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Band in the Box Basslines

Discussion in 'Jazz Technique [DB]' started by David Abrams, Mar 18, 2003.

  1. I love the incredible Band in the Box computer program for getting the feel for the basic components of a song arrangement, practising sight reading, learning to quickly transpose a song from one key to another, and its help in ear training. However, I find that one of its greatest weak points is the relatively low level of the bass lines.

    The "two feel" sections too often add a little 8th note syncopation before the downbeat, when most bass players will play just two half notes. The quarter note walking lines are a little better, except some of the bass line syncopation variations often sound to me too cutesy, too repetitively predictable, and nowhere near as swingin' as what most jazz bass players play. Rarely if ever does Band in the Box ever play a descending bass line, as most jazz bassists do to provide variety and interest. I do not think I've ever heard the program have the bass player play a "pedal point", which is such a nice component in jazz bass.
    Moreover, the bass never "lays out", although you can program that in for a "solo break" for the melody or solo instrument.

    Since a highpoint of B]Band in the Box[/B] is the ability to switch the "style" of a song from say "swing" to "latin", etc., I think there should be a way in the program to switch the bass style within say the "swing" style to the more economic bass line style of Charlie Haden, the rhythmically and harmonically sophisticated style of Ron Carter, or the "long tones" and large bass presence swing of Ray Brown's style. Then there might be also bass substyles within other styles, such as "latin", etc.

    How do others here use B]Band in the Box[/B]? What problems do you see and what recommendations do you have for improving this wonderful program? I think it would be helpful to discuss this topic here and then perhaps later send the suggestions and recommendations to PG Music, which I think is planning to improve the bass lines within the next year.
  2. wps


    Dec 7, 2001
    Georgetown, KY
    Gee, after a couple of years of lurking I can actually contribute something to this board.

    You actually can program in pedal points. Right click on the chord symbol for whatever measure you want to start pedalling. From the pop-up menu select Chord settings. At the bottom you have options to select a note to pedal, and what beats to play (whole note, 1 & 3, 2 & 4). You can also use slash chords to force the choice of bass note on the 1st or 3rd beat of a measure. Of course, the "bassist" will always do as instructed rather than choosing when and whether to pedal, etc. And I agree that the walking lines are weak, which I think is just more evidence that coherent walking bass lines are a heck of more difficult than they might seem to the uninitiated listener.

    If you use transcriptions at all, here's a great (and I think undocumented) BIAB feature. Open the melody window, and select options to the left of the song title. To the lower left of the options window you have the option to superimpose note names on the note heads. You can choose to name the notes relative to the key or the chord. Instant analysis!
  3. aaguudis


    Apr 3, 2001
    its a computer that doesnt have ears"playing" a synthesized bass. did you expect it to swing?

    i think band in the box has good potential for practicing improvising and such, and trying out chord progression for us non-piano-inclined, but i've never expected the computer to make real music. i had a teacher who once said about BITB "you can get some really hip solos out of it" . i'm sorry band in the box or any other computer will never play anything hip.

    dont mean to make a negative post i just hate the music that program makes.

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