Sugestions for live performance using computers, please

A preacher and his wife I know use a laptop running Pro Tools and a 16x2 board for their singing ministry. The laptop has the actual Pro Tools multitracks running when they do this. They also play various live instruments, too.

The problem is that the set up was, uh, set up by his son, who is off doing his own thing now, so the Dad has no clue how to run everything. So typically there’s a wait of a minute or more between songs as he locates the right song and loads it.

Tonight I’m supposed to get with him and come up with a better solution. One I already told him about was getting a keyboard that allowed you to load your mixes into it… a friend of mine suggested just playing along with the mixes loaded into an iPod.

I’d appreciate any of your suggestions here

Surely he can just find all the tracks he needs for the day and put them in a separate folder so he doesn’t have to search? Or is the loading time a problem here?

The iPod sounds like a good idea. Set up a playlist with the songs in order … or call them up on the fly if the performance needs to change at the last minute. Individual files will be ready to playback about as fast as you can dial them up. Playlists can be set up to cycle through the tunes with as much pause between as you want (if you don’t mind getting creative).

Alternatively, some Yamaha (and other makes) keyboards have a slot for USB memory sticks holding MP3 files arranged in playlists that could be used rather than the iPod.

I’d discourage using tape or CDs to play to.

The ipod can’t play multitracks though, you’d have to mixdown all your protools songs then right?

Sure. But who wants to perform live, and simultaneously mix multiple tracks, in front of a congregation? And if there is no need to mix/adjust individual tracks on-the-fly, why have that laptop-sequencer-interface-baggage in tow that can go horribly wrong?

Fair enough.

Thanks guys

I know what this guy’s son is going to say: “iPod sound quality isn’t good enough.” Which I don’t agree with at all.

I don’t know Pro Tools, but I was looking at his screen the other night and on the left side was a drop-down list of all the songs they had recorded… so I;m guessing he was loading each project one at a time from that list… they were all just wav files, so it didn’t take long to load any of them, but he was having trouble finding the right songs – that’s why I thought an iPod was a goo idea, so you could set up your playlist beforehand, like swamptone said

If they’re all just .wav files, you can just create playlists in Windows Media player or Quicktime, or did I miss a point? Would get around the MP3 objection of the son?

Good thread. I’ll be interested in seeing where this goes.

Doug, take a look at Cantible Performer

That might work… though you’d need the pro version. Its pretty inexpensive really. I’ve used the free version for playing Vsts at jam sessions through a dual core laptop, works well enough.

That Cantabile looks like an interesting solution. It occurred to me that if he mixed his tracks down, he could store them in iTunes, and then before each service make a playlist of the tunes he wanted to do. I believe iTunes will accommodate wav files

Cantabile looks interesting although I didn’t read far enough to know whether or not it could be operated on OSX (as it did seem to have a ‘pc only’ look about it).

I had mentioned earlier in this thread that this discussion looked interesting because I was hoping to read about how others pursue live performances with backing tracks, be it with one or two software sequencers, a dedicated hard-drive digital stand alone sequencer, an onboard keyboard workstation sequencer, i-tunes…

… or a combination of all of the above. Any working musicians out there who actually use multiple playback systems? How automated should one be and what advantages/disadvantages would there be to have a multiple set of playback capabilities?

As music director of my church I do this every Sunday using C6.

This way, as the acoustics of the room change with the number of people
I can adjust instruments to compensate. Not just eq.

So as the place fills up (or fills down :slight_smile:), I can change as one example; the high end.
Not with eq but by raising or lowering cymbals levels etc.

I treat the multitracks as a conductor would in an orchestra.
Some Sundays I need more trumpets, and other Sundays I need less tympani etc.

As for bringing up songs quickly, I use the Mac’s ‘Stack’ feature in the dock.
(I’m sure there is something just as quick for Win users)

Songs load in approx 30-45 seconds.
18-26 tracks.
No audio tracks.
All Vstis (Cubase/Sampltank/NI)

Also most of these songs have a section in them which can be if needed ‘looped’.

This way if the church gets ‘rockin’, I do not have to end the song normally.

When the music hits a certain point I can activate the loop
(on the fly) and the song will play in that loop forever
till I open it again and the song then continues on to the end.


Were they running ‘tools’ on a PC or a Mac?

If Mac, seriously look into Mainstage. It can do backing tracks really well, and you can add live keys as Audio Units, or passthrough other keyboards.

I used it to control the entire set recently, for the fully live tracks, and the one sequenced backing we used, I had a combo of AU instruments and my Fantom.

Otherwise for the PC there is Brainspawn Forte, which I’ve also used, and is rather good.

But if all they need is a stereo backing track with no integration of instruments, then the iPod is a good solution (and you don’t need to use compressed data, it’ll play WAVs in 16 bit, and I believe 24 bit formats)