The Official Band-In-A-Box (BIAB) Thread
September 19, 2014 at 4:45 AM #8926
Hi folks! This is the place for all the Band-In-A-BoxSeptember 19, 2014 at 4:59 AM #8927
Hi folks! This is the official Band-In-A-Box thread. This is the place where we can discuss BIAB. Here, you can ask questions or if you are a seasoned BIAB user, you might like to share some of your tips and tricks in using the program. In his quote below, which is THE most informative and most straightforward description I have read to date, John describes what Band-In-A-Box is, what it does and how it works.
I would also like to add to what John says by suggestion to anyone who is thinking of purchasing BIAB, to buy it at the end of each year. PG Music (the producers of BIAB) usually has a hefty discount on it every year starting around December. I own the Audiophile version that comes on an external USB3 Hard Drive that holds around a massive 800 GB of BIAB files! Also, I would suggest that at the time of purchase, you carefully consider purchasing some of the discounted bonus paks (that is how PG Music spell it) while you are placing your order for BIAB.
You might also like to check out this link to Norton Music who are the #1 producer of Band-In-A-Box aftermarket products. They have a lot of really cool styles that BIAB does not include , yet they work seamlessly within Band-In-A-Box.
Happy fiddling and BIAB -ing! 🙂
BIAB is a software created by PG Music, Inc. It is a huge collection of musical loops that can be connected together to form songs. PG Music hires great musicians to strum in different chords in various styles at various speeds, then snips each little sound byte so that it will connect with another sound byte seamlessly. These sound bytes are called “loops,” and they are generally one to four measures long. These various artists can then be joined together to form a “style.”
I can literally spend hours playing around with different styles and solos. It really is a LOT of fun. This week’s lesson is “Frankie and Johnny,” which has sort of a New Orleans feel to it, and so I used this really cool Dixieland style for the jam tracks. Here is a preview, just so you can hear BIAB do its thing. The music begins around 1:45:
As a user, you choose a style, then chart out the chords, and BIAB will assemble the band and generate the song. And it doesn’t have to be just rhythm. The BIAB artists have also recorded an awesome library of solo riffs. When you listen to my bluegrass jam tracks, you are listening to loops of music that were created by Andy Leftwich (fiddle), Rob Ikes (resonator guitar), Scott Vestal (banjo), Brent Mason (guitar) Byron House (bass), and Ricky Lawson (drums).
Check out this link for a listing of some of the BIAB styles. You can click the links for audio samples and videos as well:
Some of those should sound familiar to users of this site! Sometimes the loops do not mesh like you’d want, and the sound is unnatural. For example, Scott Vestal seems to change his capo position every time there is a chord change, and sometimes the guitar plays a flat seven when you don’t want it to. All in all, though, it generates some good music and is pretty easy to use.
Although you can’t dictate the melody to the master musicians, you can create a desired melody using a midi platform, then merge it with BIAB (see my backing tracks for “Morning has Broken”), and you can also record your own live music as you play along with BIAB (see my guitar intro on “Orange Blossom Special.”) The advantage of adding your own recorded music to BIAB is that you can speed it up or slow it down very easily when generating jam tracks. For me, that means not having to record the intro to OBS at multiple speeds.
If you are planning to by BIAB, I recommend getting the external drive. All of these audio files take up a LOT of space. PG Music has a ton of great video tutorials to help you get started, plus I have been using it long enough to help out a bit as well.September 19, 2014 at 3:51 PM #8938
Hi Scott, thanks for starting an official post on this! I realize that it is a pricey program, but you can get some great use out of it. Considering the work that goes into creating a software like this, I don’t feel bad about paying the sticker price for it. I use BIAB a lot so if you have any questions, feel free to ask. If you don’t mind, I’ll use this thread as time goes on to showcase some of the features of BIAB that I put into my music.
As I mentioned before, here is one that I am kind of proud of. In “Morning has Broken,” I integrate musical notation for piano as a midi grand piano with the other “real” instruments, including a real piano that is playing chords behind the midi piano to make it seem more realistic. You can also hear how I pulled the other rhythm instruments in and out. This is all done within the BIAB software. I think it’s pretty cool! (Music starts around 1:00).September 22, 2014 at 1:34 AM #9019
Hey John! Apologies for my lateness in getting back here to reply.
Thanks so much for giving us all a great insight into Band-In-A-Box!
I, and I am sure many others here would gladly welcome the opportunity of you using this thread to showcase some of the features of BIAB that you put into your music. All your backing tracks sound awesome and maybe a newbie like me can learn a thing or two. Being a Hobbit, I must confess to my liking of Hobbit music … so I might just one day learn enough to make a backing track for when Merry and Pippin decide to get jolly in the tavern again!
I will get my questions in order and post them here for answering … but ONLY if you have some time to answer them. Love your rendition of “Morning Has Broken”.September 23, 2014 at 1:59 PM #9076
I’ve got plenty of time! This may also help me to learn more about BIAB myself.July 13, 2015 at 11:09 PM #25060
Below is Jackie’s (aka caintuck) question that was asked in another thread.
Hi Great Scott,
Not to get off topic too far. Have you compared the audiophile version biab with the compressed file version? I am just curious other than price what would be the significant difference in audio quality?
Hi Jackie! Man, did I compare! I compared for months! To be perfectly honest, when comparing the compressed with the uncompressed files, I was able to pick up only a slight amount of difference. Due to our pointed ears, and our uncanny ability of selective hearing, we hobbits are able to pick up a higher range of frequencies, whereas the rounded ears of our non-hobbit bretheren are less capable of such a magnificent feat.
Although the difference was minute, I was however listening to the comparisons through headphones. I imagine had I been listening through proper studio monitors, the difference could have possibly been more magnified. Most people will say they can’t hear the difference, while a few will say they can. I think if someone is working with live musicians (which are so much more fun than working with dead ones) on a daily basis, then they could perhaps hear a slight difference in quality, but for the majority of people, I think if you sat them down and played one track to them using a compressed file (WAV) and then played another using a non-compressed file (WMV), and then asked them to tell you which one was the uncompressed file, I really don’t think they could tell you. For me to explain the slight difference I heard, I would say that the uncompressed files seemed to have a little extra “sparkle” as in when listening to cymbals, if that makes sense. I would describe it as “crispness” of about 5 per cent over the compressed files. However, it is all in the ears of the listener.
As I said, I compared the non-compressed vs compressed files for several months before purchase. The reaon I chose the audiophile edition was as a kind of “just in case” type thing, and so I could cover all bases and not have buyers remorse; though, looking back on it, I think I would have been completely satisfied with the non-audiophile version. Be advised too that not every file on the Audiophile edition is uncompressed. There are many compressed files on it as well. The amount of file in total takes up around 870 GB (unsure of exact amount) and it took me over 12 hours to install it on my PC. For the life of me, I can see no logical reason why they don’t make BIAB cross-platform. I am not springing for an update of my current version until they do!
Message to PG Muisc: Be bold and step into the 21st Century, and make BIAB cross-platform!July 14, 2015 at 2:31 AM #25061Hakan LindholmParticipant
Very good subject. I have tried for years to make backing tracks and tried varius software but I have not got very far. I have not found out the proper workflow to create good sounding backing tracks (like the backing tracks on this site). I simply put in the chords and then try to find a suitable music style from the many hundreds to chose from but it never seems to sound correct. It works ok to practice fiddling to but it does not sound the way I would like it to. I have Band In a Box (one of the larger packs – ultra plus pack ) so there is plenty of music styles to chose from but I have not figured out a suitable workflow on how to use it for the results that I am looking for.
I would be very interested in how others create backing tracks and their work flow (simply putting in the chords and trying to find suitable music style? ,modifying the instruments for the style? modifying the style?, entering and adding the music notation for various instruments? like bass and drums? or others?. If so how do you know what music to enter for the instruments you don’t play (bass, drum..)).
In particular if there is a workflow how to emulate good backing tracks that sounds more or less identical or very near to an original recording of a song you are trying to learnJuly 14, 2015 at 6:53 AM #25067
Scott, thanks for reminding us about this thread.
Caintuck, I use the real wav files. This is because I compress them to MP3 afterwards, and then they get processed again by my video editing software. After so many compressions, it starts to sound a little wonky*.
Hakan, here is what I do for backup tracks. Please let me know if you have questions on any step.
1) Enter the chords into the chord sheet.
2) Choose a pre-built style, usually bluegrass or country.
3) If bluegrass, I usually add some real drums to the mandolin track.
4) I click the first bar of the verse to make it blue, and the first bar of bar of the chorus to make it green. This way, the instruments “step it up” for the chorus.
5) If I do not want the default “shave and a haircut” two-bar ending, I deselect that option under “song settings.” I usually create a tagged ending under “song settings.”
6) Here is a neat trick for a nice held chord at the end of the song: On your last chord, go under “chord settings” and select “hold chord.” Leave the next three bars blank. On the fourth bar after the held chord, enter a different chord (it doesn’t matter what you enter). For this chord, go under “chord settings” and select “rest only.” Now this chord won’t be heard, but your previously held chord will stop. End the song on this bar.
7) If the song sounds good and I have the right number of loops, I then export the song as an MP3 at several different speeds.
I hope that helps!July 14, 2015 at 7:06 AM #25070
Hi Haken! I have many of the same questions as you in this regard. I have a number of videos that came with my edition of BIAB. They wwere informative — be them from 2008 for my 2013 edition! — (a big gripe of mine) but they got me no closer to creating a decent backing track, the likes of which you are trying to achieve. I have searched Youtube and found many videos on the subject but again, they have brought me no closer to the holy grail. I will admit here that I absolutely loath software and prefer the classic old-fashioned hands-on hardware. I guess I am probably genetically predisposed to missing the brain cells required for understanding BIAB and making a simple backing track that sounds half decent.
In the time I have owned BIAB (almost 3 years now), I always end up walking away from it in frustration and defeat — the frustration and defeat being brought on by my own ineptness in understanding the very basics of BIAB. I bought it believing it would help me with my music but it has had a huge negative affect on me and my creativity, and I have come to hate it! That said, I don’t want to give anyone the impression that there is anything wrong with the program; there is not. There are thousands of intelligent people out there who know how to get it working in their favor and create some great music with it. I, alas, seem to not be one of those intelligent people. So, instead, I have resorted to beating a goat skin drum with a stick and banging my head against a large rock as my two main fundamental musical instruments.
The BIAB forum over at PG Music has some very friendly members, but I feel like such a stooge reaching out and asking anyone for help because I feel so foolish not knowing how to manage BIAB in giving me what I want from it. I also have Kontakt 5 and Reaper; however, I am totally lost when it comes to these two programs as well. My video editor is the only bit of software I can do anything productive with. So, I am happy to think that I am not a complete idiot after all. I have just about given up on music and do very little with it these days, mostly because I can’t seem to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
I only wish I could help you in showing you how to create a really good backing track, Haken, but I am aftraid I am as lost as you when it comes to getting my head around BIAB.
I am now reaching for the razor blade as I lie in a bathtub of hot water!July 14, 2015 at 8:24 AM #25081
Scott, the image of you drumming on a goat skin while banging your molded plastic head against a large rock is downright hilarious. Thank you for that.
One of my problems with BIAB is the sheer number of buttons on the front panel. I don’t use any of them. I don’t use the melody maker, the score maker, or any of its billion functions. I just enter chords into the chord sheet, choose a style, and create awesome backing tracks.
I am more than happy to help you with this rudimentary feature of BIAB. Email (or attach) some of your files and I will take a look!July 14, 2015 at 11:32 AM #25096
Thank you, John. That is very thoughtful of you. I appreciate that very much. We will be in touch. Like I said in a few other posts: I am not from this time or technological age. Now, you will have to excuse me. I have to get back to my drumming. I am the official drummer for the annual mammoth dance competition and I mustn’t miss a beat!
P.S. ~ My head is made of plaster, so you can imagine the mess it makes every time a rock takes a chunk out of it!July 14, 2015 at 12:49 PM #25100
BIAB I am one of their biggest fans. Fun, Fun, Fun. If your in tune the whole “band” is in tune. Play with the best background music.
I play acoustic guitar and sing mostly gospel music. There is a 100,000 watt Christian radio station WJCR 90.1 about 50 miles from where I live. I had got into BIAB about 12 years ago. In Dec. of 2005 I wrote a song called, The Old Path. Band is a Box had no where near the quality it does now. I was using strictly midi instruments in those days. I used only the midi acoustic guitar #26 and the acoustic bass to record the song. A lady friend of mine heard The Old Path and she asked if I would care if she took it to the WJCR radio station for me. I said wait until I put more musical accompaniment with it. I told they would probably trash can it. But, she took it down to the station as it was. Turns out for three years running, (it’s crazy, I know), it was the most requested song. I believe if the song had not touched so many people as it was in it’s raw form, I don’t think the very best instrumentation would have made any difference, at least, in this case. Lesson learned! I have no trouble getting songs played on the air, even today. Of course this is only regional and they are not a reporting station to Billboard, Singing News, etc. But I appreciate them very much for adding me as their local artist. And the good thing is, I have my “band” standing by waiting to play on my next song! I hope to add the fiddle someday. Oh and that’s another thing, sometimes I lay down the rhythm tracks and bring some exceptional local talent to play on the tracks. With a few live instruments, sounds like it was done in a major studio.
Great Scott or anyone that may have a question on how to do something in BIAB, I would be more than glad to help in anyway I can!!!
Just a thought, what would be the problem with BIAB users, helping others put the music to their songs they may write, I don’t know, maybe?
caintuckJuly 14, 2015 at 2:38 PM #25103
Thanks Caintuck. If you are getting airplay with BIAB, you know it isn’t half bad! To me it is the best way to create a “demo” CD for giveaway. And with a few “live” instruments added for flavor, I can see how it could sound like a studio recording. I have been very happy with the product.
Thanks also for the idea about BIAB users applying their talents to create music tracks for any budding (or seasoned) songwriters here on the forum who don’t have a way to otherwise get a backing track for their song. I think it is a great idea!July 15, 2015 at 12:17 PM #25111
I feel like we, (BGD) members should help each other when it is possible.
I love the idea that no one here on this forum that I have come across feels like they have arrived! We are all on a journey and we are in different stages of development. We all have individual goals. And too, when we are willing to help someone else achieve their goals, and feel like they are moving ahead, they are filled with a sense of accomplishment. I believe this can fuel their next challenge, step by step we all win! I say let’s dig in and encourage one another then we help ourselves to reach our own next goalpost on this long and tedious but extremely rewarding journey!
When I have had questions, newbie type things, example, the camcorder thing and the help you gave me on the lyric of my song, etc., you guys have just rushed in to help me. Not only technically, but it made me feel good to know I’m a part of something that’s much bigger than myself. I feel safe on this forum!
caintuckJuly 15, 2015 at 6:28 PM #25115
Thanks Caintuck, that means a lot. I feel safe here too — except for the occasional attacks by pirates and drill sergeants. And the occasional 70s tune that inevitably gets stuck in my head for several horrible weeks.July 15, 2015 at 7:47 PM #25118JoeParticipant
I have biab and am completley lost using it. My other fiddle teacher just sends me the file to play with the songs I am learning.
note to John:
Notice I said other fiddle teacher?July 15, 2015 at 9:33 PM #25119
Hi Joe, I’m proud to be one of your teachers! 🙂 Let us know if there is a particular BIAB function you are trying to use. We might can help!July 15, 2015 at 9:54 PM #25120
Hi Jackie, that is a great idea!
You know, if I, myself, were expertly proficient at using BIAB, then I would make a series of tutorials on how to use BIAB, going from the very start of creating a backing track, right through the entire process to the point of completion. I would also do tuts on every other aspect of BIAB; however, I would teach it slowly and succinctly knowing there are nebies who WANT someone to explain things to them slowly and concisely. Too many tutors /tutorials that I have seen treat the newcomer as if they should know everything already, even before the lesson has begun. Like many other newbie’s, I want my tutors / tutorials to be clear and concise, patient and understanding — going through the process slowly, and even back tracking a little to make sure we are not getting lost along the way.
And Jackie, you are SO right! When we help others, we are also helping ourselves; helping ourselves to grow through the gift of love, and the gift of giving.July 15, 2015 at 11:00 PM #25122
Great Scott! As you already know I don’t have the technical savvy to make a video tutorial but perhaps, if you could tell me where you’re hitting the “wall”. I will explain in detail through text and perhaps screenshots, to help you through each step of the way. Sometimes certain BIAB terminology can confuse the issues at hand. And like you said most tutorials even professionally produced can assume to much from the end user. I have had a great deal of experience using BIAB, I know I can help you! I don’t think there is very much I don’t know about the program. We will take it step by step. Explain to me where your trouble is and if you can what you need to understand. Sometimes tutorials tend to lose us. I will do my best to speak and explain everything in depth and if you still have a question, I’m right here! I remember a time a few years ago, I had purchased a drum machine, the Alesis SR16, perhaps you are familiar with it. I spent several days learning how to get around the machine, to build user presets, drum sound choices, sitting time signatures, etc. When musicians around who wanted to use the machine in live venues, guess who they came to see! I finally wrote a blow by blow, step by step how-to for the little machine. Far more detailed than the user manual. Anyway, it helped a lot of people that felt like it was just too complicated.
So if I can help you through this maze, I will be more than willing to help all I can!
caintuckJuly 15, 2015 at 11:11 PM #25123
I’m with John, let us help you learn BIAB. It is an awesome program that is I believe a Godsend to musicians who would love to play with a great band, they play in tune, the timing is excellent, and even this drummer does know everything, but doesn’t flaunt it, nor does he get drunk and fall through his drum set! Huge improvement!
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