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SSquared
(@ssquared)
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Joined: 1 year ago
Posts: 61
October 1, 2020 1:41 am  

Hi.  Been discussing playing live in worship services with Shane and now bringing it to the forum for more input/discussion.  This is kind of a long post.

I would love to hear how others use Unify and what your live setup is like.

I've been playing on worship teams for close to 30 years. Mostly as keys, but several years of just piano. I've been on my latest team for 9 years and is the first team I've really been able to use my synth background. When I first started, the leader asked if I had a keyboard and wanted me to add synth sounds to the mix.

I still feel new to software. After lugging my equipment back and forth for many years, I finally moved from being strictly hardware and started using software synths five years ago. I needed to take my sound to the next level and for me, that meant software.

My current live setup consists of one keyboard and a Microsoft Surface Pro 3. Sometimes I will bring a 2nd keyboard if the set requires it. I really try to keep it to one, though. Simple. Easy. Quick setup and tear down. And I use very light keyboards to help my back. I mainly use a Yamaha MOXF6 and the Native Instruments S61. But once in a while I may bring in something else. I have really been focusing on the S61 because I like its interface and excellent integration with Ableton Live.

Ableton Live has a concept called Instrument Racks which is how you create layers. That's what I have been using for several years but have now been using Unify as my starting point moving forward. I just open Unify standalone now and edit everything from there. Then open Live later when I want to put a set together. I need to convert my Instrument Racks to Unify but that is a big project I am scared to tackle.

My main VSTs are Omnisphere (lots of PluginGuru in my sets) and the Native Instruments pianos. I also use some Diva and the old Windows version of Alchemy.  I do a bunch of layering, tweaking and lots of editing.

We play between 4 or 5 songs and I have anywhere from 8 to 16 sounds. Various pianos, organ, pads, synth stuff. I do quite a bit of live manipulation while playing, but mostly program the mod wheel for what changes I need. I need to start using macro knobs more. I also do some background, typically with pads but sometimes piano and I will do live changes during this as well. Make things warmer or brighter, fade in extra sounds I then bring in/out. Stuff like that. It's a ton of fun and allows me to add an emotional picture with the sounds.

I'll sometimes play arps (we play to a click track so I use our tempo). In fact the very first time I used Unify I had a string/bell for my right hand and an arpeggiated rhythmic bass in my left. It was simple but I always start out basic, practice with something first, and slowly add it to my set. It worked out great and I've continued using Unify more and more ever since.  Unify has been solid so far.

The next thing I really need to work on is integrating in PumpHouse for pulsing sounds. I absolutely love PumpHouse and really need to work that into my sound editing and preparation. I have used some gated on/off sounds in the past, but the curves in PumpHouse make it way more flexible.

Ableton Live 10, Omnisphere, Native Instruments, Diva, SynthMaster, Alchemy 1.55, Addictive Keys, Unify


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getdunne
(@getdunne)
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October 1, 2020 3:15 am  

@ssquared I'm so glad you've started this discussion here. I've spoken to a few other church musicians who are already very comfortable with advanced technology, and of course I want Unify to be able to meet all their needs in time, but I really want to hear from musicians across the spectrum of tech-awareness. I'd like Unify to be the ramp to get everyone up to the next level from wherever they are now.


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SSquared
(@ssquared)
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Posts: 61
October 2, 2020 2:17 am  

That sounds great @getdunne.  I actually had written the following while I was writing the first post, but decided to remove it as the post was already too long.  I'm right there with you in wanting to help the community and 100% will support and tell others about Unify.  This isn't 100% exactly what you are saying, but it's a similar question on how to get others "to the next level from wherever they are now."

----------------------------------------

I want to help others learn how to use their equipment and take advantage of all the sounds they have available to them.  I often hear one piano the whole time and when I ask, find out no one knows how to use the keyboard.  I've been trying to figure out how to teach others how to use synth sounds.  When I do, they end up staying with piano as they don't understand how to play other sounds.  Any insight into training/teaching in this area will be helpful.  How do you help someone get over that leap of wanting to play everything like it's a piano?

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There is already competition in this area with at least two sites selling Mainstage and Ableton Live Templates specifically for worship keyboardists.  Unify is capable of nearly all of what these do and offers a bunch more.  I've actually been trying to figure out how to differentiate Unify from those others.  Maybe promoting patch sharing across Ableton Live, Mainstage, FL, Reaper, etc.  I'm not sure there is any video showing the same Unify patch being carried across multiple DAWs/computers.  I think this is an important feature for keyboardists, though I do get concerned over how easy it is to share a commercial (paid for) sound.  This actually seems to be a growing field in the industry where people are buying pre-made patches for specific songs.  Why not have Unify be that conduit?  I also think MIDIBox is a potential area to point out.  And feel Polybox can be a useful tool in worship as well.

One possibility to help those uncomfortable with tech like MIDI/Program Changes is maybe have an 'arm track' concept.  This may be helpful for all live musicians and is perfect now that a layer can be a Unify instance.  Tap on a layer you want to play and all other layers do not receive MIDI.  You can MIDI learn this option using buttons on a controller and then it becomes really easy to setup your sound changes without having to understand deeper keyboard programming.  This does become a bit trickier once you add a 2nd keyboard, but there are ways to resolve it.

Ableton Live 10, Omnisphere, Native Instruments, Diva, SynthMaster, Alchemy 1.55, Addictive Keys, Unify


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getdunne
(@getdunne)
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Posts: 1314
October 2, 2020 7:11 pm  

@ssquared Thanks for these ideas and discussion starters!

Regarding less-experienced church keyboardists playing only piano, there seem to be two separate issues:

  1. Some people just don't know how to operate the instrument(s) they have.
  2. Many have no experience with non-piano keyboard technique, and stick with what they know.

Neither issue is something Unify can solve, but the ultimate answer may be more YouTube videos demonstrating basic techniques. If those are made using Unify, that would be terrific.

Regarding Unify vs. the competition, I would say our big distinguishing points are cross-platform (Mac/PC) support, ease of use, and available patch libraries. I've heard from two people who use and teach MainStage for church, that the need to buy a Mac turns a lot of people off. Ableton Live is extremely powerful, but expensive and a bit intimidating. Unify is relatively cheap and comes with a many useful presets.

Regarding using Unify to play song-specific patches: I very much hope to see people creating both song-specific and general/stylistic libraries for church music in Unify. We haven't made a big deal about it so far, but multiple instances of Unify's built-in Audio File Player can be used to play entire multi-track stems, and MIDIBox can be used at the same time to play MIDI tracks. The forthcoming multi-output feature-pack for Unify will make this more useful and practical, by allowing different layers to be mixed externally to e.g. Front of House, In-Ear Monitors, etc.

Regarding your "arm track" suggestion, I'm still working on how best to bring this to Unify. We have some of the key underlying technology in place already, so it's a question of how best to to present these features in the GUI and for MIDI or OSC remote control. I'm open to any and all ideas.


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SSquared
(@ssquared)
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October 3, 2020 1:45 am  

@getdunne

Hi.  Yes.  That is exactly right.  Videos will greatly help.  I would like to do YT vids, but I have no idea how to start.  And editing.  Time.  Public speaking.

I would like to offer some of my sounds, but they require things like Kontakt pianos, Omnisphere, and quite often commercial libraries.  One of my favorite pads I use is an Omnisphere factory patch with a slightly edited patch from MegaMagic Violin or maybe it's Viola.

Audio File Player?  I'll need to look into that.  I was going to mention adding one because it's helpful as I download our guide tracks and original recordings when I practice at home.

I have some thoughts on arming tracks, but they are a bit convoluted.  I feel the concept isn't difficult if you have a single keyboard, it's trying to handle multiple keyboards at once where things get tricky.  Let me think about it some more and see if I can bring it all together in my head.  As I've mentioned, I always use MIDI Channels.  Then arm every track and let the keyboard control which track/sound to use based on the keyboard patch's assigned MIDI Channel outputs.  Many DAWs allow you to set a track to a specific keyboard as well.  I'm just not sure that is the approach you want to take with Unify.

Ableton Live 10, Omnisphere, Native Instruments, Diva, SynthMaster, Alchemy 1.55, Addictive Keys, Unify


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Andy1972m
(@andy1972m)
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Joined: 8 months ago
Posts: 6
October 12, 2020 2:14 pm  

Hi Guys,

i just stumbled over your lines 😀 Being a worship keyboarder since about 30 years, i ever tried to combine classical sounds like piano with pads, and spheric sounds but also to put synth lead sounds and arpegios into the mix. As a part of one team of 3 teams in our church, i see exactly what you are discribing. Most players of the other teams only use the Piano or E-Piano Sounds, with some a bit "dull" sounding pad patches from the Korg  GrandStage Piano. In my setup, i'm trying to let it sound more alive and diversified. Often asked by the other players how i get this interesting sounds i always say:"know your tools and how to use them".  

I've used a two keyboard setup in the early years. Later i used vsthost and Cantabile 2 performer as plugin host. when I saw the presentation of unify by Skippy, I didn't hesitate to buy it and i've not been disappointed until now. The ability to integrate my plugins into that intuitive environment and combine them with the features, unify's including, brings my sound to the next level. I'm integrating it into my live rig, with the GrandStage and another midi Keyboard both connected to my (Windows 10) Notebook using different midi channels per layer. I'm also using a Korg Nanokontrol 2 programmed to trigger the macro knobs for taking control over the layer's levels and effects. 

I can recommend the usage of unify to all players in church who are asking how to get a great sound and performance in worship music.

I'm  preparing a workshop for my church's keyboarders how to use unify in a setup. So the idea to produce some YT workshops for using unify in church would be a really great thing. My Suggestion would be a beginners level workshop, how creating sounds by using the unify standard plugins and libraries for the common songs. Building on it, the advanced level could be integrating other plugins like Omnisphere, Kontakt or anything else for advanced sounds. I saw a workshop by hillsong music about sound desingn with mainstage for worship.

Regarding the "Arm Track" feature : In Cantabile2 I could program the mute and solo buttons of my nanokontrol2 to trigger the layer's mute / solo functions to switch between different sounds or instruments and switching through different setups with a pedal or an arrow button. In Unify i could imagine the same switching between different unify layers with the solo / mute option for a song and changing the setup for different songs with the "patch change" function assingned to a specific button on the controller. 

I'm looking forward for a good discussion and exchange of ideas, using unify in this thread.

Greetings from Germany

 

 

 

 

Unify, Addictive Keys, Korg M1e, Orchestral, Keyzone, lounge lizard


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SSquared
(@ssquared)
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Joined: 1 year ago
Posts: 61
October 15, 2020 10:40 pm  

@andy1972m Thanks for the post.  Glad to get more discussion going.

Yeah, I was hauling a bunch of equipment every week, back and forth.  It grew tiring.  It's not directly what led me to using software synths, but was part of the journey that eventually has me where I am today.

Posted by: @andy1972m

I can recommend the usage of unify to all players in church who are asking how to get a great sound and performance in worship music.

That's so cool to hear.  After this discussion started, I began to work on a set of sounds for worship using only Unify.  There are already some well-suited sounds available in the base Unify.

Let us know how the workshop went.

 

Ableton Live 10, Omnisphere, Native Instruments, Diva, SynthMaster, Alchemy 1.55, Addictive Keys, Unify


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