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BackupBand 0.C

Posted: Sun Dec 02, 2018 12:03 pm
by j_e_f_f_g

The new version of BackupBand is now released. There are lots and lots of internal changes to the program. Don't install this version over the old version. Either first delete your old home/BackupBand folder, or if you want to keep the older version, rename the old folder to something like BackupBandOld.

There is no longer separate versions for different sample rates. There is just one version now that lets you choose sample rate when you choose your sound card. (Setup -> General -> Internal Synth). You can switch between 44 and 48 KHz, or alsa and jack, without restarting the program.

I've revamped the zip files on the SourceForge page. "" is the program. "" is the documentation. "" are the 44Khz versions of the instruments. "" are the 48Khz versions. You must download, plus one (or both) of the instruments file. Everything should unzip to a single BackupBand folder. There are optional additional instrument packs for both rates too.

You do need to download the latest instrument samples because there were some issues with pops/clicks in the older samples. The new samples sound a lot cleaner (especially with the improved sample engine). And the organization of files is changed. Do read the manual about new choices you have for where to install files.

In fact, the user manual has been augmented significantly, albeit still not completely finished. Many previously undocumented features are now revealed, such as "note command mode", and the Master MIDI channel. There's lots of new info there.

There is one caveat. BackupBand's preferences file format has changed, and it doesn't read the old format, so you'll need to go through the Setup screens again and customize things. But then you'll also see numerous new features to try. And a Help button to click.

Details about the update are as follows:

Fixed a bug that caused a crash when choosing any audio device except JACK.

Fixed the mouse double-click bug. There is a new "Click delay" setting on the "Setup -> General" screen you can change to adjust the double-click sensitivity, if desired.

Fixed the StyleEdit utility. It works.

Fixed the "there is no application installed for shared library" error when trying to start BackupBand from the desktop.

Added a new chord changing model for people using a MIDI guitar. ("Setup -> Human -> Chords -> Model" set to "Guitar"). Only when you play a chord on 4 to 6 strings will BackupBand's robots follow your playing, and change to that chord. Otherwise, you can solo over the robot musicians without confusing them into changing the chord. This makes for a practical "Hands-free" method of a guitarist controlling BackupBand live, without the need for an extra device to trigger chord changes. Whenever you want to change the chord, quickly strum any chord (on at least 4 strings), including 7ths and 9ths and augmented and diminished and suspended, and then immediately resume your solo. (Tavasti, try it.)

Renamed/reworked/added some other chord models for particular recommended usage such as the "Breath/Wind", "Drum Pads", and "Bass Pedals" models. (Tavasti, for your MIDI box, select "Drum/Pad" chord model, and set "Trigger by" to "Program Change".)

BackupBand's tempo can be sync'ed to, and controlled by, external MIDI hardware or other software via MIDI clock. To enable this mode, go to the "Setup -> General" screen and set "Clock" to "MIDI".

The robot guitarist now has a Fender Strat in his collection. And the Bassist can play slapped. Some of the styles have been updated to use these.

When choosing to connect BackupBand to other running software, BackupBand's list will display those other programs' midi ports to choose. BackupBand will save those connections, and restore them the next time BackupBand is run. You therefore no longer need a third-party "connection/session" manager (such as QJackCtl) to setup/restore software connections.

The Setup screens now have a Help button to present text descriptions of the various settings. Not everything is described yet, but I'm working on it. Of course, the text descriptions are not as detailed as the user manual, but enough to mostly get you by after you've read the manual.

The remote control of BackupBand has been greatly expanded/improved. Most every operation of the program can be controlled via any MIDI message of your choice. And you can define some notes on your MIDI controller to control operations, rather than play notes/chords. BackupBand is now easily configured for use with any MIDI hardware -- not just keyboard controllers, but also MIDI guitar/bass, breath/wind controllers, drum pads, etc. Also, BackupBand now supports configuring up to 32 mouse buttons to control any 32 settings. Likewise, the computer keyboard can be configured to your preference. USB pedals can be easily configured to operate BackupBand. In a nutshell, you can fully operate BackupBand using just about any single hardware device. And all the configuration is done via the new "Setup -> Commands" screen.

The Controller "Test" button (on the "Setup -> Human" screen) displays incoming MIDI messages, and reports what BackupBand does with each message. This makes it easier to setup both your controller, as well as BackupBand.

BackupBand's robot musicians can be individually configured more completely. Not only can you turn a robot off, you can also then play that robot's instruments yourself via a midi controller. For example, if you're a drummer, you can turn off the robot drummer, and play any of BackupBand's sampled drum kits yourself using MIDI drum pads (while the bass, guitar, and pad robots play along). There are now individual volumes for the drums, bass, guitar, pad, and soloist. The Mixer section now displays a button for each robot, indicating what instrument that robot is playing. (The instruments can change depending upon what Style is selected). You can click the button to change a robot's instrument.

Added thread arbitration. What this means is that, when playing a songsheet, it no longer prevents you from changing tempo, selecting style, etc. This makes songsheet playback as interactive as style playback.

Added a new panel named "Songs" to BackupBand's window layout. This panel contains only those controls useful when playing a SongSheet. This page also displays the names of all songs, so you can quickly double-click upon the one you want to play. (The next version of BackupBand will definitely contain the songsheet editor/creator, BillH. I'm writing it now).

The Menu key (on your PC keyboard) shows or hides the menu bar each time you press the key. Holding the Shift key while pressing Tab cycles through the screens you created in your window layout, even when the menu is hidden. The Tab key alone switches to Setup.

OPTION=MENUHIDE can be added to the WINDOW line in a window layout file, to initially hide the menu. OPTION=NOTITLE will remove the title bar and borders from the window. Also improved error reporting for a bad layout file.

Added a version number to the General settings screen. BackupBand version numbers will use a number, followed by an alphabetic letter. For example, the first BackupBand with a version number is "0.A". The next version is "0.B". After "0.Z" will be "1.A".

Added an xrun indicator (a small flashing box) in the upper right corner of the window (beside the menu bar). It appears when there are xruns. You can click on it to jump to the screen where you set the audio card's buffer size.

Extra option for Autostart.

"Chord hold" option.

Legato phrasing added to some parts. Legato switching added to certain instruments.

Support for layering/splitting instruments.

Improved volume algorithm. Support for midi expression controller and channel pressure.

More control over the reverb.

More choices for the Software Configuration Tool.

Lots more little tweaks/improvements/fixes. I've lost track of everything that's been done.

Re: BackupBand 0.C

Posted: Sun Dec 02, 2018 12:27 pm
by tavasti
Wow, sounds great! You really have done lot of work with it!

I'll test midi guitar soon!

Re: BackupBand 0.C

Posted: Sun Dec 02, 2018 1:29 pm
by j_e_f_f_g
The next 2 versions will be even more dramatic. The songsheets will open up new uses for the app (ie pattern-based algorithmic composition versus the traditional track-based approach of most sequencers).

The background pad player will become a full member of the band, having his own programmable verse/chorus/bridge patterns for each style. You'll then be able to add distinctive brass, string, keyboard, choir, etc parts to each style. Not just sustained block chords.

Finally, there will be some algorithmic instrument modeling. For example, select the Strings instrument and play chords on your midi guitar. As you play each chord, BackupBand will immediately revoice the chord into 4 parts for violins, violas, cellos, and string basses, attempting to create a cohesive flow to each part. In a nutshell, you'll be playing a guitar part and hearing it transformed into an orchestral string arrangement.

Re: BackupBand 0.C

Posted: Mon Dec 03, 2018 8:12 am
by Jarle
Amazing, great sounding and lots of features. The great documentation also helped me a lot.
I got a plan where I can use this with one foot on my foot-controller: If I put a midi-chord-plugin in front of it; I can set the key and then operate it with one foot - so I can concentrate on playing regular guitar on top of it. This will be a super tool for me, making playing more fun. Thank you

Re: BackupBand 0.C

Posted: Mon Dec 03, 2018 8:36 am
by j_e_f_f_g
Jarle wrote:If I put a midi-chord-plugin in front of it
BackupBand has extensive customization for how to control it. You shouldn't ever need any additional plugin to set that up. It's likely that BackupBand already has the ability to accomodate your hardware, but it hasn't yet occurred to you exactly how to set up BackupBand.

Tell me the details of what hardware you want to use to change chords, start/stop play, etc, and I'll tell you how to setup BackupBand. It can be any type of hardware, be it some musical device that uses MIDI, or some USB device that attaches directly to your computer and isn't specifically designed for music use let alone even know what MIDI is. BackupBand is designed to be controlled by an array of hardware, not just a midi keyboard.

Re: BackupBand 0.C

Posted: Mon Dec 03, 2018 9:00 am
by Jarle
I read about using one finger chord and thought maybe I can use midi-chord-plugin instead, so I don't have to think about if the chord is Major or minor vile playing. Using my Roland PK 5A and only pushing the "bass note" and get Major or minor automatic correct with the set key. Between every song I just have to set the right key in the plugin. If this is possible without using a plugin it is even greater.

Reason for thinking of this setup is that I have tried before to use this plugin (midi-chord inside my MOD-duo) to play chords from synths and it worked quite well but was a bit boring musically. I have set up The MOD-duo to display the Key on one screen and it will change with the nob next to it (my MOD-duo is only used as a midi tool). -- So my thought was to use BackupBand in place of the synths of my previous setup and therefore making it way more awesome.

I was spending most of yesterday playing and testing BackupBand with a regular usb-keyboard. I am not a great keyboard player but It was so amazing what BackupBand does so I had to try every style and variation. Thanks again for this really super great arranger.

Re: BackupBand 0.C

Posted: Tue Dec 04, 2018 12:05 am
by j_e_f_f_g
So you want each pedal to trigger a specific chord on its own? Yes, BackupBand does that. That's how the "Drum/Pads" chord model works. Each MIDI note triggers a specific chord, according to the chart shown in "Different ways to change chords".

For example, midi note number 24 will play a C7 chord. Midi note 38 plays a D augmented chord, as another example. So if you want your low C pedal to play a C7, then set it to midi note 24. If you set your high C pedal to note 38, it will play a D augmented. Etc.

To setup your Roland, you need to switch to either DRUM or SOUND EFFECT mode, and select the user set. Then program each pedal to the desired midi note according to that chart.

But before you do that, you must try "Bass Pedals" chord mode. Holding down a certain note to "switch" major or minor chords is as "unnatural" to a pianist as it is to a guitarist. But it's such a simple, repetitive gesture, that while I was testing this on my keyboard, my "muscle memory" kicked in. Within a half hour, it became so natural and easy that I was playing chord changes without any hesitation. It just got "easy". I anticipate that it will take you no longer to adapt than it took you to get used to playing notes with your foot.

To set this up, choose "Bass Pedals" chord model (on the Setup -> Human screen). Then click the "Split Note" button (lower on the same screen), and press your PK5 high C pedal. Done.

You can click the Test button and play some pedals, with and without holding the high C pedal. (Oh, and set the PK5 in POLY mode.)

Re: BackupBand 0.C

Posted: Tue Dec 04, 2018 8:16 am
by Jarle
Bass Pedals chord mode way of working is absolutly something I should look into and try practice. With this mode It is possible to play songs with multiple scales (keys), and I don't have to know the keys to the song before playing (only the chords to play of course).

When I was a child, my family had an electric organ with bass-pedals - so when I played it; all I ever learned to play with my foot was the fundamental note of the chords in the songs
A couple of years ago I bought the Roland PK-5A, hoping I could play it along when I play guitar (witch is my main instrument). I found i difficult for me to play anything more advanced than plain fundamental with my foot (this was not forgotten) so the bass-pedal playing sounded rather dull. Later I tried Midi-chord plugin witch required me to set correct scale (key) for every song but in return I got correct chords from my singe fundamental note. This works well but all the chords will play their notes in same order (fundamental, 3rd 5ft) as I have set it up. To make it less dull I could use an arpegiator and that was how far I was able to come before I some days ago tested BackupBand.
An arpegiator is cool when used sparse, but BackupBand is way more inspiring and can be used all the time.

So the Bass pedals mode is require me to practice and the Drum/Pads chords mode is a flexible way but I cant see it does what I explain under:

Midi-chord plugin will make a chord from a single fundamental note in a given musical scale ( )

When I set midi-chord plugin scale to the key of C - it will play:
C Major when pushing the C pedal
D minor when pushing the D pedal
E minor when pushing the E pedal ... and so on

When I set midi-chord plugin scale to the key of G
it will play D Major instead when I push the D pedal

So knowing the scale(key) to the songs I play (and set it correctly) the Midi-chord-plugin give automatic the right chords (Major or minor) to one push of the fundamental note. Since there is no transpose involved - I can read the lyrics, sing, play my guitar and push the fundamental note on my bass-pedals according to the written chords.

Using the Midi-chord plugin is only an alternative to all the modes that BackupBand support. When I set BackupBand to split piano it will receive the 3 most needed notes from the plugin.

Re: BackupBand 0.C

Posted: Wed Dec 05, 2018 5:53 am
by j_e_f_f_g
Drum/Pads chords mode I cant see it does what I explain
Technically it does. Just change the note number assigned to your D pedal.

But what you don't have is a quick/easy way to save and recall those changes. I already planned out a new chord model where you can create as many "pad setups" as you want, and switch between them via a single button. I'll add that to the next update (probably friday) since tavasti can use it too.

Re: BackupBand 0.C

Posted: Thu Dec 06, 2018 11:52 am
by SirAmpersand
Hello j_e_f_f_g ,

Thank you for that great piece of software!!!
For me as a bassist it was the missing link in the linux software landscape for performing and studying music very smart.
I often read and study sheet music - most of the time melodies or basslines - and my problem was that i never got the "big picture" - in a musical way speaking - of what I was playing without hearing the chords below. This will change from now on*) thanks to BackupBand :D

*) but i have 2 little problems I want to describe now ;-)
1) If i click on the song sheet i only see a allmost white screen with nothing to choose (exept 5 red blocks at the bottom - when i click them each plays a major cord (c# d# f# g# a#) and the scrollbars which lead to nowhere) I dont see the 2 demosongs to choose as described in the manual.
2) If the first problem is sovlved I want to script my own songprogressions like 2-5-1 or 1-6-2-5 but the manual doesn´t say that much about it ( I´ll guess its just create and edit a file in \Styles\Songs in the syntax of the demos)

@boardadmin: should I move the second part of this post in Recorders & Sequencers?

Thanks so much for your help!

Re: BackupBand 0.C

Posted: Fri Dec 07, 2018 2:41 pm
by MGdesigner
SirAmpersand wrote:Hello j_e_f_f_g ,

*) but i have 2 little problems I want to describe now ;-)
1) If i click on the song sheet i only see a allmost white screen with nothing to choose (exept 5 red blocks at the bottom - when i click them each plays a major cord (c# d# f# g# a#) and the scrollbars which lead to nowhere) I dont see the 2 demosongs to choose as described in the manual.
I have the same situation. Can't see 12 Bars Blues and Demo in the Songs folder. I took the screenshot.
no songs.png

Re: BackupBand 0.C

Posted: Fri Dec 07, 2018 4:48 pm
by SirAmpersand

I tried to open the files with kate and it gives out that warning:

The file /home/precision/BackupBand0C/BackupBand/Styles/Songs/12 Bar Blues was opened with UTF-8 encoding but contained invalid characters.
It is set to read-only mode, as saving might destroy its content.
Either reopen the file with the correct encoding chosen or enable the read-write mode again in the menu to be able to edit it.
Looks like this in the editor:
,SwingBlues_Swingx B FB@E

maybe it has to do with it ...


Re: BackupBand 0.C

Posted: Fri Dec 07, 2018 10:05 pm
by j_e_f_f_g
The songsheet is a binary format, so you can't create/edit them with a text editor. You have to wait for the next BackupBand version which will contain the "songsheet creator/editor". (I'm working on it right now).

And that's why there's no docs on how to do it. It's not finished yet.

Right now, you should concentrate on the performance and customization.

PERFORMANCE: Are you having any timing/playback issues? This is supposed to be interactive in realtime. Is it behaving that way for you? Does anything sound "weird" or completely unnatural? Does it sound like a 3 piece band backing you up live? Are the robots "following" you adequately. You need to let me know if this is so, before fooling with anything else. Because if it doesn't pass this test, it's of little use to you.

CUSTOMIZATION: It's supposed to be able to be controlled by lots of different hardware. Have you been able to get it working with the hardware you intend to use to change chords, start/stop play, etc? Are you able to control it in a manner you find most comfortable? Are you able to customize the user interface (window layout) so that it has only what you want, arranged in a way that makes it easy to operate on whatever computer you're using?

Bottom line: Is this working well at simulating a live 3 piece band following you, and are you able to control it easily and quickly enough such that you'd use it for live performance/practise?

Re: BackupBand 0.C

Posted: Fri Dec 07, 2018 10:15 pm
by j_e_f_f_g
If none of the songsheets are being shown in the list, that means backupband can't find them on your hard drive.

Are they in your home folder in the following directory?


Re: BackupBand 0.C

Posted: Fri Dec 07, 2018 10:47 pm
by wolftune
The downloads have instruments marked 41 and 48. 41 is supposed to refer to 44.1kHz? I tried downloading those but the folder extracted was not recognized. The program said I needed a folder called "44khz". Renaming worked.

Strange that "41" instruments are a lot larger file size than the 48…