Frequently asked questions

What you need to know about BIAB

BIAB doesn't know a lot of chords, like Yamaha or Roland


The style player, the heart of BIAB is quite illiterate, really: biab only knows 7 seventh chords (apart from triads). It knows no altered ninths, thirteenths, fourths. It ignores mMaj7, a nice chord, often used. For chording instruments, like piano and guitar, they made a workaround so that they can play the whole Biab-chord list. It's a thing called Macro Notes. But, you're limited to strums or 4 part chords. No way to make it more melodic, cause that is not supported by these Macro Notes. And... the bass knows no Macro Notes that tie the bass line to the entire chord list. A sad example would be: if you play Chelsea Bridge, it starts with two mMaj7 chords. The bass plays (if that note is in the style of course) a m7 (a flat 7) and the piano a mMaj7. This sounds bad. Even worse is: if you write 7b9 the guitar plays it correctly and the bass walks a natural 9, which sounds awfully bad. However sad this is, Biab is still the most usable accompaniment maker, far easier to use than Yamaha or Roland keyboards, though you might disagree with me.




Biab is great!


Biab is easy to use, throw in some chords on the sheet and the program plays it for you. Biab can switch styles on every bar, if you want it to. You can "arrange" your music with pushes and holds. Though it's not very sophisticated (yet?), it does the trick. You can "arrange" your music using bar settings: adjust the volume of parts, fade parts in, mute parts for certain bars... Biab gives you a notation window, too, so you can follow the melody. There's still a lot to be done, but it's getting better.




Biab can't properly display Odd Meters


Biab is limited to 4/4. Once you go beyond 4/4, into 5/4, 7/4 or 7/8... you can't properly notate it. Because Biab is rhythmically unlimited (you can mix up triplets and straights in the same measure, even in the same beat on the same instrument!). So, you can work around it. You just make an Odd meter style in a 4/4 environment. It makes notating chords and melody very difficult, but it works. The Odd meters you find here are intended to replace the style you are using with the songs you like. If you use an odd meter to replace any tune with 2 chords per bar or less, you'll be safe. It will sound more than okay.





What you need to know about MIDI

Midi note numbers for drum kits


look for the GM lay-out in BIAB-pages here If you hookup a Roland or Yamaha keyboard, they mostly have a correct GM-Brush kit.




Use your Band in a Box with a Stand Alone application (Kontakt, Sampletank...)


If you want to use Band in a Box with a Stand alone application, you could use the VST function inside Band in a Box. Another way of approaching it is disabling all vst inside Biab and sending all midi out to your Kontakt or Sampletank. For this, the easiest way is to install loopbe. It's free and it works terrificly. You can find it here In Band in a Box you select as midi out driver Loopbe (you have to install it prior to opening Biab, otherwise Biab has not "seen" it yet). In your Stand Alone application, you select loopbe as your midi input. Clean as a whistle, works great!




How can I use Biab with...


Well, there's a lot o?f questions to be asked on using VST's, stand alone applications and all. You can find all answers on the pgmusic.com site, especially in the forum and the help pages. I can not really help you with this, since I am not really a specialist in Midi or Band in a Box. I write great Styles, but these questions can be found answered elsewhere. Sorry for not helping out, but, hang in there, search forums, look for answers. Midi is -even more than before- a great way to sound good and make great music.





How to INSTALL

Loading the styles


You have to unzip the whole folder to where Biab stores your Styles. Starting BIAB 2018, the styles where put in a separate folder. Before that BIAB just put the styles in the BB-folder. Not sure where to put your style: look for *.sty-files inside the BB folder and use the same directory. If you want to find the styles in the Style Picker, you will have to "rebuild" the style picker. This can take some time. If you want to find these styles, you will all find them in Jazz or you can search for "JS" this will narrow down the style list to -mostly- the JazzStylezz styles.





VST's, SoundFonts

Using DRUM-VST's and note numbers


Drum lay-out counts. If you have a brush kit that adheres to the GM-standard, you're safe. But if you have to tweak the settings: the correct lay-out is found here. If I summarize, note number, note name, sound name For Brush drums the lay-out is: (I show the most important notes only) 35, B2, bass drum 36, C3, bass drum 37, Db3, sidestick 38, D3, brush tap (or dig in, or what"s it called) 39, Eb3, brush slap (has to be more biting and more percussive than 38) 51, Eb4, Ride 1 59, B4, Ride 2 look for the GM lay-out in BIAB-pages here If you hookup a Roland or Yamaha keyboard, they mostly have a correct GM-Brush kit.




What are the best libraries for the job?


For drums: Abbey Road drums (Native Instruments) has two wonderful libraries: vintage and fifties' drums. They both have brushes. You still have to adjust the right note numbers, but you can save it as a preset and the sound is terrific. Pizazz is totally non-GM-compatible. It will have you tweaking the notes in the script editor. But, again, very worthwile. the Kontakt factory library had nice drums. Sampletank has nice sounding brushes, but with very outdated Ride sounds. Bad thing is, it's not GM-compatible and takes a lot of effort to get to work. There are free Kontakt libraries that are simple, but do the job: bigcat instruments... takes some tweaking. Straightahead drums are meant for making midi tracks. They are not GM-compatible. UVI seems to provide some brush drums, but haven't tested it yet. For upright bass A lot of great bass libraries. A lot of good freebies also (bigcat) To get really good basses, get Sampletank or Straightahead Bass or (Fluffy Audio's) Simple Bass or Adam Monroe bass. Trilian is probably the summum, but, can't afford it.




Use a General Midi capable keyboard or General Midi sound module


Most GM-capable keyboards or sound modules have all the right lay-outs. Be aware, though, that earlier keyboards and the "cheap" ones, seldom have good or realistic sounds. Roland FA-06 works great, Yamaha PSR-S-600 and up, Korg PA-300 and up.




How can I use 32 bit... or how can I install a VST inside Band in a Box?


On the pgmusic.com website you will find a lot of answers. Don't hesitate to use the Forum either. A lot of great "members" are more than happy to help you out. I make styles and want to specialize in that. And, remember, most questions have already been answered elsewhere.





Using the Styles

Arrangements


In Biab you have three important tools for arranging song 1. Pushes, holds, shots (right click on a bar and select chord settings) You can insert places in a bar where the bass and/or drums play accented notes. You can specify on which beat the shot or hold occurs and whether it should be pushed or played on the beat. 2. Pedal points (also accessible by right clicking on a bar and selecting chord settings) Though rather rough, there is a feauture where you can force the bass to play Pedal tones. There are only five possible variations and for some reason the velocity is often too high (check the next tool), but you can specify what the pedal note is and for how many bars it should be played. It adds nice tension to turnarounds. 3. Bar settings (right click on a bar and select Bar Settings) In it you can fade instruments in or out, adjust their volume, mute them and so on. Don't forget to disable all your changes on the bar where you want it to return to normal. Works great and makes your arrangement sound way better.




Practice


These are great modern styles for practice. If you are used to playing with the "old" styles, you're used to "chic-chic-boom", very mechanic and precise playing. When you enter a jam or join a band, you hear the drums and bass going out on a limb, not supporting, but playing music. These styles are somewhere in between: solid support but decidedly modern.




Performance


You could use these styles for performance. But if you are not a guitarist or piano player, the piano part I supply will not suffice. Play your own piano part or have a piano or guitar pal play you a great accompaniment.




Tempo and chord duration


Adjust tempo and chord duration (reduce or expand the bars). Every style suggests a tempo with a minimum and a maximum tempo. If you go beyond these suggestions, the styles will not sound great. But, hey, experiment with it.





What you need to know about STYLES

How to read the Style Name


Style names can only contain 8 characters. A Biab quirk, but nevertheless. The style names consist of 6 parts 1. JS: short for: JazzStylezz 2. Meter: 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 11, 13 stand for 3/4, 4/4, 5/4 etc... 3. Style: M, B, L, S, D, P, short for Modal, Ballad, Latin, Standard, Doubletime, Postbop 4. Tempo: 5, 7, 15, 25, short for 50 bpm, 70, 150 bpm, 250 bpm 5. A,B,C... because I made more than 200 different styles, there will be overlaps in tempo, meter and style. The suffix A,B,C... in no way means they are "variations" of the same style. Every style is original.




Why only Double Bass and Brush Drums?


In developing styles the choice of the instruments is of great importance. Every GM instrument has its' own range, sound, and for drums: lay-out. I chose Brush drums because it gives you a lot of dynamics, a great sound but not too powerful, brushes have lots of playing styles. And lastly, because a lot of today's great drummers use a lot of different techniques, many of them favoring the brushes. You could substitute brush drums with other drum kits, but that would mean re-arranging the note lay-out of the kit you use. Double bass was chosen because most modern jazz is played on an upright bass, because the sound is complex, dynamic and allow for very different sounds depending on sustain, velocity. You could substitute double bass with electric bass with no or little problems. Maybe you have to adjust the octave.




Why no strings or brass section?


Broader arrrangements are geared towards performing. These styles are meant in the first place for practicing and playing in a small setting. Big arrangements require a good Style machine: Biab's' style machine is rather limited. Making intricate arrangements is to this date impossible. Moreover, BIAB styles only know 7 chords, (see: What I Need to know about Biab)$ Big arrangements require that you (as soloist or vocalist) really stretch: play with high velocity, lots of percussive effects, high energy, fast flurries of notes... I see arrangements as limiting.




Can I perform with these styles?


Of course you can. Though the styles are primarily meant to be motivating backdrops for your practicing... with the right VST or soundfont, you will really sound like a band. Keep in mind that small bands have their perks: interaction, playing off each other, firing each other on or the reverse. Computer accompaniment can not replace a great rhythm section. Lastly, if you are a saxophonist, singer or trumpet player, you will have little use for the piano parts in the style. They are just meant as a backdrop or as harmonic support. You will need to record or have someone record a good piano part.




Some styles make it difficult for me not to get lost.


Modern jazz rhythm sections don't bother with emphasizing the "one" (one, two, three, four) as they used to. That can confuse you. Remember, playing modern asks that you have a strong internal pulse going on. Most styles have a lot of clues that point you to the "one". It's not always difficult. Good playing takes time to practice.




Odd meters, BIAB doesn't know how to display them and they are difficult.


Biab is not capable of displaying odd meters. This is a major setback. The natural thing to do would be to find a substitute for Biab. Except, that is hard to find. So, why make odd meter styles in Biab if you have to squeeze them in 4/4? I don't know, but it works. Are Odd Meters impossible to learn? I used to think the same thing. It's not for me, I don't hear it or feel it. But, the thing is, it doesn't have to be. Playing in odd meters takes some getting used to. Don't jump in unprepared and hope that you will "spontaneously" get it. A few tips. Complex meters are almost always (certainly the ones you find here) a mixture of meters you already know. 5/4 is mostly 3/4+2/4. Once you hear it, you can start trying to play it. Some 5/4 are different, they count 2/4+3/4 Take 7/4 (call it 7/8) mostly the subdivision is like this: 4/4 followed by a 3/4. But some musicians play 3/4 followed by 4/4. Very confusing at the beginning, but very exciting once you begin to understand it. Take your time!




Why only MIDI, why no real styles?


Real styles can't be fully programmed yet. Midi can. Midi has capabilities that real audio styles doesn't have: you can tweak your instruments to your hearts' desire and beyond. In Midi you can have such great plug-ins, that you almost sound real. Midi is the future, I believe. Look at all the great brands (Roland, Yamaha, Korg): they keep making better and better sounding keyboards, they stick largely to midi and even GM. Midi is flexible and easier to program, but the best part: it's starting to really sound good, too.




Why is the piano part so uninteresting?


The piano part is only meant to support the player, while bass and drums do their thing. It's only there for harmonic support. Enjoy!




How where the Styles Made?


Every style is based on a Midi file I made, inspired by one of the great jazz musicians of yesterday and today. I especially studied the drums and the bass, to be able to make a midi sounding every bit as sophisticated. A guitarist originally, and dabbling in piano, I began to really take up bass and drums. For drums I use digital drum pads, for bass I played the parts on keyboard. Since every style is made from an original midi file, there are no overlaps. Not one style recycles stuff from another style. Yamaha, Roland, Band in a Box all have tons of styles, but they are based on a limited subset of bass and drums: by combining different parts from different styles, or by adding different instruments (strings, vibes, guitar) they make more styles but based on a very limited base.





Troubleshooting

The style won't play


Check your Biab-settings (Preferences). Check if your Style is "legit": a lot of free downloads and shares are just trolls or conceiled viruses. Check if your midi-setup is correct. Check if other styles play. If they do, something might be wrong with your style file. Look at the question: there is something wrong with the style-files. If other styles don't play correctly either, check out Biab help pages, forum or website. A lot of questions have already been solved in the past. Took me some time to figure stuff out, but I am hardly a specialist.




The bass plays an octave too high of too low


Check the settings in Preferences>Midi Channels: in the second column you can specify if the bass part should play lower (put in "-1") or higher (put in 1) Check your VST or plugin: see if you can transpose your instrument down or up as needed. Known "issues": Sampletank's bass is -mostly- an octave too high. You can go to edit instrument and fix it. Some Kontakt instruments don't seem to respond well to Edit>Instrument>transpose. If that's the case, either you can use the script settings in Kontakt, if you are knowledgeable, or you can adjust the bass part inside BIAB




Drums play all the wrong notes


There's two possibilities if that happens: 1. Your drums are an octave off. In "Midi-land" there is some confusion about what constitutes "middle C": some instruments play in a different octave than others Check the settings in Preferences>Midi Channels: in the second column you can specify if the drum part should play lower (put in "-1") or higher (put in 1)$ 2. Your drum kit is not General Midi-capable. Some VST-makers claim their instruments are "mostly GM" or "along the lines of GM", except, they often are not. If the drum-layout isn't corresponding to the GM standard, some VST's let you change individual notes via "drum note mapping". In Kontakt you can alter the notes played or swap them in the script editor. In some Kontakt instruments (Abbey Road Drums come to mind) you can specify which incoming note plays which drum part. You can save this preset you made. In Sampletank this is not possible. You can work around this by adjusting the range of instruments and by transposing. This is very hard to do correctly and requires to load in five times the same drum kit. Overly complex, but worth it, since the Sampletanksounds are generally quite good. Garritan Jazz and Big Band doesn't know Brush Kits, or, it doesn't have the correct lay-out. Too bad. If you, don't have the right instrument, VST or otherwist, I include a Kontakt Multi and a soundfont multi. You can find them in the "FAQ>VST, Soundfonts...)




There is something seriously wrong with the Style I bought


To be sure the Style you bought is to blame for the problem? Make sure the "problem" you are having does not occur with other styles. 1. Try another all MIDI style. If that other ALL MIDI style plays well, try again with the style you bought here. 2. If other ALL MIDI styles play well and this style doesn't play, click here 3. If other ALL MIDI styles don't play correctly either, check the pgmusic website for support.





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