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TOPIC: Explanation REQ - Live Set with External Synth

Explanation REQ - Live Set with External Synth 3 years 9 months ago #19635

  • samwhich
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Hi all.

I am not a complete amateur in audio production or midi however am having trouble with grasping the concept of using external synths driven from Ableton for a live DJ set/performance.

My setup is much more complicated however for simplicity sake:

Imagine I have a complete live set sitting in Ableton ready to go. All my sounds in the set are created using samples and soft synths accept for my bass lines. For these, I would like to use for arguments sake a Moog Minitaur to do all of the various bass lines throughout the live set.

Q. Am I stuck with one bass sound (patch) throughout the entire set? How does it work when you go from one song to the next and you want the Minitaur to play a completely different sounding bass line? and then a completely different sounding bass line again for the next song etc

[/Q.b] Do the midi patches in Ableton "call up" the next patch in the Minitaur when required? If so what if the existing one is still playing? (for arguments sake..)

Please explain as if I am a noob and with as much detail as you like! I am really struggling to get a grasp of this concept no matter how much I read! :blink:

Thanks all in advance for your time in explaining! Hope this all made sense...:)
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Explanation REQ - Live Set with External Synth 3 years 9 months ago #19637

  • Mr Fork
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Ableton recently put up a series of videos on their site regarding using hardware instruments with ableton. I don't have any hardware synths as of yet but I've been looking into it as I plan on getting one soon. To possibly answer your question I'd say the answer to your question as to whether or not ableton will save patch data for external hardware synths or be able to call up a patch (preset) I believe the answer is....it depends on the synth. That may not be helpful but some hardware synths such as the virus and the xenophone have software vst counterparts for saving patches and sending change data in a DAW while other synths don't have that functionality and may only allow you to send note values and modulation data. I'm not sure what the minitaur has for functionality other than the obvious midi input output etc. The default ableton "external instrument" can't keep track of patch data that I'm aware of. So as to being stuck with one bass sound throughout the entire set...I'd say unless the minitaur has software to call up presets you would be stuck unless you physically affected the controls of the hardware. But again it depends on the hardware I believe.
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Explanation REQ - Live Set with External Synth 3 years 9 months ago #19638

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The link through ableton if you're interested.

www.ableton.com/en/blog/push-playing-hardware-instruments/
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Explanation REQ - Live Set with External Synth 3 years 9 months ago #19723

  • samwhich
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Cheers for that Mr Fork. I will check out the Ableton site as per your advice.

I do have an Access Virus Ti2 desktop which I am slowly getting my head around and it is wicked! :) Just trying to work out whether to design my tracks/set with the plan to use the Virus live (preferable) or just use the Virus to create sounds and record them into my tracks as I currently do.

I will check out your link now and see where it takes me. Thanks again!
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Explanation REQ - Live Set with External Synth 3 years 9 months ago #19734

  • samwhich
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Hi Again. Following the link you provided lead me to the answer I think I am looking for which is found here towards the bottom of this page: www.ableton.com/en/articles/using-external-synthesizers-live/

I believe "Program Change Messages" was the keywords I needed to be searching with? If you create a clip containing MIDI notes and wish to play these back with a particular preset on your synth, you can simply adjust these settings to choose the correct Bank, Sub-Bank and Program Change number. Live will now send this to your synth once the clip is launched, resulting in the synth changing the preset accordingly.

Be aware that the synth might need some time to actually change the preset after receiving the Program Change message. If the clip contains notes right at its beginning, these might still be audible with the previous patch.


I would love to have a fat (portable) analogue bass synth like the Minitaur or one of the DSI synths to compliment my sound so this is why I am trying to get my head around this. Your set would start getting a little boring after a while if you were stuck with the same bass sound throughout...:)

Thanks again for you input! Much appreciated :)
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