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Band-in-a-Box® 2018 for Windows® User's Guide

Chapter 4: The Main Screen

Main Screen Overview

Band-in-a-Box supports Windows® themes.  It will use the current theme that you have selected in the Windows® Control Panel to use for windows and dialogs.

The main screen gives direct access to the major features and program settings of Band-in-a-Box for ease and convenience during a session.

There are seven different areas on the main screen.

  1. The Status Bar is used to show program running status messages and path names of the currently loaded song.  This area also includes the Menu Bar, with typical Windows® menus for the program settings.  Immediately below it are the Track buttons, where instruments are assigned and sounds are chosen.  Right-click on the instrument names to open a menu of settings for that instrument.
  2. The Main Tool Bars has buttons for direct access to important program features and menus.  Hold the mouse cursor on any button to see a pop-up hint that describes its function.
  3. The Song Panel includes the song title and all the other settings for the song such as its Key Signature, Tempo, and Chorus settings.  The [Song] and [Style] buttons offer various ways of selecting songs and styles, including the SongPicker and StylePicker dialogs.
  4. The Function Tool Bars are organized into groups of buttons for related features such as Transport, Tools, Views, and Tracks.
  5. The Progress Bar displays a timeline for the current song.
  6. The Mixer is always open in the top right corner.  It provides live control of parts with Volume, Pan, Reverb, and Tone settings.  It also supports the assignment of plug-ins and patches to individual parts and has a piano keyboard display.
  7. The Chord Sheet Area occupies the lower part of the screen.  Chord changes for the song are typed into the numbered bars (cells) in the sheet.  Part markers (a, b, through x) are entered here to switch between up to 24 Band-in-a-Box substyles.  Repeats and endings are also shown.

The Band-in-a-Box window is resizable.

When the window size changes, the Chord Sheet, Notation, and other windows redraw in proportion to the new size.  This allows you to have Band-in-a-Box open as a small window on screen with other programs, and you still see a full Chord Sheet.  The screen size is remembered between sessions.

  To resize the window, first unmaximize it.

Then use the sizing control at the bottom right.  The various Band-in-a-Box windows will scale as you do this.  Band-in-a-Box will remember the position and size of the window between sessions.

Yellow Alert messages and green Action messages

You will see that many Band-in-a-Box messages appear as “yellow alerts” at the bottom right of the screen.  That way you don’t have to respond to the message, interrupting work flow.  But if the message box is green instead of yellow, it’s an “action” message and you can click on it to perform the action described, such as loading a substitute style.  The green action messages have a close button, which is useful for closing them without performing the action.


Descriptive Hints

The pop-up hints are comprehensive fly-by hints that appear when you move over an item, including hints for the dialog boxes and various windows.

Go to Options | Preferences or click on the [Prefs] toolbar button to open the Preferences dialog and then set the type of hints to display, the time delay, and duration. 

Set a longer delay if you find that the hints are popping up too often and getting in your way.  Clicking on Flash Tips will perform the suggested action.

Status Bar

The name of the open song is identified in the status bar at the top of the screen.  The full file name and path name are shown, as well as audio track information if present, the length of the song in minutes and seconds, and the current position of the highlight cell.  Other “running status” messages such as Soloist Generation and Song Generation display in the status bar.

The status bar changes during playback to show additional information like the current bar and chorus location and the current style.  The on-screen file name includes “*” when a file has been changed.

Track Buttons

This bar shows all of the available tracks in Band-in-a-Box, including:

  • The Melody track, where you can record your own MIDI melody.  Or just use it as a sequencer track to record any MIDI track.
  • The Soloist track, for solos generated by the Band-in-a-Box Soloist.  This track can also be used as a MIDI sequencer track if not needed for a solo.
  • The Thru track for play-along on an outboard MIDI device or with the Band-in-a-Box Wizard feature.
  • The Audio track for your recorded vocal or instrumental part, or an imported audio file.

The color of the instrument name indicates its type or state.

  • White indicates that the part is empty and is not in use.
  • Yellow indicates a MIDI track playing a Band-in-a-Box MIDI part.
  • Green indicates a RealTrack instrument.  If the track name is underlined, it also has RealChart notation.  If [V] is shown, the track has a video RealTracks.
  • Blue indicates a MIDI SuperTracks.
  • Orange is an Audio Performance track.
  • Red means that the track has been muted.  When one of the tracks is being soloed, all other tracks will change color to red.
  • For the Audio track, orange shows that an audio recording is present on the track.

Automatic track labels with numbers

With previous versions of Band-in-a-Box, the tracks were always called the same names “Bass, Piano, Drums, Guitar, and Strings.”  Now the names match the styles, and if the 2 tracks have the same name, numbers will follow.  For example, if you load in the Slow Bluegrass Waltz style, you will see these names:

Note: If you prefer the “default” track labels (Bass/Piano/Drums/Guitar/Strings/Melody/Soloist), uncheck the “Auto-Generate Track Labels” option in the Preferences dialog.

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 from the menu.  When there are multiple drums tracks, they will be automatically called Drums 1, Drums 2 etc.

Master Button Menu

When the Master button is selected, changes to volume, reverb, etc. will apply to all tracks.  Right-click on the Master button to open a menu of commands.

Mute and Un-Mute All will mute or unmute all parts.

Export Song as Audio File will render the tracks together into one audio file or render them as individual audio files.

Song has changed, needs regeneration will regenerate a new arrangement for all parts.

You can Render Song to Audio Track, which mutes the individual tracks and plays the rendered audio wave, or you can Un-Render Song from Audio Track, which will erase the audio track and play the individual tracks again.

The Freeze and Un-freeze­ commands apply to all tracks.

If you like the current mix (of volumes, panning, reverb), and you want this applied as a default for all songs, choose Save Current Mix as DefaultLoad Default Mix restores the default mix you have saved, and Reset Mix sets the mix back to “factory defaults.”

Set Mix to Flat, Dry and Center sets the song to Flat (all volumes=90), Dry (no Reverb) and Center panning.  This is useful when rendering individual tracks and transferring to a DAW.

The Set Song to Simple Arrangement checkbox makes the RealTracks play a simpler (less busy or embellished) arrangement.

This Song Volume Boost (range -36 to +36dB) opens a dialog where a dB value can be entered that will affect only the current song.  For reference, 6dB is generally considered to be double the volume; -6dB would be half the volume.

All Songs Volume Boost (range -36 to +36dB) opens a dialog where a dB value can be entered to adjust the overall volume of all songs.  A setting of 6dB is twice as loud, -6dB half as loud.

Render Video(s) allows you to make a video of RealTracks that are selected for your song, optionally with the chord sheet or the corresponding notation.

Track Buttons Menu

Right-click or double-click on a track button 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.

Select RealTracks

Select RealTracks generates the part as a RealTrack using any available RealTracks instrument.

Select Best “All” RealTracks will show all RealTracks, sorted by best to worst for the current style, and Select Best “Chording” RealTracks shows the list for comping (i.e. Chording, non-Soloist) RealTracks.

Select Best “Soloist” RealTracks to add a best Soloist to any track.

Choose RealTracks from Recently Chosen Favorites opens a list of recently used RealTracks.

Choose No RealTracks for this track will remove the current selection from the track.

Select a UserTracks for this track lets you assign a track from the list in your UserTracks folder.  UserTracks work like RealTracks but are created from the user’s own audio recordings.

You can play an audio loop (your own or 3rd party) on any track with the Select a Loop for this track command.

Choose RealDrums allows you to add RealDrums to any track, not just the Drums Track.

Select Guitar/Bass Amp Plugin will list all available TGS files for guitar/bass amp plugins.  (Note: This menu item will be shown on an audio track.)

Select MIDI Instrument (Patch) is used to assign an instrument to a MIDI track from the Hi-Q patch list, the General MIDI patch list, the General MIDI 2 patch list, the higher bank patches on your particular synthesizer, or from a preselected list of favorite patches.

Use the Select Hi-Q MIDI Patch Plugin command to select a preset of a Hi-Q instrument and a VST plugin (e.g. sforzando).  (Note: This menu item will be shown on a MIDI track only.)

Select MIDI SuperTrack for this track opens a list of available MIDI SuperTracks.  They can be used in the same way as RealTracks.

Select Custom MIDI Style for this track lets you play your favorite MIDI track from any style on any track of your current style, including the Melody and Soloist tracks.  The track you assign doesn’t have to be the same instrument, i.e., you could assign a Guitar to the Strings track.

Track Settings

XXX track is enabled.  This command is the easy way to disable/enable a track, even during song playback.  To disable a track, right-click on the track name (at top of the screen or on the mixer) and select enable/disable the track.  When a track is disabled, the color is dark gray on the main screen and on the mixer.

You can Mute or Solo the individual part.  Solo mutes all but the soloed part.

Un-Mute All is useful to restore all other parts after a part has been soloed.

Freeze the track if you do not want the part regenerated on each play.  Tracks can be unfrozen.

Force Track to simple arrangement makes the RealTracks play a simpler (less busy or embellished) arrangement.

Set Track offset allows the track to moved ahead or behind by +/- 1000 ticks (at a resolution of 120 PPQ).

Track Timebase allows you to select a timebase (normal/half/double/triple).

Set Natural Arrangement allows re-interpretation of chords for the selected track of the current song.

Rename track title allows you to change the track label for the selected track.

Change track description allows you to change the track description.

Track Actions

(re)Generate this RealTrack will (re)generate the track with the selected RealTrack.

Erase Track removes either the MIDI data or RealTracks audio from the track.

Save MIDI/Real Track as WAV File allows you to save RealTracks or MIDI tracks to any drive or folder you choose as WAV files, e.g.,  “Untitled Song BBGuitar_MIDI_SingleRender.WAV”

Save track as Performance File (wav/wma) renders the track to your choice of a WAV file or a WMA file.  When you choose, the track will be rendered to C:\bb\<Song Title><track name>(e.g. Bass).WAV or .WMA.

Render Video(s) allows you to make a video of RealTracks that are selected for your song, optionally with the chord sheet or the corresponding notation.

Audio Track Button

Right-click on the Audio label to quickly mute, solo, or delete the Audio track.


The toolbar buttons give quick access to program features.  They are grouped according to function.

Toolbar Modes

There are three modes for the toolbar.

You can switch the toolbar modes using the Mode Selector buttons at the top left of the screen.


1.   Smaller, configurable toolbar with tabbed interface.

Tip: If you want to see the buttons in color, open the Display Options dialog by clicking on the Chord Sheet and press the [Choose Skin] button.

In this mode, the [CUSTOM] tab lets you select and add buttons in the order that you want.

First, click on the [+] button on the right to open a palette of buttons.

Then, while holding down the Ctrl key, drag buttons around to add, remove, or set the order.

2.   Taller toolbar, with fixed on-screen Mixer, useful for people with hi-res screens.

3.  DAW mode.  This makes a small screen, always on top, useful for drag and drop of files to your favorite DAW.

Drop Station

The Drop Station is used to drag and drop tracks from Band-in-a-Box to Digital Audio Workstations (DAWs) that don’t support direct drag and drop.

Many DAWs will allow you to do this directly, but, if your sequencer does not support the direct drop of a track that is not yet generated, you can drag from a radio button (Master, Bass, Piano, etc.) to the Drop Station.

The Drop Station shows six different file types.  Your file will be rendered to the file type you drop it in and the button will change color to orange, indicating that the file is accepted and being prepared.

When you drop the track to the [+], you are presented with a dialog, where you can choose a file format and other render options.  (See Chapter 13 for details.)

When the button turns bright green, the track has been generated and is ready to drag from the Drop zone to your DAW.

The Drop panel has a right-click menu, allowing you to copy the resulting file to a favorite folder, open the favorite folder, start/stop the DAW Plug-in mode, upload to or Dropbox, and more.

The DAW Plugin button has two menu items.  One starts or ends the plug-in mode, which lets you drag and drop MIDI or audio files from Band-in-a-Box to your DAW or Explorer.  The other opens a Plugin settings dialog.

This dialog controls drag ‘n’ drop operations.  The [Help] button shows detailed instructions.


For File functions like Open, Save etc.

The [New] button clears the Chord Sheet to start a new song.  Band-in-a-Box reminds you to save your work before it erases the chords. 

The [Open] button shows a menu to open (load) songs into the program using various methods.

Use the [Prev] button to immediately open the previous song in the same folder (in alphabetical order) without going through the usual file opening process.

Use the [Next] button to instantly open the next song in the same folder (in alphabetical order) without going through the usual file opening process.

The [Save] button saves the song to disk with the standard Windows® Save As dialog.

This will show a menu to save a song using various methods.

The [.MID] button allows you to make a Standard MIDI File and save it to disk as a file with extension .MID or to the Windows® clipboard with type “Standard MIDI File.”  Type 0 and Type 1 MIDI files are supported, or you can also choose to save the song as a Karaoke file with the .KAR extension.

This will show a menu with options to save the song as an audio as well as to send the song to

The [Prefs] button will bring up a dialog where you can set various settings all at once and access most of the program options.

Click here for a link to video demonstrations and tutorials.

Use the Print button to launch the Print Options dialog, which allowsyou to print Lead Sheet or Fake Sheet style notation.

This menu button launches either the Windows® Play control for sound output or the Windows® Record control for the recording input.

This button has a menu to assign DirectX and VST audio plug-ins, to select and configure DXi (DirectX instruments) or VSTi software synthesizers, and to open the PG Music Reverb dialog to select the type of audio reverb.

Use this menu to launch various MIDI options and also to enable the MIDI keyboard Wizard for playing along on the lower two rows of the QWERTY keyboard during playback. 

This button will show menu options for various practice features.

The tuner button opens the Guitar Tuner so you can tune a guitar or other instrument that is plugged into the sound card.

This button will show menu options to edit or make styles.

This will launch an internet browser and open the new feature tutorial page.


For information related to the current song, such as current style, tempo, key, form, etc.

The [Song] button lets you load a song.  This is a split button.  The top half of the button uses the default method to load a song.  The bottom half shows a menu of different methods to load a song and allows you to set the default action for the top.

The [Style] button is also 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 song title is displayed, and you can type in the name in this box.  Directly below the song title, the style display shows the style name and more information about the style.

  Style file name (Short): 

  Style Name (Long):  

  Style Memo:  

  List of instruments (and indication if they are MIDI or Real):

This button opens a full menu of settings to use for a polished song arrangement, including a tag (coda), automatic endings, style variations and more.  The [Help] button has full descriptions of these features.

You can type any information about your song in the Song Memo window. 

Chorus Begin button: Click on the button and then click on a bar number or type a number in the dialog to select the first bar of the chorus.  The Bar number that you select is displayed.

Chorus End button: Click on the button and then click on a bar number or type in the dialog to select the last bar of the chorusThe Bar number that you select is displayed.

The number of choruses possible for a tune is 40.  Click on the chorus button and choose how many choruses you require. 

This is the feel (swing or even, and 8th of 16th) of the song.  The feel is determined by the selected style.

This is the time signature of the song.  You can click on it to change the time signature.

The Key box is used to set the key or to change it and transpose the song.  When you press it, you see 2 columns of keys.  The first column will set the key AND transpose the song; the second will just set the key signature. 

The Tempo Control shows the current song tempo.  Left-click on the up/down arrows to change the tempo by +/- 5 beats per minute.  Right-click to change it by +/- 1 bpm.  Tempos can also be typed in directly.

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.  Hot keys are available: Ctrl - (minus key) for half speed and Ctrl = for normal speed.

Use the Tap tempo buttons to count and set a tempo.  Tap the [-] button in tempo four times to set the tempo.  It will appear in the tempo box.  Tap the [=] button to count-in the song and start playback at the tapped tempo.  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.


Standard play controls, recording controls, Jukebox, and Conductor.

[Play] plays the song from the beginning without creating a new arrangement, unless regenerating is required.

[Generate and Play] generates a new Band-in-a-Box arrangement and then plays the song.

[Loop] plays the selected (highlighted) section of the Chord Sheet in a loop.  The dropdown menu has settings for looping the entire song.

[Play from Bar] button is used to play a song starting anywhere in the song, including tags or endings.  This feature is also available from the right-click menu in the Chord Sheet.

[Stop] button stops the song or the Jukebox from playing.

[Pause/Continue] button pauses the song during playback.  Press again to continue from the paused location.

The [Record MIDI] button is to record a song from the beginning.  The music that you play in to the computer will then be stored on the Melody track.  The hot key is Ctrl+R.

The [Record Audio] button launches the Record Audio dialog for live audio recording.

The [Play Jukebox] button is used to start or stop the Jukebox.  The arrow keys are used to move to either the previous or next song in the Jukebox.

The Conductor window allows live, real time QWERTY keyboard or MIDI control of the song as it is playing.


Miscellaneous Band-in-a-Box tools.

This will open the Audio Chord Wizard, which will figure out the chords from an audio file.

Press the [Chord Solo] button to launch the Generate Guitar Chord Solo dialog.

This will automatically generate a song title for you.  The menu also includes a command to generate multiple titles.

Runs the Sequencer for control of multi-channel Melody or Soloist tracks.  Each track can record up to 16 separate channels.

This button launches the Chord Options dialog, which allows you to add chord pushes, rests, shots, and held chords for any given bar. 

This is the Chord Builder button.  Chords may be heard and entered to the Chord Sheet by clicking in this dialog.

F5 Bar Settings - Launches the Edit Settings for Current Bar dialog.  This allows you to enter changes to the arrangement at any bar or chorus.  The hot key is F5.

Song Form - launches the Song Form Maker dialog and other tools to control the form of your song

The grace note button enables the embellisher and opens the Melody Embellisher dialog for customizing the Melody Embellisher.


Chords, Notation, Guitar, Piano, Lyrics windows and more.

This button toggles between the Notation window, where you can enter chords and lyrics, edit notation, and view MIDI notation, and the Chord Sheet, where you enter chords for your song.

Displays the Chord Sheet window.  This is the default window in Band-in-a-Box, where you enter chords.

Launches the Piano Roll window for editing the Melody or Soloist tracks in a piano roll format, including graphic controller editing.

The Audio Edit window displays a graphical waveform and allows editing.  Hold Shift when pressing to open a moveable window.

The Lead Sheet notation is a full-screen notation window with optional Fake Sheet mode that shows 1st and 2nd endings, repeats, and codas.

The [Guitar] button launches a guitar fretboard window that displays guitar notes as music is playing.

The [Big Piano] button launches a Big Piano window.  It will display the notes to any track (except drums) as the music is playing.

The [Drums] button launches an animated Drum Kit window.  Press it to launch this fully functional (and fun) GM-MIDI “virtual” drum kit.

The [Video] button opens a menu with selections to open the Video window and the Generate Video dialog.

This button opens the Big Lyrics window for full screen “Karaoke-style” scrolling lyrics.  The menu also includes the lyric document, karaoke window, and vocal synth for generating vocal audio from the lyrics and melody.

Select for Fakesheet mode chord display with 1st/2nd endings and repeats.  Use the menu to set repeats, coda, and ending.

This will show a menu to select the chord font, chord color, type of chord display (standard, Roman numeral, Nashville, etc.) and a list for visually transposing the notation for non-concert instruments.


Methods of adding tracks to Band-in-a-Box (RealTracks, Loops, UserTracks, etc.)

This opens a menu with selections for the RealTracks Picker, RealTracks Preferences (settings), and a command to “Select better RealTracks” for the song tempo.

This opens a menu with selections for the RealDrums Picker and RealDrums Preferences (settings).

Displays a dialog of available UserTracks, which are like RealTracks but are made by you or third parties.

The Loops button is for the Loops Picker, where you can choose an audio loop (WAV, WMA, MP3, MP4, M4A) to add to a track (e.g., nature sound, drum loop, etc.).  Choose the track and then the loop.  Add your own loops to the Loops folder in the RealTracks folder.

Choose a MIDI SuperTrack or use the MIDI Track Picker to add a MIDI track from a different style to the current song.  Open the dialog and choose a track.  Then choose the style and source track that you want to add.

This opens a list of tracks with the option to freeze or unfreeze all tracks or just freeze individual tracks.  Frozen tracks play without regenerating for faster playback.  This button also allows you to force tracks to simple arrangements.

This button allows you to force any tracks or all tracks to play with simple arrangements.  You can set this for the current song or all songs.

Band-in-a-Box can automatically add audio harmonies to the audio track and MIDI harmonies to the Melody or the Thru/Soloist track, giving you harmonies for your live playing on the Thru channel or QWERTY wizard. 

The [Melodist] button opens the Generate Chords and/or Melody dialog, where you can choose the type (or genre) of Melodist you wish to have generate a complete new song with chord changes and melody as well as an improvised solo and an original song title. 

This menu is for either selecting a RealTracks soloist from a list of best soloists, or to open the Select Soloist Dialog, where you can choose a custom soloist (MIDI or RealTracks) to play over any given chord changes.

Progress Bar

This bar displays a timeline for the current song.  The current time is marked with a gray vertical line.  You can click on the bar to move the current time to that point.  Part markers are marked with colored (blue, green, etc.) vertical lines and the beginning of each chorus is marked with outlines.  You can double-click on the bar to start playback from that point.


The Mixer window shows the current state of instruments and parts and allows easy changes or adjustments.  In the tall fixed toolbar mode, the window is always open in the upper right section of the main screen.  If you want to see the floating Mixer, which can be resized and “parked” anywhere on the screen, then go to Window | Floating Mixer Window or use the hot key Ctrl+Shift+M.  In the small configurable toolbar mode, the [MIXER] tab will open the floating Mixer.

  The small button at the top right corner will switch to the floating mode, which allows you to resize or move the window to anywhere on the screen.

  In the floating mode, you can change the window’s opacity.  Left-click on these buttons to change the opacity by a significant amount, or right-click on them to change it by a small amount.

The window has four different screens for Mixer, Plugins, Piano, and Patches.  The default screen is Mixer, where you see the currently assigned instruments for the song.

With previous versions of Band-in-a-Box, the tracks were always called the same names “Bass, Piano, Drums, Guitar, and Strings.”  Now the names match the styles, and if the 2 tracks have the same name, numbers will follow.  For example, if you load in the Slow Bluegrass Waltz style, you will see these names: Bass, Guitar_1, Mandolin, Guitar_2, and Banjo.

Note: If you prefer the “default” track labels (Bass/Piano/Drums/Guitar/Strings/Melody/Soloist), uncheck the “Auto-Generate Track Labels” option in the Preferences dialog.

If you click on the track description on the Mixer, you will see a menu that has two new items.

You could, for example, change the track label from Banjo to “5-String” and the track description to “Hot Pickin Banjo Riffs.”

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.

Hold the Ctrl key down as you click on the track slider or 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.

Double-clicking on the slider sets the value to a default value.

Each track in the Mixer screen shows the name of the instrument assigned to it.

Yellow text indicates a MIDI instrument.

  Green text indicates RealTracks or RealDrums.

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.


Each track has its own VU meter to show the sound level, and buttons to Mute, Solo and Freeze the track.

There is also a Master section with a Mute button, VU meters, and Master Volume controls.

Master Mute:

VU Meters (stereo):

There are Master Volume faders for “This Song” and “All Songs.”

The Master Volume 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. to +6 dB) and this boost will apply to audio output from all instruments (MIDI and audio) for all songs.

Since most people don’t need to have the THRU and Audio tracks visible on the main screen at all times, there are THRU and AUDIO buttons on the mixer that show/hide these tracks.  If you open a song that contains an Audio track, then the Audio panel will automatically open.

The [Plugins] tab opens a window where you can assign up to four DX or VST plugins to each track.

MIDI tracks have 4 slots.  The first slot can take a synthesizer (e.g. Sforzando, Coyote GM<, Garritan Aria, and HyperCanvas) and the other 3 can take audio effects (e.g. reverb, compression etc.)

Audio tracks have 4 slots.  There is no synthesizer slot, so they have 4 for audio effects (e.g. Reverb, compression, AmpliTube Amp simulation).

Click in any slot to launch the VST/DX Synths/Plugins dialog, where you can select VSTi or DXi synthesizers and/or VST and DirectX audio effects for each track.

You can add new VST plug-ins by using the drop-down list, and selecting the last item, which is “Add VST Plugin.”  From this, select the VST plug-in, which is a DLL, usually found in C:\Program Files (x86)\Steinberg\VSTPlugins or C:\Program Files\Steinberg\VSTPlugins.  (Note: On Windows® XP, the folder name doesn’t contain (x86).)


The [Piano] tab shows the notes that are playing on each track on a piano keyboard.

Clicking on the [Patches] tab opens a window that lists all of the assigned instruments for the song in larger type.

Clicking on any instrument name opens the menu for selecting or changing the instrument.

Chord Sheet Area

Chords, rests, shots, holds, and part markers are entered in the Chord Sheet.

The Chord Sheet can be viewed in the full linear view showing all bars, or optionally in fake sheet view that shows 1st and 2nd endings and repeat signs.  Another option shows bars past the end of the song in gray.

You can use Tab and Shift+Tab keys to navigate through the Chord Sheet.

In the Chord Sheet, typing special words, instead of chord names, will make the following settings.

   begin + Enter

sets the beginning of the chorus to the current bar

   end + Enter

sets the end of the song to the current bar

   chorusend + Enter

sets the end of the chorus to the current bar

   tkc + Enter

sets key signature to C, tkbb would set it to Bb

   trc + Enter

transposes song to key of C

   t125 + Enter

sets tempo to 125

   S + Enter

launches the StylePicker.

You can quick-load a song by typing only.  Type the word “Song” followed by a file name or partial file name, and the song will get loaded in.  For example, type C:\a\MySong.sgu to load in that exact song name.  Type “bossa” to load in the first song with bossa in the name AFTER the current song name, in the current folder.

Quick-load a style by typing only “style” followed by a style name, e.g., stylezzbossa<Enter> will load in zzbossa.sty.

Fake Sheet Mode

Open the demo song “Repeats Tutorial example 2 with 1st-2nd and DC al Fine” from the C:\bb\Documentation\Tutorials\Tutorial - Repeats and Endings folder.

  To view the Chord Sheet in the Fake Sheet mode, press the [Fake Sheet] button on the toolbar and enable the Display Chord Sheet in Fakesheet Mode menu item.

  When you disable the Fake Sheet mode by pressing the [Fake Sheet] button and deselecting the Display Chord Sheet in Fakesheet Mode menu item, the Chord Sheet will display in the full linear mode.

In this mode, you see all the bars in the order that they will be played.

Chord Entry

The basic way of entering a song into Band-in-a-Box is to type in the chords to the song on the Chord Sheet (worksheet).  The arrow keys move the active (highlighted) cell around in the Chord Sheet.  The Enter key advances to the next ½ bar.  Chords can be entered from the QWERTY keyboard or an external MIDI keyboard (see Window | MIDI Chord Detection…).

Chords are typed in using any of the supported chord symbol displays:

  • Standard chord symbols (e.g., C or Fm7 or Bb7 or Bb13#9/E).
  • Roman numerals (Imaj7).
  • Nashville Notation (1Maj7).
  • Solfeggio (DoMaj7).
  • Fixed Do.  In Italy and other parts of Europe, chords like C7 are always referred to by the Solfeggio name (Do7 for C7) regardless of the key signature.
Notes: It is not necessary to type upper or lower case.  The program will sort this out for you.  Any chord may be entered with an alternate root (“Slash Chord”) e.g. C7/E = C7 with E bass.  Separate chords with commas to enter 2 chords in a 2-beat cell, e.g., Dm, G7

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  There is a setting in Display preferences to “Treat dim chord as a diminished triad instead of  Cdim7.”
   S = 7sus
Example: To type CMaj7, just type CJ (it will be entered as CMaj7)

Add your own chord shortcuts

You can make your own shortcuts text file and name it C:\bb\shortcut.txt.  This allows you to add new chord shortcuts.  (Note that this file doesn’t ship with Band-in-a-Box or it would overwrite your file.)

If you find a chord that Band-in-a-Box won’t accept like Csus2 (it expects C2), you can enter this on a single line (without the quotes) “Csus2@C2.”  Then Band-in-a-Box will enter the chord C2 if you type in Csus2.

Rests, Shots, Holds keyboard Shortcuts

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
        Gm7...bd5 will enter held chords (bd=except bass and drums) for 5 bars

Chord Sheet Options


Layers are optional rows of information shown above each bar.  When there is no additional information within a row, that row will not show to maximize space on the Chord Sheet.

You can choose what to display for layers by clicking on the [Chord Display] button on the toolbar and selecting Layers.

“Section Text” layer is for editable text (up to 255 characters per bar) that is loaded and saved with the song.

“Bar Lyrics” layer is for editable bar-based lyrics (up to 255 characters per bar) that are loaded and saved with the song.

“Section Text” and “Bar Lyrics” layers will attempt to intelligently separate your lyrics into different bars.  For example, if you have a whole song of lyrics in Notepad and the lyrics for every bar are on separate lines, you can simply highlight the entire block of text and paste it into Band-in-a-Box using CTRL+V.  Every line of text will occupy a separate bar.  If the lyrics have not been distributed into the correct bars, you can move your text cursor to the beginning of a bar and press BACKSPACE to move the lyrics to the previous bar.  This will shuffle the text in the following bars one bar backward as well.  Hitting ENTER will move all of the text after the text cursor to the next bar and shuffle the text in the following bars one bar forward.  If you wish to see more than one line within a bar, you can hold down CTRL while using the ENTER key, which forces a line break (second line) within the bar.

“Bar Settings” layer shows information about any changes that occur for that bar, as set in the Bar Settings dialog (e.g. tempo changes, key changes, etc.).

“Additional Chord Display” layer shows the chords using the normal display or an alternative mode of showing root notes.  There are 4 alternative modes: Roman Numeral, Nashville Notation, Solfeggio Notation, and Fixed Do (Italy/Europe).

The height of this layer can be set as a percentage of the main chord using the “Height % of Additional Chord Display layer” setting in the Display Options dialog.  For example, you might want to see Nashville Notation as big as the main chord display below it.The “Concert Key” option has been added to display an additional chord display of the same chords transposed to a different key.  So, for example, you can see two layers, one with concert chords, and the other for Bb instruments.

All the layers can be customized with font and color in the Display Options dialog.

Right-clicking in a layer has a menu with options to change height of the layer, close layer(s), copy/cut/paste, etc.

Display Options Dialog

You can set up the Chord Sheet with your own preferences.

Go to Options | Preferences or click on the [Prefs] toolbar button to open the Preferences, and then click on the [Display] button to open the Display Options dialog.

You can also right-click on the Chord Sheet and select Display Options from the menu to open this dialog.

Chord Sheet Color

You can choose any color for each element on the Chord Sheet.  For example, you can choose color for substyle A & B part markers.  Previously, the color of the chords was always black, so you were limited to brighter colors for the background since darker backgrounds would make the chord text hard to see.  Now, all the colors can be picked from the color palette, and any changes you make can be seen on the Chord Sheet in real time.

Superscript Option

Superscript shows the chord extensions with smaller raised font, making the root of the chord more distinguishable, and also helping maximize space on the Chord Sheet.  The

dialog has separate settings for the main chords and additional chords.

In this example, extensions of the main chords will always show with small raised font, but extensions of the additional chords will not show with superscript.

Number of Columns

You can set the number of bars to show on a row with the “Number of Columns” option.

Space between Columns

You can set the border thickness between columns with the “Extra space between columns (pixels)” option.

Chord Sheet Font and Colors

Chord Sheet font and color can be also changed easily from the on-screen button, with visual menu.

Transpose Chord Sheet option

This button also allows you to quickly transpose your song.

If the Chord Sheet or Notation window transpose setting is in effect, a yellow hint message opens on boot up as a reminder.

When the Chord Sheet is transposed, you can type in chords in the transposed key, and they will show up as you have entered them, instead of requiring you to enter the chords in the concert key.

Part Markers

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

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

Section Paragraphs

When you’re 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.  A section can be as short as 2 bars.  You will see each section on a new line so that the form of the song is easier to see.  The feature is configurable and optional.

Chord Sheet Editing Features

The Chord Sheet has a contextual menu that opens with a right-click in the Chord Sheet area.  This menu is a very convenient way to access the features for editing song arrangements.

Chords can be copied, pasted, cut, or erased and new chords can be entered from the Chord Builder.

Chord Settings allow pushes, rests, and pedal bass to be applied.

Bar Settings let you refine your arrangement with changes in tempo, meter, key signature, styles, RealDrums, volume levels, patches, and harmonies.

Song Settings allow rests and pushes, and also control tags, endings, and fadeouts.

Display Options allow full customization of the Chord Sheet.

Global system settings are accessed in the Preferences.

You can also right-click on 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.  For example, these settings are available with a right-click on bar 16.

This menu can be used to start playback from the highlighted bar in any chorus of the song.

Bar-Based Section Letters lets you add a letter or number, which will display just above the bar number on the Chord Sheet.

Insert Bars or Delete Bars lets you insert or delete a specific number of bars at the current bar.

Play Selected Area as a Loop

To use this function, select a region on the Chord Sheet.  To select a region, click a bar and drag the mouse.  To select a large region, click a bar and SHIFT-click on the end point.

Tip: You can select a region of bars just by using the keyboard.  Hold down the SHIFT key and use the cursor keys.

Click on the [Loop] button and select Play and loop highlighted region from the menu, or press F10, and the program will play a selected region and loop the selection.  For example, you can select bars 19 and 20, and then press F10, and bars 19 and 20 will play looped.

The Loop menu includes the Loop Section Settings.

To enter settings manually in this dialog, you start by choosing either “Loop a Single Screen of Notation” or “Loop Range of Bars.”

“Loop a Single Screen of Notation” (Ctrl+NUMPAD 7) loops a single screen of notation at the current song location.  The length of the loop is determined by the number of “Bars/Screen” specified in the Notation Window Options.

Select “Loop Range of Bars” if you want a custom range of bars, then enter the starting “From Bar” number, the “Chorus #,” and the “# bars” for the length of the looped section.  You can then play the song with the [Play within loop] button and then [Close] the dialog.

Presets are available to set the loop points to Introduction, First / Middle /Last Choruses or First & Middle, Middle & Last combinations, Ending, or All.

As the different buttons are selected, you will see the “Loop Range of Bars” settings update.

Hotkeys are also available for these, look in the Play menu under the Looping submenu.

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