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How much MIDI do you use live?


frostbyte

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As a keyboard player, how much MIDI are you using live? I am not talking about laptop musicians, but just using one or two keyboards live. Do you play everything from one board? How much of the "Controller" features are you using from your main keyboard? Or are many of you just using one keyboard for most gigs? What tips and tricks can you offer?
"Doing things is how things get done"
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The only MIDI I use is a straight 5-pin cable from my lower board to my upper board, which gives me a poor man's two-manual organ kind of setup when I need it.

 

(Poor man's, in this case, means a $2000 synth playing into a $1500 organ keyboard!)

 

I'm not really that facile on MIDI just yet, and don't trust my skills with a DAW or sequencer on stage. Maybe someday I'll use Cakewalk or a softsynth with my live setup. For example, I really like the stuff Barbara Dennerlien does with her Hammond and a synth, and would like to experiment in this area.

regards,

 

--kwgm

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With my setup, I have my Hammond XB-2 as a controller for my Korg N364. I used to do 90% of my playing for the N364 on the Hammond keyboard, but after the recent stand change, I can now reach the N364 keyboard. So, I use the MIDI connection sparingly. It's there now so that I can use the Hammond expression pedal to control the N364's Volume. Plus, there are a couple songs where I layer the organ with some horns, and I'll us the MIDI for that.

 

I used to use one board for a gig, but I was having to scramble for patch changes during a song so much that I decided to go back to my 3 board setup. I can dedicate a board for each sound I need during the song, and just change to that board, rather than having to try to make a patch change in the space of one beat.

"In the beginning, Adam had the blues, 'cause he was lonesome.

So God helped him and created woman.

 

Now everybody's got the blues."

 

Willie Dixon

 

 

 

 

 

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In the 90's, I was a 2 keyboard, 1 hardware sequencer, 5 rackmount unit keyboardist with the whole thing managed with first a JLCooper MSB plus and later on a MOTU MTPII. I then managed to drop the second keyboard when I finally hunkered down and programmed splits and layers, and I had the sequencer changing the patches I was playing in mid song.

 

By the time 2000 rolled around, I was down to a Micropiano, a DM Pro and O1W Pro.

 

Now I stay at home. :)

"For instance" is not proof.

 

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I've gone from a 4-keyboard, 5-module L-shaped setup in the 80's/early 90's, to a double-keyboard, no-MIDI setup for the majority of my gigs today. This is primarily possible because of the programming flexibility and breadth of sounds available to me in my Motif ES7 (the same is true of almost all workstations on the market today, not just the Yamaha ;) ).

 

Life has gotten a hell of a lot simpler. Well, the load-ins/outs have, at least. ;-)

 

(Note that the studio situation is vastly different than the live situation, though. ;) )

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Like many others I used to have a lot more modules run via MIDI, but now the only connection I use is my SPX-900 receives patch changes from the Nord Lead. Otherwise, the other boards (still too many at four) have built-in effects and polyphonic patches, so MIDI just isn't necessary too much anymore on stage.

Botch

In Wine there is Wisdom

In Beer there is Freedom

In Water there is bacteria

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Back in the day I only used to use one board for live playing. I did a gig about a year ago with some friends and used two boards and a laptop. I cheated I guess as I used the midi from one board to play harmonies while I played live on the other board. I wanted to enhance the sound, which I did but man what a pain it was to set eveything up. Maybe because ti was only one gig and I didn't have a routine.

Begin the day with a friendly voice A companion, unobtrusive

- Rush

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Frost,

Funny you asked that, I was thinking of posting the very same question. It seems that most players use two boards with on-board sounds that are heavily programmed.

 

I use an 88 note weighted controller on the bottom that controls a sound module for piano, EP, Doors-type organ, saw-synth and vibes.

 

Then I use and old DX7 (is there any other kind? :) ) to control a Voce organ unit. My top board is a Micron with audio straight out to my amp.

 

Where the MIDI really helps is with the bottom board because it has 17 or so MIDI assignable buttons within easy reach that I use for patch changes. I also programmed three knobs for chorus, reverb and master volume. So, I can easily switch sounds even in the middle of a song. Still, I bet this could be done easily with the Motifs et al. of the world which I would love to have but wife, kid....well you know how that can go.

 

After thinking about it, I think MIDI enabled me to put together my set much more cheaply than otherwise because it gave me more options. However, if I had the money I would prefer to have the simplicity of all stand-alone boards.

Regards,

Joe

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I use to use a Mac, sequencer software, two sound modules, drum machine, and a digitial piano connnected to a Digitech Vocalist via midi to run my backing tracks, and "sing" harmony with my live vocals. That was back in the eighties. I found there was too much latency via midi and the processing power of the Mac (a maxed out Mac Plus) not quite enough power to run the rig on stage consistently.

 

Like the other posters, I've cut down on the use of Midi on stage, because I've found that a Yamaha Motif ES8 has great sounds all in one KB, has an on-board 16 track sequencer that works quite well, and has a sampler for sounds and sounds effects that are not already built in. I also use an Alesis Ion as a substitute for a Mini Moog (leads) and also some sound effects I can do on the fly, like wind, jet airplane take off's. etc. I don't have a Midi cable connected to the Ion.

 

I connect my Harmonizer via a MIDI cable from the Motif Es8 and dedicate a track in my sequences to give the correct chords and program changes to the Harmonizer as my sequences play. Works great.

 

The fact that most workstations available today can handle all the functions that use to require mulitple devices to get the best sounds have allowed most of us to make our setup simple without compromising the sound. Simple is also better for setting up in dark night clubs, especially when you don't have a lot of time to do it.

 

 

Mike T.

Yamaha Motif ES8, Alesis Ion, Prophet 5 Rev 3.2, 1979 Rhodes Mark 1 Suitcase 73 Piano, Arp Odyssey Md III, Roland R-70 Drum Machine, Digitech Vocalist Live Pro. Roland Boss Chorus Ensemble CE-1.

 

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When playing live I control my Nord Modular rack with a MIDI cable. I occasionally use midi based loops and rhythm beds for textures. I do use tempo delays and LFO's that are midi synced as well occasionally. But I don't play back whole sequences and I don't try to layer sounds across units.

 

I'd rather put the complexity into the synth programming (saved as a patch) and out of the control environment. Fewer mistakes that way.

 

Jerry

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Sven, 4 keyboards + 5 modules?! No wonder it's not in your nature to sit still. :D

 

I'm all proud of myself to be able to hook up one module and alternate between 2 patches.

"........! Try to make It..REAL! compared to what? ! ! ! " - BOPBEEPER
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Set up one: Nord Electro (lower) Nord Lead 2 (upper) and laptop for some sounds/samples. I run the laptop sounds from midi channel 3 and 4 of the Nord Lead, pretty simple stuff. All the others are midi-less.

Set up two: Alesis X25 (upper) and M Audio 49 lower stand. I run everything from the laptop. Just one usb cable to the M Audio. Even simper but limited as far as keys, velocity etc.

Set up three: XV 2020 to any other 88 controller (usually, the one they get me). One midi cable and i'm done. With my new SRX 11 i'll run the pianos from the XV so the controller is well... just a controller.

This is pretty much my set up. Never more than two keys and a laptop (the big rig) and tryin' to downsize to one controller and the XV2020 for airplane gigs

Regards

yannis

Be grateful for what you've got - a Nord, a laptop and two hands
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When I'm playing, my V-Combo is MIDI merged with my Fadermaster Pro into my RME Multiface. My organ/key sounds come from the V-Combo. All my other sounds come from loops in Ableton Live (triggered via MIDI from the V-Combo), or from a few VSTIs also running under Ableton Live, on an Inspiron 6100 laptop.

 

When I DJ, just subtract out the V-Combo. I use the Fadermaster/laptop with Ableton Live.

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I've been through some convoluted setups myself. Back in earlier gig years, I had a point when I was using an XB2 to control 3 or 4 different modules/keyboards by way of a little 1-in 4-out gizmo with little toggle switches to turn the MIDI stream on and off. I still have the gizmo and find uses for it from time to time.

 

As for my current rig, I do use MIDI a lot with my S90 calling the shots to my Electro. I use the Master mode to send out program changes as needed per patch and also to turn MIDI on for lower manual and zone controlling. Sometimes I have a 3rd keyboard or module in my rig and it is easy to add another zone's worth of control to some of my Master setups in the S90. Great controller.

 

Regards,

Eric

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Rig circa 1995:

Roland A90 controlling Roland S550 sampler, MKS20, JV1080, JD990, Korg O3r, M3r, WavestationSr, Oberheim Matrix1000 (2), and Roland JD800 and JV1000 (handling program changes, but keyboards' local was on); either Korg BX3 (analog) or Hammond C3chopper or XK2 into leslie.

 

Rig circa 11.8.2006:

(for HelloDave, original roots/country/rock)

#1: Nord Stage with Electro triggering organs.

or

#2: Nord Stage and Hammond Xk1 (no midi used)with Speakeasy Roadbox 3.

 

(with PinkFreud)

#3: Roland A70 and Nord Stage (local off) controlling MotifRack, FantomXr, Jd990, Muse Receptor (B4,MiniMonstah,Mtron,Cs80v, Atmosphere,SonikSynth,Oddity).

 

I still have my Wavestation and a 2nd Receptor that stay at home with my A90. And my rehearsal studio rig is Motif 8 and Electro.

 

All rigs are very compact, yet powerful: just 2 keyboards and a small rack.

Hitting "Play" does NOT constitute live performance. -Me.
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Great topic Frostbyte! I used to lug boards to gigs and set them up, but since purchasing the RD-700sx, I'm only using that now - and taking the time to set up the splits, layers, etc. that I need. Like KWGM, I'm currently trying to get the poor man's two-manual organ thing going by splitting the keyboard, and I'm doing some other things by commiting certain sounds to a limited area on the keyboard.

 

I'm primarily a pianist, and it's weird getting used to sounds on the keyboard pitched in a different octave - sometimes several octaves down or up. I'm really noticing this with the two-manual organ thing. Anyone have some tips for the raddman? - Thanks

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In years of doing this, I found using some 'standardization' to be key: try to keep things in the same ranges patch to patch when possible, and if you're using unusual sounds for just a moment, say a one-time filter sweep, just put it to the bottom or top key.

 

Otherwise, try to keep your left hand splits consistent:organ on the left as it were, piano on the right.

 

T

Hitting "Play" does NOT constitute live performance. -Me.
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Wow, looks like I'm the first example of the "other extreme of the spectrum" to answer: I use MIDI a lot!

 

Currently My MIDI setup involves the XP-30 as master controller. Besides "playing" my Alesis Micron, it calls up the song programs on the Micron and on my TC Helicon VoiceLive (that works like a charm: One button touch and I'm ready to go!). Now on to the complications: We are a 4 piece band that covers busy stuff like "Owner of a Lonely Heart", "Time", "The Big Money", etc. That means I have the bass player playing some stuff from a Taurus-like pedalboard which (depending on the particular song) plays either the XP-30, the Micron or both. On certain songs I really need the Micron sequencer (wonderful BTW) and have it playing sounds on the XP-30. On certain songs like "Save Me" I alternate between the XP-30 and an acoustic guitar. Finally on others I play the acoustic guitar and trigger some stuff using the sustain pedal ("Wanted Dead or Alive", "Sure Know Something", etc).

 

It looks complicated, but as someone posted before it all boils down to habit and clever programming.

 

I suppose I will manage to simplify a lot once I move up to the Fantom I plan to buy. On the other hand I learned enough about MIDI to feel comfortable resorting to it any time I want to pull off a "small stage miracle" :rolleyes: .

"I'm ready to sing to the world. If you back me up". (Lennon to his bandmates, in an inspired definition of what it's all about).
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My primary live rig is an ES7 MIDI'd to a PC1x. The ES7 is in Master Mode, and it changes the setups in the PC1x when I call up a Master. All our songs are programmed as individual Masters by song name, and I rearrange the order just before the gig depending on the set list. Bank 1 is Set 1, Bank 2 Set 2, etc.

 

I'm basically one button push away from the next song, and the rig allows me to fine tune what patches, splits, layers, and physival controllers I am using on a per song basis. On the plus side, it sounds great and the range of tonality you will hear from me through a set is pretty cool. On the minus side... I spend A LOT of time tweaking sounds on the per song basis, and when a new song is added to the set list it is a lot of work. Also, on those rare occasions when I'm stuck using house gear there are songs we simply won't play because the right timbres/splits/layers are not readily there.

 

FWIW I get more positive comments about my tone then my playing ability. In fact I never get any positive comments about my playing ability :( . Maybe there is a lesson here...

"More tools than talent"

Motif ES7:Kurzweil PC1x:Electro 2 73:Nord Lead 3:MKS-80:Matrix 1000:Microwave XT

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I used to use MIDI a lot more than I do right now, but that will soon change. I like to use it primarily for setting up patches (with proper levels and the respective controls for proper dynamics) so that I can move pretty effortlessly between setups for live stuff. I HATE fumbling around on-stage--typically in the dark--trying to find that patch. . . .

 

This also helps simplify things for me, because I'm often filling multiple roles (playing keys, trumpet, bass, and percussion; and doing some or all of the sound engineering).

 

I also like to use MIDI to help me to layer and manipulate various sounds in ways that most DAWs, canned software, etc don't. For example, most hard/soft synths don't get brass the way I need it. Try doing a trombone gliss on anything out there. I have yet to come across anything out there that can handle it properly. I think Garriton Jazz & Big Band come the closest to getting some OK trumpet/trombone muting, but even their attempts still fall short of what I'd like. In any case, I still need to use MIDI heavily in order to control these kinds of patches (if I'd like to have something with which to harmonize--unless I record each of the brass tracks individually [which I have done from time to time]).

 

Another thing I like to use MIDI for is effects. While I like to play most of my parts live, I don't like standing there with one finger on the keyboard waiting for a sweep or rushing wind or roaring jet to finish its decay. I've got better things to do with my fingers--hence, I sequence that kind of stuff and play it back via MIDI so that I can focus on jamming.

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I've gone from using a sampler and two modules midied to a controller to just one stage piano. I'm in the zero column.

 

I assume your question refers to the actual use of midi cables and not just the use of midi per se. Everytime I press a key (on my stage piano) I am using midi.

No guitarists were harmed during the making of this message.

 

In general, harmonic complexity is inversely proportional to the ratio between chording and non-chording instruments.

 

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Originally posted by Dave Horne:

I've gone from using a sampler and two modules midied to a controller to just one stage piano. I'm in the zero column.

 

I assume your question refers to the actual use of midi cables and not just the use of midi per se. Everytime I press a key (on my stage piano) I am using midi.

Depends on whether the 'internal' data representation (i.e., from the keyboard to the tone generator) is actually MIDI, doesn't it?
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Originally posted by soundscape:

Originally posted by Dave Horne:

I've gone from using a sampler and two modules midied to a controller to just one stage piano. I'm in the zero column.

 

I assume your question refers to the actual use of midi cables and not just the use of midi per se. Everytime I press a key (on my stage piano) I am using midi.

Depends on whether the 'internal' data representation (i.e., from the keyboard to the tone generator) is actually MIDI, doesn't it?
Actually, I thought most MIDI data gets stripped from and gets processed--most likely concurrently--separately from the signal that gets routed to the tone generator(s). :)
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By the way, I failed to mention before that I used to use 5 keyboards (3 61-key synths, 1 61-key sampler, and 1 49-key sampler) set up kind of in a horseshoe like fashion; 3 rack-mount samplers, an Atari ST computer (running Creator and Notator for those of you who remember it) with an external MIDI extender box for extra ins and outs; a drum machine, octapads, and 10-piece e-drum (in a drum cage setup); 3 mixers; etc.

 

I also had to play games with MIDI if I wanted to use patches on the keyboard hooked up to the vocoder at the same time. Plus, I worked with several people who had "preferences" for which keyboards they liked (or didn't like) to play. Using MIDI, I could let them play on whatever keyboard they wanted, and I could use MIDI to control all of the equipment, so that I could access any patch I wanted from any board. On the other hand, that usually took at least an hour or two to set up each time :eek: --which sucks if you travel a lot and don't have a rodie. :(

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