Live set automation via computer

Discussion in 'Live Performance & Stage Sound' started by Flenix, Sep 3, 2016.

  1. Flenix

    Flenix SS.org Regular

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    Hey all.

    So, here's the issue I've been having. Live, I play guitar in some songs, and keyboards in others, depending on what the song calls for. I've managed to refine my setup now to the point where I just open a rack case, plug in my laptop, plug in a keyboard and send a few cables over to the FOH, and I'm all good to go performance wise.

    However, I want to start automating things so we can play more interesting songs in the future. As a minimum, I want to be able to change the tempo mid-song on a click track, and send MIDI messages to my POD to change guitar tones - something I know a lot of bigger bands do with ease.

    I'm struggling to find exactly how they do it though. Until now I've been using MainStage, which graphically is great, it's very fluid and easy to use, but it has no... timeline. The clicktrack is just endless, you can't queue up something to happen at X bar without using external software like PureData, which from direct experience is unreliable and sluggish at best.

    So, I tried looking into Ableton. With Ableton, there seems to be two options; Session View & Arrangement View. Session View would be great, except you still can't automate the damn tempo changes. Arrangement view would also work nicely, except I'd have to load a different saved file for each song we play, which would take to long.

    Is there something I'm missing here? How do all the "big bands" do it, some sort of magical software I've not discovered yet? Or maybe there's a crazy hardware gadget I don't know about? I'm stumped!

    I'm running a 2014 Macbook Pro, if that's relevant to anything.

    TL;DR - I need some software that I can program in my songs with a timeline that tells the software to switch audio unit/send a MIDI message/change tempo, and I can easily and almost-instantly switch songs
     
  2. Winspear

    Winspear Tom Winspear Vendor

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    Never tried Ableton but literally any other DAW I know of has standard musical structure in the edit window, setting tempo and time signature to play just like the music. Reaper should be able to do it.
    As far as channel changes you have quite a lot of options how to set that up depending on the gear. An example being a midi track outputting midi notes if the device is set to respond to various notes with patch changes.
     
  3. Winspear

    Winspear Tom Winspear Vendor

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    I did suspect Ableton is fine https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ABHS_3_CN6I 1:20
    Put all the songs arranged in one file :) If you want to change the setlist at a later date, there should be a way when you select the bars to copy all information like tempos etc to paste. So you could sort out each song individually then paste their timelines and midi events into the nights setlist.
     
  4. concertjunkie

    concertjunkie SS.org Regular

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    Currently, I do this with Logic Pro X with my band.

    Tempo changes are set per song, which line up to the click, and all I have to do is hit play and the rest happens! I have a midi usb interface that has a midi cable running out to both a pod hd 500x and axe fx ultra, so at certain parts of the song, the patch changes (clean, solo, rhythm, etc as it needs to be when the song calls for it). I haven't used mainstage, but I can tell you that logic works beautifully for this. Just make sure you are using a SSD for your laptop!

    My laptop is a 2011 Macbook Pro 512GB SSD 16GB Ram 2.0GHz i7. Probably overkill in some regards but it is my main laptop and every show has been tight with it.

    I can go into more details on my in ear rig if you'd like, or if you have questions, I can make up a short video or something for it.
     
  5. TonyFlyingSquirrel

    TonyFlyingSquirrel Cherokee Warrior

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    This is pretty much the same thing that Periphery are doing live, and it's been very efficient and reliable for them.

    RUSH is also using Abelton to launch all of their samples for playback, as well as those triggered by the guys via their synths, bass pedals, and drum triggers.

    If you find the Premier Guitar rig rundowns on these artists, you'll find that once incorporated, it's actually quite effortless to maintain.
     
  6. GunpointMetal

    GunpointMetal SS.org Regular

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    Pretty much any DAW with a timeline will allow you to do what you want. I've seen bands do it with Ableton, Reaper, Pro Tools, Studio One, etc....
     
  7. jvms

    jvms SS.org Regular

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    I'm looking to play keyboards live with Mainstage. Can I somehow connect Logic Pro to Mainstage and automate my tone/patch changes like this?
     

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