MIDI - sending changes to multiple devices 'during a song'

Wondering if I could throw something out there about using MIDI to control BB, keyboards, and effects units during the course of playing a song? This would be for the purpose of making changes at key points in a song such as going into the chorus or back to the verse. Right now, I use Bandhelper to send initial PC / control messages to BB, my Casio PX-5S and a Strymon BigSky reverb unit. This let’s me call up a BB song, a PX-5S stage setting and a BigSky reverb setting, and that’s real nice. But once the song starts, I’d like to be able to, say, for example, tap a footswitch and send some new parameters to BigSky (possibly something simple like change mix level, but it could be something more complicated) and/or to my PX-5S (possibly reduce the overall volume level, for example). So this would be along the idea of setting up ‘scenes’ which certain newer keyboards allow you to do, but it would actually be for managing external devices as well a keyboard / BB. Is this possible? Without breaking the bank, that is, and is anyone doing this?

**Two things in addition: I have a MIDI Maestro, but as we know, we’re waiting on the app so we program it, so I have no idea what it’s capable of with respect to my post here. And, I already do a lot with expressions pedals and footswitches so I’m kinda /sorta already doing this, in part, but not to the extent I’d like to be. I’d like to get away from dancing around with floor pedals which is sometimes so distracting that it kinda kills the moment, if you know what I mean. Thanks for your input.

I may be telling something you already know, but if you put each device on independent channels you can do anything on the fly that the hardware will let you control over MIDI. You can also add a device like the MIDI Solutions Event Processor and use NEXT-PARTs and even add notes within a given Beat Buddy song to act as a a sequencer to control other devices. As I’ve mentioned on several threads, I’m using notes and NEXT-PARTs through an Event Processor to control my stage lighting.

Hopefully, the MM will give you the control you need when the app becomes available.

1 Like

Joe, I appreciate the response. Using my Bandhelper app, I previously set MIDI channels for my devices like this:
PX-5S - (1)
BB - (2)
BigSky - (16)

So that much I do know how to do. I think it would be nice to have the ability to automate changes, but what I want at the moment is manual control over the changes so that I can deal with extended solos or intros. I’m not looking for BB to be the center of this, for it to be the controller, although what you did with your lighting is mighty cool. I think I can handle the MIDI programming (messages, hex, CC, control data). Just need to know what hardware to use and how to connect it. I will share with you that I bought and returned a MIDI Solutions Pedal Controller because I didn’t have any luck powering it over MIDI. I wrote support asking if there were a way to tap into the circuit board and run a couple wires to a power jack that I would install in the side of the device so that I could use adapter to power it, and they sent back a nice reply with instructions, but I ultimately ended up buying a MIDI Baby so I sent it back. I’m guessing that I might run into that same problem if I were to buy the MS EP?

Yep, power is an issue. I wish they’d add a power jack so you could run their gear off your PedalPower or something like that, but they rely on the MIDI-2 format that allows for (but doesn’t mandate) power over the MIDI cable. I had to also buy their power supply, so that is a hidden cost – annoying, for sure.

That said, though, John (the owner) is hugely helpful, and supports not just his products but the idiots like me who use them and are learning as they go. The guy’s been my absolute best MIDI resource since I bought the two units.

What could make it all work for you, though, is going to be the Event Processor, and, more specifically, the Event Processor Plus (EPP). The Plus version is worth the extra few bucks, even if you don’t use the extra capacity right away. More on the EPP in a minute…

For manual control: You can assign multiple commands to a footswitch on a lot of MIDI pedals (Morningstar supports something like a dozen commands, and I believe I read that the MM sends as many as six but I’m hoping there will be more than six once the app gets out and they start improving the firmware). I’m not very familiar with the MIDI Baby, but they have a great reputation for being flexible. It’s the “just one switch” that I suspect that is the big limitation.

Okay, back to the EPP: You can fully-automate your gear using an EPP driven by the Beat Buddy. What the EPP does is convert MIDI events (like notes and CC commands) into other MIDI events. To run the lights, for example, my EPP “hears” the BB send NEXT-PART (automatic per a BB setting) and NOTE-1 (added to MIDI files by me) and converts them to commands my DMX controller understands to step through a series of lighting scenes.

How that applies to you: The first 35 MIDI notes are not used by the BB, so, in theory, you can set up to 35 commands for each piece of your other gear. In practice, the EPP only supports 32 settings total, but that should be enough for most things you’d want to do (and you can always add more EPPs, if you’re feeling crazy).

You could decide, for example, to allocate 15 commands for your PX-5S and 10 for your BigSky (keeping a few aside for future expansion). In the EPP, you would set NOTE-0 to NOTE-14 to convert to specific commands on channel 1 to drive your PX-5S, and set NOTE-15 to NOTE-24 to convert to commands on channel 16 for your BigSky. Then you’d manually add the control notes to the various song parts.

Make sense?

1 Like

Thank you for this great answer!

First of all, though, I’ll start with a mini rant about manufacturers who don’t see the need for “fill in the blank”. In this case, Midi Solutions and their lack of a power jack on their devices. Glad it works for them; sucks to be a consumer. lol

I’ll start by saying, yes, I was hoping that my new MM would facilitate these things but I along with everyone else am still waiting for an app and a manual so I can see what the heck I’ve bought.

Regarding Midi Solutions Event Processor +, I’ve downloaded the app as they suggested so I can see what may be possible before I buy it.

I got to take a little bit of time to process everything you put out in this post. But again, thank you for all that detail. Very much appreciated!

Gonna PM you one of my config files so you can see what I did. Annotated, so that’ll help…

1 Like