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PG Music - Band-in-a-Box Pro

Review by Mike Henson

PG Music Band In A Box Pro PC

Band-in-a-Box has hundreds of great features and does everything but shine your shoes. You can literally go from a blank screen to a complete ORIGINAL new song in under a minute. This new version not only generates the background, i.e. drums, bass, piano, guitar and strings, but it can even generate a new MELODY Track based on a variety of styles. Top it off with a unique Soloist and you have a complete song ready for anything, all in less time than it takes to pop in a CD and press play.

Band-in-a-Box is also a great automatic accompaniment program. Simply type in the chords to any song, using standard chord symbols like C, or Fm7, pick a style, and press PLAY. The program then generates a professional quality 5-part arrangement and plays it back to your soundcard or MIDI system. This is great for playing along with your computer. Many one-man acts have performed with Band-in-a-Box over the past decade, from night clubs to weddings to just about anything.

Here's how it works. Start with a blank song sheet and select a style, such as Jazz, Waltz, Pop, Rock, Country, etc, then type in the chords to any song you want, by entering standard chord symbols. The screen is pre-divided into bars and beats, so just put in the chords at the correct bar. Once you're done, 'frame' the song by marking the beginning and end of the chorus, and how many times to loop. All of this can be done in less than 2 minutes. Then press PLAY. You'll be hearing a full 3-5 instrument arrangement, and the fun has begun!

Once you have your basic song built, you may want to add a Soloist to it using the Automatic Soloing feature. Simply press the SOLO button, then choose from over 100 "soloists" to generate a solo "lead line" to play in addition to the rhythm section and melody line. This generates a professional quality solo improvisation that plays over the chord changes that you have typed in. The program suggests the best soloist to use (jazz, pop, country etc.), and pressing the SUGGEST button will provide additional suggestions.

Let's see the harmonies! Band-in-a-Box will harmonize as you play in real time, or harmonize an inputted melody. For example, you can choose a "5 part Big Band Harmony", and get a 5 part harmonization (using 5 note chords!), and all of this happens in real time. The notation only shows the melody, the harmony notes can be heard, and seen on the on-screen piano.

There are also lots of tools to work with, such as quantize and humanize, which add straightness or looseness to the music. You can cut, copy, paste, undo, redo, add lyrics, transpose, add intros and more. You can even print out individual parts in standard musical notation, or just watch the notes play in notation format on the screen.

And the results? Outstanding! I have built several songs from scratch, and every one of them sound professional. The only problem I've had is when I had both a Melody track and a Solo track playing at the same time. The music tends to get to "busy" with that many notes being played at the same time. To fix that problem, I selected "Trade 4's", which plays the Melody for 4 measures, then the Solo for 4 measures. You also have the option of setting the soloist to perform a percentage of the time, from 0% to 100%.

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