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Fran, need your help!

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Fran, need your help! #6526
A while back you described playing a song and a style simultaneously by copying style tracks to the pads or something. I wanted to revisit that idea, but now I can't find the post. How about a link? (Fran or anyone else) Thanks!!
1 month 1 week ago

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Fran, need your help! #6529
I can’t recall reading that here. I can think of a couple of possible options, but without an EA7, obviously I cannot test them.

The multipads can play audio, so turn the song into an audio track and load that. This idea will depend on how big a file the multipads can load. Then sync will be an issue, first making sure the song starts in sync with the style engine, then also whether the MIDI clock stays accurate to the song’s tempo. From extensive work with trying to get the Key audio feature on the BK-9 to sync to the sequencer (to try to get Mark/Jump to work on audio backing) I found that the tempo resolution of the arranger wasn’t fine enough for audio that wasn’t an integer with no fractions for BPM. So you might find that over time, the audio and the style may drift apart. Not by much, but enough to be heard.

Another option might be to create a sampler set with the audio as a single sample (or even better, different sections of the song as different samples) and create a style that plays the sample so style and audio section starts are always in sync. But the usability of this might depend on how fast the sampler loads (no one has ever posted how long it takes to load all 128MB of RAM - anyone?) and whether the song fits the size of the RAM (ridiculously small by Korg and Yamaha standards).

I didn’t know that entire styles could be turned into single multipads, that’s pretty powerful if it can. I thought it was more likely that only single style Parts could be transferred...

In the end, the main issue I had with chopping up a song into sections and using the Key Audio feature with the BK-9’s sequencer was that the audio was being loaded directly from the USB stick, and latency of loading didn’t allow seamless transitions between sections, leading to audio hiccups at boundaries. Shame really, because if it had worked, one of my major wishes (being able to restructure audio backing on the fly) would have been granted. Perhaps the EA7 has fixed this issue, if it has, you are in luck! If not, I can see you may still be up against it doing this.

AFAIK, even Korg and Yamaha have not made playing audio backing and styles at the same time simple to pull off. Yes, their samplers are so much bigger, so loading entire songs into the sampler is easy, but still time consuming on a gig to the point of possibly unusable. And it may still be difficult to sync both unless the audio is metronomically accurate. Sync to audio played by humans not to a click would be impossible, as the arranger would be unable to change tempo every few beats.

About the only solution I can think of to linking styles to audio backing would involve a laptop and running a soft arranger in sync with an audio DAW, and I doubt anyone really wants to go down that rabbit hole!
1 month 5 days ago
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Fran, need your help! #6530
You're right Diki. I finally found Fran's post on SynthZone. Hope you're OK with me posting a link so I don't go crazy again!
E-A7 simultaneous song and accomp

The E-A7 has several multipads. Unfortunately, if they are loaded with a MIDI sequence, they ALWAYS transpose. [IMO there should have been a "no transpose" option.] So you have to approach the problem backwards... I think what Fran is saying is that you could copy at least a few style accomp tracks to the pads. Play the MIDI song (some or all tracks) on the main sequencer, activate the pads, and change chords to control the pad-based accompaniment.

From the manual it appears the pads program exactly like style tracks. You can even specify a "Bass"-type pad track, which I presume follows the Bass Inversion setting. However, I wonder if real-time chord recognition is active while an SMF is playing? Historically Roland gleaned chords from the SMF. So are the pads programmed to follow the keys pressed in the chord zone, and not the implied chords from the MIDI?

The BK-9 is great, but I don't think audio is the answer. Anyhow, I'm not comfortable doing it that way. If I wanted to do this kind of thing with the BK-9 I would need a second arranger, or at least an outboard MIDI player with mark & jump.
1 month 5 days ago Last edit: 1 month 5 days ago by TedS.

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Fran, need your help! #6531
From what I have read from Fran lately, I haven’t really heard him say that he uses much of this in actual practice. And, as I found out by trying to link the key audio feature to the sequencer in the BK9, on paper it appears as if these things will work but in practice there are often hidden gotchas that prevent it being used on stage.

TBH, having come from a high caliber live band background, the repetitive nature of style backing seldom satisfies me. So for the majority of my solo or duo playing, I have relied on SMF‘s for my backing. From there, it really isn’t a big leap to move to audio backing as in practice it is essentially the same. However, I find markers very useful with sequences to be able to freely restructure the music on the fly, and I was very disappointed that minor niggles prevented me from using the key audio feature on the BK-9 to do the same as I could with midi sequences.

This doesn’t mean that I don’t use styles at all, simply that I find sequence is better for me overall. There’s a lot about arranger baselines I detest, and much in the way of guitar parts that don’t convince me they are real in the least. but I often use the style section to quickly create the initial sketch for the sequence, and then replace the auto generated parts with hand played ones, or edited ones changing things like fills and passing chords to be less repetitive.

In fairness, the key audio feature works as advertised, doing short loops or vocal phrases. The problem simply came when they are used for much much longer phrases (an entire verse and chorus, for instance) when the speed of loading them on the fly isn’t fast enough to avoid hiccups.

If I were you, I would simply suggest actually trying these features out… But always walk before you run! There’s no point in frustrating yourself with creating an entire style on your first outing. Simply try loading a song into the pad and playing along with it to start with. And it is a simple job to turn a sequence into an audio file… Use the built-in audio recorder if nothing else. Export to a computer and trim the ends, and re-import the file. The same with loading style segments into pads.

There is nothing better than experimentation to find out whether features work as advertised. You can’t simply go by looking at the manual and the promotional material. You often find that in the real world, differences happen! But sometimes on the positive side… Just messing around with an idea can often lead you to find solutions to other problems or alternative ways of performing.

From what Fran has posted, I get the impression much of it is theoretical, gleaned from the manuals and YouTube videos. He tends to demo things when he gets them to work. The idea of styles and sequences in sync is an old one by Yamaha standards, but still needs something of a kludge on Roland’s. And whether it works well or not is probably up to you to find out. All Fran posted was a video from someone else not really doing what he claimed. And I don’t recall anything from him demonstrating it. If it was that easy and that powerful, you’d think he would have by now...
1 month 3 days ago Last edit: 1 month 3 days ago by Diki.
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Fran, need your help! #6532
As far as I know, neither Yamaha nor any other brand of arranger allows you to run a MIDI and a style at the same time.* If Fran's suggestion with the pads works as theorized, the E-A7 would come the closest. Not 100% sure about the Ketron Midjay Pro and its brethren. They're rare as hen's teeth, I've never seen one in person.

*On the higher-end Yamahas, IF the MIDI contains embedded XF chords (Yamaha-proprietary sys ex), you can start it simultaneously with the current style, and the XF chords will "drive" the style while you play RH. However... as soon as you play any note in the chord section, it's on you. You have to play all the chords for the remainder of the song. There's no switching back and forth. Even Korg, with its touted "cross-fade dual sequencers" makes no attempt to do this. Why!?

I've MIDI'd two arrangers together before with some success, and I also have a couple of decent hardware sequencers (if the on-board backup batteries haven't died after ten years of disuse!) I just hate to junk up my living room with all that gear. It would be amazing if Roland supported the E-A7 with another firmware update, conferring a "no transpose" option and some content to the pads. Problem solved! Unfortunately Roland is worse than General Motors when it comes to killing a product just as it reaches its full potential!
1 month 3 days ago Last edit: 1 month 3 days ago by TedS.

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Fran, need your help! #6535
Actually, Yamaha's have long been able to run the style engine and the sequencer at the same time. It was often used to spice up pretty bland sequences with the better drum patterns styles often had.

I'm getting a little lost here, though. It seems you are more looking for a way for the sequencer to drive the chord input of the arranger engine, right? That's really what the Chord Sequencer does. To stay Roland, you'd need a BK9 or an old G1000, and I think only the BK9 could store the Chord Tracks. Sadly, they missed a big opportunity to link the CS to the Performance, so they have to be loaded separately. Korg and Yamaha failed to make that mistake!

The new SX900 and Genos update have Chord Sequencers with up to 8 sections, so you can have different sections of the song on separate loops, something I've been calling for for decades! It's getting frustrating watching the competition fulfil my dreams while my preferred brand stagnates.

Perhaps if you would like to spell out in more detail exactly what you want to achieve, I can suggest a workaround. TBH, if you are content to let a sequencer chord track drive the style engine, you really aren't far off from it simply being an SMF (with Markers). Functionally, it's the same...
1 month 2 days ago
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Fran, need your help! #6538
Actually what I think I would like to try, is to play everything live except the bass.

Depending on the song, I struggle a lot with all of the hand movement required for slash chords. So much so, that I'm wondering if I should plug in my pedalboard and give that a try!

I can play inversions OK (especially in "intelligent" mode.) If I could pre-record the bassline for certain songs to a pad track, that would bring me very close to what I need. The problem is, pads as currently programmed always transpose. :(

Bottom line, I don't think the E-A7 or BK-9 can do what i want without a second arranger or external sequencer.
1 month 2 days ago Last edit: 1 month 2 days ago by TedS.

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Fran, need your help! #6543
But once you have predefined the bass, you HAVE to play the chords exactly the same anyway. Which kind of defeats the point, doesn’t it?

For me, tying down half of my entire music playing digits to input a set of chords that need to be right in the first place (unless playing them wrong is your thing!) for the song to work seems like a waste. Piano is a two handed instrument. Organ is a two handed instrument. Decent emulation of guitars, winds and brass takes two hands. Watch any decent keyboard player, and you will pretty much NEVER see them playing with one hand.

The idea that a sequencer play ONLY the bass inversion note while you still tie up a hand to play the chord that the chord sequencer could easily do for you is a bit unusual. And I think potentially disastrous. If the sequencer plows through the bass inversion note ONLY, it’s going to be all too easy to get out of sync with it. If the CS is playing the chords AND the bass inversion, everything remains in sync and you get to play on top of it just like you were playing with a band, which is kind of the point of arrangers, I always thought...

If you want to remain in control of the chords yourself, I see no way short of knuckling down and learning the bass inversion chords, or setting up some bass pedals to add the inversion note (not as difficult as playing the bass line with your feet, which used to be how organists did it back before arrangers!). Once you hand over PART of the chord input to a sequence, you are safer handing over the whole thing.
1 month 1 day ago
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Fran, need your help! #6545
Funny that you should mention the bass pedals approach... I recently asked that question on another forum- "Has anyone who didn't learn organ in their youth- added bass pedals to their arranger to assist with chord control? How did it go? Did you stick with it, or go back to playing inversions? etc." Only one person really answered the question, and I think that implies the answer is no. Most of the folks that did answer were trying to give me tips on how to play a bassline (which might be what they use pedals for, but not what I'm trying to do.)

Part of my problem is, much of what I play is church music which was presumably written for organ. The chord, and often bass, change on every beat. Maybe it's time that I plug those pedals in, and see how difficult it is to find the bass note (instead of having my left hand flop all over the keyboard like Daffy Duck on crack.) Oh, and IMO, the organ is a whole body instrument. Two hands, two feet, and maybe even a knee for good measure!
1 month 15 hours ago

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Fran, need your help! #6546
I know it’s tough to bring oneself to learning new things as an older adult. We often forget the years spent getting to our current skill level and expect far faster results, usually resulting in frustration and quitting.

But it really boils down to how much do you NEED to learn the new skill? Can you do without it? If you can’t do without it, you take whatever time is needed. If you can live without it, inertia usually prevails!

What kind of church music are you trying to do? If it’s older hymnal type stuff then yes, those were written for reasonably skilled players. But a lot of the inversion and passing note stuff can be skipped if you just analyze the chord structure and boil it down to the essentials. And modern churches aren’t as picky about how strict you are to the book as they used to be. And don’t get me started about contemporary Christian music, with few chords and open 9ths on everything! Can’t stand that stuff!

For what you want to do, remain strictly in style mode, it’s pretty much pedals or nothing... not ALL chords can be played in simple one hand shapes. For starters, what’s the difference between C6 and Am7/C? Nothing! How does the arranger tell from one hand? And putting those passing chords in is as difficult as you are finding. Pedals seem the best way if determined to stay with styles.

But, bottom line, what is the goal? To play the song, or to play the song in style mode? If the goal is play the song, you use whatever tool gets the job done. If it is play in style mode, you accept the consequences of using a tool poorly fitted for the task, occasionally.

My system for doing more complex pieces in style mode is to turn on the chord sequencer and play the first verse and chorus on piano (while you sing the melody) putting the bass on the correct inversion, then play the chord sequence for subsequent refrains and solo or play alternative piano lines or whatever while the CS takes care of the chords.

Works like a charm...
1 month 14 hours ago
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Fran, need your help! #6548
I've attached one example, for educational purposes only. Cruger has been dead a pretty long time, hopefully he won't mind...

I have other versions of this same hymn which don't have as many slash chords. But they all seem to be scored one chord per beat, and that's how I hear it played in church. (When you look at this score, you can see why I cling to those one-key majors!!) It wouldn't be so bad playing LH inversions or even rootless voicings if someone else supplied the bass tones.

I didn't have access to anything but a chord organ growing up. No pedals, not even a second manual. The chord organ, especially the Hammond S6, was really the first electronic arranger. So for me the most obvious way to get chords and bass approximating the church organ sound, is with an arranger. Roland's Chord Intelligence and other Auto Bass Chord systems are a "force multiplier;" a kind of musical automatic weapon. If it's done correctly- careful voice leading of chord tones in the style track, long sustain on the bass voice, etc., no one in the congregation would know whether I'm pressing one key or three and a foot pedal.

I've worked out a pretty good way to activate Bass Inversion as a momentary function, i.e., only when the pedal is pressed. That helps a lot, but you still have to reposition your hand to specify the lowest note. I can even think of a "trick" using footswitches and MIDI modules to get the root, third, or fifth in the bass; the problem comes when the bass note isn't part of the chord. I agree that sometimes slash chords can be rewritten as "normal" chords, as long as they take the bass line where it needs to go. Some of those "normal" chords can be pretty difficult to play, in and of themselves. Good discussion!
1 month 12 hours ago Last edit: 1 month 12 hours ago by TedS.
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Fran, need your help! #6551
One trick if you have a f/s set to bass inversion is to play all chords as slash chords, then only depress the pedal when you want the inverted chord... it will play in root position until then!

Bottom line, if you are the only accompanist at the church, you can easily simplify the chart to cut down on the number of changes. Much of what is written is to harmonize passing notes and unnecessarily decorate lines. Try this instead...

Eb|Eb/Ab/|Eb///|Fm/Bb/|Bb/Eb/|
|Eb7/ Ab/|Eb///|Fm/Bb|Bb/Eb/|
|Bb/Eb/| Bb/ //|Eb/D7/|Gm///|
|C/C7/| Fm///|Fm/Bb/|Eb///||

Unless the choir is singing SATB straight from the hymnal, this will harmonize fine with the melody, and you barely move your LH at all!

BTW, I remember doing this one in church as a kid! Cassocks and vestments and everything!
4 weeks 2 days ago Last edit: 4 weeks 2 days ago by Diki.
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