Tips on combining projects for live use?

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Tips on combining projects for live use?

Post by alex1fly » Sat Apr 23, 2011 12:03 am

So I have a handful of completed projects, and I'm likely to start performing my beats live with local hip hop artists. Each of my projects is about 3 or 4 minutes long, I have my individual parts in session view, and the song as a whole in arrangement view. They are pretty much all at different tempos.

The easiest way I can think of to perform these songs, is to open each one when its time to play it. Close it when its finished, open up the next one. But that's kind of lame, right? What if I want to keep the energy going, or smoothly transition between songs?

So my question is: how do you combine your projects to make an easy flow between songs? Make a new scene for the new song?

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Re: Tips on combining projects for live use?

Post by juanlittledevil » Sat Apr 23, 2011 3:48 pm

This is actually a rather common issue. There are plenty of tutorials for doing just this.

The tempo issue us easily solved by renaming a scene and including the word bpm next to a tempo. For example. You do call it something like "song mane intro 90bpm". Whenever you launch the clip live will adjust the tempo to match that.

Since you already have your scenes layed out I'd say use the media browser and navigate to your other projects while still having your master or performance project open. If you click on the project to expand, you will see the individual tracks for that project. Ableton allows you to select those tracks and import the, directctly into your current project. Simply select the ones you like then click and drag them. You can also import just the clips if you like but I'm assuming that your tracks probably have effects and such wich are going yo be different.

This approach will result in a buch of tracks so you have some options to avoid clutter. Group tracks belonging to a song. Or you can then spend some time to combine your tracks and set each track with similar type of clips so you end up with something like:

1 kick
2 percussion
3 bass
4 lead
5 keys
6 etc....

There are some really nifty tools formrecalling plugin presets during a set. If you have max for live checkmout the patch called Kapture. If you don't have max you can use clyphx, Their site is somewhat hard to Follow so I wrote a little blog post on my studio journal here is the link ... leton-set/

Hope all this help. The last thing I can recommend is to do a search on YouTube or vimeo and search for ableton live dj how to... This should give you some ideas for building performance sets with lots of content.

Good luck!

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Re: Tips on combining projects for live use?

Post by alex1fly » Mon Apr 25, 2011 5:29 pm

Great, lots of advice, thanks a lot for the reply! I will look into these things.

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Re: Tips on combining projects for live use?

Post by antandra » Tue Apr 26, 2011 5:48 pm

Yeah, what he said.

You can also freeze all your midi tracks into audio clips or export all your tracks with the effects and break them into loops and one shots. This way you don't need to have all the effects from each song as you drag them in, because they are already applied to the mixed down wav/aif file. This will save your cpu and ram. Then you can have other effects for live performance that are less specific to each song.

I find I can only have so many tracks open before I start experiencing dropouts. Test the limits of your system, so you don't have a major glitch during a live show. You can delete all the clips that aren't playing and then drag in some new ones from another project on the fly, but be careful because I usually experience quite a bit of lag doing this. Depending on your system, you can probably have plenty of clips open in one project before hand to play a long set, but if you want to go indifferently, then you might need to start dragging in clips on the fly.


Tell me and I'll forget; Show me and I may not remember; Involve me and I'll understand.
-Chinese Proverb

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Re: Tips on combining projects for live use?

Post by memes_33 » Tue Apr 26, 2011 5:50 pm

you can also just drag a project into a project. with careful planning, this works out ggggggggggggggggreat!
Hip-Hop, Breakbeat, Glitch, IDM, Dub, & Mashups! Go to:

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Re: Tips on combining projects for live use?

Post by caluminium » Fri Jun 11, 2021 7:24 pm

Any update on how to deal with return tracks when combining projects?

I have several projects I want to combine, in order to avoid switching between projects which can be lengthy! Within each project there are live armed tracks, through which I am monitoring my hardware synth, singing, and monitoring my electric piano. This uses four live inputs which need to be monitoring during each project. My electric piano is also controlling software synths through armed midi tracks. This is fine if I'm switching between projects but I don't want to keep the audience waiting too long in between songs since I'm shy and don't like to chat too much! The solution as far as I see it, is to have grouped tracks for each song, linked so they can be armed simultaneously. Hopefully this should be fine when I try it

My main question (other than optimising CPU in this situation) is what to do with the return tracks from each project. Since you can't transfer return tracks from one project to another, I started copying the devices from each return onto an audio track, which can then be copied into the new overall project. Then I create a new "copycat" return in the overall project and copy the devices back, sending each track to the rerun by the right amount. This is costly time wise, and there must be a better way. You also need to create the copycat busses in order, which is a faff.

Do you think one possible solution might be to use parallel audio racks instead of sends? Presumably this would be just as costly on CPU, if not more!

Really looking forward to getting a reply on this. Have a gig soon - and panicking!


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Re: Tips on combining projects for live use?

Post by Angstrom » Sat Jun 12, 2021 12:28 am

Producers hate this one weird trick.

Many electronic musicians make busy-work because they feel a bit embarrassed about triggering an 8 bar loop. A DJ triggers a 6 minute "sample" and EQs it a bit, and yet that's fine. So think about that as a target. Aim just above that.

If you are doing a lot up on stage, playing, triggering, mix balancing, tweaking, effecting, etc. it's usually with substandard monitoring so the front of house sound is unbalanced, the arrangement gets all to shit, you get anxious and focus too tightly on a snare sound. It's not what the crowd needs. A few people are there to see you tweak gear, but most are there for a good tight beat.

It's far better to get a nice render of stems and have the song divided into 8 sections that you could pretty much give to a chimp to play Now find yourself a single fun thing to do on top, occasionally.
A good strong song, in a slightly flexible arrangement, with a nice tight mix with space for you to play on top.

Keep it really simple. If there is anything which could fail it WILL fail. Honestly.

Simplify your songs. What sounds minimal in a studio sounds about right on stage.

Simplify your mix, simplify your effects. simplify your arrangement. Less is more when you are one dude on stage.

The crowd want you to enjoy it, engage with the music. To do that you need to give yourself time to enjoy it. Don't be building a problem solving matrix, instead make the simplest and best sounding setup - one that allows you to play a bit, point at the crowd, high five a rapper, sip a drink.

A DJ can deliver a better time than most DAWless jammers. A DJ with two vinyl decks and a bass cut can bring a party, a DJ can deliver tight good music, and respond to the crowd without having a heart attack.

As you develop a bit of experience you can add more optional layers. Start really simple though

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Re: Tips on combining projects for live use?

Post by caluminium » Sat Jun 12, 2021 8:39 am

This is some of the best advice I’ve ever received. Thanks Angstrom. Although I’m aware perfection can never and doesn’t exist, I’m definitely still in the bad habit of trying to attain it haha.

I’ll ignore the returns. I’ll flatten the tracks and clips into one playback audio file, and bounce the kicks and snare separately so I can still sidechain from them live. Playing live electric piano sidechained to a kick is one of the most satisfying things. But yeah, as you say, I need to leave space to high five those rappers. 🤣

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Re: Tips on combining projects for live use?

Post by jestermgee » Mon Jun 14, 2021 12:51 am

Angstrom wrote:
Sat Jun 12, 2021 12:28 am
Producers hate this one weird trick.
Taglines like that should have you earning a mint on YouTube. Just need to put the EMPHASIZED words in CAPS!

A produced track and a performance set should be treated as 2 completely different things. Listen to everything said above because "perfection" does not mean taking all your work and trying to play your project with all your effects to the crowd... do you really need to adjust the 16 compressor and EQ chain you have on your drum track?

Whether you love or hate the guy, check out some insight videos of how Deadmau5 designs his sets and to the extent where he really basically does nothing and has made a bit of an empire on just pressing buttons without any shame of it. You can almost guarantee that the version he plays live is not the same project he created in his studio, just a mix of the parts with a carefully selected set of effects and loops to add just a little flavour and what he lacks for in stage presence he makes up for with the over-the-top stage design (which is where he actually focuses his efforts), because he fully knows people are not there to watch him press play.

I have attended festivals, clubs and concerts for decades from small intimate hip-hop festivals where you are standing right beside the performers to the full day multi-stage festivals as well as playing (DJing) many small/mid sized events and all people care about is hearing something that sounds good and having a good time. Rarely is anyone hanging to see a DJ "perform", no one expects Daft Punk to be showboating, they are just robots pressing buttons but the crowd goes nuts for the songs so just make something that sounds good, press play and have fun.

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