As a songwriter/composer, I have the most fun in the "jamming/improvization" stage". You know, after the basic drum and bass line is down and has a good groove going, and you start laying down a nice keyboard track or a string section that "moves" nicely.
I compose by improvising, playing entirely "by ear". I enter nothing by note at all.
I tried Band in the Box a number of years ago, but it was so focused on American standards and mainline jazz that it really couldn't help me in the styles I enjoy.
Fast forward to 2006. I upgraded BIAB and checked out the updated styles and features.
Wow. I am having fun again.
Caution: other than in jazz (where BIAB is great) you cannot really use only BIAB for the arrangement; that will sound unsophisticated and "canned", in my opinion. You have to add your own unique style to what it generates, and then move into Sonar, etc, for the better sampled intruments, professional adjustments and mastering.
But it excels at helping me QUICKLY get a basic structure down and grooving. And hearing that structure kicks in my inspiration, which makes some really good things come out of my fingers!
Electronic calculators have saved immense amounts of time for engineers, mathematicians, and scientists.
Band in a Box truly is a "calculator for songwriters". Great timesaver.
Once you have a piece "going", you can refine it to whatever extent you like.
I find that I am increasingly able to just leave a lot of the BIAB-generated stuff alone. It's "good enough" in the mix. I can add my custom-generated "genius" parts over the top of it <g>.
I must say it has increased my songwriteing productivity immensely.
Eventually I will put some up on my site.
I really think it can be taken a LOT further than most people think, if you start tweaking the styles, mixing styles in bars, and using styles in CREATIVE ways and tempos.
What are some of your thoughts on BIAB for contemporary music?
I would agree with your observations. BIAB has steadily improved its styles over the years. The interface is still a bit clunky and busy, and many things have been added vis-a-vis audio that I find irrelevant at best, but the combination of improved styles and style editing along with the ability to use VST instruments for playback make it my first stop when writing or arranging a song. I have setup Combination patches in Colosuss for use in BIAB that really make the music come alive. I export to MIDI and then add parts in SONAR. Sometimes I will generate 5 or 6 different style arrangements in BIAB, export them, and then combine the best parts in SONAR.
Also, the Melodist can be useful to jump start a writing session--I have come up with some interesting songs using some of the chord changes generated by this feature.
BIAB is a great tool. I usually create midi files and import them into Cubase for editing. I use it for a drum pattern creator more than anything, but if you need something quick, it can crank out some pretty convincing music. and of course, for improvisational type playing, it's downright addictive. I've never got a decent soloist, however. I never use that function. . .
The learning tools offered by PG are very good, too, I have found. I got the jazz piano course, and have picked up some very nice, usable jazz piano licks. Midi control allows me to slow them down for learning, and you can even get standard notation. This course is perfect for someone like me who has played for years and really doesn't want to start over, but needs some good licks to stay interesting.
BTW Jammer is good, too. It's a similar program, not quite as feature rich but I find the styles even more convincing. The musicianship seems better, overall.
And as a side note/question, has anyone been able to get Giga to work as a vst via the wrapper with BIAB? It should work in theory, but I keep getting error messages. It would be great if I could play my Giga sounds via vst.
BIAB is a great tool...for improvisational type playing, it's downright addictive.
You've got that right! It's like jamming with a very competent "backup group" who never gets tired.
I also agree that the soloist does NOT generally create very interesting melodies. But it could give you ideas, and maybe that's all BIAB expects to be able to give you.
I have Jammer as well. Yes, the musicianship is a bit more sophisticated in the non-Jazz styles BUT...that can tempt you to let Jammer do parts for you when you really should be reworking them yourself.
Basically I use BIAB for the rhythmic content: the drum, bass, and one rhythm instrument. I then put my creativity on top of that.
And I might even rework the bass later in parts if I get a certain groove going that needs an "echo" in the bass line.
Gigastudio is not a VST instrument nor can it be wrapped as one. It is a Rewire Instrument but at this point BIAB doesn't support Rewire.
FX-Max does indeed make a wrapper for Gigastudio. AMF, I use it all the time with Cubase. BIAB+wrapper+GS however seems to cause errors. I'll take it over to the pg forums, but thought someone else might have had more positive results.
Errr... my last contact with BIAB was back with the Dos version (arrghhh), but couldn't you just set the midi out to one of your Giga ports and avoid all this extra aggravation?
Surely they have preserved this simple bit of functionality (available way back in dos!) that allows you to choose your midi in and midi out?