Switching instruments playing live

Share your Ableton Live secrets here
Post Reply
BenAtWork
Posts: 22
Joined: Mon Nov 29, 2010 12:31 pm

Switching instruments playing live

Post by BenAtWork » Sun Sep 02, 2012 4:05 am

So I'm part way into working on a solution for switching instruments during live play. I thought I'd share my ideas on the first part and get some other peoples ideas on the piece of the puzzle I'm missing. First a bit of set up;

I play keys and use a launchpad in a live electronic band. There's another keyboard player and we both use M Audio Axiom49s. At the moment we're set up to use the recall function on the keyboards themselves to change the mappings. We use this mostly to change what midi channel our controllers are broadcasting on, and different synths and such are set to receive on certain different channels. It works, but the only problem with this is there's only 16 midi channels. For some songs we need to use more than one for various things (drum pads for example). We're going to run out fast.

I got the idea to try instead use sending program changes, as they exhibit typical midi range of 127 (and the axiom can just shoot these messages out via a keypad input). Ableton doesn't seem to have much in built function for working with them though. However I got the idea to convert program change messages to a CC message after reading a similarly themed article that introduced me to Midi Pipe. If you're not familiar with Midi Pipe, you can find it here;
http://www.subtlesoft.square7.net/MidiPipe.html (it's a mac application btw, I beleive PC's can use Midi OX). Unfortunately there's stuff all documentation around, so here's the original article I found that kind of introduces the concept albeit for a different purpose;
http://blog.mypelz.de/2008/12/how-to-co ... boss-fc50/

So, with my program change turned CC message I can take that CC message and map it to a chain selector. I'll wrap every instrument in one and make sure they only have their chains active in a certain region. Awesome!

But here's the part I'm missing; I don't know how to filter my CC messages from my axioms faders. Theoretically if they're only ever broadcasting the same channel/cc message, I need a chain selector esque extra layer around any control messages that ableton takes into the devices there. But MIDI mapping doesn't work like (piano) keyboard input, it just goes straight from the input to the control regardless of what's in the track before it. Does anyone have any ideas??

Incidentally I've noticed the checkbox for "Chain Selector Filters MIDI Ctrl" if you right click on the chain selector ruler in an instrument rack but well... It doesn't seem to work? I'm not sure I understand the context in which it's supposed to apply but I tried mapping a control and moving the chain select ruler off of the chain with the mapping and it still moved.

I'm wondering if I'm going to need to use some sort of weird M4L thing or another third party piece of software like midi pipe to get this working but I'm yet to come up with any answers. I'd appreciate any help, hopefully the first part of this has been of use to some.

rluk
Posts: 41
Joined: Thu Feb 26, 2009 1:23 pm

Re: Switching instruments playing live

Post by rluk » Sun Sep 02, 2012 7:56 am

I apologise if I don't understand correctly what you're trying to do, but why not use racks,chains and chain selector for swapping instruments.
You can get 127 different instrument channels this way,

BenAtWork
Posts: 22
Joined: Mon Nov 29, 2010 12:31 pm

Re: Switching instruments playing live

Post by BenAtWork » Mon Sep 03, 2012 3:51 am

@rluk; Your spot on for switching instruments, that's the part I've got covered.

The thing is I sometimes have other effects and things on a per song basis. Say opening up a filter on a pre recorded loop, mapped to a fader. The same fader that's doing that could be mapped to say a dry/wet on a reverb in a different song. What I want is so that if I map it to both, a way to only have that control information be sent to one at a time. In the same way you can use chains to only send note information to one chain at a time.

If I put that filter in one chain then the reverb in another, and map them both, when a I move the fader they both receive the CC messages regardless of which chain is active. If I say move the filter all the way up, when I switch to the reverb it's all the way wet as it was moving in tandem despite not being in the active chain.

Does this help explain my point?

BlackMath
Posts: 415
Joined: Wed Jan 14, 2009 1:16 am

Re: Switching instruments playing live

Post by BlackMath » Mon Sep 03, 2012 9:40 am

Sounds like dummy midi clips
Could be used to do program change and chain select from the launch pad

yur2die4
Posts: 6408
Joined: Sat Oct 03, 2009 3:02 am
Location: Menasha, Wisconsin
Contact:

Re: Switching instruments playing live

Post by yur2die4 » Mon Sep 03, 2012 7:22 pm

This is a super goofy concept to experiment with, but I doubt that it is actually applicable in your case.

This concept is rough and would require use of blue hand control. It can be done on one entire synth channel, or if you have four hands, it might be possible to use on several channels at once, but much more complex (bad for live performance).

You are already aware that you can switch synths within a Rack using the chain selector. If you use something like a Launchpad, you can assign a range of buttons to this, and at the press of any of these buttons, you jump to a desired preset. The increment resolution being defined by how many notes are between these buttons (you could use something like the Pan page on the LP to do this)

This is the even more exciting part. For each of those buttons, you can also choose to assign the titlebar of one desired instrument or effect or rack. So the moment you tap on this button, your rack flips to the channel Plus highlights the appropriate synth/embedded rack for instant control of that instance specifically.

Ways to make this more advanced would include:
Mapping racks from different channels to this same range can change all of them at once.
You can set up Two sets of knob controls, and have one Lock/Unlock to a device between tracks, while the other is Roaming.
You can use up maybe 32 buttons for changing synth/instant control of specified synth. And them the bottom 32 buttons can mirror the top for selecting the accompanying fx device required.


Sadly, this can get messy very quickly. Also, you could happen upon a vast number of unwelcome surprises, especially when Live tries to choose channels the moment you launch anything.

But it is fun to try it on a small experimental set, and them see if it is useable in the grand scheme of things.

rluk
Posts: 41
Joined: Thu Feb 26, 2009 1:23 pm

Re: Switching instruments playing live

Post by rluk » Tue Sep 04, 2012 4:26 am

+1 on the above.

I would try and make it work via this route too.

haowangy
Posts: 20
Joined: Fri Aug 24, 2012 7:52 am
Contact:

Re: Switching instruments playing live

Post by haowangy » Wed Sep 05, 2012 7:17 am

This is the even more exciting part. For each of those buttons, you can also choose to assign the titlebar of one desired instrument or effect or rack. So the moment you tap on this button, your rack flips to the channel Plus highlights the appropriate synth/embedded rack for instant control of that instance specifically. (led fluorescent lamps )

BenAtWork
Posts: 22
Joined: Mon Nov 29, 2010 12:31 pm

Re: Switching instruments playing live

Post by BenAtWork » Wed Sep 05, 2012 11:19 am

Oooh you know yur2die4 I'm not sure I understand you fully but you did give me some ideas. Firstly though I haven't really tried to use the remote mapping blue hand feature much before. I gather the way it works is that if you have a supported controller with a script in the midi sync preferences tab you can have knobs/faders mapped to the macro controls of any rack? How is that functionality "switched on" or is that entirely dependant upon the controller?
Probably also worth noting actually that there's two axioms coming into my laptop. Mine and my band mates. Sorry should have mentioned that earlier, I have a feeling it puts a dent in the blue hand idea.

What you did get me thinking about though is how the launchpad itself could be used to make selections. I just had a play with midi pipe and came up with the following;
- Midi In, Launchpad
- Message Filter, Note On/Off on Channel 5
- Message Converter, Note On/Off to Control change (I arbitrarily picked CC 8 ). "Exchange data bytes" checked (this is so critical! God i wish there was better Midi pipe documentation out there)
- Midi Out, IAC driver

What this gets is that I turn the notes of the user 1 mode on my launchpad into a CC message. Selecting exchange data bytes means that each note represents a CC value. So C1 is like a CC value of 36. Hence as you were talking about, you can then set up racks across multiple channels where all the pieces for one track is under the chain position 36. Hit C1 and it's now receiving the note data.

This is pretty swish. Although it's another version of my use program changes to select the song method really. And it still doesn't sort out filtering CC messages to only "active" effects. I might have to settle for all effects intending to start at zero at the beginning of a track and not really minding that muted things are also moving their values about I guess... but it would be great if there was a better way.

yur2die4
Posts: 6408
Joined: Sat Oct 03, 2009 3:02 am
Location: Menasha, Wisconsin
Contact:

Re: Switching instruments playing live

Post by yur2die4 » Wed Sep 05, 2012 12:15 pm

I'll elaborate on this more later but,

As far as I know, axioms have one group of faders, one of knobs. I have a first gen Axiom 49 myself.

For starters, there is a premade script for that which controls volumes and gives you blue hand control. There is a unique 'Help' instructional documentation downloadable on the Ableton site that actually explains all the features (there are some interesting ones).

But, your best bet might be to take this one by the balls and make your own script instead. This is a rough idea of what I'd do:
Make four scripts. One for axiom A faders, one for axiom A knobs. And a pair for Axiom B. (there are some threads on these scripts on the site. I'd search "user remote script", or go in tips and tricks and look for the long thread Funken posted)

Then I'd change the buttons below the faders. By default they are usually program change or something. Make them perhaps into notes (of a unique midi channel) or momentary cc, or specific notes which you'd use off the LP for selecting things.

The transport buttons, Or the ones I just mentioned, one or two can be set for "lock to device". It keeps your knobs or faders locked to a device until pressed again. This is definable in these scripts.

Also, once this is working, is suggest trying out my suggestion using notes.

I'm kind of in a hurry at the moment haha. I'll keep an eye on this thread later.

BenAtWork
Posts: 22
Joined: Mon Nov 29, 2010 12:31 pm

Re: Switching instruments playing live

Post by BenAtWork » Wed Sep 05, 2012 12:54 pm

Oh wow okay that's a whole other level there. For anyone following along I found this page which seems to be where the interest in this idea started;
http://createdigitalmusic.com/2009/07/a ... s-control/
And here's that thread;
viewtopic.php?f=4&t=164575&start=0

Hmmm... dealing with the theory first, I'm still not sure how this accommodates two axioms. Because doesn't the blue hand control sort of dictate control for just the entire machine. I couldn't have one device "blue hand" to one rack and other "blue hand" linked to another at the same time?

The other thing I'm thinking about is what to do when I've had a song in which the faders have been mapped across multiple channels. I.e. one is a filter on the synth I'm playing, but another is a delay dry wet on a different track (one with loops for example). Using a blue hand focus... I don't suppose I could control things on multiple tracks at once?

Sorry if I'm missing some points here, this is now much further along into customised territory then I anticipated. I'm liking the ideas though, and up for a challenge :P

yur2die4
Posts: 6408
Joined: Sat Oct 03, 2009 3:02 am
Location: Menasha, Wisconsin
Contact:

Re: Switching instruments playing live

Post by yur2die4 » Wed Sep 05, 2012 6:10 pm

Well. I originally posted imagining that you would use one controller. I'll explain this first and hopefully you can try an experimental set of it on your own (it does not require anything too drastic).

First step in this 'test set' would be to create Two scripts, based off of one of the presets of your Axiom (focus only on the 8 controls for now, don't worry about the lock device setting). One script for Faders, one for Encoders. Keep in mind the cc#s, midi channels, and the Type of controller (absolute vs other options, to find out, try mapping an encoder and it'll show you cc and channel, on the bottom left it will reveal method). These will hopefully be in the ideal location on your computer, and when you open Live they will who up as options in the Control Surfaces menu.

Turn Off any Ableton factory control surfaces for the Axiom in preferences. You do not want that one to interfere. You can switch back after this 'experiment'. Next, choose one row for script 1 and another for script 2. With each of those rows, have them both set to the same input (your Axiom). You can imagine now, that both your faders and knobs will act as the same types of controls. But then comes the next part.

I'm also assuming that your Launchpad is still set up in Control Surfaces. This is ideal.

Create maybe two or three channels. One midi channel, one or two audio clip channels.

On the midi channel, either load up a multi-synth rack, or create one. Let's make sure this rack only has 8 synth channels for now (ideally, each one will be within its own rack with macros assigned. I'm sure you can just pull some presets from the browser). Set the chain selector so that either, each synth is one increment, or spread them all across, highlight them all, right click and distribute equally.

On your Launchpad, go to User 2 page. Go to midi map mode and select the 'chain selector' region. Hold the bottom left pad of the LP while tapping the square pad to the bottom right and let go. That should be an 8 pad span. If you did individual increments, set the min-max appropriately. When you leave map mode, you should be able to switch synths by tapping these pads.

Next, go back into midi map mode, and map each Single of those pads now to each corresponding synth. When you exit midi map mode, you should be able to tap those same pads, and not only play specific synths, but have it show up with the blue hand. ***if you right click the title bar of any of these, you will see the option to lock a device to this instrument***. Choose pad 1 preset and lock this to the encoders.

Now in the audio loop channels, let's say you have a simple fx rack in each one. midi map the title bar of one of them to a pad on your LP which is directly above a preset you might use it during.

Now you should be able to change synths, and have control of them via buttons. But also have a corresponding pad nearby which allows you to control fx on a channel.


I understand that this is actually a very limited approach, yet is also gives you some flexibility. Hopefully you'll be aware of it, and maybe just partially use it to make your challenge easier to approach.

In the case of two axioms, I'd have them each on separate midi channels, all with unique scripts. Or some other combination (maybe not use any scripts, or use only one script on one axiom).

I'd suggest using the row of buttons below the faders, and maybe the transport buttons. You might have to change their settings though so that they behave within the axiom in a suitable fashion.
You can for instance assign one or two of those buttons to the function to lock and unlock blue hand control.
You could also use the row of buttons to be assigned to your favorite fx on various audio channels to be used with blue hand control. Then you could switch to filter on audio 3. Or delay on audio 5 for instance.

Sorry to take up your time with this. Who knows, maybe it'll inspire some unique method :P

nemoy
Posts: 380
Joined: Thu Jun 04, 2009 1:45 pm
Contact:

Re: Switching instruments playing live

Post by nemoy » Thu Sep 06, 2012 5:09 pm

just a little thing here:
have you tried "Kapture" by richie Hawtin?
Thats an ableton live "plugin" you can use to store and
recall everything in your ableton project,
i think you can recall them via midi notes and/ or cc...

http://www.ableton.com/library/kapture

might be helpful in your case?


and as you speak of racks & chain selector:
I tried a while to make an instrumentrack with 16
instances of simpler in it, but using a CC on the
chain selector was not accurate enough to find the one i needed at any time.
Is there a way to route a certain range of midi notes to the chain selector?

(sorry, i'm not hijacking your thread here, i just thought, there might be someone
around here knowing that, and it could be usefull for you too! )

Cheers!

DSPI
Posts: 64
Joined: Tue Oct 12, 2010 9:23 am
Location: The Czech Republic

Re: Switching instruments playing live

Post by DSPI » Thu Sep 06, 2012 5:34 pm

Have you tried ClyphX?
It can be used to control devices, routing, almost anything in Live. I couldn't live without it in a live band situation, where I'm limited to what I can do on the fly...

BenAtWork
Posts: 22
Joined: Mon Nov 29, 2010 12:31 pm

Re: Switching instruments playing live

Post by BenAtWork » Mon Sep 10, 2012 6:15 am

@yur2die4: This is some awesome in depth stuff, thanks for posting this. I really didn't know that this kind of level of access was available to the end user regarding doing your own scripting. Your right this is making me think, although I'm not sure this kind of approach will totally accommodate what I do. It would seem though that if one really wanted to restrict what controls received midi CC messages, by one way or another the blue hand method is really about the only thing going at the moment. I don't know that I'll delve into this particular method right now though and I'll get back to why.

@nemoy: I've had a play with the kapture plugin before. It's a really great idea, but it falls a bit short. Unfortunately you can't recall via midi messages. You can only use the drop down list in the plugin. Also it tends to freak out when you add new stuff after it's set up. Not too good for me as we add songs to this live file over time.

As for racks and the chain selector, it depends on what you were using to send the CC message. A fader for example isn't terribly useful as it's covering value 0-127. This is why I'm looking at things like the launchpad, where a single button represents a single value. Or using the IAC drivers to route something from within live internally.

@DSPI holy crap, thank you for bringing this to my attention! I haven't yet figured out all the nuts and bolts but I think this is going to form my solution. Funnily enough even with all the extra functionality (and I mean there's pages and pages of stuff in the manual) there's no real way to implement this whole not sending midi to certain devices at certain times thing. However with the range of options this gives I think I can work to a point where this hardly matters. I'd set up a control for every song to like;
- change the tempo
- move the lpad focus ring
- move chain selectors to enable the right synthesizers
- reset all macro values to their necessary starting positions for the song (and make these all zero so I can move my faders into the right physical place also).
etc.

We're currently working on adding some new songs to our set so I might not rock the boat just yet. When we're done with that process I'll definitely be looking into this. I'm thinking a series of midi clips with these associated triggers mapped to the user 1 buttons. Fantastic!

Post Reply