Live sequencing tracks from a laptop: Part 1

18 Sep

Let’s talk about using a laptop as the central piece to a live show.  If I could sum up the collective wisdom and opinion of those who have gone before, I’m pretty sure it would sound something like this:

“Don’t do that.”

But I really feel like I have to do it.  For the past 10+ years, I have been sketching out most of my song ideas in two main sequencer packages: Sonar and ACID.  Unfortunately they are both good at very different things, and I find myself bouncing between both of them.

Driving your live show from a sequencer is risky, but driving your live show from 2 or more sequencers is just begging for glitches.  Closing/opening/loading the host programs is one thing, then there are things like memory allocation and shared resources- how sure are you that the last app will let go of your ASIO drivers?  Or to put it another way- how quickly can you reboot?  Better have a stable of good jokes- it will be a long 90+ seconds as the crowd shuffles it’s feet, waiting for you get your act back together.

I use Windows-based machines for my composition, and though I have heard good things about Ableton Live; it’s not an option for me.  With the show a month away, it will be tricky enough to collect/consolidate song tracks from two or more sequencers & ‘print’ tracks into a common sequencer or editor I’m already familiar with.  My three choices are Sonar, ACID, and Adobe Audition.

The first step will be bouncing tracks down to .wav files and running them from Audition.  Past experience) tells me that running straight .wav files will pose the least chance of glitching… we’ll find out in the next post!

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