BackupBand 0.D

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j_e_f_f_g
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BackupBand 0.D

Postby j_e_f_f_g » Mon Feb 11, 2019 11:19 am

Well that was more work than I thought it would be, but the SongSheet editor is mostly done except for some minor tweaks. There are still a few pages of the manual that need to be finished, but all the essential info is there.

If you have version 0.C, then download only update_0D.zip as that has everything you need, including the doc "make_a_songsheet.htm".

Next up, the Backing Pad robot becomes a full member of the band, adding real brass, piano, strings, etc, parts to all the styles -- not just droning sustained block chords in the background.

https://sourceforge.net/projects/backupband/files/

Basslint
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Re: BackupBand 0.D

Postby Basslint » Wed Feb 13, 2019 10:16 pm

Hello,

first let me thank you for releasing this free program!

Very very good idea! There is a similar program which has been around for a few years, https://www.mellowood.ca/mma/, so you might want to take a look at that in case your efforts can be joined.

I ran the program, and I think it could improve a bit on the usability department. The looks might turn of some people, using a modern toolkit like QML would look much better. Props for using JACK, but I tried to connect it to fluidsynth, the connections were OK but I could produce no sound.

I can see myself using this program but it has to be more straightforward. Most musicians are not technical people, they want something that's easy to use. If you improve BackupBand's usability, it might even become better than MMA, which suffers from similar issues.
Last edited by Basslint on Thu Feb 14, 2019 8:57 pm, edited 3 times in total.
The community of believers was of one heart and mind, and no one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they had everything in common. [Acts 4:32]

Death
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Re: BackupBand 0.D

Postby Death » Thu Feb 14, 2019 2:08 am

This looks interesting for jam sessions/improvisation! I've never even heard of a program that can do something like this. I'll have to give it a go! Thanks :)

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Re: BackupBand 0.D

Postby tavasti » Thu Feb 14, 2019 8:47 am

Basslint wrote:Very very good idea! There is a similar program which has been around for a few years, [url=https://www.mellowood.ca/mma/]MMA[url], so you might want to take a look at that in case your efforts can be joined.

MMA is program to create midi file from 'program' you write, interesting thing indeed. BackupBand is real jamming / performing program which can be used by creating song or used live, without pre-crafted song. So they are pretty different.
Linux veteran & Novice musician

Hear my music at https://audiu.net/users/tawaste

j_e_f_f_g
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Re: BackupBand 0.D

Postby j_e_f_f_g » Thu Feb 14, 2019 3:23 pm

Death wrote:jam sessions/improvisation


Yes, that's one of the use cases for this software -- as a practice tool to improve one's technique, especially in regards to improvised solos. The other case is to provide quasi-live backing tracks for a gigging soloist, which is how I use it.

It's meant to be used in a live setting. It's not a composition nor studio tool. It's a performance tool.

Death wrote:I've never even heard of a program that can do something like this.


Oh no, BackupBand does nothing new. The granddaddy of this sort of app, "Band in a Box" for Windows, has been around for decades. So have (hardware) arranger keyboards like Yamaha's PSR series, Roland's BK series, Korg's PA series, etc. BackupBand borrows a lot of ideas from these sources.

Basslint wrote:The looks might turn of some people


About the UI: The app is primarily for gigging musicians -- especially me as I've been gigging with it for over a decade. As a gigging musician, I need a small, efficient setup. BackupBand is run on a small rackmount computer. The entire operation of the app is controlled by a 7 inch USB (displaylink) touchscreen that sits atop my MIDI keyboard controller. No PC keyboard. No mouse. I have a custom BackupBand "window layout" that shows only what I need. I have about 5 seconds to cue up the next song, even if it's an impromptu request, before the audience gets impatient. BackupBand does it for me.

In order for a UI to work on a 7" touchscreen only, everything needs to be big, flat, rudimentary, minimal graphic "decorations", and not so tightly packed that a fingertip can't quickly "hit the target". BackupBand's ui works. Ever try using the typical gtk/qt app on a 7" touchscreen? Now that is not useable. Granted, BackupBand doesn't look "pretty" on a 4K display. But no sane musician is gonna gig with that.

Also, BackupBand's UI is vastly configurable. You can strip it down to a blank window, and build it up from there. This is made possible with my own simplified "toolkit". You don't see this level of customization in gtk/qt apps because those are complex toolkits -- too complex for an enduser to be able to create his own ui. And I use that customization.

So, I won't be changing the ui, because complete customization, and usability on small touchscreens, trumps "visual appeal" for me.

Basslint wrote:has to be more straightforward


Although the user interface may look rudimentary, the underlying program is rather versatile and complex. It has a built-in multi-channel sampler, a midi sequencer, an algorithmic composer, and a decently sophisticated master controller logic that supports splits, layers, and channel zones. And because it needs to be controllable live, nearly every function can be configured to be controlled by most any MIDI or USB device. Any way you cut it, for that featureset and customization, there's going to be a significant "learning curve".

I tried to mitigate that in 2 ways:

1) Good documentation. With good docs, any program is "straightforward" because the docs tell you how to do everything. (Yes, the manual sections after "Songsheets" needs to be fleshed out with more examples and charts. But those sections deal with "advanced configuration" that is entirely optional.)

2) I designed it to work "right out of box". There's very little setup needed. You basically run the app, click on one of the style buttons (ie, Heavy Rock), and click on one of the chord buttons. There's your backup band.

That's very straightforward.

For example, you don't need to find bass, drum, and guitar soundfonts, load them into FluidSynth, and connect it to BackupBand via JACK. BackupBand comes with a very nice set of samples (I think better than what you get in soundfonts -- these are round robin, multi-velocity samples I put a lot of work into.) And it has its own built-in sampler, that doesn't even need JACK. All of this works "right out of box". Yes, you can configure BackupBand to do the former. But there's a reason why I don't tell you how to do so until one of the last chapters in the manual. It's optional advanced setup. And there's lots of that stuff to configure if you need it. You could spend hours just going through the "Setup". And if that's what you did on your first try, I can certainly understand why you thought the program was too "technical" and "not straightforward".

But you didn't need to do that. As the first chapters of the manual explain: "Click one of these Style buttons here. Click on a chord button here. Play along".

Death
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Re: BackupBand 0.D

Postby Death » Thu Feb 14, 2019 9:00 pm

Yeh. I admit, I was ignorant to this kind of software haha.

Anyway, I downloaded it. When I unzipped the 'instruments' and 'extra' files, no files appeared. I tried again and then I got message saying that the files '28.cmp' & '3_A.cmp' already exist in this location. I've got 'view hidden files' selected and I also tried opening the folder as root but I don't see anything. They seem to be invisible. Any ideas what's happened there? Cheers.

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Re: BackupBand 0.D

Postby Basslint » Thu Feb 14, 2019 9:24 pm

j_e_f_f_g wrote:But you didn't need to do that. As the first chapters of the manual explain: "Click one of these Style buttons here. Click on a chord button here. Play along".


Thank you for your detailed post, Jeff. I did not mean to criticize the program in any way, I actually think it's great - I probably made a mistake by trying to incorporate into my setup straight away rather than use it out of the box.

What I said about the UI is not really about the program being unattractive though -- I feel like the X-style UI might turn off some people who might think the program is dated. If usability on touchscreens is a concern, QtQuick was created with that in mind and Clutter should also be a good choice, all while offering a more appealing interface. I only say this because I think it's better if more people use a program, especially if those people are musicians not necessarily as technically minded as the average user on this forum.
The community of believers was of one heart and mind, and no one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they had everything in common. [Acts 4:32]

j_e_f_f_g
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Re: BackupBand 0.D

Postby j_e_f_f_g » Fri Feb 15, 2019 3:27 am

Death wrote:I downloaded it


You didn't download "update_0D.zip", right? That's only for upgrading from 0.C.

If you unzip the instruments_44k.zip it should create an "Instruments" folder inside of "Home/BackupBand". Inside "Instruments" should be another folder "44khz". Inside "44khz" should be 4 more folders "Bass", "Drums", "Guitar", and "Pad".

Inside each of those 4 are a bunch of folders. For example, "Bass" contains a "Fender" folder, and inside are a bunch of .cmp files (which are the sampled waveforms).

Death
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Re: BackupBand 0.D

Postby Death » Fri Feb 15, 2019 5:39 am

j_e_f_f_g wrote:You didn't download "update_0D.zip", right? That's only for upgrading from 0.C.

If you unzip the instruments_44k.zip it should create an "Instruments" folder inside of "Home/BackupBand". Inside "Instruments" should be another folder "44khz". Inside "44khz" should be 4 more folders "Bass", "Drums", "Guitar", and "Pad".

Inside each of those 4 are a bunch of folders. For example, "Bass" contains a "Fender" folder, and inside are a bunch of .cmp files (which are the sampled waveforms).


No. I downloaded 'backupband.zip', 'instruments_44k.zip' and 'extra_44k.zip'. Thing is, I didn't extract these files into my Home folder. I didn't think that was a necessary step but simply a suggestion. I extracted them to a different HDD all together. When I extracted the main archive, it seems to have unpacked correctly, but when I extracted both the instrument files in the same place, the files they extracted are not visible. I checked the Home folder but there's nothing there. I've never had anything like this happen before so it's a bit weird trying to figure out what's actually happened :/

Edit: Btw, there are instrument folders there with files inside so maybe it did work in this directory. But it still complains there are no instruments when I launch the program, even if I copy it over to my Home folder.

merlyn
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Re: BackupBand 0.D

Postby merlyn » Fri Feb 15, 2019 10:10 am

Death wrote: I've never had anything like this happen before so it's a bit weird trying to figure out what's actually happened :/

Don't take this the wrong way. What's actually happened is called 'user error'. :)

Death wrote:But it still complains there are no instruments when I launch the program, even if I copy it over to my Home folder.

If you launch backupband from the ... command line you'll likely be able to see where it is looking for the files.

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Re: BackupBand 0.D

Postby j_e_f_f_g » Fri Feb 15, 2019 11:59 am

Go to the Setup -> General screen. Click the Internal Synth button. Make sure the sample rate is 44100

Death
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Re: BackupBand 0.D

Postby Death » Fri Feb 15, 2019 1:59 pm

That's ok. But just so I know, the user error was me extracting these files somewhere other than the home folder, right? If so, you should probably make it clearer in the instructions that this is a necessary step for it to work properly :wink: That said, I tried re-doing the install in the home folder and the same thing happens, so it seems it's not my fault..?

I can see where it's looking for the files via the GUI. It's looking for them in the same directory I launch the program from, whether it's in my home folder or elsewhere. It tells me to put some sampled instruments in drive location/backupband/instruments/44khz, and that's exactly where they did unpack to. They are there..

So in that settings menu, there is no sample rate shown, just that it's connected to jack, and jack is running at 44.1khz. But I tried connecting it straight to my soundcard instead. It says the samplerate is 44.1khz but when I click ok it tells me about the instruments again and then says 'you need permission to set thread realtime priority'.

So, I re-downloaded all files again and started over, all in the home folder - same thing happens :shock: Is it possible the files labelled as 44k are actually a different sample rate or is this just something on my end? Cheers.

j_e_f_f_g
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Re: BackupBand 0.D

Postby j_e_f_f_g » Fri Feb 15, 2019 2:57 pm

Hmmm. Try downloading the instruments_48k.zip. Then repeat the above steps to set the sample rate to 48000.

Death
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Re: BackupBand 0.D

Postby Death » Fri Feb 15, 2019 4:50 pm

Ok. That got it working once I used those samples and ran jack at 48khz instead. I'll just do it that way. Thanks dude! I'll have a little jam with this later tonight :)


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