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Let's talk about new features...
NOT existing features from other arrangers (maybe that's a different topic!), but things so far unseen on any arranger.
Here's a few of mine...
I'd love the last chord of an ending to 'hold' as long as you hold the keys. Sometimes the fixed length ending is too short, too long, whatever. It might be nice if the chord 'held' until you lifted your hands. And, if there's a drum 'flourish' at the end, it only plays as you lift your hands.
I'd like to see a 'half-time/double-time' button. This is a feature on a few software drum machines, and it is surprisingly useful, not only for songs that need a half-time or double-time section, but as a way to be used for a whole song for a different 'feel'.
This next one isn't on contemporary arrangers, so it qualifies, IMHO! But it used to be on some older arrangers: A knob for 'swing factor'... Back in the day, pretty simple 8beat or 16beat styles could be used in a huge variety of songs simply by changing the swing feel from dead straight to hard swung, and all points in between. It might be nice to see that come back, at least for styles specifically written for it (or imported from legacy styles that were simpler back then).
This one's a biggie... I'd like to see a standardization at the MIDI level of calls for Intros, Variations, Fills, Endings and Breaks. I have always dreamed of being able to MIDI two totally different manufacturer arrangers together and have them work as one. But no two manufacturers' MIDI commands for these things are the same. But a style with a Roland's drums, a Yamaha's guitar Parts and a Korg's percussion would be easy to do by muting the other Parts in each arranger (via a common Performance code). Just think... Even just one style on each of two arrangers would be able to generate 6X6 different sounding styles (if they both have 6 Parts) as you use different combinations of them - drums Yamaha, bass Roland, guitars Roland, Strings Yamaha, then drums Roland, bass Yamaha guitars Yamaha, strings Roland, etc., etc., etc..
But until there are common codes to change Divisions,, pretty impractical to operate. C'mon, manufacturers! The way to sell more is to make them talk to each other (just like what happened when MIDI was first invented... it lead to a sales explosion in synthesizers!).
How about it? Got any NEW arranger ideas?
Thank you for this interesting topic. I would like to add some points , which are important to oriental musicians and maybe others also:
1. it would be very helpful, if we get the possibility to add a track to the Rhythm Composer which it support adding a WAV (or any other possible format ) file as s loop . ( This feature has Yamaha Genos and the PSR s975 series, and it is called Audio Phraser) . This is a very useful feature to add loops to your Styles and use them as s Rhythm Pattern.
2. It would be great to be able to do the following while composing a new Rhythm :
a. select a Time Signature like 4/4 for a Style , then be able to switch the time Signature to 2/4 (switching between Time Signatures) for a certain Variation like Fillin 1 or Variation 2 .
b. use half-bar for a Fillin.
3. Add more Variation bottoms to the Style instead of just 4 ( Main1... till Main4 ). It will be great to have about 6 Variations. Because we switch in a Songs to different Variations, and this will make life easier while playing Live on Stage.
4. Adding Ribbon under the Pitch-Bender to give better feelings while playing certain Sounds/Instruments.
5. Move to a Big colored Touch Screen. ( This will help selecting styles and sounds faster)
6. Increase the Internal Storage to 16 GB, to be able to load fastly Sounds( Samples) and Audio Phraser .....etc.
7. Integrate iPad / Create an interface to connect iPad and benefit from alot of Apps.
8. Add a Feature to lock my own Styles and save them to a USB. So that no one can use them on any other Arranger , just with my arranger. ( This Sould work with Serial Nr. of the Arranger itself.)
Sorry for my English.
Do you currently use an E-A7?
1. The BK-9 allowed synced loops with styles (up to 7 of them) but failed to add a parameter to Link them to Variations.
2. It seems that 4 Variations seems to be a standard across just about every arranger brand. I agree, more is always better, but you also have to take into consideration that it ups the work for the style creators considerably, and in these days of rampant piracy, they really don't see much rewards for their efforts short of the initial payment for inclusion in the ROM tones.
However, if you are using Variations for different songs, Roland's are capable of changing Performances seamlessly, so instead of using one style and one Performance, you can use two styles (or more!) and multiple Performances. It's an incredibly powerful system, if used right...
4. Yes, I love touch strips..! But Roland have never really embraced them except on their keytars. Come to think of it, all my keyboards except my Roland's have strips! Kurzweil's, Korg's, Yamaha Keytar... All keyboards should have one, IMO
5. Nice, but a big touch screen is pretty expensive. My G70 had a great one. But that was a $3500 keyboard. Korg manage to include one on the PA1000, but that's still $2000+. Mind you, I always felt that, without the software to make the screen display what YOU felt most necessary, there was always a certain thing missing. Roland don't appear to want to compete at any higher level than a $1300 arranger these days, so a big color touch screen looks unlikely for now
6. Again, unlikely in a $1300 arranger! I'm guessing you mean for the sampler in the E-A7, because the audio for the BK series (audio loops and audio backing tracks) loaded almost instantly from the USB stick. And yes, when I first saw that the E-A7 only had 128MB memory I thought it was a typo, or a flashback to the 90's! It is definitely something the E-A series needs improved dramatically to compete with Korg (which has 600MB compressed to 300MB). In today's streaming sampler world, it's getting very hard to find sample set creators that know how to be efficient with memory like they used to in the 90's.
7. The BK series did have several integrated iPad apps. But Roland decided to give them away for free, which I felt was a big mistake. Making enough money to offset their cost might have given them the desire to make them for newer models. But when you make nothing for doing something, there's not a lot of incentive to keep doing it!
8. One of the things I'd REALLY like to see is a protected memory system for arrangers, where 3rd party commercial styles could be stored and unavailable to copy. Sadly, before piracy became a huge issue, there were dozens of really talented style creation houses, pumping out great paid for styles for arrangers that kept the juices flowing and also incentivizing the arranger maker to make more styles well before a new arranger was due out. That's all pretty much a thing of the past, especially for Roland. Yamaha have a system to protect content (but keep it in house, mostly) and Korg have something as well, but it is primarily for samples and is costly to use for small 3rd party developers.
The profit for doing the work is so small nowadays, few do it any more. A protected memory system (allowing you to modify the 3rd Party Rom style but not copy it) is badly needed to get us back to those glory days! Talented style makers deserve to get paid for their work!
However, at the moment, if you want security for your personal data, all I can suggest is removing your stick when not playing and keeping it on you.
Thank you for your suggestions. I'm not trying to shoot your ideas down, but I thought I'd like to go over the points and see if some of them are truly practical, likely, or we may see them hopefully!
While it's nice to think in terms of a software solution, it has been tried many times with only middling results. The sheer fact of the matter is, unless you have an IDENTICAL software sound source to the arranger the styles are designed for, you never get as good a result as the original hardware.
Play BK Roland styles from something like vArranger into a Roland BK, it will sound identical. Play the same styles into some generic soundfont, it sounds pretty poor..! Rinse and repeat with Yamaha styles, Korg styles, etc., and you start to see what the issue is.
Modern arrangers have thousands of sounds and drumkits. And each style is designed for those specific sounds, the way their tone balance blends, the way their velocity response and crossover points respond to the notes, the way their effects sound... Even simply playing an older Roland style (say from the G1000 era) in a BK series arranger means there's a fair bit of work to do to make it sound its best. Now imagine the sheer amount of work taking ALL your styles and having to tweak them so they work with some generic soundfont!
It's a task few want to take on...
I like vArranger because it plays styles from Roland, Korg and Yamaha. But unless you have a Korg, a Yamaha and a Roland to play each one into, you are still not going to hear as good results as the originals.
In your situation, what I'd suggest is to place an E-A7 on top of the VPC1 and MIDI (or USB) into it, play the arranger from the piano. Ideally, you need weighted keys for weighted key sounds, but a nice electronic action keybed is best for sounds like organs, clavinets and things like that that had lightweight keys in the first place. Plus, an arranger needs a lot of buttons and knobs and sliders to be used fully, and that VPC1 seems a bit short on those! Plus no pitch bend lever... So many sounds simply don't work until you input some pitch bend. Horns and winds, guitars, synth sounds, you name it.
Virtual pianos work very well, but they are one trick ponies. They only have to get ONE thing right. A virtual arranger has to get everything right. That's a tough thing to nail. IMHO, no-one has yet succeeded.
Plus, let's face it... Developing an arranger is a huge task. Are Roland or anyone likely to do it when they aren't going to be able to charge over $1300 for it? I rather expect everyone wants to see a $3000 arranger in a software form for a few hundred, tops. All they would do is kill their hardware sales (and the money that bankrolls further development) and be pirated in a few weeks after release.
Not much of an incentive, LOL
But give vArranger a try... I think you are quickly going to see the main drawbacks compared to hardware.
yes i use currently E-A7 .
I agree to most of your point of views, especially Nr. 7 . This was a big mistake to give away the Apps for free, instead of further developing and sell them for a proper price.
Also about the software to build control panel I found (as I post in the user program section) a free software CTRLR on ctrlr.org site so you can build any control panel you want as long as the functions you want to control are avalaible through MIDI messages.
I'm actually working on a panel for BK3 so I will run it on my windows tablet then I will get many fonctions at my finger tip live instead of digging in the menus to find them ( not quite usefull during a performance.
Stay tuned!!!!! Quimquim
The thing about cost is, keyboards don't use off the shelf components. And arrangers are a tiny, niche market even inside the whole keyboard market (which is in itself a tiny fraction of the market for things like tablets and phones), so much of the buying power that allows things like tablets/iPads etc to be very cost effective don't exist in the keyboard world.
Call up Roland, and ask them what a replacement touch screen for a G70 would cost you if you don't believe me!
We are talking a few thousand of units for an arranger, compared to millions for an iPad. That is why the cost is so different, I'm afraid.
I would like an option to make Bass Inversion a MOMENTARY function, assignable to the footswitch. In other words, as soon as you press the footswitch, the lowest note played drives the bass line. When you release the footswitch, the bass returns to the root of the recognized chord.
Some songs have mostly standard chords with just one or two odd slash chords. Right now I play these songs with Bass Inversion activated. But having to play all chords in root position translates to a lot of extra hand movement (and errors!) Although Bass Inversion is assignable to a footswitch on Roland arrangers, I don't know of any brand arranger or module that allows this function to be "momentary" as described above. And if trying to turn this function on and off in "real time," momentary is WAY easier than pressing the footswitch a 2nd time to turn the function off after use.
I should add... i have achieved the desired functionality by using a MIDI solutions footswitch controller, that calls up one registration when the switch is pressed, and another when the switch is released. But I feel strongly that this option should be native to the menus in all arrangers and arranger modules. My $.02.
Back in the day when Roland's only used to have the two fills, and two variations, I used to use a pedal to go from one variation to the next with auto fill on. To get a fill without changing variations, you needed to tap the pedal twice very quickly. I got pretty used to that...
I guess currently you can sort of use your idea - 'hold' the switch while you want the bass inversion on, then a quick release and tap to return it to normal root mode. But your solution is much better, as long as it's an option. There are quite a few songs where you need bass inversion on for extended sections of the song (descending bass lines, etc.) and having to physically hold the pedal down through the whole section could be tiring.
That's a really neat solution to the problem using the MIDI processor, though... MIDI Solutions make some awesome devices! But how did you achieve this? AFAIK, there is no MIDI command for 'Perf. Up/Down'. I can see how you could switch between two specific Performances, but then you would have to hand select styles, tones, effects, splits etc.. Or is there a command for Perf. Up/Down that I have missed?
I'm using the MIDI Solutions footswitch controller in conjunction with a BK-7m (itself midi'd to a Tyros 5, but more on that later.) On page 90 of the BK-7m Owner's manual, it explains how you can use MIDI messages to directly select a Performance from a list. I have two identical performances on the thumbstick, one with bass inversion activated and the other with it deactivated. The messages from the footswitch controller toggle between them seamlessly on press and release. [OT, but I think that this would be even easier to do with a Korg, because the "on bass" parameter is directly controllable with a MIDI message.]
I did this partly as proof of concept and have concluded that it's much easier to play some songs with MOMENTARY bass inversion. Hopefully Roland (or another manufacturer) will embrace my findings and add this as an optional feature. Some of us would be better off, and no one would be worse off for doing so.
Note: If you are willing to cannibalize one of the six accompaniment tracks, there might be another way of achieving the same functionality. I have not tested this approach, but I think this might work...
Copy the Bass pattern(s) to one of the chordal accompaniment tracks (let's say AC6.) Turn Bass Inversion "on" and leave it on for the whole song. Mute the original ABS track before you start playing. Program the footswitch controller so that when you press the pedal, it mutes AC6 and unmutes ABS. The ABS pattern should follow the lowest note. When you release the pedal, it mutes ABS and unmutes AC6 (whose pattern follows the root of the recognized chord.) YMMV.
I have, though, from long experience found that it is not very often that even quite useful ideas get implemented quickly (if at all). It beats me why, but there is an enormous inertia in the design teams of most arranger companies.
So these workaround solutions are often our only recourse.
I would suggest practicing the double tap release method, you may find after sufficient practice (as I did) that it becomes second nature. I'm afraid that, if you want to use the Performance List normally (to set up styles and Tones, Tempos and effects etc. for each song), your excellent system using two Performances and the MIDI Solutions device cannot work.
I'm not trying to devalue your idea, it is a very good idea, but I think that, until one of the manufacturers decides to implement it, it is good to know of workarounds that will work within the usual workflow of the arranger, even if we have to practice something a little different to what we would like...