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Software for playing backing tracks live

For current or would-be users of Apple Mac computers, with answers to many FAQs.

Re: Software for playing backing tracks live

Postby BigRedX » Tue May 21, 2019 4:50 pm

MOF wrote:Why don’t you put all your songs in one logic song and then map the timing to each song so that the bars correspond to tracks that aren’t 120bpm.
You can then have a midi instrument to send the click to the drummer or a separate audio track (not fed to the PA) for count ins.
You can re order songs for each gig but be careful that the tempo data has moved with the song data.
I don’t know how you would get auto stop to work after each song but if you left a two minute gap that should be enough to stop, re cue and start the next song when you want it.

That's basically what I am doing at the moment, but I'm having problems when trying to re-order the set keeping all the audio and MIDI data along with automation and tempo changes together for each separate song. It doesn't make changing the set order at short notice a reliable option.

Stopping between tracks in this mode is easy. You just insert the Meta Event #52 in the appropriate place.
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Re: Software for playing backing tracks live

Postby The Elf » Tue May 21, 2019 5:26 pm

BigRedX wrote:Can Cantabile handle automatically playing the next song in the set list without any user intervention, and conversely go to the next song but not start playing as dictated by the user when constructing a set?
Yes. The answer is almost always 'yes', but I won't say it's simple. These things require a level of understanding of Cantabile that takes time to acquire.

What you are describing is a Song 'On Load' binding that will trigger Transport to go into play. I've developed my own way of switching between 'rehearsal' and 'live' mode using Cantabile's 'Background Rack' features. I know this all sounds like gobbledy, but it does become clear eventually!
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Re: Software for playing backing tracks live

Postby MOF » Tue May 21, 2019 6:14 pm

I'm having problems when trying to re-order the set keeping all the audio and MIDI data along with automation and tempo changes together for each separate song.
This should help https://support.apple.com/kb/PH13207?locale=en_US you might have to copy the audio and midi to the same starting point separately.
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Re: Software for playing backing tracks live

Postby BigRedX » Tue May 21, 2019 6:42 pm

MOF wrote:This should help https://support.apple.com/kb/PH13207?locale=en_US you might have to copy the audio and midi to the same starting point separately.

As I said trying to move everything in sync is a complete nightmare, and of course since the songs aren't all exactly the same length, just changing the position of a single song in the set involves moving lots of items, and hoping that everything is still in sync when I've finished. Not something I'd be keen on doing for a last minute set change after the sound check...

Which is why I thought there must be a better way of doing this.
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Re: Software for playing backing tracks live

Postby innerchord » Tue May 21, 2019 7:40 pm

Studio One!

Have a look at the Arrange Tracks and Scratch Pad options.
You have a complex section? Just create a part in the arranger and it's all movable with a couple of clicks. Not much of a nightmare, really. :smirk:

You could have multiple Scratch Pads for different sets, for example. Even edit them on the fly if need be.

You can control the whole shebang with MIDI too, using Macros.

I'm fairly sure Ableton Live does all of this stuff since live control is its focus, but I don't use it at all myself.
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Re: Software for playing backing tracks live

Postby MOF » Tue May 21, 2019 7:54 pm

As I said trying to move everything in sync is a complete nightmare, and of course since the songs aren't all exactly the same length, just changing the position of a single song in the set involves moving lots of items, and hoping that everything is still in sync when I've finished. Not something I'd be keen on doing for a last minute set change after the sound check...
Since you know how to use meta data to stop a song at the end I would have thought that getting the playhead to go to the start of a new song would be simple enough and given that before a gig you know what order they’ll be in then all the work is done in advance. Any last minute changes are simply clicking on the start of a different song which you can visually see if you create a track with empty patterns of different colours above and or below the audio and data tracks and the track name in it.
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Re: Software for playing backing tracks live

Postby James Perrett » Tue May 21, 2019 10:38 pm

It might be worth looking at Reaper's region playlist feature. I've not used it but there was a description of it in the Reaper Techniques section of the magazine a while ago which implied that it would be useful for live performers who wanted to change the order of their set virtually on the fly.
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Re: Software for playing backing tracks live

Postby BigRedX » Wed May 22, 2019 10:39 am

Just wondering now if I can do this with Folders in Logic?

Anyone? Desmond?
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Re: Software for playing backing tracks live

Postby dplaczek » Thu Apr 30, 2020 2:59 pm

I know this post is a little old, but I'll add my 2 cents. I'm really surprised no one has mentioned Digital Performer as the best option to your question. It's fantastic for creating set lists of playback tracks for live shows and is used on major productions. Also just a fantastic DAW in general. Check out this article on their website regarding touring and backing tracks with DP. I've been a DP user for 25 years and use it not only as my maid DAW but also for live performance tracks extensively. I own and regularly use Logic Pro, Ableton Live 10, Protools, and Reaper. All great programs, but DP still remains my DAW of choice for so many nice workflow refinements, that It would take too long to enumerate.

Here's the article:

https://motu.com/en-us/news/on-tour-wit ... performer/

Best wishes for success whichever way you plan to work.
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Re: Software for playing backing tracks live

Postby Steve A » Thu Apr 30, 2020 10:00 pm

Can I also jump in quickly to say I had the exact same issue in my last band except I was running Cubase instead of Logic. In my case I needed the ability to clock the show from timecode so that I could run synced visuals (which were coming from a DVD with timecode on the audio channels, yes I know, an archaic solution, won't be returning to it!).

I wanted a similar solution to you - the ability to trigger songs and run midi automation concurrently to control lights etc. I could never find a way to do it in Mainstage. It'll trigger playback of an audio file, but that's it. So I was stuck with reprogramming the entire show with tempo changes inside Cubase etc if I wanted to change the set around.

In short, I'm just confirming I'm pretty sure Mainstage in its current form isn't capable of giving you what you want.

I'm liking the sound of this Cantabile thing though and when I next venture into the world of gigging fingers crossed the Mac port is ready (as I really don't want to leave Mainstage behind).
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