War on the BK9..!

Posted by: Diki

War on the BK9..! - 11/22/20 01:40 PM

No, hostilities haven't broken out between us! Just wanted to up something a little jazzy, originally a War tune, covered by George Benson later on.

The track is a heavily edited mutitrack audio file, and the jazz guitar, sax, Rhodes and scatting are all me, live on the gig! The scatting is a combination of my voice, the Roland scat patch and the SuperNatural jazz guitar.

I hope you enjoy... I certainly did!
Posted by: Nigel

Re: War on the BK9..! - 11/22/20 09:04 PM

Originally Posted By Diki
I hope you enjoy... I certainly did!

This is fantastic. I have loved that song since I got Benson's Breezin album back in the 70s. And you do an absolutely convincing guitar performance. Great treatment all round. Now I intend to listen to it again, it is that good.
Posted by: scameron

Re: War on the BK9..! - 11/23/20 08:04 AM

Really enjoyed this arrangement..had a great "live" feel..kudos!
Posted by: captain Russ

Re: War on the BK9..! - 11/23/20 11:56 AM


Benson is DA BOMB! He has a new live album...first in 30 years.

Good stuff (BOTH you and George)

Posted by: montunoman

Re: War on the BK9..! - 11/25/20 09:48 AM

That was great! I would have commented sooner but I couldn't down load on my phone so I had to wait until I got a moment on my PC.

Anyways, the guitar sounded like the "real deal " to me too. May I ask how you did the two vocals? Overdubs? Vocal effect unit? Eitherway , very enjoyable smooth jazz sound.
Posted by: Diki

Re: War on the BK9..! - 11/26/20 10:54 AM

Thanks everyone. Glad you enjoyed it..!

To clarify, as I said in my OP, the backing is a multitrack audio backing from one of the karaoke companies, so the backing vocals are real singers. In fact, due to me being a bass baritone, the upper part during the second half of the verse is the lead voice and I sing a lower part, but try to turn it into the dominant line. Pop music is pretty cruel for baritones! Unfortunately you can only pitch transpose down a tone or so before most audio tracks sound a bit off, whereas going up can be done almost a fourth without things getting horrible (depending on sound). It was either use the track’s vocal in spots or not do the tune. I feel as long as I don’t merely mime, I’m good to go!

But vocals aside, the reason I do the song is the joy I get from using the Roland’s SuperNatural jazz guitar sound. I hate to brag on Roland, especially after they have left the field of play, but the way they have set up the articulations on the SN guitar sounds is the best I have ever used... There’s no velocity triggered articulation (dictating when they occur whether you want them or not), it’s all simply legato/detached articulation and the ability to discern single line work from chords. So, it does an amazing job of interpreting your playing and substituting the correct articulations.

I sent this one recently to a guitarist I had played years with, and he asked me who I’m playing with these days! That felt good, I can tell you!
Posted by: AlwaysaPlanB

Re: War on the BK9..! - 03/17/21 03:27 AM

Diki, I feel your baritone pain.
I am constantly transposing original keys down a minor third, at least, or with Queen songs, a sixth. Obviously, things need revoicing at those extremes. Even doing an eight-week singing course (reasonably dedicated) did not really help me increase my range much. Maybe, added some strength in the upper reaches.
But ultimately, it's the performance that carries the audience, so I am sure they are not fussed what key it's in, as long as it sounds good.
Posted by: Diki

Re: War on the BK9..! - 03/18/21 01:05 AM

Thanks! The seventies weren’t too bad for baritones, but the eighties had almost none!

One trick I have if I need to drop an audio backing over a third is to transpose the bass part down the third AND up the sixth. Then I can cut and paste between the two if parts of the bassline drops well bellow the bottom E string. This can sometimes save a track, other times you just have to roll up your sleeves and record a new bassline that sits in the standard range!

I’ve also rescued guitar parts that get muddy if you take them down a third or more by mixing together the down pitched part with one transposed up the sixth. Just EQ out the low end of the up-transposed track and mix it in quietly just to put a bit of sparkle and transient clarity back in.

Transposing audio down can be tricky if you need major third or more!
Posted by: AlwaysaPlanB

Re: War on the BK9..! - 03/19/21 05:31 AM

Thanks for the tips, Diki.
I shall definitely give them a go.
Totally agree on the audio side of things.
Amazing that the BK7m is happy to do MP3s up and down on the fly. Great saver on occasions.
Posted by: Diki

Re: War on the BK9..! - 03/20/21 06:06 AM

I seldom ask the BK to do on the fly transposition of more than a half step... Compared to offline computer transposition, the quality is VERY low, and a whole step sounds much worse than doing it in advance.

Plus, I do my audio backing tracks using multitrack recordings, mostly from Karaoke-version.com, who have some really excellent tracks. The advantage to this is that I can transpose the pitched tracks, but leave the drums and percussion untouched, which makes a massive difference in quality compared to transposing everything!

Unfortunately, when using the on the fly BK transposition, of course the whole thing gets transposed, and it’s the drum transients that suffer the most. What I tend to do on songs that really push my range is to prepare two versions in advance, one a half step lower than I normally need. Because the drums stay untransposed, the lower one sounds MUCH better than using the BK to shift it down.

Most of the time I won’t need it, but if I do it is there, ready to go!
Posted by: Gunnar Jonny

Re: War on the BK9..! - 04/20/21 11:45 AM

Hi Diki.
I've just accepted a deal and bought a very little used BK-9 in great condition.
Not arrived here yet, but would like to hear your experience regardig use the G-70 stuff. Compability and what to expect.
I have some (or more) stuff archived from the years when I had the G-70..
Another question:
Drivers, manuals and such is to find at the Roland site, but do you know if there was a CD in the box with any other software?
If so, and if you have it, would you mind share a copy of the files not to find at Roland site?
Posted by: TedS

Re: War on the BK9..! - 04/20/21 02:25 PM

I'm not Diki, but I do own a BK-9!
Before you do anything, perform a factory reset. The latest OS version is 1.06, which can still be downloaded from the Roland site.
As far as I can remember the BK-9 did NOT come bundled with a CD.
Also as far as I know, Roland never released any "bonus" styles or content for it. Just a few minor OS updates, then... crickets.
"User Programs" are now called "Performances." UPGs are now "Performance Lists."
One-touch settings, performances, and performance lists are tricky... You have to save a lot, and carefully! to avoid losing or overwriting your work. Experiment and make sure you're able to get the desired results before you put a lot of time in.
If you have an iPad there are a few Roland BK-partner apps (which I haven't personally tried.) Unfortunately I believe there's only ONE USB port. So if you put a memory stick in that port to save your work, it doesn't leave a port free to connect to the iPad :-(
There's also a 3rd-party program called Gesini GERD which is supposed to help automate setting up registrations. I haven't used it but you can search for info on the web.
Overall I love the BK-9 but I wish Roland had developed it further, instead of moving on so soon to the less-featured E-A7.
Posted by: Gunnar Jonny

Re: War on the BK9..! - 04/20/21 03:00 PM

Thank's a lot TedS. 👍
Already downloaded all there is from the Roland site, and will look out for your tips about the other stuff as well.
Looking forward to test it, a bit late maybe. I had the BK7-m for a while, but I guess the 76 keys will make me happier. 🤔
Genos & BK-9 might be a nice pair to bring a lot of fun, specially if the old Roland G-70 stuff is half as good as I remember it. 😁😁😁
Posted by: Diki

Re: War on the BK9..! - 04/21/21 11:55 AM

I wouldn’t do the factory reset unless the OS is not up to date. But read the manuals carefully about the Global settings and the ‘Save as default’ function, which will allow you to set up the BK-9 so it powers up the way you want.

That’s also incorrect information about the USB/iPad connection. There’s a square USB port on the back where you plug in a USB cable on the back (it will hook up to a computer just fine with a regular cable, but you’ll need a Camera Connection Kit cable to connect to an iPad). The slot USB connector on the front is where you put your USB memory stick.

The only restriction was with the Roland Wireless connection dongle, which would take up that front slot. So essentially useles... Doh! 🙄

As to G70 compatibility, styles and sequences will play just fine. One of Roland’s strengths is that their style format hasn’t changed in decades. So basically, any well written style will play with no issues. However...

There was a fair bit of tweaking of drum kit sound volumes on the newer (better) drum kits compared to the V-Drum kits from the G70. In truth, the E80 was a closer match to the BK-9 than the G70, having almost the identical same drum kits.

Now, I’m being ultra picky... it’s subtle, and you may feel that it works for you with no tweaking, but for me, I often found myself adjusting the hi hat volumes a bit and sometimes overall velocity to hit sample vel-switch points. Again, subtle, but possibly worth it.

You’ll also find that the main electric basses have a LOT more low end now, so if you found yourself EQ’ing the basses in the G70 or boosting the whole arranger’s low end to compensate, you can take it off now.

To be honest, I approach each new arranger as an opportunity to rework EVERYTHING. Complete sonically identical compatibility kind of defeats the reason why I bought a new keyboard. I want it to sound better, not the same! So I don’t mind the work. But everything WILL play, and the differences are subtle.

There’s also now 3 MFX processors for the style/SMF section, which can transform your styles and sequences. Try replacing distorted rock parts with clean guitars and run them through one of the amp simulators cranked up... fantastic! Now chords break up properly like a real guitar does. A phaser on Rhodes parts, slapback echo on rockabilly guitars - sky’s the limit!

See if you can find the EA7 styles, most of those will work fine in the BK-9 with the exception of the ethnic stuff which uses sounds and kits the BK-9 doesn’t have. Many of them are reworked BK-9 styles, sometimes for the better. They also have a few which leverage the BK/EA7’s ability to run more than one drum part, which none of the BK’s styles did for some strange reason, and they also use some MFX on style parts, which was almost never used on the BK-9’s styles.

You will LOVE the massively expanded Performance List (UPS in G70 terms) which ballooned from 128 entries to 999! It now feasible to have one’s entire repertoire all in one list... The latest OS also has a utility to read G70 UPG’s, but obviously there will be some differences. You lose UPR3 & LWR2 parts, and may have an issue with MFX assignments. Plus, of course, any aftertouch assignments.

Losing the touch screen was traumatic at first, quite a few things that were easy using the screen are now a lot more difficult to get to, and losing the sliders for the Makeup Tool section makes it a bit slower, but there are workarounds, and for me, the thing that truly pushed me to new heights was simply to leverage the expanded Performance List to prepare adjacent Performances (UPG’s) for each thing I would have used the touch screen to do manually. It’s all totally seamless, as Roland’s have been for years, so no hiccups sonically. So one button press, and you can alter one thing hard to get to, or the entire setup, whatever, and just concentrate on playing, not button pushing!

If you have an FC7 you can also program Performance up/down to two switches and do it hands-free. Amazing!

The H Bar section (the Hammond sim) got a huge update, and fixed everything from the G70. The volume slider is now post distortion, so you can have a quiet but distorted sound, and the reverb send is post-Leslie! Plus you now have options for B3’s of different decades for vib/cho and different amp sections. A huge improvement (but still very difficult to use without a swell pedal, as it should be).

The Wav/MP3 player bypasses the Mastering Tools altogether, so your best way to set up your monitor/PA system would be to play a good CD rip via the built in player and EQ your system to that, then use the Mastering EQ and compression to make your styles and sequences match. The default settings are a bit extreme for me, IMHO they are optimized for pretty poor speakers, and boost the low end too much. I usually take the EQ off and only have a very gentle compression to even out the backing, and nothing on the keyboard side at all...

Let me know any questions when you start to play it, preferably on a new thread per unrelated question (so others can easily find info). I hope you enjoy your new arranger, I know I certainly have!
Posted by: Gunnar Jonny

Re: War on the BK9..! - 04/21/21 01:57 PM

Thank's a lot for those tips and more in depht view of different things. 👍
Got it home this night, and it looks and feels like brand new. Also a new big Gator bag was included, will fit Genos perfectly if needed, and all to a fairly nice price (at least I think so...US $800).
Now we're at the start of the spring and summerseason here, so I guess the deep questions, if any, will pop up during the late authumn and upcoming winter.... 🎵🎹🎵😁
Posted by: Diki

Re: War on the BK9..! - 04/21/21 11:27 PM

Wow! That's the best $800 you ever spent! New, when it first came out, I paid over US$2100...

Try the SN Jazz guitar and the SN Steel and Nylons. IMHO, the most playable articulated guitars short of software ones. No velocity triggered articulations, you do it all with your playing, the way it works best! That War piece that kicks off this thread features the Jazz heavily.

Give the SN saxes a miss, though. Yamaha's are better, IMHO (see? I can accept when other brands do things better! LOL).

The BK-9 has its own sound, it's not a Yamaha, it's not a Korg... Find what it does best, it will amaze you. Try to make it do what it doesn't, it won't! Enjoy, and never let it go. At that price, you can afford to hold on to it! The world is full of people that let arrangers go that now regret it, especially brands that stopped making them. The BK-9 is the most advanced arranger Roland ever made. And ever WILL make...

It's the last unicorn. Treat it nice!

Posted by: Gunnar Jonny

Re: War on the BK9..! - 04/22/21 01:13 AM

Originally Posted By Diki
Wow! That's the best $800 you ever spent! New, when it first came out, I paid over US$2100........
.... The BK-9 is the most advanced arranger Roland ever made. And ever WILL make...

It's the last unicorn. Treat it nice!

Yeah, I'm happy with the deal, and it will be treated nice, just as I does with all my equipment.
Had an hour to play this morning, and at first I was a bit confused and thought that there was something wrong with the style category buttons.
It did not switch when press button, but after a couple of bad words, I did realise that it would not light up until style itself was chosed by turn the wheel and press 'enter'... 😁
Well, I guess there will be some 'aha's and eyeopeners when I get more time at it.
And I already like the feel and how it sounds. As you say, it's not Yam or Korg or whatever, and that's what's make the whole fun. 😊

Reading all there is written here carefully, and I'm thankful to all of you for your input, tips and tricks. 👍
Posted by: Diki

Re: War on the BK9..! - 04/22/21 02:04 PM

I still find ‘a-ha!’ moments after years of using it..!

There are a couple of things I would prioritize learning about, if I were you:

Firstly is how to create and store Performances in a Performance List, and how to organize the List, and how to copy Performances from one List to another. One of the ‘gotchas’ is that, if you don’t first select a Perf. List when you start up, if you create a Performance it will automatically create a new Perf. List to put it in.

Unless you specifically want to do this, make a habit of loading your main Perf. List when you first power up. Or have one List for experimenting, and then another for storing your finished ideas. You can change Perf. Lists without changing the currently loaded Performance as long as you don’t select anything from the freshly loaded Perf. List, so that’s a good way to work on a Perf. then store it in your main List.

I also like my main List organized alphabetically, so practice using the ‘Move Perf.’ function. All new Performances in a List will get initially created at the very bottom of the List. If you want to easily find them, I find it helps to keep them alphabetically...

Secondly, familiarize yourself with the Makeup Tools. Perhaps you used it in the G70, but it’s a bit different in the BK-9 because the Part Sliders and mute buttons don’t work on it any more. Shame... 🙄

But the Makeup Tools are where you can quite easily tweak style and SMF part volumes, effects, even velocities. And you can even get inside the drum kit and adjust everything there, even substitute one sound for another (maybe you want a different snare or kick, for instance). You can also EQ each drum sound independently as well as each Part, and add one of the 3 MFX to any Part (but you can’t add MFX to individual drum sounds, it has to be the whole kit).

Basically, the Makeup Tools is where you can easily turn a style from something almost right into something perfect. And you can make much older styles come to life by using newer sounds and kits. It is my most used feature!

Feel free to post questions about any issues, most of them have answers! 🎹😎

(but please start a new thread for each different question!)
Posted by: Diki

Re: War on the BK9..! - 04/25/21 10:50 AM

Another thing to look up in the manual is the ‘Save as Default’ and ‘Save Global’ functions.

This can save you a ton of time when you switch on. Create a Performance with your favorite setup, split points, octave transpositions, touch sensitivity, chord recognition type, Assign SW assignments, D-Beam setups (for each sub-category), control pedal and sustain assignments, etc., then do a ‘Save as Default’. Now you’ll start up with everything set to go before you even load a Performance List and select a Performance.

Save Global saves everything from the Global section, including Mastering Tools, microphone EQ settings, FC7 assignments, MIDI settings and sync settings and much, much more.

You can adjust these as you go along, and re-save as needed. A word of caution about the Global settings, though.. Unlike the Default startup Performance, which you could save to a Performance and store on the stick, the Global parameters have NO BACKUP! So, as you start to set these the way you want, WRITE THEM DOWN. Especially if you use MIDI Sets to interact with other gear or DAW’s, or if you have an FC7 (highly recommended), or use custom Mastering Tools setups (these can be quite a lot of parameters to remember), if you ever have to do a factory reset you’ll lose the lot... 😱

Write them down... 🎹😎

(The above advice applies to ALL BK series arrangers. The EA7 added Global Save backup)
Posted by: Gunnar Jonny

Re: War on the BK9..! - 04/25/21 12:52 PM

Thanks a lot Diki. 😊

Great tips is always welcome.
There is so much to learn, and I've already realized that many of the things that still should be in my brains memory from the years with G-70 is well hidden or simply forgotten.
Also, as you point out, there is lots of differences. It's not a G-70. And WOW, the preset organs blow me away, also some guitars and pianos sounds real good!!
The keys (if I remember it correctly) is quite similar as G-70? Need a bit more force by the fingers to play compared to a bit softer Genos keybed.

There's not been as much time as I should wish to explore yet, but so far I'm not scared. I'm more into if this is the tool I really want on top of Genos.
Still not been into the older stuff I have stored. I'll take the time to explore and figure out, but at the moment, it's springtime, summer knocking at the door, and the season to travel around in our motorhome is here.

The only bad thing is that damn Covid virus. 😡
But at least the vaccine is here, tomorrow we'll get the first shot, secont at 6 of June. Anyway, if we behave as the authorities tell us, it will hopefully end well for most of us this year too.

Keep well and stay safe! 👍

Originally Posted By Diki:
..........if you ever have to do a factory reset you’ll lose the lot... 😱
Write them down... 🎹😎

Lucky me, I did not set up a lot yet. Checked the OS that already is the latest, v.1.06. 👍
Took a factory reset just to have a fresh start before write any new personal setting. 😊
Posted by: Diki

Re: War on the BK9..! - 04/25/21 07:11 PM

The BK-9 keybed is quite different to the G70’s. The G70 had an Italian action, one of the best 76 keybeds ever made, with full size (length) black keys and a full length white, but with the ends slightly rounded. It was a little bit heavier, and a bit more cushioned on key down, and had aftertouch.

The BK-9’s action is Chinese, a hair lighter, but still very crisp and positive, a joy to play for hours. No aftertouch, and a bit sharper at the ends of the whites (it has a slight lip like the overhang of a piano key). Sadly, the rounded whites of the G70’s action were a bit better suited to organ techniques like palm smears, so you have to adjust your touch a hair when you play the MUCH better Hammond sim in the BK.

But it’s a much lighter (total weight) action... I took out the action on both keyboards, and the action in the G70 is several pounds heavier. This is part of the reason the BK is under half the weight of the G70..!

In fairness, although I haven’t yet seen a Genos, I have played a PA4X, and the BK-9’s action is easily as good. I’ll take your word on the Genos. Kudos to Roland for not putting a PSR style keybed in it. I’m afraid they went that route with the BK-5 & -3, and I hated those 🤬

I can’t lie, probably the thing I miss the most from the G70 is that action, it is easily head and shoulders above anything I have ever played (Roland put the same action in the G1000 VA-76 and the A70 MIDI controllers only). But the sound of the BK-9 is so far ahead (and it’s so much lighter!) I had to make the move. I still have my behemoth G70, and play it every now and again. Nirvana! 🎹❤️