Rambling...an alternate way of arranging

The BB is an interesting concept, because it seems to be designed as a live instrument as opposed to glorified backing track module.
At least this is my impression, and the very reason i bought it.
When i read threads about people wanting the machine to play straight through an arrangement without user input (like pressing play on a CD player) it saddens me a little as a muso, and I also realise that I have a very different expectation of the machine (and indeed what being a muso is) to many others.

For much of the music I play, especially the rock stuff, arrangements are mostly fairly rigid, but for the swing/jazz/blues stuff arrangements can be very flexible based upon many factors such as who is on the gig, who feels like taking epic solos, how full the dance floor is, or even stupid reasons like the singer forgetting the lyrics or the arrangement.

One thing that i struggle with is the linear arrangement the software locks the user into… as in… you can only progress to the next section, regardless of whether the next section is the right section to go to in the heat of battle.
For example, If the singer were to make the song an epic and call “break it down” I really don’t have an option of doing that, short of pausing it and hoping there is a kick drum assigned to the pedal.

There is a solution, but it is a major deviation from the (software) structure that now exists and would require additional hardware to effect.
Hence I don’t really expect this to happen, but it worth a though, especially once the other manufacturers realise what a good idea BB is and start throwing money at their own versions of the device.

What Im talking about is rather than having relative control where you simply toggle to the next predefined section, have a system where you have absolute control. For example, four section slots in the arrangement and a pedal board with four switches corresponding with these 4 section slots.

I won’t pretend this is my idea, this is exactly the way Korg do it on their glorified ‘casio keyboards’ and it totally frees the user up from having to stick to any type of preset arrangement.
On these keyboards, you predefine your sections (or use theirs), but the order they are played in, or even if they are played at all, is totally flexible on the gig.
This would also make the concept of ‘One arrangement fits a dozen songs’ more realistic and allow musos in the band to call songs I’d never programmed an arrangement for, all without giving me a heart attack.

That is the thing that scares me a little about introducing the BB to the bands I play in. The guys won’t give a rats about the homework required to set up the device, nor the tap-dance skills, and will just call tunes and expect me to play them.


Hi Nags. I like what you’re proposing. Wondering if something like the McMillen SoftStep would be able to do this? <http://www.keithmcmillen.com/products/softstep/>. You’re right though, hate to continue adding more hardware to my setup.

I ruled out the Molten Voltage Master Control for the time being as I just don’t think it’s up to the task unless I included the Osmosis and maybe other stuff as well <http://www.moltenvoltage.com/products/MASTER_CONTROL_by_PedalSync_MIDI_PedalBoard_Clock_and_Brain_by_Molten_Voltage.html>

I am scratching my head though, thinking that your idea of “absolute control” may still be limited to those 4 switches or section slots. Am I missing something?

Then your bands should get a real drummer. The BB is a great tool but the more features and flexibility you building it, the more complicated it will be to operate and the developers are running out of ways to offer more features with just a few knobs and switches.

I’d look to an external midi controller for the kind of flex you’re seeking. That should come along with a future firmware update. Also keep in mind that it takes the BB 10 sec or so to load a new drum kit so the swap won’t be instantaneous if you change kits.

Rob, my bands do have real drummers right now, but the reality of the economy is I’m losing heaps of gigs because the public are not booking 5 piece bands anymore for what I guess are two primary reasons, economy and space.
10 years ago i did over 50 gigs in December. This year i did about 6,
The whole point of the BB for me is to emulate a 5 piece band without a drummer or bass player.
On this tiny little new fangled digital accordion (<<in my avatar…which is perhaps the most powerful instrument I’ve ever played) I will be playing bass and chords on my left hand, keyboard and trumpet with my right hand, and drums with my feet.
Don’t think it sounds like a weezy little accordion either. It has a full blown clone wheel organ sound!!
This multi tasking keeps the brain rather busy, and anything to make the task of controlling the BB simpler is something that I’d jump at.

I don’t want the developers to make more knobs and switches, but it would be awsome to allow the software to be controlled by more knobs and switches should the user want to go that route.
They have included a midi port. Isn’t that enough hardware??
I’m not saying ditch the system of ‘toggle forward one section’ but am suggesting to add an alternative additional way to control the software.
That McMillen SoftStep Pesist linked to would potentialy be a perfect controls surface.

Having absolute control of sections will help avoid the inevitable train wreck that will follow me screwing up the footwork.
At least with absolute control, the chances of getting the song back on track are greatly increased without having to scroll through the sections whilst doing everything else on stage.

Persist, I said 4 switches and 4 sections, which was just a number that korg use on their arranger keyboards.
In reality 4 sections is usually enough to cover most songs in 20th century dance/listening music.
Some epic songs might need more, but I don’t play that type of music so 4 is plenty for me.
Combining 4 memory slots in BB manager plus toggle forwards would allow the user to have a massive amount of sections.

I’ll give an example of a song where absolute control would be handy.

White room, by Cream.

A.Intro in 5/4
B.rock 4/4
C.more sparse floaty rock 4/4. (bridge)
C.more sparse floaty rock 4/4.(bridge)
A.intro in 5/4
B rock4/4
C.more sparse floaty rock 4/4. (bridge)
A.intro in 5/4
B rock 4/4 (solo to end)

If you had a few slots, A.intro in 5/4 could be on slot 1, and the rest of the song on slot 2.

Maybe I’m just being thick…How would you go about programming/playing that song with the current BB software and not being on the knifes edge looking towards to a massive train wreck???


The problem is how far do you go and how complicated do you make the beatbuddy. Your suggestions are great for more advanced users and I do some programming with fills and stuff to emulate abit what your talking about but the majority of users that come to the forum are looking for help because they struggle with the software etc how it is now so I think for beatbuddy team the priority is to make it easier for those users.

I myself would love to see some of the things you are talking about. I think the next software update is going to have more midi switching options which would allow users alot more flexibility. I play more straight forward rock songs but love the options to trigger choruses and breaks when I feel and hence mix it up with chorus or verse sections as fills, the bridge or break might be a transition to another part then transition back to the first part to go back etc.

Thank you Stu for you positive words.
I am only new here but can see that you offer a strong contribution to this forum, so your words mean a lot.
I have never owned a product whose manufacturers are so actively involved in what their customers think or want and for that I sincerely thank those involved in the development of this product and its ongoing support.
As mentioned in the original post, i don’t really expect or demand this to happen, but from a non- tech based musicians perspective, am putting it out there anyway.

It would be a shame if I distracted the team from making the software easy for the new user, because I’m a new user and I’m struggling with the software etc.:smiley:


Morning’, nags. Hope you didn’t take my comments as criticism. Your example of how to use the slots in the construct of White Room helped me to visualize what you were getting at. I see lots of potential with the BeatBuddy and I think the developers have done a pretty good job of matching the BeatBuddy’s potential to users’ expectations. Tough, as Guitar Stu said, to meet all (both basic and advanced) user expectations yet still have an interface that’s simple and intuitive enough so that folks don’t have to come to this forum and ask for help. I hope that the BBM doesn’t one day resemble bloatware by the nefarious Redmond team. :smiley:

Its 23.00 here in australia.
That makes me think of another feature request…A location tag on user’s thingy on the left there <<
Nope, no feelings of criticism at all, and besides, you grow a thick skin playing piano accordion.:wink:


I think you’re being realistic, not thick. Also sorry to hear you are losing gigs and the demand for real bands is way down.

The support guy said the developers were going to lift the 500 note limit so entire songs can be built and played with one press of the foot switch, not just loops. That’s actually less control but might get you something useful without adding complexity.

Having full midi control is also right in line with what you’ve suggested as well.

I would combine B and C. The song structure would be

    |  A

BC | A
| AB

So A is your intro… your main loop is B+C, with A being a “fill”, and the outro is A+B.
The only interactions are: Start song, Trigger fill for return of the intro, then trigger end.

I’ve implemented an “autoplay” where you can specify the number of loops each section loops for, but there doesn’t seem to be much interest in it. Now that the 500 note limit has been lifted, the songs I create will probably mainly be just the entire song as an outro.


Oh, and you are right about the train wreck. I don’t really use the BB much live like I want, for that specific reason. If you do something wrong, you end up stomping on it like you are putting out a fire.

I can’t stop giggling as I picture your well desribed BB fire dance.
Like most things, not so funny when it’s yourself, but would have to look hilarious seeing someone else doing it.


I sent an email not long ago to support detailing exactly this. This would be killer and actually make the Beat Buddy a usable instrument. Right now, sequentially moving through the parts is a neat trick but as many have said, in a live situation, it’s likely gonna be a train wreck.

As I’ve been following this interesting thread for quite some time, I wonder if we always blame the train when a wreck happens . . . o_O

Not trying to ignite a flame war as I don’t earn my living playing music and I only use the BeatBuddy for my own enjoyment and to (maybe) improve on what little musical ability I have. For me, the suggested capabilities are not requirements but merely nice-to-have improvements. The BeatBuddy is just another variable in the complex dynamic of playing music live and for money.

Persist, at the risk of sounding elitist, I do earn my money playing music, and failure is not an option.

If there is a train wreck… you betcha I’m looking for a train to smash so it doesn’t happen again.
No one remembers the great solo you did on giant steps, but they all remember the ending you screwed up.

Usually it is lack of rehearsal, or just simply screwing up, but if it is a piece of equipment that causes a disaster, that bit of gear is history.
If its a bass player who continually stuffs up the changes, goodby bass player.
If a CD player skips during a bridal dance at a wedding, that is a catastrophe as far as the person paying my fee is concerned.
If a mic leads has an intermittent drop out, or a music stand tips over or a speaker starts to crack up, it is repaired or replaced immediately.
If anyone in the band turns up late…same deal…a disaster.

In spite of all the practice I am doing at the moment to familiarise myself with the operation of BB, if it causes a train wreck too often, it too will be binned or at least relegated to the practice room where a glitch here or there doesn’t matter.
I have much higher expectations of the BB than a practice aid.


Certainly for jamming it’s a lot of fun and makes an awesome practice tool. But I gig live as well and it would just not work for anything but the simplest of songs.
I play in an acoustic duo (guitar +bass), so we have to make clever use of looping, percussive elements, harmonising vocals and what can only be described as Telekinesis to make it sound good, rich and professional with just the 2 of us. Having some MIDI commands to go directly to a song part means I can simplify the drums - I’d likely just make 4 parts for each song and bind them to my foot controller; one for hi hat to count the beat, a verse part, a chorus part and lastly a bridge part. Most songs would work with that kind of simple control.
So as a live performer (and I don’t want to sound elitist either) it’s very much not a nice to have, but a necessity.

I’m not on the development team so this is just my opinion but . . .

Once they break out full MIDI control, I don’t think it would be too difficult to do what you want with an external MIDI controller. You just need to know the right commands to switch to the section you want then have a UI that makes it easy for you to make those selections when you want them while you’re playing.

I don’t see this being easy to do with the current BB UI because there’s too few switches and not enough functionality/room on the small screen for all the options you want. That said, you might be able change the screen to show a list of the parts while you’re playing then scroll through the list with the L/R footswitches to selection the section you want, then activate it with the main pedal. All of this would take place while you’re also playing your instrument and perhaps singing. It also means the other footswitch features won’t be available. I use them for muted pause and to activate the outro but those could be sacrificed in a pinch - I can activate the outro by pressing the main pedal twice and could live without the muted pause or perhaps substitute a silent loop in one of the song sections.

If you can provide the support folks with more specifics about what you want and how it could be usefully implemented for you, you’ll give them a better leg up on programming in something useful.

I would never think of any gigging musicians on this forum that has expressed their desire for added capabilities as elitist ;- )

All I’m saying is that my needs are different and that the BeatBuddy meets them. That’s not to say that improvements can’t–nor shouldn’t–be made. But, they shouldn’t be made at the expense of making the device more complicated than it already is for hobbyists and basement players.

For the gigging musician then, it’s obvious that this is a requirement however, in my simple way of thinking, this just make the BeatBuddy an expensive device to program and play backing tracks and that there may be better and less expensive solutions out there for the pro players. If Singular Sound is listening, perhaps they can take these evolving requirements and come up with a new and more powerful device that caters to the pro players.

If a song has a lot of beats I break it up into 3 parts. Intro-Verse-Fill. This way I only have to step on the pedal once to start and once to go to the fill and once to end. It doesn’t always work but more often then not, it does.I can’t wait for the 500 limit to be lifted.

I have had the beatbuddy for over a year and the one thing I keep going back to is simplifying the number of button pressing I have to do during a song. I have a copy of Manager 1.60 with the removed 500 note limit and I am going back through my songs and changing alot of them. Some I haven’t changed while some are one press start the song and one press outro. It’s going to make a big difference. There are songs I like to wing it a bit and they are kept more open with loops whereas there are alot of songs where no matter what I play them the same each time and these one’s are getting the full song treatment. It will just about eliminate the human error trainwreck part when playing.

One thing that has troubled me and I don’t think is fixed yet, I will do some more testing with latest release and report is if the outro is triggered on the last note of a fill the beatbuddy has a meltdown and doesn’t play the outro but plays the fill again. This caused some trainwreck endings last time I played out and needs fixing.