BandMaster is a phenomenal tool for improvising musicians of all genres. In essence it emulates a backing band consisting of bass, drums and piano on the computer. Using BandMaster couldn't be any easier. Opening an existing song or picking a template for a new one is all that is needed to get started. Settings for count in, speed and number of chorusses are readily available in the main window and a familiar set of buttons for play, stop and pause handles the rest.
In the following paragraphs we are highlighting a couple of BandMaster's features. For a better look at the screenshots, click on the images for a larger representation. If you already own a copy of BandMaster you may want to download the bonus song libraries comprising close to 1100 standards. They are located in the Downloads section of our forum.
If interested take a look at BandMaster's documentation website as listed in the application's help menu for a very detailed breakdown of features.
Make sure to click the images on this page for a full sized view.
- Supports all common chords
- American and European chord notation
- Chord analysis
- Global transposition for horn players
- Chorus and form looping
- Time scale, transposition, trade fours sections
- Metronome mode
- Annotations tool
- Replace tool
- Text entry tool
- Time signature tool
- Transposition tool
- Large counter window
- Song exchange with iOS versions of BandMaster
- MIDI file export
- ScaleMaster Live Sync
- Bonus content of around 1100 song templates (forum download)
- Ready for Retina®
- Academic discounts available
- Localized into Chinese, Dutch, English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Norwegian, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish and Swedish
Creating original content in BandMaster is also very easy and requires very little typing. Most editing is done by click, copy, paste and dragging. Mass edit tools like replace or transpose tools are available as well as a set of macros that can be applied to blocks of measures. BandMaster comes with 6 groups of song templates and additional content containing around 1100 songs is available for download
free of charge. Creating a basic blues from a template for example takes all but 3 mouse-clicks.
For playback BandMaster offers many standard features and some very unique capabilities. Instruments are broken down into individual tracks that can be muted or soloed. A full set of General MIDI instruments is available to each track as are volume and octave adjustments. In addition instruments can be silenced during specific chorusses. Our blues could thus start with a chorus of bass only maybe, and then kick in some drums and piano later.
The Chord Grid
Most editing of songs takes place via the chord gird. Roots are assigned to selected beats via the toolbar buttons and chord definitions (i.e. MAj7) via the popup menu. Similar to a traditional spreadsheet the chord grid supports all common copy and paste as well drag and drop operations. Sections of songs can also be dragged between windows. Double-clicks select contiguous sections of identical chords and clicks in the number strip select along grid lines. BandMaster includes a text based input tool as well, but most users will find the chord grid a much speedier and easier way to create songforms.
Most songforms use building blocks like the IIm7-V7 chord progression for example. BandMaster's macros use this fact to allow editing entire groups of beats or measures. Progressions are based on the root of the first chord in the selection. Employing the IIm7-V7 macro on a group of 4 measures Cmaj7 transforms it into Dm7 / G7 /. The same macro can also be applied to just one measure in 4/4 time with the result of 2 beats each in Dm7 and then G7.
The Analysis window in BandMaster displays relevant chord/scale information and automatically updates itself with the current selection in the chord grid when editing and during playback. Chords are displayed in closed root position in the notation display section of the window. Listed below are guide tones, chord tones, a selection of compatible pentatonic, hexatonic, heptatonic and octatocnic scales as well as upper structure triads where applicable. Like the large counter window the Analysis window is semi-transparent which is invaluable when displaying it on top of a maximized song window.
A unique feature in BandMaster are timeline sections. A timeline is the graphic representation of the allotted chorusses for a song and sections are simply contiguous areas in that timeline. There are the Time Scale section with 8 settings from half-time to double-time, the Transposition section and lastly the Trade Fours section. Sections can be applied independently over any group of chorusses. In our example we could now play the first chorus of bass at half-time, proceed with regular time once the other instruments come in and finally add a Trade Fours section just before the last chorus. Sounds like fun!
Loops are handled in a very unique fashion in BandMaster in order to accomodate the practicing musician. At the base is the songform which is looped quite simply by assigning a number of chorusses in the control strip. A secondary type of loop in BandMaster is called Form Loop. It allows the user to select a section of chords in a songform and just loop them. This is very handy when practicing transitions, turnarounds, etc. Yet another form of loop in BandMaster is called Chorus Loop. This is useful when employing sections in BandMaster (i.e. practicing transitions between choruses with different tempi).
Keeping the Musician in Mind
BandMaster was created by musicians for musicians and offers a couple of key features in that regard. Most keyboard shortcuts needed to operate the application are centralized under the Controls menu and consist of only one key stroke like the space bar that toggles playback. The Analysis and Counter windows automatically reposition themselves next to the active song window and off to the bottom and side in case the song window has been maximized. Additionally the the chord grid's font can be scaled up to allow reading the computer screen from a distance.
If interested, take a moment to look at BandMaster's documentation website which is listed in the application's help menu. It provides appendices for the chords available in BandMaster, a listing of all gm MIDI instruments to BandMaster's tracks and a very detailed breakdown of the many features.