How to handle more parts than what BeatBuddy supports (shout out to Dead Heads)

Shout out to Phil_Flood and other Dead Heads using BB. I’ve been a quiet forum member for years and at a crossroads with my workflow and hope you can answer some questions.

To answer my own question (spoiler alert), I’m thinking the answer is going to be ABLETON

How to you handle songs that have multiple parts that exceed what BB supports?

Let’s talk Terrapin, where you have:

  1. first verse with the odd timing of the C arpeggiated riff. da da da da da – da da.
  2. The you have the Fmaj 7th jam
  3. followed by inspiration
  4. followed by the D C Am outro jam

The point here is, the drum beats and time sigs are different and exceed BB’s ability to support as many parts are in the song.

While terrapin is a good example, the nature of grateful dead songs calls for improvisational interludes, that again, exceed the amount of parts BB can support. Another song example would be, music never stopped, or odd timing such as playin’ in the band, or lazy lightnin’

How do you handle these where you have control over each individual part that you can play as long as you want before manually, with the press of a pedal, navigate to whatever part you want?

Ironically, the Digitech Trio Plus handles up to 4 parts!, and with the extended foot switch you can navigate to the next part. The downsides being; you can only go forward with the foot switch, it is not Midi, and has a risky Save feature that can be easily overwritten by mistake; the micro SD card does not have a physical lock therefore it is possible to accidentally overwrite your saved songs. And, the drum samples are not preferred.

Fast forward to Ableton. It seems if each part is an audio clip, using Ableton’s ‘follow’ function and using a MIDI foot controller, you can navigate between multiple parts. This gives the band more freedom to jam on each part as long, and however they want. Using a VST like EzDrummer.

Again, the point here is finding a solution for something to handle multiple parts beyond what BB can, and the ability to manually navigate to each one, via a MIDI Pedal.

Thank you in advance for thinking about this. For those of us that understand the Dead repertoire, Bob weir tunes have odd time sigs too.


Being a hardcore head myself, due to the nature of the Dead, I’m struggling to see how I’d do this and not find it a completely empty experience.

Good luck getting Supplication or The Eleven into that thing!

You see my point – thanks. I’ve had BB since day one when it was released and keep running into limitations with it, which makes me shelf it before giving it another try. It’s turned into a vicious cycle. Seeing all the Dead songs for BB, is impressive and I can see how many tunes can lend themselves to a 2 or 3 part/segments. But, when it comes to songs like China Cat where you want to vamp on the intro for an unlimited time, or even on the black throated wind intro, this is where it becomes difficult with BB. And, other drum machines. It looks like I will continue with my Ableton workflow I will briefly share, in case it lends any value to other folks.

In Ableton, I load up a wav/mp3 of a live recording and crop out the individual song segments I want to loop as clips, and can manually trigger using a midi foot controller. China Cat is a good example for the opening vamp, before the next segment with Weirs part. Followed by verse>bridge, verse > bridge, verse>bridge, rider drum pattern>rider. As you can see many parts. I then save these segments back down as separate wav files. I load each one in to iZotope RX8 and Isolate the Drums, Bass, Vocal, and Other track. I bring these tracks back into Ableton and using Lives right-click function on the audio Drum clip, convert it to Midi, where I use EZdrummer for the drums. Because it’s an isolated Drum track, the beat conversion to MIDI is excellent near perfect. I now have complete control to navigate to unlimited segments of the song using better quality Drum kit options then what BB offers. Converting the audio Bass track can be done with some good success replacing the audio with a VST Bass. However, to be clear. After the post MIDI conversion, i do not do any added editing to the midi track. It’s ready to use. Having all these tracks allows me to control what other instruments I want to play with, or without too.

This works easily for The Eleven, or Lazy Lightnin, because the Audio to MIDI conversion quantizes perfectly from the original drums by Micky and Bill.

Guess I’ll be putting BB away – again.

Thanks for chiming in, and remember, “the music never stops”

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To be fair, this limitation of the BB is something that I suspect 99 percent of its non-Head users will not be concerned about.

Very Fair - Agreed. And in fact, admittedly, while it normally stick to a different workflow using Ableton, I am still interested in learning how, if possible, BB can fit into my script.

Looking at my at one of the purchased song packs, there are 7 parts/segments! From this stand point, i see it is possible to split the song out to multiple parts. It looks like there’s room here to make things interesting to incorporate some interlude and free form jam parts. Keep in mind, I’m not interested in including Bass or Keys in the BB. Drums only

Different parts can have different time signatures. But rather than having a single 3/4 or 5/4 measure hang by itself, you could total the entire suggestion. For example, if you have 16 4/4 and 1 3/4, you can make that one long measure of 67/4. It’s really pretty flexible, if you break the song out into it’s sections.

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Thanks Phil. That’s helpful. And when you looking at something like the transition jam between China Cat to Rider, even though it’s 4/4, it can be split with a few variations to make it interesting instead of one long repetitive part. Before transitioning into the 4/4 country groove to Rider. You now have me thinking about the outro to Truckin. in the 70’s, there was an outro jam that went on for a while, transitioning to The Other One, and back into Truckin.

You could use the BB as the sound generator and connect the MIDI output from Ableton into the BeatBuddy, this way you don’t actually need to use the BB parts at all, it’s just plays what’s being sent to it during the current Ableton scene.

Just remember to turn on Note On support in MIDI in, I believe this is on by default.

Thanks for the question, hope you find your solution!

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