Changing instrument presets and its routing on stage

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stubba
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Re: Changing instrument presets and its routing on stage

Post by stubba » Fri Dec 18, 2009 1:18 am

Thanks for these ideas!
I've been looking at the best way of integrating multiple instruments into a live set easily and you've given me a lot to start playing with...
That said, it could be A LOT easier.

kanthos
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Re: Changing instrument presets and its routing on stage

Post by kanthos » Fri Mar 05, 2010 4:58 pm

I'm also looking into using Live as the host for my keyboard rig. I have a fairly particular way I'd like to be able to work with things to meet my needs, and wanted to check that I'll be able to get pretty close to what I want to accomplish. I currently use Cantabile as a host for performance but want to find a package that will work well as a DAW AND as a live tool so that I can learn one tool as I start to learn the ins and outs of creating pieces rather than playing a keyboard part, and want to get similar functionality out of this tool compared to what I get out of Cantabile now. I've got the Live trial installed and I've read the majority of the manual, but some of my questions require the ability to save in order to answer them.

Currently, I play with two keyboards and a laptop, basically using the laptop as a glorified rackmount sound module. One keyboard is the master and can send program changes (or control changes!) to the other keyboard and laptop when I change presets on the master. I mainly play at church, which means that I have a pool of songs to pull from but also, the setlist is always different (and sometimes given on short notice). Cantabile makes it easy to build a setlist by having each song in its own file. Each song has a number of scenes, and all the VSTs for a particular song are loaded along with the song (which is fairly fast), and I switch scenes mid-song (which is near-instant). I can assemble a setlist in minutes, since I already have the song files, so it's just a matter of putting them in order.

I use orchestral samples pretty heavily, and have an instance of NI Kontakt loaded up. I keep it loaded in every song file, since Cantabile and Kontakt are very good about not reloading all the samples from disk whenever I switch song files; the delay is typically 2-5 seconds at most when switching songs, compared to a 60-second initial load time for the samples. Clearly, waiting this long on every song change isn't an option.

Also, since I mix sounds from different sources, I use knobs sending MIDI CCs to control volumes across all my devices - one knob will adjust the piano/keyboard volumes on both keyboards and the laptop, another for organ volumes, and also pads, leads, and loops (or clicktrack). If my pad is too loud mid-song, I need to be able to adjust on the fly without having to remember that on this particular song, the pad is done on my laptop; the way I use these knobs lets me do that.


To summarize, I need three things: 1) Easy workflow for creating a setlist from presets, 2) a way to keep orchestral samples in memory without making the workflow harder, and 3) sending audio to different tracks based on the preset they come from, again without making the workflow harder.

So, as far as Live goes, I'm thinking I need the following; it's similar to Pitchblack's method. I'd appreciate it if someone could fill in the blanks and point out any pitfalls I might run into.



I'll have a Live set that will act as a 'setlist' file. It will have five audio tracks that will receive audio from my individual sound presets, so I can route audio from organ instruments to the organ track and control the organ track volume via MIDI CC, satisfying goal #3. There will also be an instrument track for my orchestral samples (probably in the form of a rack for convenience), with appropriate MIDI routings. I want Kontakt here so that the samples are only loaded once no matter which song racks would want to use them. Lastly, as in Pitchblack's method, I'll have a master rack that will tie a MIDI CC to the chain selector; this will switch between songs.

Each song will be its own rack, loaded into the main rack, using a second CC tied to the chain selector to control its own parts. This second CC will be the same across all 'song racks' for convenience, but since the first CC will be at a higher level, only the rack for the current song will change in response to this second CC. Within a 'song rack', I'll also do any MIDI transforming necessary to feed Kontakt on multiple MIDI channels.

I'll use two different CCs because on my master keyboard, I can make a 'setup' preset for a song that sends the first CC, selecting the correct song, and every other preset in the song will send the second CC, selecting parts in the song. Set up like this, making a setlist on the keyboard means putting the keyboard presets in order and changing the 'setup' presets to match the order of my songs in Live; I won't have to set different CC values for individual parts of a song since they're independent from the main CC (so a value of 0 on the second CC will always be the verse and 1 will always be the chorus no matter where the song lies in the setlist). As far as Live goes, the main thing I need to do is drag the 'song racks' into the main rack in order.



That's the basic idea; it's some of the details that I'm unsure of.

1) When I drop a song rack into the master rack, will it automatically be able to route instruments within the song rack to the appropriate output tracks (organ VST to organ track, and so on?) Obviously, I'd have to set it up that way to begin with, and I'd create the song rack for each song within the same Live set that I'd use as my setlist for performing. Is this kind of routing (instrument within a rack within another rack to a specific track) even possible?

2) Along the same lines, will I have to reestablish the MIDI routing from my rack to Kontakt each time? Is this routing (MIDI data filtered by a rack within another rack sent to another track/instrument) even possible? Perhaps an alternative way is to have the Kontakt track have another rack of racks before Kontakt, so that this second rack system serves only to filter MIDI based on the song.

3) I feed a number of MIDI channels into Kontakt, one per orchestral instrument I use. What would be an easy way to take MIDI data on a single MIDI channel (from my keyboard) and split it up to trigger the correct parts in Kontakt?

4) Along the same lines, I have some songs where I'll want just strings, some with a full brass section, some with only strings and horns, etc. How could I change these MIDI routings for a particular part of a song?

5) I also use an expression pedal to drop out certain parts of a song (or even all parts): for example, I want to play strings for part of a chorus and add brass via the expression pedal later in the chorus. I could do this with an overall preset change and MIDI routing, but is it possible to do this with the pedal on a song-by-song basis? In other words, most of the time, I want my pedal to affect all instruments, but I will want to selectively disable sending the pedal's CC on some instruments or on some channels.

6) If I want to trigger audio or MIDI clips, I'll certainly do that from a controller and do it manually on demand. Do I need to worry about scenes at all, and if I find it convenient to organize the clips for a set into scenes, would that compete with or affect the rest of my proposed setup at all?


Hopefully this all makes sense and is feasible. I don't mind losing a bit of flexibility in switching from Cantabile to Live if it means I'm using one tool for both live and studio work, as long as I can pull off what I need on stage. Is there anything else I should be aware of or anything I might have missed?

Thanks for the help!

darrien
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Re: Changing instrument presets and its routing on stage

Post by darrien » Mon Mar 29, 2010 4:11 pm

oh my god. is this really true?

i bought a synthesizer these days and was going crazy because i didnt figure out how to make ableton remember/recall the preset i was using in a track when i open it. so the answer to the question, why i didnt get that to work is simply, that its not possible in ableton live? thats a real shame for such a great piece of software.

Angstrom
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Re: Changing instrument presets and its routing on stage

Post by Angstrom » Mon Mar 29, 2010 5:52 pm

darrien wrote:oh my god. is this really true?

i bought a synthesizer these days and was going crazy because i didnt figure out how to make ableton remember/recall the preset i was using in a track when i open it. so the answer to the question, why i didnt get that to work is simply, that its not possible in ableton live? thats a real shame for such a great piece of software.
No,I think you may have it backwards Darrien.
Live can change presets on outboard gear, but it does not accept preset changes of its own internal presets.

Live's own sounds use "racks" as presets, and these are just stored as files in a global browser. So it is not currently possible to flip through Live's own presets, EG to use program change messages to change Operator presets.

read the manual
8.3.2 Bank and Program Change

kanthos
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Re: Changing instrument presets and its routing on stage

Post by kanthos » Mon Mar 29, 2010 5:58 pm

Live can, of course, route program changes to other VSTs that do respond to program changes.

As Angstrom says, it sounds like you didn't actually do anything to have Live remember the currently selected program in your synth. Remember that on some outboard gear, program changes aren't necessarily sent out at all, or are only sent on particular MIDI channels that gear may send on, so if you change programs on the synth, Live may have no way of knowing you've done so. If you use Live to set your programs as described in the manual, all will be well.

darrien
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Re: Changing instrument presets and its routing on stage

Post by darrien » Mon Mar 29, 2010 7:04 pm

okay thanks. I'll check that chapter of the manual and come back if I still dont get it :-)

darrien
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Re: Changing instrument presets and its routing on stage

Post by darrien » Mon Mar 29, 2010 11:53 pm

well. that didnt really help me any further so far...

when I add an external instrument and configure it to send midi to the synth and recieve audio from the input channels on my audio device, I have no idea where I should tell the synth what preset it should use. there's nothing to chose that in ableton and the manual doesnt really tell me a lot about the usage of external synths.

i've already done lots of work with ableton, but using hardware components like a synth is new to me.

kanthos
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Re: Changing instrument presets and its routing on stage

Post by kanthos » Tue Mar 30, 2010 12:01 am

Section 8.3.2 in the manual describes it exactly. This isn't part of an External Instrument, it's part of a clip. Live won't know about the names of specific programs on your synth; you'll be sending it a MIDI program change (and, if necessary, bank change).

darrien
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Re: Changing instrument presets and its routing on stage

Post by darrien » Wed Apr 07, 2010 10:09 pm

just wanted to tell that it works now as it should.

i've found a nice tutorial that really focuses on external midi hardware, so this might help others getting started with midi hardware as well:

http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/feb07/a ... h_0207.htm

Glennzone
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Re: Changing instrument presets and its routing on stage

Post by Glennzone » Tue Oct 19, 2010 5:52 am

Yup, yup. Been hammering away at this very issue for years, but it continues to fall on deaf ears. I've been using Live since v4. There's no bigger elephant in the room than this one, and yet it continues to be ignored.

As I have been informed on several occasions, MIDI Program Change is permanently linked to triggering clip slots, where everyone knows generic MIDI notes will do fine.

I Love Ableton Live, particularly Session View, but the next upgrade I purchase must have this resolved, or I will simply stick with the version I currently own and never upgrade again. That's it; no reason to ever upgrade again.

Under these circumstances, I have no use for anything other than VST's if MIDI Program Change cannot do within Ableton Live what its stated purpose is by design. It's ridiculous. Market all the Live instruments and partner instruments you want. Sorry, I'm not buying.

Don't tell me Abletone can't dedicate a single programmer to overcoming this technical obstacle in Live. Give us all access to these sounds directly via MIDI Program Change commands.

There IS an elephant in the room, whether one chooses to ignore it or not.
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Various musical\non-musical MIDI controllers

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