Band-in-a-Box® 2022 for Mac® User's Guide
Chapter 5: Playing Songs
Loading a Song
Band-in-a-Box songs with the .SGU file extension are backup arrangements with no melodies. Songs with a MIDI melody track have the file extension .MGU.
You can load a song from the [Open] or [Song] button on the toolbar.
The [Open] button opens a menu of commands for opening files by various methods.
The [Song] button is a split button. Clicking on the top half opens a song selection dialog using the default method assigned to the button. Clicking on the bottom half of the button opens a menu of the options for opening songs. The default method for the top half of the button is assigned from this menu. For example, if there is a check mark beside “SongPicker,” clicking on the top half of the button will launch the Song Picker dialog. If “Recently Loaded Songs” is checked, clicking the button will go directly to the Recently Played Songs list, and so on.
Drag & Drop Files to Band-in-a-Box
You can drop many file types onto the Band-in-a-Box screen and they will be loaded into the program, either as a new file or added to an existing song. File types include Band-in-a-Box songs (.SGU/.MGU), MIDI (.MID), audio (.WAV/.AIFF/.M4A/.MP3), MusicXML (.mxl/.xml/.musicxml), and ABC Notation (.abc). . Simply drag the file and drop it anywhere on the Band-in-a-Box screen, including various windows.
This command opens the Open Song dialog. The hot key is F3.
Open Song by Titles (SongPicker)
The SongPicker shows information for up to 60,000 songs. It has many filter features for finding songs. You can also search songs that have similar chord progressions or melody fragments.
The SongPicker will show songs in Band-in-a-Box/MySongs, which is your “home” folder. This is an empty folder but is used for you to put any songs.
You need to press the [Rebuild] button to build the song list for this folder.
If the song list build is taking more than 3 seconds, you will see the progress at the top of the window.
If the Open in Home option is enabled, the SongPicker will always open in the home folder instead of the current folder when you press the default [Song] button to open the SongPicker.
If you want to see the song list in other folders, press the [Change] button. You will see some menu options to choose folders. There is also an option to always open the home folder.
You can change the width of any column in the song list by dragging the boundary. This customization will be remembered between sessions.
Title - This is the title of the song.
SubFolder - If the folder has subfolders, they will show here.
File - This is the file name of the song.
Style - This is the style the song uses.
Melody - A letter “M” indicates that the song has the Melody track. A blank column means that the Melody track is empty.
Soloist - A letter “S” tells you that the Soloist track is present. If the column is blank, the Soloist track is empty.
Lyrics - If the song has note-based lyrics, a letter “L” will show in this column.
Key - This is the key of the song.
TimeSig - The number shown is the numerator of the time signature, so “4” means the song is in 4/4 time and “3” means it is in 3/4 time.
Tempo - The tempo of the song displays.
Genre - This tells you the genre of the song.
Feel - The feel (even/swing, 8th/16th) will show in this column.
Form - This shows you the song form. For example, if 1-32*3 is shown, the chorus starts at the bar 1 and ends at the bar 32, and there are 3 choruses in the song.
Date - The file was last modified in this year/month.
In the area below the song list, you can see the chord progression of the currently highlighted song.You can copy and paste it into a text file.
The song list can be filtered in many ways.
- Type in any text, and the filtered list will show songs that contains the text in any field.
- The “Subfolders” button allows you to filter the list by a certain subfolder of the current folder.
- You can use “Genre/Feel” button to filter the list by genre, feel (even/swing, 8th/16th), or time signature.
- The “Chords/Melody” button allows you to filter the list by a chord progression and/or a melody fragment.
- The “Other” button is to filter the list by a certain style, songs with melody/soloist/lyrics, certain keys, tempo range, or file dates from certain years.
The Songs with Custom Chord Progression item in the “Chords/Melody” filter menu helps you find songs that contain a chord progression that you specify.
When the Custom Chord Progression Match dialog opens, type in a chord progression using a vertical line for a bar line. (e.g. Dm7 | G7 | C |)
If you want to find the progression that is relative to the key of C (i.e. Dm7 is IIm7), then you should enable the “Only match if relative to this key” checkbox and set the key to C.
This function will always find the progressions in every key; for example, it will find | Am7 | D7 | G.
The Songs with Chord progression matching current song item in the “Chords/Melody” filter menu will help you find songs that has a similar chord progression in the selected range of the current song.
In the Song Chord Match dialog, specify the range by entering the start bar number and the number of bars. When you press the [Update] button, the chord progression in that range will display.
With the Songs matching melody bar range item in the “Chords/Melody” filter menu, you can find songs with a similar melody fragment in the selected range of the current song.
When the Song Melody Match dialog opens, select the source track (Melody or Soloist), and specify the range.
If you want to find songs with a similar chord progression and a melody fragment in the selected range of the current song, select the Songs matching Chords and melody bar range menu item.
In the Song Chords and Melody Match dialog, select the source track (Melody or Soloist) and specify the range.
There are more buttons in the SongPicker for opening and finding songs.
The [Open] button allows you to open files of any available format from any folder.
Press the [Recent] button if you want to open recently played songs.
The [Fav] button is for opening your favorite songs.
The [Search] button allows you to find a song that contains a certain text in any field. You can continue the same search with the [G] button.
Press the [Rebuild] button to rebuild the song list for the current folder. The song list build very fast; approximately 150 songs will be processed per second.
The [Action Menu] button allows you to select additional options.
You can reset the dialog with the [Defaults] button.
Open Recently Selected Songs / Open Favorite Songs
Press the [Open] or [Song] button and choose Favorite Songs or Recently Loaded Songs to launch the Favorites / Recently Played dialog. This allows you to quickly load songs and styles that have been used in your last sessions with Band-in-a-Box.
You may find this to be the best way to load songs into Band-in-a-Box, since the lists give you instant access to the songs you are most likely to be playing, regardless of where the song is located on your hard drive. (File | Open Special | Open Favorite Songs... or shift+F3 also opens this window.)
The Favorites and Recently Played radio buttons toggle between a list of your recently played songs (or styles), and a list you create of your Favorite you select as favorite songs or styles. You can add an unlimited number of favorites.
The favorites list will start off as an empty one, but you can add songs/styles as your favorites, by clicking on the [Add Favorite] button.
If Play When Chose is checked, the program will load and play a song when you either double-click on its name in the list or select the name and the click [OK].
Check OK To add recent files to allow your recently loaded songs to be added to this list.
The [Search] button lets you search your songs by typing in part of a file name.
Open Previous Song
This command opens the previous song in alphabetical order in the current folder.
Open Next Song
This command opens the next song in alphabetical order in the currently active folder.
Open Entire MIDI File (mid) to Melody Track
This command opens a MIDI file to the Melody track.
Open Entire Karaoke File (kar) to Melody Track
This command opens a Karaoke file to the Melody track.
Open MusicXML File
Band-in-a-Box supports MusicXML so you can easily import MusicXML files, including notes, chords, lyrics, guitar tab, bends, hammer-ons, pull-offs, and slides, from your notation programs such as Finale, Sibelius, and Guitar Pro to Band-in-a-Box.
When you select this menu command and select a MusicXML file (.musicxml/.XML/.MXL) , the Load XML File dialog will open.
First, select a track that you want to load. To select multiple tracks, hold down the command key and click a track.
If you want to change the destination track, right click on a track and select Destination Track.
In the area below the track selection, select items that you want to load from the MusicXML file.
If you do not want all the tracks to be merged into the Melody track, disable the “Load all XML tracks to Melody” option.
The “# Bars in XML file to Skip” setting allows you to load the MusicXML file from a certain bar. For example, a setting of 4 will load the MusicXML file from bar 5.
Press [OK], and the MusicXML file will be loaded to Band-in-a-Box.
Open 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 abcnotation.com.
Open Audio File
This command allows you to open an audio file (.WAV, .AIF, .MP3, .M4A, etc.).
Open from Favorite Folders
The menu command File | Open Special | Favorite Folders launches the Favorite Folders dialog with a list of recently used folders. To open a song using this dialog you first select the folder from the list, and then you select the song from that folder.
Global Song Overrides
.The Global Song Override dialog ignores settings that were saved in song files. (Options | Preferences | Overrides)
Overall Looping of song: For example, if you want every song loaded to have looping set to on, then set this option to “Always set loop to ON.” But if you are going out on a playing job, and don’t want any songs to loop, then set it to “Always set loop to OFF.” If you want the settings to work the same way they did in previous versions, choose “As set in the song” or press the [Defaults] button.
Allow Songs to load settings for: If set, these items will be allowed to be loaded from songs. If not, the settings will be ignored when loading songs.
Thru Volume, Pan, Reverb, Patches: If this is enabled, mixer settings for the Thru track will be loaded from songs. If it’s disabled, the Thru track will use global settings.
Display dB Setting for Individual Tracks: If you check this option, you will be able to change the Track Setting | Display dB instead of MIDI Volume setting in the track radio button contextual menu and the setting will be loaded/saved with songs. If you uncheck this option, the global setting will be used for all tracks.
Convert line-based lyrics to bar-based lyrics: In the previous versions, there were line-based lyrics, which could be entered for each line on the Notation Window. You can no longer enter this type of lyrics, but if your existing song has line-based lyrics, Band-in-a-Box can convert them to bar-based-lyrics. This option allows you to choose how the conversion should occur when the song with line-based lyrics opens. The default is “Always (auto-split),” which will convert line-based lyrics to bar-based lyrics and split them into four bars. If you choose “Always (don’t split),” line-based lyrics will be converted but they won’t be split into four bars. You can also choose not to convert line-based lyrics automatically. If the current song has line-based lyrics, you can press the [Convert now] button to convert them to bar-based lyrics.
OK to Load Notation Symbols with songs : If this is not selected, notation symbols (slurs, staccato, crescendos) will not be loaded from the song.
When Vary Style in Middle Choruses is selected (default), the song will play in substyle B throughout the middle choruses, playing substyle A for the first and last choruses only. If this setting is not selected, then the substyle changes will follow the part markers entered on the Chord Sheet.
When Force to Simple Arrangement is selected, the song play a simpler (less busy or embellished) arrangement.
The Avoid Transpositions option allows the RealTracks to avoid transposition for all tracks in all songs. This will produce higher quality sound but less variation. (Note: To use this feature for all tracks in the current song, set the option in Song Settings dialog. To set for each track in the current song, use the right-click menu on the track radio buttons.)
The [Pop/Country] preset button turns both settings off for a typical Pop or Country arrangement that follows part markers and does not embellish chords.
The [Jazz] preset button turns both settings on for a typical Jazz arrangement to support soloing over the middle choruses and allow Jazz chord embellishments.
Use the options under Force Tracks to Simple Arrangements for All Songs to set individual tracks or all tracks to simple arrangements for all songs. If you want to force simple arrangements on a song-by-song basis, use the [Simple] button on the toolbar.
Changing the Style
The hundreds of musical styles available for Band-in-a-Box include lots of variations for any style you choose.
The [Style] button is a split button. Clicking on the top half opens a style selection dialog using the default method assigned to the button. Clicking on the bottom half of the button opens a menu of the options for selecting styles. The default method for the top half of the button is assigned from this menu.
For example, if there is a check mark beside StylePicker, clicking on the top half of the button will launch the StylePicker dialog. If “Recently Used Styles” is checked, clicking the button will go directly to the Recently Played Styles list, and so on.
The StylePicker window lists all styles with full information. It 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.
Type a text and/or press the arrow button to select a category, time signature, feel, etc., and you will immediately see the filtered list. 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.
Just type in a familiar song title, artist name, or genre of music, and StylePicker will list styles whose genre, feel, tempo, and time signature are similar to that song.
Type in a text, click on a song to select it, and press [Enter]. Then, the list will be filtered to show styles that match the elements of the song. You can see what filters are in place when you look at the “Style Filter by:” area. If you enable the “Include Similar” option, the filtered list will include similar styles, but if you want to see only the exact match, then uncheck this option.
Song Titles Browser
The Song Titles Browser window allows you to browse and filter the huge list of over 21,000 popular song titles. You can, for example, filter the list by a certain artist, and then sort it by tempo, key, feel, time signature, and more.
You can open this window with the [Find Titles] button.
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.
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.
Also, when the control is playing, if there are 2 files that can be played, a toggle button displays. This appears for previewing MIDI styles, because there are MIDI drums and RealDrums available for most MIDI styles, and now you can easily hear both.
To hear a preview, simply double-click on a style name in the list. Or highlight a style and press the Play button.
The demos are pre-made, so they play instantly. And they are a good idea of what the style is supposed to sound like.
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 www.pgmusic.com. (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.
The style demos sometimes play files from the internet. You can download a file that is being played from the internet by clicking on the folder button. If the file is being played on your hard drive, this button will show the file in a folder.
The speaker 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.
Pressing the [Play] button will generate arrangement for your song with the currently highlighted style. You can speed up the generation if you enable the “4 bar Preview” option, which will play only for the first 4 bars.
RealStyles and Styles with RealTracks
RealStyles are Band-in-a-Box styles that use RealTracks only. The style names for RealStyles are prefaced by an underscore, _.
Styles with RealTracks are a blend of MIDI tracks and RealTracks. Style names for Styles with RealTracks are prefaced by an equals sign, =.
Styles with RealDrums use RealDrums for the Drums track and MIDI tracks for other tracks. Style names for Styles with RealDrums are prefaced by a hyphen -.
Changing a Style at any bar
The style of your song can be changed at any bar by pressing this button or the F5 key. When the Edit Settings for Current Bar dialog opens, click on the [STY…] button to launch the StylePicker and choose a style that you want to apply from the current bar.
When you click the [Style] button and select Band Styles (Best RealStyles), you will see a directory of style types, with submenus sorted into the listed categories.
For example, in the Jazz section you will see styles for Jazz Swing, Bossa/Latin, Cuban/Bolero, Smooth Jazz, and Gypsy Jazz/Dixieland. Each heading opens a list of selected RealStyles, sorted by tempo and type.
Playing, Pausing, and Stopping Songs
The [Play] button replays the song without regenerating the tracks, unless regeneration is required. The current arrangement is preserved. (Freeze the song or save to a MIDI file to permanently save the arrangement.). The hotkey is command+R.
The [Generate and Play] button creates a new arrangement and plays the song. If you do not want your tracks regenerated, then use [Play]. Pressing the command+A or the F4 function key also creates a new arrangement and plays the song.
Click on the [Loop] button a menu of looping selections. You can play the highlighted section of the Chord Sheet or notation in an endless loop. Click and drag the mouse to highlight a section of bars to loop. If the checkbox is selected, the entire song will loop.
The [Play from Bar…] will play the song starting at the selected chorus and bar number. Use it to jump to any bar in the song. The hotkey is control+F.
The [Stop] stops song playback. Pressing the ESC key also stops playback.
The [Pause/Continue] button is to pause the song during playback. Press again to continue from the paused location. The hot key is control+H.
The Preferences dialog has options to configure overall settings for song arrangement. For example, you can set the amount of boost for shots/hold, allow rests/pushes, allow endings, set natural arrangement, and do more.
Boost Velocity of MIDI Pushes by: The pushes in Band-in-a-Box are the chords that get played before the beat. Typically, pushes are played a little louder than other patterns. You can leave this setting at 0 or set it to between 0 and 10.
Band-in-a-Box will play a lead-in count at the start of each song if you want it to. This is set in the Preferences dialog, where there a several options for how the lead-in is played.
Allow Lead In Bars: People who use Band-in-a-Box for soloing practice will likely turn the lead-in off to allow endless looping uninterrupted by the lead-in count.
Play Lead In even if Intro present: If a song has an intro, it’s usually not necessary to play the 2 bar lead-in count. There’s an option to always omit the lead-in if an intro is present. If you would like the lead-in bars to be played even if an intro is present in the song, set this feature to “On.”
Lead-in Type: You can specify to have Band-in-a-Box play 2 bars of a drum pattern instead of the count-in. You may prefer hearing the drum beat to a simple count-in, since it provides more information about the upcoming groove. To set this, set Lead-in Type to one of “b” substyle fills/ “a” substyle fills/ or fill-pattern or pattern-pattern combinations.
Audible Lead In / Volume: If you want the lead-in bars to be present but you do not want to hear the lead-in, then uncheck the “Audio Lead In.” You can also set the volume of the lead-in.
Instrument / Pattern: Use these options for the audible drum count-in. You can select any drum instrument for the count-in. You can choose different count-in rhythms (e.g. Tap on 2 and 4 instead of 1-2-3-4).
Drum Count-in (this song only): This allows you to set the lead-in option for the current song only.
Smart Lead-ins - Smart lead-ins can also be set here; they avoid playing the count-in drum sound during a Melody pickup.
Lead-in Drum count if drums muted: This is great for drummers who play along with Band-in-a-Box and mute the drum track. Previously, when the drum track was muted or disabled in a song, the count-in drum click wouldn’t play. Use this option to play the drum count-in in all circumstances.
Song settings include the title, key signature, and tempo for a song and the Band-in-a-Box style for its arrangement.
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.
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.
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.
Options for Simpler Arrangements
The [Simple] button on the toolbar allows you to set individual tracks or all tracks to unembellished arrangements. The simple arrangement option can be set on a song-by-song basis or for all songs.
If you set the Drums track to be simple, then the Drum track will avoid fills or post fills (cymbal crashes). You can also set a Drums track to be simple in a style. UserTracks will also follow this setting for Drums and play a simpler arrangement without fills if you set the Drums track to Simple.
Part Settings for Playback
The individual instrument parts are controlled with the on-screen mixer. It is always present in the upper right corner of the main screen.
Right-click or double-click on a part name for a menu of settings and actions for the selected part. The menu is organized into groups allowing easier selection of track types: audio (RealTracks, UserTracks, Loops) or MIDI (MIDI SuperTracks, classic MIDI tracks) and track settings/actions.
Changing Volume, Panning, Reverb, Tone
In the Mixer screen, each individual track has settings for Volume, Pan, Reverb, and Tone that can be adjusted as the song is playing. Volume, Pan, and Reverb are controlled by horizontal sliders. Tone is controlled by typing in a number from -18 (full bass) to 18 (full treble), or by clicking on a number and dragging the mouse cursor vertically. You can also control the sliders and dials with the mouse wheel while the mouse cursor is over them.
Hold the control key down as you click on the track slider and drag the thumb of the slider. This will force all tracks to move to the same absolute location as the original track. Hold the shift key and it will move all tracks relative to the move of the original track.
There is also a Master section with a Mute button, VU Meters, and Master Volume controls.
The Master Volume is a new type of volume setting for Band-in-a-Box, and is a true Master Volume, in that it applies a decibel (dB) boost to the master signal, independent of the tracks volumes. So, for example, if you want all Band-in-a-Box songs to be louder, you can simply set the “All Songs” Master volume slider (e.g., +6 dB) and this boost will apply to audio output from all tracks (MIDI and audio) for all songs.
Muting, Soloing, and Freezing Tracks
Each track has its own buttons to [M]ute, [S]olo, and [*] Freeze the track.
Click on the Mute button to silence the selected track. The button will turn red to show it is active.
Solo a Track
While listening to Band-in-a-Box, you can solo (isolate) a certain part by clicking on the Solo button.
You can change the solo and the mute status of other tracks by right-clicking on a blue mute button. For example, if the Guitar track is in the solo status, when you right-click on the blue mute button on the Drums track, the Drums track will be un-muted AND the Guitar track will be un-soloed.
Freeze a Track
Any track can be frozen (MIDI or RealTracks). When frozen, it won’t be changed or re-generated. This saves time when replaying previous songs, and lets you freeze an arrangement that you like. The [*] buttons on the Mixer freeze the individual tracks.
Use the snowflake button on the toolbar for additional options, which include freezing the whole song. If you freeze the whole song, you don’t have to wait at all for the song to regenerate. Next time you play, it is ready to go.
Reasons to Freeze a RealTracks track (audio):
- Frozen tracks will play back instantly, not requiring time to generate.
- They play back the same way each time, so if you like a solo, you can “freeze it.”
- If you send a song to a friend as “frozen,” they will hear the same performance.
- For the Soloist track, if you generate a solo, it can now be saved (by freezing the track).
Reasons to Freeze a MIDI track:
- You can edit the MIDI data, to customize the performance to match a certain song, and this will be saved. Use the Notation or Piano Roll window to edit the track.
More reasons to freeze any track:
- Frozen tracks play back instantly, without requiring time to regenerate.
- They play back the same way each time.
- You can change the chord progression of the song and have one part playing a different chord progression than the rest of the band. For example, type a “blowing” chord progression, generate a solo, freeze the solo track, then type a normal chord progression and generate the rest of the instruments (bass, guitar etc.) that will play the normal changes.
- Have different instruments play different styles. For example, the Bass could be generated using Reggae, then Frozen, and then the rest of the instruments generated using a Techno style.
Forcing Generation of a Song that is Frozen
Band-in-a-Box won’t touch tracks that are frozen. But if you want to change that, without having to Un-Freeze the tracks, you can do this easily.
Hold down the SHIFT key as you press the [Generate and Play] button (the fly-by hint will remind you of that) or go to menu Play | Play Special | Generate (even if tracks are frozen).
When you do this, the song will regenerate, the tracks will get rewritten, and the song will stay frozen. So, if you’re freezing songs to get the instant playback with RealTracks but get tired of the “same-old” frozen arrangement, just press SHIFT-PLAY, generate a new arrangement, and press SAVE. Then the new “fresh-frozen” arrangement will play instantly, even with many RealTracks.
This dialog opens with the command Edit | Slide Tracks. It allows you to move any of the bass, drums, piano, guitar, strings, melody or the soloist track ahead or behind by a certain amount.
Setting these numbers will slide the entire track ahead or behind by the # of ticks (120 ticks per beat). You could, for example, slide the bass track so it plays a little ahead of the rest of the band. This has the effect of making the bass player "drive the band" and is useful in Jazz styles to make the music sound more exciting.
Allow Any Slides: If you want the slides to occur, then check this box.
Humanize Slides: If this box is checked, the slides will be randomized to slide the track a different amount for each note. The amount varies from 0 ticks to the slide setting for the instrument. A track that always plays notes early by a certain amount tends to sound out of time, whereas randomizing the slide makes the track sounds more human.
If the song is currently playing, you can press the [Update] button to hear any changes you have made.
The [Defaults] button returns all fields to factory default settings. The default settings are as shown in the illustration.
The [Zeros] button enters a value of zero for all fields.
The [Loop] toolbar button opens a menu for looping options - loop a highlighted region or the whole song. If the checkbox is enabled, the song will play again from the beginning each time it reaches the end.
Looping the Notation Screen
To loop a screen of notation, click the [Notation] button to open the Notation window. Then click the [LoopScn] button. When there is a red border around this button, the song will loop for the 4 bars shown on the notation screen.
Playing Along with Songs
Play along with your MIDI Controller Keyboard
If you have an external MIDI keyboard controller connected to your computer system, you can use the MIDI THRU features to play along with the program.
The Thru part is the part that you play along on your MIDI keyboard or with the Wizard feature.
Harmonize the play along
Your play along can be harmonized by clicking the [Harmony] toolbar button and selecting MIDI - Thru Harmony or by pressing control+option+T key.
Choose a harmony in the Select Thru Harmony dialog. Whatever you play along on your MIDI keyboard while the song is playing will be auto-harmonized in real time.
The Thru Harmony is also applied to Soloist parts when the option to Allow Soloist Harmony (on Thru) is selected in the Soloist | Soloist Maker menu.
For example, you could add a SuperSax harmony to a saxophone soloist to create the effect of a full saxophone section.
The [Edit] button opens the Harmony Maker, where you can customize Harmonists.
The [Note Off] 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 #].
The [Favs] button shows your favorite 50 Harmony styles (based on recent usage) and allows you to choose one to use on the Thru or Soloist track.
Thru Transpose Settings
Transpose the Thru part, which is the live playing on the MIDI keyboard, so you can play any song in any key. Select the menu command Options | MIDI Patch Maps, etc.| Thru Transpose Settings
When playing along on your MIDI keyboard, you can set Band-in-a-Box to “Transpose by” semitones and/or octaves.
You can define a favorite key and “Each time a song is loaded” Band-in-a-Box will optionally transpose any and all loaded songs to that key. This is a great feature for practicing in a certain key.
You can also automatically transpose the Thru part so that you can always play along in your favorite key regardless of the actual key of the song.
The default is “No Transpose,” so the [Default] button sets all fields to 0.
The Play Along Wizard
The Play Along Wizard is an intelligent play along feature that uses your QWERTY keyboard to play along with Band-in-a-Box. This also allows you to record to the melody or soloist track without an external MIDI keyboard and can even be used to trigger the Soloist Wizard. Also, play along using the Wizard can use the harmony feature, so you can play along live from your QWERTY keyboard in 4-part Saxophone harmony for example.
Turning the Wizard On/Off
Click on the [MIDI] toolbar button and check MIDI QWERTY Keyboard Wizard. You can also select the Wizard Playalong option from the Song menu, or press option+W.
Playing the Wizard
The Wizard keys are only active during playback. The active keys are the lower 2 rows of the keyboard.
A S D F G H J K L ; < This row plays PASSING tones (second, fourth, sixth)
Z X C V B N M , . < This row plays CHORD tones (root, third, fifth, seventh)
Changing Instruments / Settings for The Wizard
The Wizard is a play along instrument, so is treated just like the THRU instrument. Changing Instruments, Volume, Reverb, etc. for the Wizard is therefore the same as for the THRU instrument. (i.e., Click on the THRU button, then select instrument etc.) You can record the Wizard and it will use THRU harmonies if selected.
Play Regular Notes
There is now an option to play regular “non-smart” notes, for those of you up to the task of poking out actual melodies on your QWERTY keys.
In the Song menu, toggle Wizard Uses ‘Smart’ Notes off (unchecked) to have the Wizard provide you access to a chromatic scale, and toggle “on” to have Band-in-a-Box provide you with notes based on the chord/key of the song.
Additionally, you will find another great Wizard feature in the Soloist menu; the Solo Wizard. Toggling this option “on” enables the Soloist Wizard. As you play notes on the MIDI or QWERTY keyboard, the program will play “correct” notes in the style of the current Soloist! This means that you can play a perfect solo every time, simply by pressing any key on your MIDI keyboard or QWERTY keys.
Beyond impressing your friends with your newfound improvisational prowess, this feature has practical implications as well. For example, you can concentrate on practicing your solo phrasing and playing “in time” without concerning yourself with which notes to play. (Band-in-a-Box will supply the correct notes: see the next section for details.)
If performing live or at a jam session, it helps to have the volume of all of the songs be similar.
This is done with the Normalize MIDI velocities to… feature in the Preferences 2 dialog.
With the “Normalize MIDI velocities” feature, you can level the volumes to a setting you enter. For example, you can set all volumes to be 70 and the program will make each song play within those levels.
When you have set the normalize to “on” the status area at the top of the screen reports that Normalization is set to 70, and that the velocity of the currently playing song has been increased from 65 to 70.
Normalization for the Melody and Soloist tracks is optional, if you want their MIDI velocities left “as-is” you can uncheck the "Also normalize Melody, Soloist" option.
Output Chords to External Device
Some external music hardware devices require chords played in root position to drive them in real time.
An example of this is the Digitech Vocalist. It will let you sing into a microphone and harmonize your voice according to the chords that are input to the device. Band-in-a-Box has the capability of outputting a separate channel with the chords in root position to support such external devices automatically. There are also settings such as complexity of chords, output channel, velocity, and note range. Band-in-a-Box will also drive “Real Time Arrangers” like the Roland RA series. The best way to accomplish this is to access the Options | MIDI Patch Maps, etc. | Output Chords to External Device menu item.
Click on the [Vocalist] button if you have such a device connected to your MIDI system. Band-in-a-Box will then send it the appropriate chord information automatically as your song is playing (e.g., root position triads) and the Vocalist will harmonize your voice according to the root position chords that Band-in-a-Box is sending to it.
For any other devices, you will need to know a little more information as to what your external device needs to “see” for it to function correctly, such as channel, velocity, chord type, etc. Then type the appropriate values in the spaces provided in the Output Chords to External Device dialog.
Changing MIDI Instruments
To select a MIDI Instrument for any MIDI track, right click on the track radio button at the top of the screen and go to Select MIDI Instrument (Patch) and choose one of the menu commands.
Select Hi-Q Patch Plugin: Use this menu command if you want to select a preset of a Hi-Q MIDI instrument and a VST plugin.
Select no MIDI Patch: This will remove the current selection of the MIDI Instrument.
Select General MIDI Patch: This will allow you to select an instrument from the list of GM patches.
Select Higher Bank Patch (from .Pat file): This will allow you to select a higher bank instrument on your particular synthesizer.
Hi-Q MIDI Instruments for sforzando
Hi-Q (High Quality) MIDI instrument plugin makes the MIDI tracks (both regular and MIDI SuperTracks) sound much better. We have included Plogue’s sforzando that has been customized for Band-in-a-Box and is used to play Hi-Q MIDI instrument.
Most of the interaction between Band-in-a-Box and the sforzando will be behind-the-scenes, so you don’t need to do anything. Just “pick a style and press play” as usual. This is because the styles that need to use the synth are coded to do so in the style, using the Hi-Q sound.
If you want to add a specific Hi-Q sound, right-click on the track button and go to Select MIDI Instrument (Patch) | Select Hi-Q MIDI Patch Plugin. This will open a dialog with available Hi-Q sounds. You can audition the Hi-Q sound by double clicking on the list or using the media player control.
When you choose a Hi-Q sound from the list and press [OK], sforzando will be loaded with the selected Hi-Q sound.
You can also use a custom sound such as an .SFZ sound that you have acquired. To do this, right-click on the first slot in the [Plugins] panel to open the plugin's window and then select a sound.
Adding Real Instruments – RealTracks and RealDrums
These “real” parts add a human element that brings new life to any Band-in-a-Box arrangement. Use them to replace MIDI tracks with live audio recordings. That’s right, any Band-in-a-Box part can be played in audio by a “real” drummer or instrumentalist using tracks recorded by top session players and recording artists.
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. 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.
These features are fully described in their own chapter but using them is easy as 1-2-3.
Using RealTracks in Songs - RealTracks Picker
The RealTracks Picker allows you to assign a RealTrack to any rtack. It also displays any RealTracks that are currently assigned to each track.
This dialog is launched by several ways.
1. Press the R T return, R T 1 return or 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.
6. In the Track Settings and Actions dialog, click on the [+] button to the right of the RealTracks radio button and choose Select RealTracks in the menu
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 at the top left corner. Then, select the RealTracks for that track from the list.
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 click) checkbox. Otherwise, press the [Band] or the [Solo] button. The demos play from the Internet (www.pgmusic.com) or your hard drive.
Using RealDrums in Songs
Most styles, even earlier MIDI styles, have RealDrums already assigned to them. They are automatically generated with the song arrangement. It’s easy to change to a different set, and there are lots to choose from.
To use RealDrums in Songs,
1. Press the control+U, R D return or R D 1 return keys.
2. Click on the [RealDrums] toolbar button and select RealDrums Picker Dialog,
3. Rright-click or double click on the Drums track button 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.
Click on the RealDrums radio button in the Track Settings and Actions dialog.
When the RealDrums Picker opens, choose a RealDrums style from the list and press [OK].
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 them plays first when 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).
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:
1.Choose a style or song that has MIDI SuperTracks, and press [Play]. (Look in the MIDI SuperTracks Demos folder for these songs.)
2.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.
You will 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 has been selected to the Piano track.If you want to customize the sound, right-click on the VST plugin name in the Mixer to open the plugin’s window.
Non-Concert Visual Transpose
This feature displays the chords and notation for non-concert key instruments like trumpet and saxophone in the non-concert key (Bb, Eb) while the music plays in the concert key.
Note: This does not transpose the music. To do that, use the song key box to the right of the Style area.
Pressing the [Chord Display] button opens a list of concert and non-concert instruments. There are also settings for guitar capo, tuning the guitar down, and visual transpose of any number of semitones.
For example, with “Capo at Fret 2” selected, if you enter a D chord it will play as an E chord but display as a D chord. This is also true for notes entered in notation. An alert shows on-screen.
You can also tune the guitar down from 1 semitone to 8 semitones. If you tune down by 1 semitone a song entered in E will display in E but play in Eb.
The Jukebox will load and play an entire folder of songs. Songs play continuously, one after the other. The Jukebox will continue to play while you move to other programs, so you can use the Jukebox to provide background music for your Mac®!
To play the Jukebox, click on the toolbar button, press command+J, or choose Juke Box Play from the Song menu to open the Juke Box Options dialog. Then choose how you want your songs to be selected and played.
Make your choices of options as described below, and then click on the [Play Juke Box] button to start the Jukebox playing.
Press the arrows buttons or the command+[ or command+] keys to select the “Previous Juke Song” or the “Next Juke Song” respectively, or choose these options from the Song menu.
Include Songs without Melodies: If checked, the program plays songs with and without melodies - that is songs within the Songs folder. If not checked, the Jukebox will include only songs with the MG? extension.
Audible lead-in: While listening to the Jukebox, you might not want to hear the count-in click. If not checked, you won’t hear the count-in click.
Vary Melody Instrument: Hearing a song after a song is played with the same melody instrument would get a little monotonous. If you check this option, the program will randomly change the melody instrument between your favorites.
Hide Song Name: This feature is used to play the “Guess the Song” game. When checked, the titles are hidden until you click the title. When someone guesses the Song Title, you can click in the Title box to verify if he/she is correct. You’ll probably want to restrict the Jukebox to only songs with melodies unless you can guess songs without melodies!
Random Play/Alphabetical: If set to “Random,” the songs will be played in random order (without repeating songs). If set to “Alphabetical,” the songs will be played in alphabetical order from the Songs folder.
Change Harmony w/each song: If selected, a harmony will be automatically selected for each song that plays in the Jukebox. Use the “Harmony # range” settings to choose from a particular section of the Harmony list.
Generate Solos: Set this option to on to permit the Soloist to play a solo over all the songs selected for Jukebox playback.
We have created a special Jukebox directory of songs that showcase the many Soloists available. Take a moment to hear this showcase by following these steps:
- Change to this directory by loading/opening a song from the Soloist Demos folder, but instead of playing the song, you have loaded press the [Juke] button.
Ensure that the “Generate Solos” checkbox is set selected (checked). If you enable “Auto-Choose Soloists,” the program will select an appropriate Soloist for each Jukebox song. “Change Soloist w/each chorus” instructs the program to choose different Soloists for each chorus of a song. For example, if Band-in-a-Box encounters a three chorus Jazz tune during jukebox playback, the program might choose a Saxophone solo for the first chorus, a Trumpet for the next, and a Guitar or Piano for the last chorus.
When you select [Play Juke Box], the Select Soloist dialog will pop up with a suggestion to use a Soloist for the first song in the jukebox list. This is normal. Press [OK] to accept the Soloist suggestion. (The Jukebox will not bother you with the Select Soloist dialog again; it will simply choose an appropriate Soloist for any given song in the Jukebox song list.)
(Preview) Switch to next song after __ Bars: Use this setting to preview the songs in a Jukebox list. Band-in-a-Box will play each song in the folder for the number of bars you enter into the box. Use a setting of 99 bars to play one chorus of each song.
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