Video: Controlling BeatBuddy with OnSong
The BeatBuddy brings the power of a drum machine into an elegant design that gives you control over fills, transitions and different rhythms in a song. But changing parameters on the pedal can be tough during a live performance. In this video tutorial, we're going to show you how you can configure the tempo and beat to play just by flipping through your songs in OnSong. We will even show you some advanced features of OnSong that can make your performance with a BeatBuddy even more flawless. The BeatBuddy costs $299 USD and is a well-built guitar pedal that fits right on a standard pedal board.
It features a color display as well as knobs to adjust volume, drum set and tempo. The pedal itself has a good solid feel and is used to start beats with an intro, play a fill, or move to the next part of a song with a transition, and then end the song with a double press. Let's take a closer look at the BeatBuddy pedal. Around the top side we see we have a USB plug for connecting and managing the BeatBuddy on a computer, an SD card for loading songs and firmware, and the power cord. On the right side we have our headphone volume, stereo or mono inputs and a plug for the optional foot switch. On the left side we have our headphone output as well as stereo or mono output. The last port up here is called MIDI sync and that's what we're going to use to connect the BeatBuddy to OnSong.
There are a few things you're going to need to buy in order to use the BeatBuddy with an iPad. All of the products we demonstrate in this video tutorial are listed for your convenience at this link. To do this, we need to purchase the MIDI Sync Breakout Cable for the BeatBuddy which costs about $15 USD. This cable connects into the MIDI Sync port and gives us the standard 5-pin MIDI in and out ports. Now we can use these with any MIDI instrument or hardware that supports MIDI. But since we reduce the number of wires that we are using on stage to simplify our setup, we're going to show you how to connect this MIDI wirelessly. To do this, we're going to use MIDI over Bluetooth Now, there are a few products on the market that can do this. We've been using this product from Quicco Sound called the mi 1 and it's been working on our gigs. Yamaha has also come out with the MD-BT01 which is similar. Both adapters cost less than $50 USD and can also be found using our shopping list. Once we have the breakout cable, we attach it to the BeatBuddy like this, and then attach the Bluetooth MIDI dongle.
Now the tricky part with these is connecting them to the correct wires. Be sure the little arrows on the dongles point the correct way. So you want the OUT cable connected to the dongle that has the arrow pointing away from the MIDI OUT port, and the IN cable connected so the arrow is pointing towards the MIDI IN port. The great things with these dongles is once they're connected, they are powered by the MIDI ports themselves so you just need to plug them in and they are ready to connect in OnSong. To connect using MIDI over Bluetooth, we go into OnSong, and open the Utilities menu by tapping on the gear icon in the upper right corner. Then choose Editors and MIDI. Down in the lower left we tap on the wrench icon to configure MIDI. Locate the Sources option and tap on it. This will show us how many sources for MIDI are connected to OnSong.
So if we have a wired connection it will show up, network connections, virtual MIDI from apps, etc. Tap on the Bluetooth icon in the upper right corner to connect our Bluetooth MIDI device. You'll see that the device shows up here after a brief search. We can then tap on it to connect. Now if you have trouble connecting, you may need to try switching the dongle ends, or you be connected to another MIDI Bluetooth device. But once you get connected, you're ready to configure OnSong to do what you want. One great use case is to have OnSong set the tempo of the BeatBuddy when you switch songs. There are two ways to do that. MIDI Clock is designed to send a signal through MIDI cables and hardware that can synchronize all your MIDI instruments. This signal is set 24 times for every quarter note which is really fast.
Both OnSong and the BeatBuddy can act as the MIDI Clock so you don't want them both running at the same time. Let's first take some time to set up our BeatBuddy. To do that, we'll tap on both the Drum Set and Tempo buttons at the same time. We can then use the tempo knob to move to the Main Pedal option, and then press that same knob to select. Alternately we can use the arrow buttons and tap on the button in the middle to select things. Let's go down to MIDI messages, and then to MIDI out. Go down to Sync and set that to disable. This will prevent the BeatBuddy from being the MIDI clock. We can also decide if we want the BeatBuddy to tell our MIDI equipment to start and stop when we start or stop the rhythm. We're going to set start to Intro right now for something we'll show you a little later.
We also want to disable Notes here since that basically sends a MIDI note event for every beat that's being played, and that can get a little crazy since once we connect the BeatBuddy to OnSong. Now let's go back and then got to MIDI in. Go to System Real Time and then choose Sync. Here we want to let the BeatBuddy hear our MIDI clock so we're going to enable it. We can also have OnSong start and stop the BeatBuddy remotely so let's turn that on too. If we're using multiple MIDI devices, we want to control things a little better by setting a MIDI channel. So we're going to go and set the MIDI channel on the BeatBuddy to 1. Let's skip over notes and go to Control Change and enable that. This lets us send MIDI control changes that can effect the BeatBuddy right from our iPad. You can see all of the control changes we could send to the BeatBuddy and enable the ones we want to send. I'm going to enable them all so we have the option to control them with OnSong.
Now let's go back into OnSong, and then tap on the gear icon to go into Utilities, and then open Editors and MIDI and then settings. Then under the Sync section, turn on MIDI Clock. Now when we go to a song and change the tempo in OnSong, we can see that the tempo of the BeatBuddy is changed. But if we watch long enough, you might notice that it shifts periodically. This is because OnSong is sending 24 signals every quarter note, and wireless signals tend to introduce latency which make it a bad choice for using MIDI clock. If we want to use MIDI clock, we recommend that you use a wired MIDI connection to reduce any latency and to avoid that jitter. Luckily the BeatBuddy can receive tempo changes as a MIDI control change. So instead of trying to determine the tempo by sending and listening to very fast MIDI signals, newer versions of OnSong can just send two MIDI signals to change the tempo. To do this, we are going to go back into our MIDI Settings menu and turn off MIDI clock, and then tap on this Tempo option at the bottom of the sync section and choose a channel.
Now when we choose a different tempo, we can see it immediately updates the tempo on the BeatBuddy and there's no tempo drift. The BeatBuddy pedal gives you great control over how the rhythm is played. But what if starting the rhythm on the BeatBuddy could automatically trigger an action on our iPad? Let's go into the MIDI Triggers screen in OnSong again by opening the Utilities menu, tapping Editors and then MIDI. And then let's just press the BeatBuddy pedal. You'll see a MIDI Start command appears. Then double press the BeatBuddy and the Stop command appears. We can then tap to link these to different actions. I'm going to choose Toggle Autoscroll for both. Let's close that screen and make sure that our song has a duration set, by tapping and holding on the autoscroll button in the live bar. Now when we start the rhythm from the BeatBuddy, you'll see that our autoscroll starts. Stopping the rhythm with a double press will also stop the autoscroll as soon as the rhythm ends.
Another popular function is the ability to change the rhythm on our BeatBuddy when we load a specific song. The BeatBuddy handles this using Program Changes along with Bank Select. We can configure OnSong to send these MIDI changes when the song is loaded. To do this on a text-based chord chart, we can tap and hold on the song title. This opens the Section Mapping menu where we can assign MIDI or Scenes to a section. So we're going to choose MIDI and then let's add a MIDI event. And then choose Program Change. OnSong can send a Program Change right with the Bank Select. Bank Select is divided into MSB and LSB which stands for most significant bit and least significant bit. Each one of these gives us 128 possible selections. So combined that's more than 16,000 possible songs you can choose from. The MSB and LSB Bank Select lets us pick a folder, and then Program Change lets us pick a song within that folder. The order of all these folders and songs can be set up in the BeatBuddy Manager.
So to have OnSong load the first song in the first folder, we set MSB to zero, LSB to zero, and then program change to zero. This is because because computers start counting at zero instead of one. If we wanted to select the fourth song in the 129th folder, we would set the MSB to one, the LSB to one, and then Program Change to three. The reason is that the MSB is equal to a value of 128, so we add that to the LSB and get 129. Again, the three is really the fourth song because computers and MIDI start counting at zero. Let's just pick something like the fourth song in the fourth folder by setting MSB to zero, LSB to three, and Program Change to three. Then tap Done and close the menu. Now when we load this song from the songs menu, we can see the BeatBuddy switches to the new song immediately. What this means though is that if we're already playing a beat on the BeatBuddy, it will immediately stop and the next program will be loaded.
That means that you will want to make sure that you stop the BeatBuddy before loading another song. We're working with BeatBuddy to see if this can be improved in the future. We can use MIDI sync commands to start and stop the BeatBuddy too. To do this, we can go into the Utilities menu and then Editors and MIDI. Tap on the wrench icon and then turn on the playback switch in the sync section. The let's exit back to the main song viewer. Now when we tap on the audio playback button in the live bar, our BeatBuddy starts playing! We can then tap again to stop the BeatBuddy. Now when we tap again… Hmmm… The BeatBuddy doesn't start playing now. Why? The reason is that OnSong is set up to play and pause tracks by default. Because of this, it uses MIDI Start, MIDI Stop and then MIDI Continue, so that our hardware will continue to play where it left off. At the time of this tutorial, BeatBuddy doesn't support MIDI Continue. So we're going to change some things in settings to make sure that we don't get stuck.
To do this, go into the Utilities menu, and then Settings, Live Settings, Audio Playback, and then in the Audio Behavior area choose Play/Stop instead of Play/Pause. Now we can tap on the audio playback button to start the BeatBuddy. Now when we toggle the audio playback button, the BeatBuddy will start and stop the way we'd expect. OnSong can also be used to send MIDI through additional foot pedals, sticky notes or hot corners. Let's use this to start a fill or accent. To do this, let's open the Utilities menu by tapping on the gear icon, and then choose Editors and then Navigation. Choose the Screen tab. Here we can tap on a corner in the screen to assign an action. We select the Send MIDI option, and then choose Control Change. We'll put that on channel 1 and choose 110 for the control change. When we do that, this will play an accent beat on the BeatBuddy. Now let's do the same on this corner but we are going to choose Control Change 112. This will play a fill. Lets tap Done and get back to our song viewer. When we tap on the upper left, the BeatBuddy will play an accent beat.
When we tap on the upper right, it starts a fill. Awesome! We could just as easily assign these actions to foot pedals or sticky notes. If we really want to automate things, we could use a foot pedal to move between sections of our song, and then assign each of those sections a different MIDI command to transition the BeatBuddy to a different part of the rhythm. To do this, we open the foot pedal setup screen by tapping on this foot pedal icon in the menubar, and then tap on the wrench icon in the lower left corner. Let's set up our scrolling behavior to "Jump To Section". Then we're going to scroll down in this menu to locate the Forward Pedal Trigger. We're going to set the Forward Pedal Trigger to "Audio". Now what this does is the first time we press the scroll down foot pedal, it will perform this action, and then every other time it will simply scroll down through our song.
Because we selected "Jump To Section", it will do that section by section and trigger the MIDI as we go. Let's tap off of that menu, and just make sure that our foot pedals are set up to scroll up and scroll down. Now let's tap "Done" to see how this all goes together. Now let's say we want to execute a fill and transition to the chorus part of our song when we hit the chorus. We tap and hold on the chorus section in the song viewer to open the section mapping menu. We can then choose the MIDI tab, and then add MIDI events to that. So let's choose to send a control change on channel 1, and we're going to choose Control Change 113, to transition to another part of the song. Now if we send the value 127, this will inform the BeatBuddy to simply move to the next part of the song.
If we want to move to a specific part of the song, we can change this value to 1, 2, 3, etc. The transition will repeat indefinitely until we set a value of zero, which would then complete the transition, and move us to the selected part of the song. So we set this to two, add a delay, and then set a value of zero as well. Then close the menu. Alright, now let's just put this all together! We press the foot pedal once which uses the forward pedal trigger to start the audio, which using MIDI sync starts our BeatBuddy. Now because the BeatBuddy started playing the rhythm, we automatically start autoscroll. We can change the tempo of the song dynamically using the playback menu… and then we can even tap on the corners at the top of our screen to play accents and fills. When we scroll through the song with our foot pedals, our BeatBuddy transitions to the chorus part, and our song automatically transitions to the next part of the BeatBuddy rhythm.
Now let's double press on the BeatBuddy pedal itself, and we can see that not only does the rhythm stop, but our autoscroll stops too. Now if you are using non-text-based chords chart like PDF or Word files, you can still send MIDI commands, and do most of what's in this video tutorial. What you'll do instead is tap on the pencil icon in the menubar to to open the song editor and then tap on this "i" icon to open the metadata editor within the song editor. If we scroll to the bottom we can see that we can choose to send or receive MIDI. So you'll simply choose the Send MIDI option, and then you can add your MIDI events here. When you're all done, you'll see that it writes this special syntax out in your metadata section and this will inform OnSong to send the very same MIDI when the song is loaded. I hope that shows you just how powerful OnSong and BeatBuddy can be when you put them together with the MIDI capabilities in OnSong. If you have any questions, be sure to contact us on our support page. Thanks for watching..