In my previous post I described setting up an Ableton Live rig for playing synth while also playing bass guitar. Several gigs and rehearsals led to this being modified.
I discovered a midi trigger that works well with my bass guitar, allowing me to play single synth notes as I play the bass, without having to use the McMillen 12-Step. This is the Sonuus i2M Musicport signal converter. By adjusting the Sonuus’ parameters via USB laptop editing software, it’s possible to trigger it on specific notes by playing harder – such that it ignores the passing notes. This is slightly irregular, but good monitoring allows it to be controlled enough to be really musical. I use a Lehle P-Split II splitter to divide the input (without earthing hums etc) from the bass to the Sonuus and to the bass amp – a Warwick LWA 1000.
I’d been using an Ableton Push to change scenes and manage Live. But this is heavy, plus I wanted to incorporate an actual keyboard into the rig. I bought a Novation LaunchKey 25 as it has two lines of Ableton Live scenes with strong LGB colours that are easy to see on stage. I use one line per song, so this is actually easier than the Push which shows eight and can be confusing. I just have to remember to move down to the next song.
It’s early days with this new setup, but the Novation replaces the Push on the Gibraltar drum hardware stand, giving me slider volume control on the synth output, and eight assignable controls to play the sounds as well as the notes. It’s a manageable Push with actual keys.
So now I can play chords and tunes, then switch to playing pads with the bass and Sonuus, and bass plus pads, pedal tones and simple bass lines on the “foot organ”. All three connect together seamlessly via a USB hub, and I can switch immediately from one to the other. I really can play reggae bass AND synth pads at the same time. There is a bit of “How’s he doing that then?” from musos in the audience. But we like that!
I’ll post some pics of this new rig at our next rehearsal – this coming weekend. If you register on this site, I’ll email you as soon as I post this. If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below and I’ll get right back to you! I’l be really interested to hear from any of you doing similar things.
Also, I can write a blog on how I’ve set up Ableton to run the synths and audio clips for our live gigs. Most of the Ableton teach-in videos are for bands and groups playing backing tracks. We don’t do that. Ableton for us is another instrument, and we don’t even use it to play loops. This is a good way to keep things really live, so you might find it useful. If I haven’t done this is a couple of weeks time, then do remind me in comments below.
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