Alright - musical theatre/pit orchestra keyboard question here. New to GigPerformer. Relatively new to live keyboard in general Sorry this is so long. Trying to be complete and follow the suggestions on how to best get help
I play with a local community musical theatre. I’m on keys about half the time (reed the other half), but I also help the other keys/piano players with the tech (software engineer by trade). In this case, I’m trying to “program” the show for another keyboard player. The show is 25th Annual Putnam Spelling Bee.
(If someone has a Gig setup for any full musical, and is willing to share to give me ideas, I’d LOVE it!)
When playing a musical, the music outlines a series of patches/voices/sounds that will be used, and it generally just goes straight through. In a given song, the “voices” may change several times, and some voices will be re-used. The Setlist is perfect for this. Each song can be created, and each song part separated, allowing the keyboardist to just hit “next” and keep playing. The changes can sometimes be very fast.
This entire musical has 81 different “patches” which might be a couple different plugins split different ways. The first number has 13 different patches, with 17 different changes. It takes 17 vst plugins to cover. A few of the patches repeat or get reused later in a single song, or in different songs.
What I’ve done
I’m setting this up for another keyboardist who is less comfortable with tech, so I’d like to make it as straightforward as possible, with limited chances for something to go wrong or complicated things to remember.
So far I have tried to create a few different rackspaces and variations. There are several patches where a synth is split with an acoustic bass, so I have a single rackspace with the acoustic bass, widgets to bypass each of the synths, and variations with the right combination enabled. Another rackspace might have Pizzicato strings (full range), and another has acoustic bass in the bottom, with synths full range and variations. I’ve consolidated the rackspaces so that if I need to tweak a plugin, I don’t have to do it 81 times. For example, if we get to final rehearsals and the bass is to quiet, I want to limit the number of rackspaces that need to be edited.
Then, I create a setlist/song, and I assign the rackspaces and variations to the song parts. This is all good. Everything was slick and straight forward. A testament to well designed software.
Where I’m struggling
The spot where I’m struggling is with expression and volume across rackspaces. The player needs to be able to adjust the dynamics with the music, and even sometimes with the night - maybe the actors are a bit quiet that night. The idea is that they can use an expression pedal to control the volume and respond to dynamics changes.
I’ve setup an expression pedal/meter widget, and mapped it to my controller, and it works great. And I’ve set that widget to “Ignore variations”. This means that when I go from one variation to another (inside a rackspace) the expression/volume stays the same, but if the next song section is a different rackspace, then the expression goes to whatever it was previously, so it might jump up louder or get really quiet, meaning the player has to be aware, and quickly adjust the pedal. This can also happen if the last time a particular rackspace/patch was used was a different song, and now the dynamics are different.
Some options I’ve considered (and would appreciate feedback)
Map the expression pedal to the Master Fader - this kinda works. It would keep my volume steady, however some of the plugins sound different at higher/lower volumes. For example, pianissimo trumpets have a different tone than forte (where they get more blatty). Also, for overall mix/volume, the FOH audio mixer is managing that.
Create one rackspace for each song - this would mean no song would cross rackspaces, so the “ignore variations” would cover it. However, I worry about the size of that rackspace. The first song has 17 different plugins (or instances of a plugin) where all but 2 or three would be bypassed in each variation. Also, I would have to figure out how to adjust the splits, as sometimes a plugin is “full range” and sometimes the same plugin is only part of the keyboard. I guess more instances of the plugins or some clever bypassing of some MIDI In plugins might do it…
That’s where I’m at. Looking for the wisdom of the crowd and the more experienced to help me out a bit. Basically I just want the Expression pedal to be “universal” - to always stay at the level it is currently at (from the pedal). I don’t want it to remember what it was at the last time the rackspace was used. If it is at 67 right now in Rackspace 1, I want it to be at 67 when I switch to Rackspace 2. Then I increase it to 185 while playing in Rackspace 2, and I want it to be at 185 when I switch back to Rackspace 1, and for all the plugins to get that value (which they seem to be doing now).
System: Laptop. Intel i7-6600U, 16GB RAM, 512GB PCIe NVMe storage.
Audio Interface: Komplete Audio 6
MIDI Hardware: Arturia Keylab 88 MkII (but actual gig may be on something else. Thanks rig manager)
Plugins: East West Hollywood Orchestra (strings, brass, woodwinds, percussion), RolandCloud (XV-5080 and JV-1080)