Midi setup and organizing large sets

Discussion of music production, audio, equipment and any related topics, either with or without Ableton Live
patrickkidd
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Midi setup and organizing large sets

Post by patrickkidd » Tue Feb 13, 2007 8:03 pm

I do all of my production in Live (6) and so have a lot of sets each with 8 or so tracks. It seems only natural to stick all of these tracks into a single set so I can improvise live with them. All of the tracks contain synth generators or pre-recorded material. I might occasionally have a track or two for a live musician.

Considering I've got a few good midi controllers (UC-33, Trigger-finger and a xone-3D, FCB-1010), how would you set up the controllers to be able to move freely between the tracks?

I have a tendency to make things more complicated than they need to be, but currently all I can think of is setting everything up and using the manufacturer's config software for each controller to change the controller number. That sounds a bit cumbersome.

help?

patrickkidd
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Post by patrickkidd » Sat Apr 07, 2007 9:53 am

For what it's worth, I've made at least a little progress here. I started by dragging all of my sets into one set, keeping the order of the tracks. Keeping the songs grouped vertically by keeping their tracks next to each other together, I started playing with the scenes trying to group together the best concepts within and between the songs. That means that you end up with a sort of checkerboard of song scenes (the chunk of scenes for each song being a sqquare), going from the upper left to the lower right, plus some extra scenese for meaningful transitions between songs.

I've got eight midi faders, so I hooked the firs one to every single drum track, and the second one to every single bass track, the third one to every stab track, etc. The scenes make sure that they don't collide with each other...

I also have started to develop my own pattern for how to use each knob above the mixer. For example, I do a lot of LP filtering on my bass, so i make sure that the top knob for the bass channel always does an LP filter-ish sort of thing. The second knob on the drums always makes the drums repeat at a higher tempo - usually by a delay. It took a while - but I finally realized that I didn't have to figure out how to make each midi fader/knob channel work for one channel, but to just connect it to every channel and make sure it basically does the same thing for each one - just like how the strings always work the same no matter what effect pedal is working on an electric guitar.

The most important thing to remember is that you get all of your tracks into your set, and you still rely on setting up scenes for defining the parts of the songs, and the transitions between the songs. Hook each similar track to the same fader/trigger controls, and your off. Oh - then get a faster computer...bloody dsp...

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gabster
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Post by gabster » Mon Apr 09, 2007 4:52 pm

Great tip!!!

Thanks Patrik!

Gabi.

Cache
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Post by Cache » Mon Apr 09, 2007 7:47 pm

why not just have them underneath each other in a top/down fashion, rather than having them go from left to right as well.

or did i miss something in the explanation post? :-)
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Machinate
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Post by Machinate » Mon Apr 09, 2007 8:25 pm

Cache wrote:why not just have them underneath each other in a top/down fashion, rather than having them go from left to right as well.

or did i miss something in the explanation post? :-)
if there are different effects on each track you can't just stack them on top of each other - you have to go horizontally as well.
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zeropoint
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Post by zeropoint » Mon Apr 09, 2007 8:53 pm

could you not also use midi yoke or the iac bus, stack the effects in the first set of track channels ,midi map them, and switch between them using a midi control clip between sets ??
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pulsoc
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Post by pulsoc » Mon Apr 09, 2007 8:59 pm

Machinate wrote:if there are different effects on each track you can't just stack them on top of each other - you have to go horizontally as well.
I have 5.2, but isn't this exactly the sort of thing racks would solve? A rack of effects for each tune on each channel?

Michael-SW
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Post by Michael-SW » Mon Apr 09, 2007 9:34 pm

Or you could set the tracks to "sends only" and set up your fx chains on the sends and use clip envelopes to enable/disable the various sends for different clips. That way you could organize your clips in a more logical way.

Machinate
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Post by Machinate » Mon Apr 09, 2007 10:33 pm

pulsoc wrote:
Machinate wrote:if there are different effects on each track you can't just stack them on top of each other - you have to go horizontally as well.
I have 5.2, but isn't this exactly the sort of thing racks would solve? A rack of effects for each tune on each channel?
Yes, if you're prepared to convert all the effects on every track you have into racks, that's fine. I sure as hell am not ;) I just render all my tracks and then stick some more generic effects over the top.
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pulsoc
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Post by pulsoc » Tue Apr 10, 2007 2:49 am

Machinate wrote:
pulsoc wrote:
Machinate wrote:if there are different effects on each track you can't just stack them on top of each other - you have to go horizontally as well.
I have 5.2, but isn't this exactly the sort of thing racks would solve? A rack of effects for each tune on each channel?
Yes, if you're prepared to convert all the effects on every track you have into racks, that's fine. I sure as hell am not ;) I just render all my tracks and then stick some more generic effects over the top.
Yep as long as you aren't jamming with the midi data - i.e. muting individual samples on impulse or using the Randomizer midi plug.

smutek
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Post by smutek » Tue Apr 10, 2007 3:14 am

PM or do a search for Pitch Back, he runs large live sets this way and has explained his setup in detail before. He and his partner have it to the point where they don;t even have to look at their laptops during a performance, they sit off to the side somewhere.

I've been thinking about this, and if I am correct I think this is how Paddy has his set up. But again I may be way off base here so anyone please feel free to correct me or point out any problems.

This is what I've been planning to do.

Why not have each individual set, or song, set to its own midi channel? You can carry up to what, 16 midi channels? Everything for the first track is set to transmit on midi channel 1. If you get in the habit of setting all of your controls up the same for each song you could then switch over to channel 2 for the second track, 3 for the third, and so on.

This way each time you switch to a new song you've got a fresh set of controls for that song. Like f you've got, all on midi channel 1, a fader controlling track 1 volume, a knob controlling its pan, 2 knobs controlling its 2 sends, etc., isn;t it feasible that those same assignments could control the same things on track one of your second song, only mapped to midi channel 2? Would that work?

One thing is it would be a pain in the ass to just add new sets to this kind of template, because you'd have to go back and map any sets you add to new midi channels, so essentially you'd have to do all of your mapping over again for each set that you add.

It might be easier if you were just starting with a blank canvas though, and doing a live improv. Then you could just set up a massive blank live set that goes from left to right and save it as a template.

I'm trying to get in the habit of working with the same controls for every set. My current default set is 1 audio and 7 midi tracks. I'm using an axiom 49 and have the buttons set up to start/stop play, start the metronome, arm each track, etc. basically I can switch the thing on and sketch out a cool groove without ever having to touch my computer keyboard.

I'm trying to get in the habit of working this way because I figure I can eventually do as I said above, and be free to move between tracks as I wish, controlling the main elements with a familiar set of controls simply by changing midi channels between songs.

Problems arise when considering how to fade between tracks that are controlled by different channels, or the additional control one may want over individual effect/instrument parameters throughout the set. But they could also be assigned to separate midi channels. Say all sets/song controls on 1-8, and other stuff spread through 9-16...

Yeah, that would be a bitch... but I don;t know... I'm trying to wrap my head around it as well and come up with a system that will allow me to play live and not have to touch my computer, or at-least keep it to a bare minimum.

Sorry for the long rambling post, and I don't know if any of that made sense, sorry I'm tired. (maybe I will search for Paddy's post myself)

smutek
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Post by smutek » Tue Apr 10, 2007 3:23 am

Here it is, explained much more eloquently than I could ever hope to:
Pitch Black wrote:This is the setup for my 2-man band. Its pretty complicated because we wanted to have 16 separate outputs from Live into an anlog mixing desk so we can do extensive dub mixing on stage, trigger video clips, and have a crash-proof setup.

We run Live on two Tibook 500's, each feeding 8 individual audio outputs via two RME Multifaces. The Tibooks are both chasing MIDI clock from my controller keyboard, a Roland A-37. The A-37 and a ReMote25 are used to trigger Scenes and Clips in Live and use MIDI CCs to control plugins/effects/levels etc.

One Tibook handles the rhythm section: mono kick, snare, bass, hats, stereo perc, stereo drums. The other Tibook handles the "instruments" as 4 stereo pairs. The "Instruments" machine also has a MIDI track sending MIDI sequences to a 17"Alubook that does video (using Modul8 software) Every scene has its own video sequence plus there are "overrides" under the keys on our MIDI controllers so that I can hit say, a huge reverb dub snare and there appears on the screen a shot of a seed pod exploding.

Once the Macs are loaded at the start of the gig they do not have to be touched at all until they are shut down at the end of the gig. All the control of Live is done from the MIDI keyboards. In fact the Macs are off to the side of the stage and we do not need to look at the computer screens at any time. No accusations of email-checking here, we'd much rather jump up and down!

One Live Set is used on each machine for the whole gig. Our Sets are about 110 tracks wide and about 250 Scenes deep. There is a trick of combining lots of songs accross the Session View left to right top to bottom. You just keep adding new tracks and new scenes so all your songs end up diagonally and top-to-bottom accross the page.

The clips and Scenes for each individual song are set to receive on a different MIDI channel. Song 1 on channel 1, song 2 on channel 2 etc. The MIDI controller keyboards are set up with one patch per song, each patch transmitting a different MIDI channel. Between songs I push the patch increment button on the A-37 controller and the ReMote 25 changes patch, the Akai sampler changes patch, the hardware FX change, and the next song in Live is instantly available under the keys.

As a safety measure, each Live set has a track (which is normally muted) playing a stereo rough mix of what the other Tibook is doing in any given scene. If one Tibook crashes, we can unmute this track and "fly on one engine" while we re-boot the other Mac. The MIDI is routed so that if one powerbook dies it doesn't take the other out. In the last 3 years, we've only ever had two crashes on stage - probably due to getting too excited and HAMMERING the midi - but this backup strategy worked sweetly each time without the audience knowing a thing.

The 16 individual audio outs from Live go into a Behringer 24 ch desk on stage. We have 4 hardware FX sends on this for our dub mixing. (Two Boss SE-50s, one doing 2 delays, the other doing 2 reverbs). I play the keyboards and Mike-the-other-half does the dub and also manipulates the video from a second ReMote25.

We are still using OS9 (gasp) on stage because our Tibooks are so elderly (one Gb of RAM max) and the sets so big OSX just doesn't wanna know! But we have OSX.4.2 partitions with Live 5 and Logic etc that we use in the studio.

There is some video of us playing live and a whole bunch of mp3s over at www.pitchblack.co.nz

Live rig specs:
Tibook 500 x 2
OS9.2.2
1Gb Ram
5400 rpm internal HD
RME Cardbus/Multiface
Live 4.0.2

Alubook 17"
OSX.3
Modul8 video software

Roland A-37
ReMote25 x 2

Akai S3200 sampler
Boss SE-50 multiFX x 2
Behringer 24ch desk
http://www.ableton.com/forum/viewtopic. ... performing

Pitch Black
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Post by Pitch Black » Tue Apr 10, 2007 5:33 am

Hehe, I saw this post before and was going to chime in with a repost, but got sidetracked. Thanks Smoo for doing the legwork! :D

Yeah, the main concepts as I see it are the diagonal layout of "songs" in the Session View [as brilliantly illustrated in patrickkidd's pic posted above] and that you have the Clips / Scenes / Plugins and Mixer parameters for each "song" receiving on a different MIDI channel.

The upshot being that you just change the global transmitting MIDI channel of your controller(s) and each song is instantly available to you.

(Also read up in the manual about giving Scenes a name like "132 BPM" so that Live's project tempo automatically changes when that Scene is triggered.)

Plugin effects not actually processing audio draw minimal CPU while they are waiting in the wings.

As for an upper limit to the number of unique clips Live can contain in a set, that also seems very high indeed - but you might eventually come up against a limit of your RAM resources. (Each Clip does need a little bit of RAM, whether or not that clip is set to actual "RAM playback" or "from disk playback"). We have found with our lowly G4 Powerbooks with 1Gb of RAM that we started to get dropouts only around the 110 track and literally thousands of clips mark. My advice would be to just keep loading up your live gigging set until you hit the top of your clip capacity which is A, very high and B, unique to your machine. With more RAM in todays modern machines, chances are you won't hit any "upper limit of clips" anytime soon. Suck it and see, as we say in New Zealand.


BTW I posted a few thoughts and tips on reliabilty of computers in a live situation here (4th post down):
http://www.ableton.com/forum/viewtopic. ... 77&start=0
Robert Henke also chimes in a bit later with more valuable info about live gigging.


cheers, hope this helps!
paddy
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smutek
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Post by smutek » Tue Apr 10, 2007 10:39 am

Thanks man. Question, when you add tracks to your template do you have to remap every midi parameter? Or no? I guess not. Like... If I keep all of my individual sets to 8 channels or less and have my big live template setup so that tracks 1-8 are controlled on midi channel 1, tracks 9-16 on channel 2, and so on, then when I am setting up it should just be a matter of dragging a new set from the browser into the space for channel 2 and I'm good to go. With regards to midi control atleast. Correct?

Pitch Black
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Post by Pitch Black » Tue Apr 10, 2007 11:13 am

Sadly, when you drag .als files or individual tracks between projects, they lose their MIDI assignments. You have to re-assign the MIDI to each new Live Set you import into the mega-set.

This is, you re-assign MIDI only to the new tracks you add each time - you don't need to "drag a new set from the browser into the space for channel 2" as such.

To add songs to an existing mega-set, open Live's browser and drag the .als (or individual tracks from an un-folded .als) into the mega-set. Then select the first unused MIDI channel on your controller, and click MIDI learn. Click a parameter or clip/scene, twiddle the knob/press the button on your controller, select the next parameter in Live, and so on.

To replace a song in a mega-set, just delete the old song's tracks and import the new tracks. Then assign the MIDI on the added tracks. (I prefer dragging in songs track by track rather than importing the .als file, feels like I have more control... but thats just me.)

Smoo, I hope that makes sense. Did I understand your question right?
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