View Poll Results: How many of you use BIAB or similar software for practice?

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  • I use BIAB or a similar tool all the time

    47 61.84%
  • I rarely use them but it is helpful

    20 26.32%
  • Nah I play along with my old records man

    9 11.84%
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  1. #1

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    Just curious to see how many folks find it really helpful to use a software tool like BIAB

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    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
     
  3. #2

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    I use BIAB. I dont play in a band nor at the moment have friends to play with so I find it invaluable as a practice aid.

  4. #3

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    Not using BIAB because of its price and the user interface I dislike.

    Tried iRealb which is far cheaper and easy to use. OK for quickly having a reasonable play-along

    Mostly use play-alongs I find on the Internet (Learn Jazz Standards web site for example) as they are of good quality.
    If needed I download the mp4 or mp3 and hack it into what I'd like to use, using Transcribe! (slowing down, extracting sections, etc ...) or a DAW. Then I use the resulting audio played from my computer or a looper I loaded the audio into.

    If I can't find something I like, I create a play-along myself, recording a bass part myself and adding the drums part using the Addictive Drums software.

  5. #4

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  6. #5

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    I used to have BIAB but don't now. (It was installed on my old PC, which finally died.) I would like it again----there are things I miss about it.
    "Learn the repertoire. It’s all in the songs. If you learn 200 songs, you will have no problem improvising."
    Frank Vignola

  7. #6

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    I use it very heavily. Although I play in a band, i will often try out arrangements with BIAB first. Yes, the interface is crazy difficult. I also have used iReal Pro on my android nook, but it is silly in comparison to BIAB. I have found relying onit for practice make me very dependant on seeing the chords go by and I always feel that have to to play the changes on every one of them, which has made my playing a little disjointed.
    "if only the best singing bird was allowed to sing in the forest, think how silent the woods would be"?

  8. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by DaveF View Post
    Just curious to see how many folks find it really helpful to use a software tool like BIAB
    Not a great contribution, but nevertheless ..

    I think the poll should say the plain "never" instead of"nah, using old records", since this suggestion may not attract answers and the percentage computations might be biased.

  9. #8

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    I never have practiced with play-a-longs or records. I always just play through the changes without accompaniment. It forces me to actually play the changes so you can hear them in my lines, not so I can conform to the audio. I just use a metronome.

  10. #9

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    Rarely, but I can see how they help folks...Sometimes I'lllisten to a backing track while I'm driving and sing over the changes. But for guitar playing, I'm more into the rhythm section in my head--this week it's Richard Davis and Joe Chambers.
    Jeff Matz, Jazz Guitar:
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    "Jazz is like life...it goes on longer than you think, and as soon as you're like 'oh, I get it,' it ends."

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  11. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by richb2 View Post
    Yes, the interface is crazy difficult...
    I'm surprised to read this, cuz I find the interface very simple indeed to do basic things. I have had problems adding text etc for printouts but to enter chords, change key, tempo, # of choruses, or style, I find it very straightforward indeed. I'm curious as to what aspects strike you as "crazy difficult"?

  12. #11

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    There are somethings. I wish I had a play-a-long for Evidence, just 'cause I'd like to record it with me playing. I love playing that tune.
    Last edited by henryrobinett; 10-15-2014 at 01:02 PM.

  13. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by jasaco View Post
    I'm surprised to read this, cuz I find the interface very simple indeed to do basic things. I have had problems adding text etc for printouts but to enter chords, change key, tempo, # of choruses, or style, I find it very straightforward indeed. I'm curious as to what aspects strike you as "crazy difficult"?
    This sounds like it deserves a thread of its own.

    In my case, I find creating intros an alternate choruses to be very difficult. Haven't figured it out yet.

  14. #13

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    Not sure about the alternate choruses, but intro is pretty simple: say you have a 4 bar intro. Type the chords into the first 4 bars, then start the main chorus on bar 5. Above the bar-fields, there's a place to indicate the starting bar of the chorus and the ending bar (after which it repeats to the starting bar#). Set the starting bar # to =5 and you're done. It will consider the first 4 bars an Intro and will only play it once and will do all the repeats starting from bar 5.

    You may be right: it may be worth having a separate thread for help on BIAB questions. I have some of my own...

  15. #14
    I don't really see the need for BIAB (or alternative) seeing as I just play along with the records. I don't really see the need to slow the tempo down either (there's never enough time to think anyway).

  16. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by henryrobinett View Post
    I never have practiced with play-a-longs or records. I always just play through the changes without accompaniment. It forces me to actually play the changes so you can hear them in my lines, not so I can conform to the audio. I just use a metronome.
    This is a great exercise but sometimes you want to hear a specific note(s) against the harmony, especially when you're not playing lines per se.

  17. #16

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    True. But I think of it like a tenor player practicing running through changes and tunes. I can run substitutes and alterations and hear it all in my head. It forces you to really know the changes.

  18. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by henryrobinett View Post
    True. But I think of it like a tenor player practicing running through changes and tunes. I can run substitutes and alterations and hear it all in my head. It forces you to really know the changes.
    I am beginning to really recognize the importance of being able to "hear" several instruments in your mind all at once.

    I would also say that if you want to practice singing while playing, you need to be able to do it as well.

    I compare it to a computer running two or three programs at the same time, seamlessly.

    It is a wonderful ability to have but I know many that don't have it or have not developed it.

  19. #18
    Quote Originally Posted by henryrobinett View Post
    True. But I think of it like a tenor player practicing running through changes and tunes. I can run substitutes and alterations and hear it all in my head. It forces you to really know the changes.
    Yes but it's only cool if you do it on a bridge

  20. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by DaveF View Post
    I don't really see the need for BIAB (or alternative) seeing as I just play along with the records. I don't really see the need to slow the tempo down either (there's never enough time to think anyway).
    One advantage is that it is easy to change the key of a piece. Say you work with a singer who wants to do some ballads in keys you're not used to playing them in (and you don't have recordings of the tunes in those keys.) Voila---you can put "Body and Soul" or "'Round Midnight" in whatever key you wish to practice.
    "Learn the repertoire. It’s all in the songs. If you learn 200 songs, you will have no problem improvising."
    Frank Vignola

  21. #20

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    I do my own transcriptions of songs with Sibelius, which I think is advantageous from a learning and practicing point of view, creating midi tracks for rehearsal. But with my old legacy $69 Sibelius G7, it is hard to get a good percussion track or at least I have not yet figured out how to get a good track. What I would like BIAB for is to use the Real Tracks software to create 'credible' percussion and bass accompaniment. Credible for practice purposes. And I have heard some fine musicians (pros) on Youtube put up solo guitar or piano plus accompaniment tracks for video purposes. Two musicians I follow who pull this off are Dave McKenzie (Australian pianist) and Bob Burford ( US jazz guitarist). Additionally, I'm curious about the function that creates instrumental solos in certain styles - sounds interesting.

    I like to have tracks to play over. More fun to me. For those who use it to create jazz percussion and bass tracks, which version of BIAB do you consider the minimum to create a variety of jazz styles? Best bang for the buck thing.

  22. #21

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    Targuit,

    The UltraPlusPak is the level at which you get all the real tracks, that's what I have.

    PG Music - Band-in-a-Box for Windows - All Packages
    B+
    Frank (aka fep)

  23. #22

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    I use IRealB for practice.

  24. #23

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    I'll say it once more - and I'm not being insistent that this is the correct way to do it. But PRACTICING with play-a-longs alone doesn't REALLY force you to learn the chords as you improvise. You can ear it, which is OK. But when I improvise without play-a-long assistance it forces me to have to KNOW its a C7+11 going to Fm69 to A7+11 to DMaj9. I can't just guess and bullshit my way through. Those altered chords and extensions are reflected in the notes I'm playing in my solo, more often than not. At least I know where they are when they're happening.

    Even if you can't do this right now it's a great exercise to play if very slowly, any tempo you feel comfortable and pick out those notes. It forces you to know your stuff!
    Last edited by henryrobinett; 10-16-2014 at 06:35 PM. Reason: typo

  25. #24

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    I tried but I just can't get into it. Not for jazz. I'd rather lay down some chords with a looper or avoid it all together. I'm all for fake this-or-that and cheeziness but some kinds of backing tracks just don't do it for me.
    Just my opinion.

  26. #25

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    Not a massive fan of BIAB. Why use that when you could be jamming along to Miles?
    FREE Guitar Toolkit here (7 lessons & complete Ted Greene Video Course)

  27. #26

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    Mike, because Miles only plays a few tunes. right?
    "if only the best singing bird was allowed to sing in the forest, think how silent the woods would be"?

  28. #27

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    I used an older version tons to jam along and learn real book tunes. There are/were files for volume 1 matching the book. It was a great help. I also used it for a William Leavitt book (melodic rhythmns I think) that someone shared the files for.

    Now I use iRealBook on my phone. Thinking about getting a looper pedal too.

  29. #28
    Quote Originally Posted by henryrobinett View Post
    I'll say it once more - and I'm not being insistent that this is the correct way to do it. But PRACTICING with play-a-longs alone doesn't REALLY force you to learn the chords as you improvise. You can ear it, which is OK. But when I improvise without play-a-long assistance it forces me to have to KNOW its a C7+11 going to Fm69 to A7+11 to DMaj9. I can't just guess and bullshit my way through. Those altered chords and extensions are reflected in the notes I'm playing in my solo, more often than not. At least I know where they are when they're happening.

    Even if you can't do this right now it's a great exercise to play if very slowly, any tempo you feel comfortable and pick out those notes. It forces you to know your stuff!
    I agree, this is the best way to practice your lines. I would advocate the use of a metronome here though.

  30. #29

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    Nothing has to be an either/or proposition. Last night I was feeling good, having finished my taxes on the 15th (miserable ordeal that it is) and listening and playing along with tunes off the Bill Evans Trio "Waltz for Debby" CD. Like a masterclass from the guy I consider the most brilliant star in the jazz firmament. Every measure is like poetry.

    But I think the videos and music I've heard created with percussion and bass tracks are pretty adequate for practice demos and rehearsals, though I have no direct experience with certain plug-in drum software for percussion with DAWs, for example.

    So, unless I'm misinformed, the BIAB Ultrapak Plus with good jazz Real Tracks and other styles would cost around $470 for first timers, right? I'm expecting a pretty good tax refund, but given the crappy AGI to begin with in this economy, I guarantee my wife would kill me! Gotta win the damn Lottery...

    Jay

  31. #30

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    Biab has had a sale in December every year in the past for as long as I've been following them.
    Last edited by fep; 10-20-2014 at 11:36 AM.
    B+
    Frank (aka fep)

  32. #31

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    I used to use BIAB often, but not so much anymore, and it doesn't work as well on a Mac.

  33. #32

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    Thanks for that heads-up, FEP!

  34. #33

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    Quote Originally Posted by targuit View Post
    Thanks for that heads-up, FEP!
    You might want to research other music packs and see if a cheaper it will meet your needs.

    I bought the 2012 Megapack and it is fine for my needs. I bought it in 2013, one year old and for only $140.00 at the time.

  35. #34

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    Quote Originally Posted by zigzag View Post
    I used to use BIAB often, but not so much anymore, and it doesn't work as well on a Mac.
    I'm a Mac guy so I guess I won't be getting it. I've thought about it. When I had my studio and the guys would come to rehearse and play it was a non issue of course. What doesn't it do well on a Mac?

  36. #35

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    BIAB Works great on my MacBook Pro. It has far more features than I will ever need but is great for creating a sequence that you can practise in any key at any speed. Downloading all the jazz standards files then lets you play around with all the songs you'll ever need.

  37. #36

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    I have tried several times over the years and always wound up frustrated. I have been using Macs for 30 years, don't know how the PC version works, but the interface is confusing enough that I usually just say screw it and find a backing track.

    The upgrades are pretty spendy, if you stay in the plus range, you are looking at around $200 every 12 months or so, and it's never much easier. The interface is just counter intuitive - you have to hunt all over to find repeats, intros, etc. Not saying it isn't capable of some good sounds, but the mix of computer vs. real instrumentation libraries was confusing and inconsistent (this works with this track, but defaults to that style if its not the real instrument track, etc) .... don't recall the specifics, I just couldn't make it work easily. I'm sure if I sat down for several hours, I could (and have) create something very nice and useful, but it just SHOULD work more intuitively. I use lots of complicated software without difficulty that requires reading the manual at times. I think BIAB could be much improved. And, I'm sure some have it down cold and wonder if I'm brain dead, or something. Oh, well.

    I use Amazing Slow Downer for 90% of my transcription, Transcribe! if I want to watch a video in slo-mo, iRealbook for a quick and dirty loop of changes and the occasional loop pedal for a short 4 or 8 bar phrase that I want to practice the changes for. And, I have several tracks from Bobby's Backing Tracks, which are all extremely high quality, well recorded versions of more popular tunes, for when I want to play along with something of record quality - he puts together some great players and does nice tweaks and arrangements of lots of tunes I already like to play. If you've not looked at those, check them out.

    I agree with Henry, you will own a tune much more quickly if you practice it without accompaniment - I can cheat pretty well with a backing track, but hearing the changes in your head and implying them with your lines is like doing CrossFit on guitar. It gets you in shape pretty fast!
    Last edited by yebdox; 10-19-2014 at 06:43 AM.
    It all works out in the end; if it's not working out, it's not the end.

  38. #37

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    I'm really sold on BIAB - I find it to be a valuable tool for practice, recording, arranging and for printing charts. Somehow, PG Music has developed "Real Tracks", which are based on recordings of some great players like Ron Carter, Kenny Baron and Lewis Nash (soloists include Phil Woods and Pat Martino). These aren't samples, but actual recordings - how they are manipulated so that they can be played back over any set of changes, in any key/tempo is beyond me, but they sound good and swing like crazy. At the very least, for practice purposes, BIAB makes a really cool metronome...

    I've been rehearsing lately with a singer - lots of tunes, some I'm not very familiar with, none of which are in the original keys. It's really nice to be able to transpose them with a key stroke, and then print out a lead sheet in the new key.

    The "PG Allstars" may be the ideal back-up band; like the old stage joke about drum machines (yeah, I'm an old guy),
    they "never get paid, never get laid", don't disappear into the parking lot during breaks and are willing to put up with your soloing 'till the cows come home. Good clean fun...

    Don

  39. #38

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    I'm really sold on BIAB - I find it to be a valuable tool for practice, recording, arranging and for printing charts. Somehow, PG Music has developed "Real Tracks", which are based on recordings of some great players like Ron Carter, Kenny Baron and Lewis Nash (soloists include Phil Woods and Pat Martino). These aren't samples, but actual recordings - how they are manipulated so that they can be played back over any set of changes, in any key/tempo is beyond me, but they sound good and swing like crazy. At the very least, for practice purposes, BIAB makes a really cool metronome...

    I've been rehearsing lately with a singer - lots of tunes, some I'm not very familiar with, none of which are in the original keys. It's really nice to be able to transpose them with a key stroke, and then print out a lead sheet in the new key.

    The "PG Allstars" may be the ideal back-up band; like the old stage joke about drum machines (yeah, I'm an old guy),
    they "never get paid, never get laid", don't disappear into the parking lot during breaks and are willing to put up with your soloing 'till the cows come home. Good clean fun...
    Thanks, Don, that's encouraging. I hate to admit defeat, I may need to go back and try it again. I would like to have something LIKE BIAB that would do what it's supposed to do. Maybe I gave up too easily. But I'm no dummy and it just is a frustrating and counter-intuitive setup. In my opinion. Which doesn't change anything.... I will still have to sit down and confront it one day.

    In the meantime, I have so much accumulation of learning tools, that I will probably do better to use what I have, as well as follow Henry's advice more often.
    It all works out in the end; if it's not working out, it's not the end.

  40. #39

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    Quote Originally Posted by zigzag View Post
    I used to use BIAB often, but not so much anymore, and it doesn't work as well on a Mac.
    This is not true. It works perfectly on a mac. Same exact features as on a PC.

  41. #40

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    I consider BIAB to be my best investment ever in my own music education. I've used it regularly since it first came out and upgrade every few years.
    Pete Martin - just a mandolin guy but loves jazz guitar
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  42. #41

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    For you BIAB users - I presume that you can see any of the tracks as notation, correct? Because that is so valuable.

    I use Sibelius to create my own transcriptions and arrangements of jazz standards and to compose. I find using notation software and I presume BIAB (I've never used it yet) to be invaluable to my situation.

  43. #42

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    targuit,

    I can't speak for Real Tracks, since I don't have those, but in the standard BIAB, yes, you can see every part as notation. I've even printed out the piano part once or twice for my wife to play on piano while I played guitar (she's a classically-trained pianist who doesn't really have jazz chops or ear yet, so this was very helpful).

  44. #43

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    Quote Originally Posted by nosoyninja View Post
    This is not true. It works perfectly on a mac. Same exact features as on a PC.
    Correct - I've used it on Macs for several years with no problem whatsoever. It's an excellent programme and although it's not intuitive, it's not hard to learn the small number of commands it needs to use the most commonly used functions. If your main use for it is to make backing tracks for practice, you can easily learn how to do that in fifteen minutes.
    Last edited by reventlov; 10-25-2014 at 05:08 PM.
    Spiderman needs no fancy suit or gadgets plus he's a jazz guitar fan

  45. #44

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    Quote Originally Posted by henryrobinett View Post
    There are somethings. I wish I had a play-a-long for Evidence, just 'cause I'd like to record it with me playing. I love playing that tune.
    It's here;

    Index of /biab/jazz

  46. #45

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    Whoa!! Thank you!! I'm on a gig right now. I'll check this out tomorrow! Thanks!!!

  47. #46

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    Quote Originally Posted by Stevebol View Post
    Well, yeah? What is this?

  48. #47

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    I think you have to open these document with BIAB installed on your computer, then you can hear the backing track and I assume, adjusted it to your taste (e.g.) remove an instrument, change tempo, add an instrument etc...

    I have not tried it yet, but will later today.

  49. #48

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    Quote Originally Posted by henryrobinett View Post
    Well, yeah? What is this?
    Ah, I see you don't use BIAB. I saw 'Evidence' in there.

  50. #49

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    Quote Originally Posted by AlsoRan View Post
    I think you have to open these document with BIAB installed on your computer, then you can hear the backing track and I assume, adjusted it to your taste (e.g.) remove an instrument, change tempo, add an instrument etc...

    I have not tried it yet, but will later today.
    Yes. There's a lot of songs in that link but you do need BIAB. They save as standard files if you want.

  51. #50

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    I switched from a PC to a MacBook several years ago. I've had more problems locking up on the MacBook, but I have, apparently, been overruled. Perhaps everyone else has newer versions. But, as I said, I don't use it much anymore.
    Last edited by zigzag; 10-27-2014 at 07:51 AM.