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Midi controlled bass and drums

The Boogie Man

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Hi Troops, :) As a lot f you may know from previous posts and my profile, The Mr Riff show is pretty self contained. I'm now using a midi pedal to change effects rack settings and guitar patterns and when I sort a good desk, the light rig.


What I was wondering ( I do a lot of that ) Is if I wanted to add some backing ( bass, drums and keyboard pads) to the sound for some songs, would having a wav file of the backing track in the laptop fired by midi be the way to go or would having a drum machine and for the bass and keys a keyboard? give the sound a better separation?


Also what holds the whole timing together? a midi clock in something ( keyboard/ sequencer) ;)


I'm picturing me playing with the lights smoke and drums and bass all together and changes and light cues all worked out in advance. Would a laptop (dedicated) cope with all that? and is there by any chance already a software program for something like this?



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theres no reason why you couldnt simply have a road tough sequencer that can play midi or real audio backings, and if it has enough outputs then you could do the balance live too. you could map a start and stop to your midi controller.


On a purely playing basis. how would this go down? people whould simply assume you just have backing tracks? So why not just using them - would be a heck of a lot simpler, and more reliable, and sound nearly as good.

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Cheers Paul, I had wondered if that might be easier than individual instruments.


Anyone know what would be required between (or if software inside ) a laptop containing the wavs and a midi foot controller starting and stopping the backing, light cues, program changes?

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Yesterday I started writing a novel on this, but got bored; in the abstract its too big a question for one posting.


There are a number of ways you can do your own backings, and a mate of mine who is a duo (well, ok, half a duo) uses minidisk for backing, and assures me it's very common in the soloist and duo world.


Otherwise, you have choices. Do you want to have the instruments played "live" via MIDI, or do you want a simple (stereo) playback, or multitrack playback so it can be mixed nightly? Do you want the facility to have the music "loop" whilst you wind up the crowd and hit a button to move on to the next section? How much control of external stuff do you want? Do you want to run it all yourself, or have a crew to mix and light?


Need more input! © Johnny Five

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Hi David, I know what your saying about more info. It's a sort of how long is a piece of string type question. I think to avoid the shear complexity of having different "instruments" on the go it would be better with a backing track. That way on the tunes I did that warranted a bit of backing the light cue changes and various other effect changes could be pre written to change with the backing track.

The only interesting bit I can for see would be starting the wav file and the light cue at the same time.

I wonder (copyright The Boogieman) if the light cue in a midi in out lx desk could start the backing wav?

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Well, if it were me with your requirements, I'd use PCStage on a lappie to play back the track and operate the lights, and then for the non-backed tracks your MIDI pedal could operate the light changes by poking PCStage when you press a button on your pedalboard. PCStage can play back audio, operate lioghts, and accept and issue MIDI commands.


But a lot of people don't trust computers.


If you use a real hardware playback device if it has MIDI it'll respond to MMC - Midi Machine Control. So any of those little digital recording studios will respond to a MMC start. I think the little Zoom recorders like the MRS802 can import a MIDI file, thus you can user MIDI to drive your lighting system, assuming it accepts MIDI control. But I should warn you that many lighting desks (let me rephrase that - the sorts of lighting desks mere mortals can afford) have either useless, or in the case of some products (for example, the awfully useful Frog range), missing MIDI implementations. The other warning is that the only digital recording studio I can find that knows what a setlist is is the Fostex VF160EX, and it forgets the setlist when you power the thing off!!!!!!!


What you want to do shouldn't be impossible in the 21st century, but it's still sufficiently left field that its hard work.


I think you'll find backing seductive. I've seen your vid, you rock a bit, and theres something awfully seductive about a big kick drum behind... Think White Stripes, or going back a bit further, Medicine Head. Saw them live at Liverpool Poly, really good...




Sorry, couldn't resist!


(And just edited to note, this is apparently my 1500th post...)

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If you're going to be using static backing tracks that wont change I'd go for a hard-disk playback system like the Alesis HD24. 24 outputs, two HD bays (one for backup!) and you can put all your tracks on there in case you wanna change the setlist (takes any standard IDE drive of any capacity). Also it comes with a transport panel that lets you start/stop tracks abd cycle thru them. I think it also takes a foot pedal for controlling playback as well as MMC. However, if you want to trigger loops and sounds on the fly then this wont do it - you have to mix down your tracks first and copy them across via ethernet from a computer. We used one on a 2 month tour and it worked flawlessly, plus they're built tough. I dont know, it may be a bit of overkill depending on how many tracks you wanna use. We had 20 separate tracks of playback plumbed into our DI racks so FOH could have complete control over things. In any event, laptops still make me a little nervous in live situations! Plus if you run a stereo pair going from a laptop its gonna sound, well, exactly like a stereo pair running off a laptop. Multitrack kinda helps it sound a bit LESS like a backing track and more alive IMHO.




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Congratulations David on the 1500 posts ( or is that a sad thing ) I'm hurt, "you rock a bit", I rock a lot!! ** laughs out loud **


I'm looking into pcstage and a few of the others, but they seem to do a lot of things I dont need. Set lists and lyrics and such.

The main requirements is just the starting and stopping the backing tune with the light show.

James Idea about using a multitrack player might be a goer as It will give a good seperation to the sound and full mix facilities. ( I had considered using my laptop and cubae sx, but it looked like a bit of nightmare to set up )

If it can be triggered with the same midi signal that changes the light cue and switches the guitar effects? Then we might have a winner.

I assume that being digital there would be no lag issues with a set up like that?

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