Band in a Box is a piece of software that has been around for a long
time and has come a long way over the years. It's written by PG Music
(www.pgmusic.com) and is intended to fill in for a missing rhythm
section when you're practicing tunes, improvising or even when you're
trying out some backing chords for an original composition. It's not
really meant to be there during a live performance but some
people actually seem to be using it for that. Why you would want
to turn a live performance into karaoke is beyond me.
With BIAB you can input chords just as you would normally see them on
a lead sheet, choose to embellish those chords automatically, select
styles, tempos, feels, drum patterns, soloists, write melody
lines, and some other little goodies as well. I generally use this very
simply to try out different chord progressions when I'm writing a tune,
and for practice.
As a practice tool, BIAB is absolutely invaluable. If you want to
cycle some II-V-I progressions over and over in order to master some keys
or some substitutions, you can set that up in about 20 seconds and its
ready to go. Best part is that BIAB isn't going to care that it's on the
500th repetition like a real rhythm section would.
Band in a Box uses your sound card or can use a synthesizer over
MIDI as well. I have an Alesis S4 Plus rack mounted synthesizer that I
use with BIAB and it works just great! If you're a musician or, more
specifically a Jazz player, I would highly recommend grabbing this piece
of software. It really doesn't cost that much and if you're anything like
me, it will pay for itself in no time.