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Thread: Taking it to the next level...performing infront of an audience..what is needed???

  1. #1


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    Question Taking it to the next level...performing infront of an audience..what is needed???

    I have been utilizing the Reason software, rebirth , recycle and have come up with a few catchy tunes...
    I want to take it to the next level and perform "live", but i have no clue on how to do this since all i have done has been the software studio composing...

    I have read many insightful threads on this site on playing live, but i did not see anyone using any "virtual instruments" on stage(d.J. mixing does not count, since this is not my goal).

    The lineup would be myself and a vocalist.

    I am very unsure about the MIDI situation, since many of you stated in other threads to stay away from it when performing live...

    I would like to incorporate some roland spd-20 percussion pads and maybe a stand-alone synth(not sure yet, its the MIDI thing again)

    Any suggestions would be most appreciated... thanks

  2. #2


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    I have recently begun using VSTis on stage. Here's how I do it.

    In Cubase SX, I created a new project file and imported stereo backing tracks of the songs to be performed live. I edited the tempo track so that it followed the tempo of each backing track (for use with tempo sync'd effects... if you're using Cubase, read the manual for information on how to use the tempo track). I set marker points at the beginning of each song so I could jump to them with a single keypress, thus allowing me to rearrange the setlist as I desired, on the fly.

    I set up several VSTis, mostly ones that required very little processor power, and got my sounds loaded into them. I messed with the VSTis so the parameters I wanted to control live from my Oxygen 8 could be controlled on the right CC #s.

    Then it was simply a matter of opening the mixer window and using the left and right arrows to switch between the active VSTi.

    It worked surprisingly well for a live setup, and it seriously stripped down my live rig. I've gone from carrying four synths and a Roland MC505 to a single laptop, an Oxygen 8 and an Access Indigo. The whole live show runs off those three pieces, an outboard multieffects box (for vocals) and a Mackie 1202VLZ Pro.

    A few tips I can suggest though. Get an external hard drive, preferably USB 2.0 (unless you can find a Firewire 2.0 harddrive, but I don't think FW2 has been released to the market yet). Make sure the drive itself is at least 7200rpm, though 10000 is best. Also, put something underneath the laptop to raise the back of it a bit. This will help dissipate heat better, which will make the rig more stable.

    As for sound cards, I picked up an Echo Indigo and I've loved it. I've got a little Monster cable that's an 1/8" stereo to a pair of RCAs, which I plug into the 1202 (using a pair of RCA > 1/4" adapters). It came as part of an MP3 Jukebox kit I snagged at Circuit City (thanks to Breye from Provision to pointing it out, as he used the same cable when he was running things from a computer), because local music stores didn't carry it.

    I have the same lineup as you do. It's a band I'm producing called Desamar. I run all the music and play two to three synths at a time live, and he just sings. This rig has worked wonderfully for us, as it's very easy to transport, setup and teardown, and it's surprisingly stable (God love Windows XP).

    If you wanted to incorporate the percussion pads (sounds like a fantastic way to add more energy to the live show, I may have to do something similar in the future!), I would recommend installing a drum sampler like Battery and MIDIing your percussion pads up to that. You could lay out a few kits for each of the songs (or even set program changes within your Cubase project to take care of it for you) and be able to switch between them and change the drum sounds up for each song.

    That's my advice and suggestions. Most of the stuff I've talked about doing in Cubase should be translatable to just about any other sequencer on the market. Just remember to have fun with it (your audience will be able to tell and will have more fun as a result), and nothing is more important in a live show than stage presence.

    You could lip sync to a DAT tape (as certain bands I won't name do), but as long as you have a good stage presence, the audience will have a blast and will never be the wiser.

    In regards to MIDI on stage, I've been performing live for just over a year (both with my own band as a member of others), and I've never had a problem. I've come to the conclusion that as long as you know what the いい you're doing and don't buy いい quality midi cables, all is good.

    -Mark
    www.djintrovert.com

  3. #3
    ElectroGardener conditioner's Avatar
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    dude, I think introvert hit the nail on the head and helped a bunch of us, especially me!

  4. #4
    Lead ElectroGardener cliffwalk's Avatar
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    If you like Sonar you can essentially do the same thing.

    However, I played around with a Demo of Project 5 and I think it would make an AWESOME live VST/DXi host and has audio playback and plugin control. Really, it's built for performance.

    A year ago I would have said you're nuts to run soft synths live but given the fact that I have a bad back at 32 because of all of the heavy equipment I moved when I was in a band at 22... if I ever play live again it will be me, a laptop, and very little more.
    If you\'re reading this, you have a tiny penis.

  5. #5


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    HI there !

    When we play live we just use reason and a laptop. I use a 4 port midito usb adapter to run 4 midi inputs to the 4 aux busses in reason which are mapped to 4 different devices. Then I use a keyboard, drum pads and kaoss pad to play over the top and control the sequencing.

    Never had any problems.
    a330n

    http://www.8inf.com

  6. #6


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    just dont forget that playing live involves more than just your toys... my suggestions

    Look at the audience. Even if your "just the band" - people want to interact with the whole band not just the singer...

    Put on a show... the more you're into it, the more they will be.

    There are enough half-trying apathetic lame bands out there. Be something really good.


    No matter how good your tunes are, a boring show is a boring show.

  7. #7


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    Nigel's right. You gotta be into it. Even if it's as simple as what I do (which is get pretty drunk, hop on stage and dance around like a freak while I play). Something has to keep the audience interested, ESPECIALLY when you're playing from a computer or keyboard, as by their nature they aren't nearly as exciting as watching someone play drums or guitar.

    -Mark
    www.djintrovert.com

  8. #8


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    Thanks for all the insight, guys; it gives me a solid starting point.

    by the way, I noticed that you can rig the hardware to the soft sequencer. Has anyone ever experienced any latency problems???

    As far as using Battery for kit sounds, would it be easier to have a separate laptop controlling that while another laptop controls the Reason software???

    Thanks again...

    Djiice30

  9. #9


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    The latency issues have never been a problem for me. I've done a few things to try to cut them off at the pass though. I use short MIDI cables, and I refuse to use the MIDI THRU ports on any synths. I've linked up hardware synths to my laptop for live use once (to sync motion sounds on the Access Indigo to Cubase SX). I ran a Steinberg Midex3 USB MIDI interface, and connected a 10ft MIDI cable from one of the outputs on it to the input on the Indigo. Worked like a charm.

    Most of the MIDI issues I've seen people have are due to complicated MIDI setups using lots of MIDI THRUs. I say avoid those like the plague. The longer the stretch between your source and your destination, and the more equipment you put in the way, the more chances you have for problems. Keep your cable runs short and sweet, and you should be good.

    As far as running Reason and Battery on the same machine, I don't see a problem with it. You could slave Reason to a sequencer using ReWire if you wanted to. However, Reason has a pretty mean drum sampler of its own. Maybe you just want to set your drum pads up to trigger sounds in Redrum?

    -Mark
    www.djintrovert.com

  10. #10


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    back up rythm stuff to digital prerecorded media.
    some less rythmic sounds can be played live or some leads and such.
    pushing play on a sequencer or minidisc.
    who cares how its done as long as your having fun and the crowd claps.
    hats of to bands that can play everything live,if backing tape was good enough for the who its good enough for me.

  11. #11


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    actually the secret to eurovisions live formula
    is a backing track!

    eurovision is two members:

    the vocalist who does no other instruments except singing!

    and then me who plays the start of the show on keyboards playing along with the backing tracks which are on cd and played thru the clubs pa system!

    then after a few shows on keyboards : i then jump on my v_drums and play the electronic set: which everyone likes for a drummer to be playing: and the while the keys are on the backing track>> all vocals are live>> no backing vocals or anything just keyboards and drum machines on the backing (cd) tracks>>

    plus i have a remote to control the list of songs on the cd in case we stray away from the order on the cd>>

    i found using a cd as a backing track easier than any sequencers< plus less to haul on stage< just my cdr burner that plays it while setting on my percussion table that i have right next to my synth rig>>

    the only downfall to doing it on cd: is of course if the cd was to ever skip>>> i could hear chants of milli vanilli>>hehe>>
    but so far so good>>

    anyone else use a cd as a backing track on stage?

    joe
    eurovision
    http://www.brandnewdaymusic.com

    STYLE single coming out in 2006.

    CD # 2, coming out in early 2007.

  12. #12


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    Joe, thanks for the insight on using the Cd to play the backing tracks...Are you using any software to record your tracks or are you using strictly hardware???

    I noticed in other threads that many or choosing betwwen Mp3's , DVD's and cd's...

    I would like to use the reason software as mentioned, i just worry about the latency issues. Plus, Mark gave great ideas on how to counter that issue...

    Just got the Battery Software today, now I have to figure out if it was worth the investment, or should i just use the Reason Drum machine to use my drum trigger pads...

    What about having your own PA equipment???

    Djiice30

  13. #13


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    I dont use software, just regular recording equipment and then burn the tracks that I wont be playing live onto cdr, and then live I play the missing parts, whether thats keys on some songs or drums on the rest..

    So far so good, and gotten good responses..most are fooled and think we're sequenced..hehe
    http://www.brandnewdaymusic.com

    STYLE single coming out in 2006.

    CD # 2, coming out in early 2007.

  14. #14


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    Latency : I managed to get 7 ms on my pc (dell 8200 with PC vx pocket card), which was a bit sluggush, but about 3 ms on my mac powerbook under OSX with core audio, which was great.

    As for remembering the performance, there are 2 ways to go about it (equally valid) >

    1) Rock style > Jump around and hype what your are doing.
    2) DJ Style > Static, interact with the audiance via big macro changes in your music.

    If you have everthing in the computer, and can make big changes like entering loops, dropping out the drums, changing effects etc in responses to the crowd, it can be more effective if your music is more dance orientated.

    My personal preference is the later : but that is probably because we only our uptempo stuff live which is about 125-130 bpm. I cant see it working if your band plays slower tracks.
    a330n

    http://www.8inf.com

  15. #15


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    Excellent and very sound advice here!!!

    A couple of points to add:

    1. Use a line conditioner for all your midi stuff including the lap-top. Just about every problem and lock up I've had on stage was the result of poor power, either the lights or amps were draining too much away from my rig.

    2. If you can afford a sound man, they are extremely valuable. Most complaints I have had about live bands is the poor quality of sound. Fighting with the clubs sound guy who knows nothing about your music is a real pain in the arse!
    Dave
    www.mp3.com/davidsgravenimage

  16. #16


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    Yes, Tell me about it, especially if there is two shows going on at the same time with only one sound guy. We lost our monitors during the 3rd song at one show, looked up to motion for sound guy and he wasnt even there, he was attending the board at the other show upstairs..Needless to say, we were'nt happy..He didnt return until about the 8th song, which by this time, our set was almost over...GRRRRRRRR....
    http://www.brandnewdaymusic.com

    STYLE single coming out in 2006.

    CD # 2, coming out in early 2007.

  17. #17


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    All of this advice has been very helpful on this thread. as far as harware on stage, as i mentioned before, I Will be running the reason software and A roland percussion pad and also maybe an oxygen8. I do want to incorporate a Synth, too but I just don't know much about that type of hardware. I know they can be rather expensive...Any advice on that???

    Like I said, I am going from the ground up on this...

    thanks...djiice30

  18. #18


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    There are a lot of good choices for synths that won't break the bank. If I were in your situation, I'd consider a Korg MS-2000. It's a whole lot of bang for the buck and is built like a tank, which is very important in a performance instrument. You might consider used gear as well.

    The Alesis Ion looks interesting as well. Anybody out there using one?
    Dave
    www.mp3.com/davidsgravenimage

  19. #19


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    Endif is first and foremost a studio based creature, and the output of one person: me. Much of what I do would be a pain in the ass to replicate live or as solid MIDI.

    However Live means LIVE, not karaoke, so one must find a balance.

    As such I use a comination of live experimentation and playing, sequences, and backtracks when playing out, supported by live plug in performers recruited specifically for the purpose of playing out live.

    I use a Roland VS880 for quad mono backtracks, muteable and mixable as needed to fit the room accoustics and what pieces I want to play live. It also puts out master MIDI clock to all sequencers, so tracks and sequences are all locked and on time. Lastly, it provides stage-mixing of 4 mono signals, allowing me to control the output of my live plug-in performers; if they get out of hand I can reign them in.

    Each live plug in performer is given 2 mono signals to feed to the 880. These are usually one sequenced and one played instrument each, allowing them a broader palate of sounds to work from while still keeping the rig small and light. One performer takes on occasional vocal mutation duties, tweaking a variety of FX boxen for my vocals as needed.

    My own station consists of:

    a 3-tier qwiklock holding from top to bottom:
    - VS-880 w/ scsi HD.
    - Moog Taurus II above and driven by a Future Retro Moebius CV/Midi sequencer/converter
    - Korg Mono-Poly also driven by the Moebius (sometimes replaced by the Chroma Polaris) usually run through an optional distortion pedal for nastiness factor.

    Also appearing is a Roland SPD-11 and Simmons SVS5 with 4 pads for live percussion, also run through optional distortion pedals and a compressor. These run straight to house mains.
    Man can that Simmons BOOM!

    Rounding out the rig is a single vocal mic run through a variety of processors then to the house mains.

    Pics of live are posted to http://endif.org under the Gallery section for the curious.

    * handy tip, buy and keep batteries for at least 2 DI boxes!

    * handy tip, get reaaaally long cables and converters to any format so you can for sure reach the house PA!

    * handy tip, scout out the venue first if at all possible, locate power and snake/audio inputs to mains, etc. make a diagram and pre-arrange your stage rig on it so that when you go in you have something like a clue.

    * handy tip, practice not just your set but set up and tear down. You'll thank yourself later.

    * handy tip, make a list and check everything off as you pack it both going to and leaving the venue, nothing sucks worse than missing soundcheck because you forgot some critical item, or else discovering you left it at the venue and never getting it back again.

    * handy tip, learn how to wrap cables and keep spares; spaghetti sucks, as does having not enough. Better to go for slight overkill.

    Live performance will teach you much, and the lessons will carry over into the studio as well.
    !J!
    http://www.endif.org
    http://thirdwavecollective.com

  20. #20


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    Good advice about the power. I can't tell you how many いいholes I've played with poor power. ALWAYS take a furman or two to a show.

    Sound guys are great to have if you can afford them, but often they are out of the price range. Lately I've taken to using my laptop, arriving ahead of time, and mixing the show for the room. Then I just give the sound guy a stereo feed and bypass his input entirely. It gives me more accurate control over how it sounds, and I never have to deal with an いいい soundguy.

    -Mark
    www.djintrovert.com

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