do this we will alternately create a 3/4 bar + 2/4 bars.  On odd numbered bars insert a # beats per bar = 3, and on even bars insert # of beats per bar = 2.  This needs to be done for every bar.

Tempo Change
Most songs will have a single tempo throughout, but if you want to change the tempo at a certain bar of the song, then use this dialog box to type in the new tempo in beats per minute.  Alternatively, type in a relative tempo change in a range of –90 to +100.  A setting of –50 halves the tempo, a setting of 100 doubles it.

Tempo can also be set by clicking on the metronome button.  Clicking on this button 4 times will set the tempo to your tapped-in value.  The tempo change takes effect at the beginning of the bar and remains until a new tempo change at another bar is inserted.

Style Changes at any Bar
You can specify a new style at any bar of the song, so that you can use many styles within the same song.

 Use the [STY…] button to select a style using the StylePicker dialog.

 Use the [*.sty…] button to select a style from a folder on your hard drive.  You should select a style that is present in the Styles folder in Band-in-a-Box (or the same folder where the song resides).

 The name of the new style you choose will be displayed.

 To remove the style change at this bar, press the [Clear Style Change] button.

Note: If you want to mix styles with 3/4 and 4/4 time signatures you should make the main style used in the song a 4/4 style.  You could then change back to 3/4 at bar 1 if you want.

When you select a style change, you will notice that there is a red frame drawn around the bar line.  This indicates that there is a style change (or other change at that bar) found in the Edit Settings for Current Bar dialog.

RealDrums Changes at any Bar
RealDrums can be changed at any bar, either for the whole song or just for the selected chorus.

 To select the new RealDrums style, press the [R.Drums] button.  This will open the RealDrums Picker where you can choose from a full list of RealDrums or filter the list to narrow your selection.

  You will see the new style name displayed onscreen.

  To remove the change, click on [Clear RealDrums change].

  There is an option to send the embedded patches in the style with the style change.  Disable this checkbox if you want to keep the patches that you have already selected.

RealTracks Changes at any Bar
You can insert a specific RealTracks instrument at any bar to create a customized performance.  You can change specific RealTracks without changing the style.  For example, if you want to change an Acoustic Bass comping part to an Acoustic Bass Solo at Chorus 4, Bar 1, you can do this. 

 Press the [RealTracks] button and you will see the RealTracks Changes dialog where you can choose which tracks you would like to have RealTracks changes on.

Select a track, then press the [Change] button and you will then see a list of RealTracks.
You can double-click on an item in the list to audition RealTracks.

You will see a huge list of RealTracks, so you will likely want to narrow it down.  Type a word that will be included in the RealTracks name, like “bass.”  Then the list will only show bass RealTracks.

Volume Changes
Volume levels can be changed at any bar, either for all parts or for each part individually.

Changes can be entered manually or selected from presets.
The presets include settings to Mute a part, to reset the volume Back to Normal, and to automatically fade levels.

Patch Changes at any Bar
This setting allows you to insert a patch change at the beginning of any bar.  Type the General MIDI number of the patch change in the appropriate box (i.e. Bass, Soloist, etc.) that you want to affect.

Harmony Changes at this Bar
You can insert harmony changes into the song at any bar and beat.  For example, start the song with “no harmony” then have “SuperSax” come in on the bridge, then “Shearing” on the next chorus, etc.  This is also effective when used with the Soloist on the Thru part.  With this setting, you can have multiple types of horn section solos (i.e. Brass, Sax, etc.) or harmonized distortion guitar effects for guitar solos.

 The [Clear Bar] button clears all changes from the current bar, as determined by the location of the highlight cell on the Chord Sheet.

 Press the [Clear all Bars] button to remove all changes in all bars in the song.

 The [Print Summary] button opens a text report of all settings in the song that have been made in the Edit Settings for Current Bar dialog. 

 When you have made any changes to a measure using this dialog, Band-in-a-Box will underline the bar number of the edited measure.

View and Print Notation

The notation feature in Band-in-a-Box makes it possible to follow the music onscreen as it plays, but it also does much more.

Notation Window

Press the [Notation] button to open the Notation Window.
You can also use control+N keys to open this window.

Select a Track to Display

  These buttons stand for Bass, Drums, Piano, Guitar, Strings, Melody, and Soloist.  To display or print any track, press the appropriate track button.  The selected track is highlighted in color.  You can also use control+shift+F5 keys to switch tracks.

Note: These buttons show the initials of the “automatic” track labels (e.g. [H] for Harmonica) when the “Auto-Generate Track Labels” option is enabled in the Preferences 2 dialog.  If you prefer the “default” labels (B/P/D/G/S/M/S), then uncheck this option.

Enter Chords

Just as in the Chord Sheet, you can type in chords using the same keystrokes. 

The chords will be entered at the location marked by the Current Time Indicator.

Navigate the Notation Window
Use the Right/Left cursor keys to move back and forth from bar to bar, and the Up/ Down cursor keys to move from screen to screen.

Change the Mode of the Notation Window

 Band-in-a-Box offers multiple modes of notation for different purposes.  3-stage buttons to select a Notation window mode - Standard Notation, Editable Notation, or Staff Roll mode.

 Standard Notation is to display or print Notation and enter lyrics.  It shows the grand piano staff and/or guitar tablature with notes, chord symbols, and lyrics.

The Standard Notation window displays the notation for any individual track and allows for the entry of chords.
Features include:

  • Notation display for the Bass, Drums, Guitar, Piano, Strings, Melody, or Soloist track.
  • As the notation plays, the notes that are sounding are highlighted in red.  This helps with sight-reading or following the music.
  • You can set the notation to scroll either 1 or 2 bars ahead of the music without interfering with your view of the current notation.
  • Standard notation handles Jazz eighth notes and triplet figures correctly.

Automatic options such as auto durations, clean notation, mono display, minimize rests, hard rests, and engraver spacing produce very musical and readable notation.

 Editable Notation is to enter or edit notation.  This is a special staff with time divisions for mouse-based editing.

In the Editable Notation mode, the timeline is visible as it a yellow wide transparent vertical line.  You can enter, move, and edit notes and rests using standard mouse techniques – point and click, and drag and drop.
This is the screen for step-entry of a melody or for editing existing parts.  The grid of vertical lines that sub-divides each beat indicates where the notes will be placed according to the resolution of the song.  Holding the shift, control, or option key as you click on a note forces a sharp, flat, or natural respectively. 

- Swing styles use 3 lines to divide each beat into eighth note swing triplets.
- Straight styles use 4 lines to divide each beat into sixteenth notes.
Band-in-a-Box has automatically sets the grid resolution to 3 per beat (triplets) or 4 per beat.  This resolution can be changed in the Notation Options dialog, but the program automatically sets the resolution to the correct value based upon the Band-in-a-Box style that is currently in use.

 Staff Roll Notation is to enter or edit notes, as well as the note velocity and duration.  The note heads are shown with editable velocity and duration lines.

This mode is similar to the Editable Notation mode, except that the beats begin right on the bar line.  You can see the duration of the note visually represented by a horizontal blue (or green) line and the note’s velocity displayed as a vertical line of the same color.

Tip: If you can’t see these lines, press the [Opt.] button to check that “Show Note Durations,” “Show Velocity Lines,” and “Show Bar/Beat Lines” options are enabled.

Using the Mouse to Edit Velocity and Duration
Place the mouse cursor on the note head and hold down the option key on the computer keyboard.  Then, starting at the note head, drag the cursor horizontally to set the note’s duration, or vertically to set the note’s velocity.

Lead Sheet Window

The Lead Sheet window displays a full screen of notation with one or more parts.  Other options include a selectable number of staffs per page, clefs to show, font size, margin, scroll-ahead notation, and lyrics.  If you like to sight-read along with Band-in-a-Box, this is the window for you.

Launch the Lead Sheet window from the main screen by pressing the [Lead Sheet] button or with the Window | Lead Sheet Window menu option.  This button is also available from the Notation window.

As the notation scrolls ahead, you can read ahead without waiting for a page turn.  During playback, blue rectangles highlight the current bar.


  Press the [Print] button on the Notation window to launch the Print Options dialog.

It is very likely that Band-in-a-Box has made all the correct settings for you.  You should make sure to select the print range of first chorus, to print only the first chorus of the song.

  Look at your printer setup to ensure that you have the correct printer specified.

  Then press [OK – Print].  The printout will be automatically scaled to fit on one page and will be done lead sheet style.  You can of course change the options.

Adding Note-Based Lyrics to your song

 You can enter note-based lyrics by pressing the [L] button on the Notation toolbar to open the Lyric Edit window. 

As you enter the lyrics, the note is highlighted.  Pressing the Tab or Enter key moves to the next note.  You can “undo” lyrics with the Edit | Undo command. 
The [Line] button enters a forward slash “/” line break marker in the current lyric.
The [Para] button enters a backslash “ \” paragraph break marker in the current lyric.
The [Enter] button enters the current lyric, equivalent to hitting Enter key or Tab key.
The [Close] button closes the Lyrics Edit mode, equivalent to hitting the [L] button again.
The [Section Text] button enters the text in the lyric box as section text at the current bar.
The [Edit] button opens the Edit Lyrics dialog where lyrics and section text can be edited.

Adding a Song Memo

A song memo of up to 2000 characters may be added with your own notes about the song and the Band-in-a-Box song summary. 

 The [Memo] button located to the right of the song title launches the Song Memo dialog where you can type in a short memo about the song, style, etc. 
The keystrokes option+M will also launch the Song Memo.

Automatic Song Summary
The Song Summary panel automatically displays a full summary of the song (title/tempo/patches used in the song), as well as other special features, such as substyle patch changes or harmonies and MIDI or Real instruments/drums in use.  This saves much of the work required to type this information into the memo manually.

Saving Your Work

Now that you have produced a great sounding song, it is time to save it as a Band-in-a-Box file, as a MIDI file, or as an audio wave file.

Saving a Song

Once you have made a song (or have made changes to a song), you will probably want to save the song by clicking on the [Save] button.  Alternatively, choose Save from the File menu, or press F2, or +S

This button shows you a menu to save songs using various methods.

Save Song as… saves the current song with a different name or in a different location.  (Songs that are “Saved As” with a different name have the new name added to the Recently Played Song dialog.)

Save Song as MIDI File saves the current song as a standard MIDI file or make a MIDI file and copy it to the clipboard.

Save as MusicXML File allows you to export your song into notation programs such as Finale, Sibelius, and Guitar Pro, while still retaining the chords from the Band-in-a-Box song.

Save as ABC Notation File allows you to save the song in a simple text-based format.

Save Song as Audio File will open the Render to Audio File dialog, which allows you to save the song as an audio file.

Save Song as AIFF Audio File or Save Song as M4A Audio File will immediately render the current song and save it to the current folder.

Email Song file(s) as attachment(s) will open the Email Song dialog, which allows you to choose what files to email.

Save as Video (upload to YouTube etc.) is a great feature to make a video that you can upload to YouTube or work with in video programs.

Email Song as Attachments

You can email a song, style or rendered audio file as attachments.

To use this feature, press the [Save As] button and choose Email song file(s) attachment(s) from the menu.

The Email Song dialog allows you to choose files you want to email:
- the song (.MGU or .SGU)
- the style (.STY)
- the extended style (.STX) (if any)
- a rendered audio file (choice of AIFF, M4A, WAV)
- Audio track (if any)
- Performance track (if any)

Pressing the [Send Email] button will launch your default mail application and prepare a new message with files attached.
You can also email a Drop station file.  After you drag a track button to the Drop station, right-click on the Drop station and select the Email the drop station file menu item.

Saving as Video and Upload to YouTube

You can save your song as a video that you can upload to YouTube or work with in video programs.  You can make a video for the Chord Sheet or the Notation window that shows the highlighted chords or notes moving as the song plays.

To use this feature, press the [Save As] button and choose Save as Video from the pulldown menu.

Choose the item (Chord Sheet or Notation track) to include in a video.

Enable “Custom dimensions” if you want to choose the width and height of the video.  If this is disabled, the video dimensions will match the Chord Sheet as it appears.
A higher number you set for “Frames Per Second” will result in a large file and the rendering process will take longer.
You can select a specific “Codec” to encode the video.  If “Auto” is selected, Band-in-a-Box will choose a compatible codec.
If “Include Title” is enabled, the video of the Chord Sheet will have a black bar at the top containing the title and information shown below.
The “Scroll Ahead” option makes the video of the Chord Sheet scroll so the bar that is currently playing will always be at the top of the video (i.e., more bars ahead will be visible).
Press the [OK - Render Video] button to start rendering the video.  The video will continue to render unless you press the [Cancel Rendering] button.  When the rendering is done, a message will show and you will be able to press the [Upload to YouTube] or [Show Video File].

Note: A special use of this feature is to combine a video RealTracks with the corresponding notation in a single video.  This creates an educational video, which shows the actual performance with notation/tab, playing over your chord progression!  To do this, right-click on the Master button or one of the track buttons at the top of the main screen and select Render Video(s) from the menu.

Saving Song as MusicXML

Band-in-a-Box supports MusicXML so you can easily export your Band-in-a-Box songs into notation programs such as Finale, Sibelius, and Guitar Pro, while still retaining the chords from the Band-in-a-Box song.

To save the current song as a MusicXML file, press the [Save As] button and select Save Song as MusicXML file or go to menu File | Save Special | Save Song as MusicXML file.  When the Finder’s Save as XML dialog opens, specify a file name and the location, and press the [Save] button.

This will open the Save XML File dialog.

First, select a track that you want to save in the XML file.  To select multiple tracks, hold down the command key and click the track.

Then, select the elements that you want to save in the XML file.

The “Track-specific settings” area lets you choose which clef to include for each track.

There is also an option to include a tablature.

The “Save tab as 2 separate parts (tracks)” option will save two parts: one for a notation track and the other for a tablature.

If you enable the “Save in Fake Sheet Mode” option, repeated sections will be hidden.

Press [OK], and the file will be ready to be opened in your notation program.

Saving Song as ABC Notation File

ABC notation is the simple text-based notation system used by musicians worldwide to store chords, melody, and lyrics of songs.  You can find out more information about the songs and ABC notation at

To save the song as an ABC Notation file, press the [Save As] button and select Save as ABC Notation File or go to the menu File | Save Special | Save Song as ABC Notation File.

Select a track to save - Click on the track that you want to save in the file.  This applies if “Include Notes” is enabled.

Include Chords - Check this to save chords in the file.

Include Notes - When this option is checked, notes on the selected track will be saved.

Simplified Chord Names - When this is enabled, complicated chords will be written as simplified names.  For example, D7#5#9 will be written as D7.

Save in Fake Sheet mode - Enable this if you want to save repeats and endings in the file.

[Copy to clipboard] - Pressing this button will copy the file to the clipboard.  You can then paste it into other programs.

[Save as File] - Press this button, and then you type a name and select the destination in your hard drive.

Save Track as Performance

This takes “freezing” a track one step further and saves the audio itself.  So, you can send your Band-in-a-Box song to your friend, who will be able to play that track without needing to have the RealTracks installed.

To save the track, right-click on the track radio button and select Save Track as Performance File from the menu.  You have a choice of an aiff or m4a file.  When you choose, the track will be rendered to <Song Title><track name (e.g. Bass).aiff or .m4a.

You can use the Erase Performance Track command to remove the Performance Track.

Technical Note: A Performance Track can be made by simply making an audio file (.aiff or .m4a) and naming it the same as the song, but with the track name (Bass, Piano, Drums, Guitar, Strings, Melody, Soloist) added.

For example, if the song is MySong.mgu, you put a file named MySong Melody.m4a in the same folder, and that will be a performance track on the Melody track.

Artist Performance Tracks

Artist Performance tracks use the Melody track to showcase Band-in-a-Box RealTracks demos accompanying a live recording of a top artist performing the melody.  These are great for listening or learning-from-the-Pros (since notation/tab shows for the performances).

These performances play the melody (2 choruses), and 2 choruses of solo (first chorus “simple” solo, 2nd chorus advanced).  All performance tracks include audio (stretchable to any tempo), notation, on-screen guitar, and guitar tab.

To play the Artist Performance Tracks, open the songs from the /Applications/Band-in-a-Box/Artist Performances folder.

  Artist Performance tracks display the track name in orange.

Saving a MIDI File

Your song can be saved as a Standard MIDI file with the [.MID] button in the toolbar, or with the menu command File | Save Special | Save Song as MIDI File, or with the keystrokes option+S.  Save the file to disk or to the clipboard.

Choose which tracks get written to the MIDI File.
By muting tracks with option+click on the track name at the top of the screen, you can decide which tracks get written to the MIDI file.  Any track that is muted is excluded from the MIDI file. 


  Click on [Options] to open the Preferences dialog.  This is where you set MIDI file options.

For example,if you don’t want to create a MIDI file containing the first 2 bars of the 1—2—1-2-3-4 count-in you can select this option, and the MIDI file will begin directly at bar 1 without the count-in.  If there is a Melody pickup, then the 2-bar lead-in will remain in the file.

MIDI Resolution
By default, Band-in-a-Box saves MIDI files with 120 PPQ resolution.  This is about 4 millisecond resolution, which is very good resolution.  In our listening tests, people couldn’t tell the difference between files at 120 PPQ and files at higher PPQ (like 960 etc.).  But if you prefer to work in a DAW at a higher PPQ, you can have Band-in-a-Box output at the resolution that you want.
You will see a “Resolution for MIDI file” combo box.  Use it to select a MIDI file resolution from 120 to 1920 PPQ (Pulses Per Quarter note).

Now any MIDI file that you make, by drag/drop or by using the MIDI button to save a MIDI file, will be at the resolution that you have specified.

Saving as Audio Files

Press the [.WAV] button and Band-in-a-Box will render the song arrangement to an audio file (AIFF, M4A, or WAV).

Selecting Render Tracks to Audio with Options opens Render to Audio File dialog, which allows you to choose options for saving the song as an audio file.

Format - Select the format of the audio file: WAV, AIF, or M4A.

Channels - When “Auto” is selected, individual tracks will be rendered as either mono or stereo, depending on the original source.  You can also force to render all tracks as stereo or mono.

Normalize mix - Enable this option if you want the audio file normalized.  Normalizing boosts the volume to a maximum level without distortion, but it takes longer to render.

One file per track - If this option is enabled, you will get separate audio files, one for each track.

Normalize individual tracks - Enable this option if you want each track normalized individually.  This applies if the “One file per track” option is enabled or when you drag and drop an individual track out of Band-in-a-Box.

Include 2 bar lead-in - If this option is disabled and there is no lead-in in the Melody track, the lead-in will be skipped in the rendered file.

Include ACID info - If you are rendering to a WAV audio file, you can include ACID information such as tempo, key, and time signature.  The ACID information can be read by many DAW programs.

Include Apple Loop Info - If this is enabled, Applesup>® Loop information (tempo, key, and time signature) will be added to the AIFF audio file.

Delay at start (seconds) - This allows you to add silence in seconds at the start of the audio file.

Delay at end (seconds) - You can also add silence in seconds at the end of the audio file.

[Render] - To render the song, press this button and select the name and destination for the audio file.

Batch Render Audio Files

Selecting Batch Save .m4a for ALL SONGS in current folder for use on iPhone/iPad, Android Biab app renders a complete folder of song all at once.  You can also use the menu command File | Save Special | Batch Save all songs in current folder to .m4a or aiff to render.

Save Individual Track as M4A or AIFF Audio File

Any track can be saved as an M4A or AIFF audio file from its contextual menu.  The menu opens with either a right-click, control+click, or a double-click on the part name. 

The file can then be imported into another audio program, such as GarageBand or Cubase.

File Menu Rendering Commands

You can also use the File | Save Song Special menu commands Save Song as M4A Audio or Save Song as AIFF Audio to render the Band-in-a-Box song to an audio file.  Use the commandBatch Save All Songs in Current Folder as M4A or AIFF to render a batch of songs to audio.

Send to

There is integration that lets you upload your compositions easily to the service. is a popular web service (unaffiliated with PG Music) that lets users upload their original songs for others to hear.

If you use the Dropbox service, you can easily drag/drop files from Band-in-a-Box directly to your Dropbox folder, or save an audio to Dropbox, without leaving the main Band-in-a-Box screen.  To do this, drag a track (or the Master button for all tracks) to the Drop station, and when it turns green, you can then right-click on the [Drop] button, and choose “Copy files to Dropbox Folder.”



Now you know how to produce a complete song arrangement in Band-in-a-Box with RealDrums and RealTracks, a Melody, Solo, Harmonies, and Lyrics; either from scratch or from an imported MIDI file.  You can print out clean lead sheet notation, complete with chord symbols.  And you can save your song in MIDI form or as lossless PCM audio or compressed m4a audio for playback from your computer or over the Internet, to send as an e-mail attachment, or to upload to services such as SoundCloud and Dropbox.  You are on your way to making lots of great music with Band-in-a-Box.

Have Fun!

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