Tell us about your live MIDI rig!
In the Dec 2 (2021) livestream, user @daren mentioned that he used six MIDI pedals in his live rig. This is a few more than I would expect. @daren, can you please tell us more about your setup, what equipment you use, and specifically why you use this many pedals?
The more I understand about different live MIDI-controller setups, and the various ways they're used, the better I should be able to accommodate these in Unify.
I am guessing that this thread was not intended solely for Daren only.
I perform live to YouTube by streaming, using OBS to stream and record, and Voicemeeter Banana to bring the ASIO and mic to OBS digitally via a Startech PEXHDCAP capture card. I did a year of daily improvised streamed concerts 2017 through 2018 and again in Spring 2021, and am about to embark on a new series coming up very soon, also streamed, where Unify is going to figure in prominently.
I have a fairly extensive rig comprised of seven keyboards, three large monitors, a few rack synths, sustain pedals for each keyboard, and expression pedals for five of them. I use a MOTU MIDI Express XT to connect the DIN devices, yet USB is the primary connection these days for my controllers. I mix using a Behringer BCF2000, and use my Maschine Jam at times as well, but I like the motorized faders on the BCF2000. The Jam may be used more now with Unify, though, assigned to its knobs in places. The keyboards are Akai MPK249 and MPK225, Korg Wavestation, Kawai K5000s, Alesis QX49, a Native Instruments S-88 mk1 full keyboard, and an NI S-49 mk2 (which I was a beta tester for).
I have three computers, using Vienna Ensemble Pro on two of those turning them into (basically) hardware synths made out of VST's hosted over the network by VEP, and one computer is dedicated to streaming when I am performing and not recording (when only recording, all three computers have VSTi's hosted by VEP instances).
All of this is coordinated using Cantabile 3 Performer by Topten Software (MainStage on Steroids) by which I manage all the audio and MIDI routing and change the sounds and routing associated with each keyboard in an instant - with a push of a button on my Behringer FCB1010 pedalboard - for each song or in the midst of a song. I also am recording a multi-track capture of the performance MIDI and audio in Cantabile for editing and mastering later. I am very active in Cantabile's community and help lots of folks get whatever they dream of happening out of whatever Cantabile version they are using. (I make a lot of tutorial videos!)
Two of my hardware synth items are the Kawai K5000s additive synth, and two Korg Wavestations - yep, with Skippy's patches! I have the original WS keyboard - my first "owned" synth in 1994, all previous ones being owned by universities - and a Wavestation SR rack, both still working flawlessly since I obtained them in the early and mid-nineties. I also have two Yamaha TX81Z's and an Ensoniq ESQm. It is good sometimes to use the hardware stuff to take the load off the computers when using CPU hog VSTi's, and I sweeten stuff all the time using them. (Thus why I am crazy about Unify! Layers, baby!) I run my audio through a MOTU 828 mk3 hybrid and through an ADAT loopback into Voicemeeter Banana to send the audio over to the OBS computer's capture card.
Needless to say, Unify is going to simplify my life quite a bit without eating my computer's CPU. I do hope to figure out how to finesse Unify to work with the hardware synths, but Cantabile can manage those VSTi/Hardware combinations as well. I can easily see using several instances of Unify on several of the keyboards. (I use so many keyboards because these are improvisational performances where I load up the keyboard controllers with sounds and easily switch from one sound to the next by switching keyboards, so I do not have to push buttons during the piece to accomplish this, even though I could with Cantabile if I so desired. Usually, though, I push one button at the end of a piece and all the keyboard sounds change to the ones prepared for the next piece, thanks to Cantabile 3 Performer.)
I think I've said enough! 🙂
For switching layers on and off I always preferred separate buttons on a controller instead of one macro control.
What maybe is a useful feature is something like a "cue" function. With this function several commands in one go can be executed. Imagine a button called CUE an is normally lit off. When pressing the button this will start blinking. Now every other command like switching a layer on (or off depending on state) is not immediately executed but instead stored in a list. The object that's "on cue" could have temporarily a different color. When CUE is pressed again all commands in the list are immediately executed and CUE button is dark again and all objects go to their original color. Of course conflicting actions and repeated ones should be filtered out. What types of commands can be placed on this cue list, well that's Shane decision.
@zimp That is a cool idea to have the Cue thing going on. I use the pads on the two MPK's as button switches already - time to bring them in to switch layers! I can set them to a toggle state, where a toggle changes color. Perhaps a logic where LEAVING the toggled/cue state accomplishes changing the layer or other desired action? Or the toggle triggers a timer, perhaps in BPM? Hmmm, you've got me thinking! Also, I have to make use of the delays in Unify more, as that is another awesome feature.
I already have employed the four banks of eight knobs on the MPK249 to be mapped to the knobs in a Unify instance. As the knobs are UNI, I have to filter them (in Cantabile) to only affect the desired instance, but that is easy. I have so many knobs on these seven controllers it is enough to make one dizzy! (nine if I count the BCF2000 and Maschine Jam!) Remembering where they all go is a challenge in a live setting!
Remembering where they all go is a challenge in a live setting!
Yeah. I tend to make my controls very simple. Maybe one or two knobs and the mod wheel. Enough that I can have a hope of remembering. It's one reason I got (and use) the NI S61 MK2. I label the knobs/buttons so I have descriptive text describing what each does. On my Yamaha MOXF6, I have to remember what I programmed. It's one reason I still mostly do what I can with just the mod wheel.
With the recent addition of being able to turn on/off MIDI for layers, I will definitely be expanding the amount of controls I'll be using.
Ableton Live 10, Omnisphere, Native Instruments (Pianos), Spire, Hammer + Waves, Heavyocity (Ascend and Mosaic Keys), Diva, SynthMaster, Alchemy 1.55, Addictive Keys, Unify
@ssquared Do check out the new (as of 1.6) "Variations" feature. It displays a text description next to the patch name up top describing the variation you've selected with a knob linked to certain parameters (layer switches, MIDI tracks in MIDIBox, or Samples in GuruSampler, for instance). I made the variation text files for all the "stack" midi files I could find in the libraries, so you can choose a drum pattern, for instance, and the title area shows which pattern you selected with your knob, eliminating the need to have MIDIBox open to see what file you've chosen:
I think there are some MIDI to DMX boxes out there that can run as a VST instrument - that would be cool to be able to control lighting when playing live.!!!
This is my updated alternative browser (screenshots below) for live performance. It basically allows me to display any of my Unify patches in a wide format browser which I view on a 48" flat screen. If I left click on a patch, it quickly loads and becomes playable from my midi keyboard 1 (for right hand playing). If I right click on a patch, it loads and becomes playable from midi keyboard 2 (for left hand playing). So I can change patches from any of my 7,502 total patches instantaneously and I can switch to any library from the drop down list. It works in conjunction with 2 instances of Unify loaded in Cakewalk - one instance for each keyboard. Cakewalk and Unify can remain in the background as I'm choosing patches or can be in focus.
It's an autohotkey script which makes use of "Changing patches with Midi" from the Unify manual, sendmidi from Github, 2 virtual midi ports, 2 midi controller keyboards, and 2 instances of Unify in Cakewalk. The script also scans the library folder and creates all the text files needed in C:\CAKEWALK\Unify\MIDI Bank Files automatically. Then there's a few other buttons at the top to open various things quickly, such as OXYEdit for my M-Audio Oxy keyboard, etc.
Your updated alternative browser looks great.
Would you kindly share your autohotkey script with us.
Would you kindly share your autohotkey script with us.
I appreciate your interest. I was going to respond with yes, but I started having concerns. There would need to be an understanding that it would not run on any other system as is. I cannot take responsibility for it. For instance, there are minimal dangers such as it deleting files in "MIDI Bank Files" folder before it creates the bank files. And few things to get it running. At the least, one would have to be quite familiar with autohotkey and would be willing to alter it as needed. But if you're the type that likes to dig in some, you can email me direct. I could provide the script and some things to change and consider, and offer assistance to an extent.
I'll give some more thought on if I can make this script more universal. At the top I could create variables where one could set their folder locations. One thing though that I know could be a showstopper is whether one's DAW can merge midi on a per track basis. Cakewalk can do this and it's the only DAW I'm familiar with. When you set the Midi Input for a track, you can go "manage presets". There I set both my hardware midi input port and the virtual midi port, which Cakewalk merges. The script sends the program and bank changes via that virtual midi port which then gets sent to Unify.
Thank you for offering to share your work.
How would I Email you directly?
I'm going to create a new more universal script. I'll put directions and email in it. It might take a couple days. I'll start a new topic so as not to hijack this one.
That's really good of you.
Will look forward to you posting the Script and directions in a new topic.
With the OSC support things are getting interesting and I'm wondering what Max can do. I think I will focus on the playing aspect during a song. I'm not so interested in managing sounds because imo you don't change sounds during a song, it can take a while and is potentially a risk, setting up sounds is something Unify itself is perfectly capable of.
What I do like to explore is let's say we have a patch with lots of layers, but not each layer is needed all the time during a song. I like to see buttons on a screen that are macro's for switching layers on and off, for example a button for intro, another button for verse 1, and another for chorus etc. Of course these buttons are nothing more then memory locations for layers that keeps track of enabled on/of, level, aux values etc. So within a patch lots of combinations are possible.
Smart control is another aspect I want to look into. With this I mean operations that are time critical when the user has his hands full when playing. Switching layers on and off (eg. when going from intro to verse) is not only a matter of pressing a button, the keyboard itself can give information when it's time to switch. A detection if all keys are off can be very useful for example.
What I do like to explore is let's say we have a patch with lots of layers, but not each layer is needed all the time during a song.
Actually, that's closer to what I do in reality. The script, mentioned above, is actually better for sound auditioning. It's good for looking thru your entire sound libraries quickly and choosing what is desired. Or showing someone what all sounds you can get. But when I'm playing a live set of songs that are backing tracks, I automate everything within the DAW. I stack the sounds in a unify instance and automate unify/midiEnable and/or inst/mixlevel most of the time. I just play and don't even think about program changes or anything else other than playing. Unify is a great game changer.
I'm currently looking into the possibility of using Unify (standalone) for live performance with the Jamstix4 plugin (in the Unify patch) along with whatever other synths (in the Unify patch) I want to create a combined drums and synth performance.
Jamstix is superb for this, as it offers both "play the full song" and "loop a section" operations for drums in a quite flexible way.
Since Unify does have a transport, with several different start/stop options, it seems I might be able to get a very nice setup going.
I've just started the investigation though, so I don't know yet exactly what combined setup will be smooth-as-desired w/o any "gotchas".
If there are any other Jamstix users here, please say "Hi"!