New live performance software?

Hi everyone,

My name is Andrey, Im composer and sound producer from Russia. For many years I use Cubase in my studio workflow and I always been satisfied by it. Besides my studio projects Im interested in live performance software. I always felt that there are simply no smart solution on a market for a great live performance.
Programs like Ableton are focused on loop-based music. MainStage is great, but still lacks one very important feature: interactive programming of live show. Performer have to change instruments for himself in real time or rely on pre-programmed stuff with click track. I perform music that requires rapid instrument changes, which leads to multiple midi keyboards and a lot of headache with switching them to different patches and modes.
This problem actually exists for centuries. Organ players often need an assistant to operate stop knobs.
Maybe its possible to make a software that vanish all these problems at once?
Ill try to explain what I mean and Im very sorry for my bad English :slight_smile:
Imagine a program that is somewhat between Dorico and Cubase. We have an interface based on score, like any notation software. But goal is not to notate something, but to import a score into software and assign notes to different MIDI events to assist performer during live performance, changing parameters of the instrument and to select required instrument patch for performer. But how to make software aware when it should change from one instrument to another without user pressing any keyswitches or buttons?
Its going to read the score.It will read pre-written notes, compare it to notes played by user in realtime and execute commands assigned to these notes. For example, lets assume I wish to play a few rapid passages using both of my hands on keyboard and each of them should be played by different instrument or combination of instruments. Doing that with software like MainStage is not easy at all - Ill have to switch between 2 different patches by pressing some midi button or note using foot controller every time between passages. And if the tempo is fast, making it right in time between last note of first passage and first note of second passage requires some really mad timing skills. Another way is to use 2 keyboards and jump from one to another - which will also require doing some circus tricks with your hands. Now, if we have a software that can read notes and compare it to what I play, this becomes really simple. All I have to do is notate these passages into score and assign instrument patches to every group of notes. So when I play first passage, program follows me, already knowing that when I finish playing this particular group of notes itll have to change what I want it to change. So it waits until I play last note of the passage and instantly switches to another VST instrument – so when I play next note on the same keyboard, MIDI signals already been routed to another VST.
Here is very simple Paint mockup of what it may look like:

Actually I believe this idea to be so simple that I guess Im missing something – why nobody still did it? It would be a huge leap for everyone who perform sophisticated music which requires something more than just loop-based stuff or just a few patches for a whole performance. With soft like that, you can assign every note to sound different, every note you play can be assigned to one or few different VSTs, so you can play whole orchestra with just 2 hands. And the greatest thing is that you still keep complete freedom of performance – no click tracks in your ears, you can slow down or go faster any time – program will just read the score and wont make any changes before you play right note.
This opens a whole new world for piano accompanists who would be able to perform complicated orchestral pieces using single MIDI keyboard and foot controller. Maybe not the whole orchestral part of Rachmaninoffs concertos in original orchestration- but a high quality illustration at least. If its not just a dream and its possible to make such program – it would be a reasonable thing for Steinberg to do because it seamlessly combines features of both Cubase and Dorico so it wont be too hard to produce, and it will encourage more people who do both studio work and live performance start using these products.
So, is it real or am I missing something?

Check out Cantabile Performer Pro. I believe it can do what you want.

Cantabile looks similiar to MainStage to me: its based on changing “song parts” manually: limited speed, hands are busy, no score-based interface. Performing something like an excerpt on a pic I posted would be impossible.

This is a pretty interesting idea. I haven’t seen anything like it. "can read notes and compare it to what I play, " in real time. Have you looked at contemporary composer forums like or wherever people might discuss IRCAM research? I bet someone has done this, but with a different goal.

Interesting. How’d you suggest it responds to mistakes in your playing or improvisation or spontanious repeats?

If unexpected note occured, program may play it using instruments that are currently active in this area of keyboard or it may ignore it and dont relay signal to VST. So user may choose between 2 tempting options: either program will filter out wrong notes, or itll let you improvise and wait until you get back to expected material.
Technically its simple: there should be an option of creating traditional "solid rig" of instruments inside a project. In this mode itll stop reading the score and start working as MainStage or Cantabile. This rig should be available at any time during performance by pressing special key or MIDI trigger.
For more convenience there should be “improvisation cue” feature, which will let user define a group of notes that will serve as a keyswitch to “solid rig” mode. Another group of notes played in a row during improvisation will switch program back to “reading score” mode. So its like working with a live jazz band - players listen to you while you improvise and know that if you played "these notes", its time to catch up with you :slight_smile:

Actually I already made a concept with all main features and interface ideas. Wondering how to deliver it to Steinberg or any other software developer. They all don`t have any contacts for that kind of proposals, in public access at least. Any ideas? :smiley:

This is not quite what you are looking for, but does have some similar elements, and may be useful in some way. It is basically advanced live-looping software but with cues and such that things like Ableton do not have, and seems like it has the kind of programmability you miss in MainStage. It may not be a cure-all, but I just discovered this today so thought I would share: