Keeping Expression/volume across Rackspaces

Alright - musical theatre/pit orchestra keyboard question here. New to GigPerformer. Relatively new to live keyboard in general :slight_smile: Sorry this is so long. Trying to be complete and follow the suggestions on how to best get help :slight_smile:

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!)

Basic background
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 Details
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)

Hi @tannerlindsay

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As @pianopaul noted, GP4 will make this much simpler for various reasons (for example, just route all your audio from every rackspace to the global rackspace and put your expression pedal there) but I’m curious as to why you’re worrying about the “size of that rackspace”?

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Sounds like the future Global Rackspace is exactly what you’d like, but I think there may be a way for you to get something similar to that using a second instance of GP.

Picture a second instance of GP running, and the only thing in that instance is a single mixer. The only widget would be controlled by your expression pedal, and it would be tied to your master volume. The audio input in this second instance would be the audio out from your main GP instance.

In windows this isn’t trivial, but given what you list as your equipment it might not be complicated.

You say your audio interface is a Komplete Audio 6. I believe that has two sets of audio outs. If you’re only feeding two of those to the FOH mixer, then you might be able to effectively use the other two to feed the audio out from the first instance into the second instance. You would then have the second instance drive the other two outputs and run that to your FOH.

This requires that:

  1. the driver for your Komplete 6 is “multiclient” capable. I suspect it is, which simply means that two different applications (two instances of GP in this case) can communicate with it at the same time without creating audio glitches.
  2. the midi driver handling whatever you’re using for the expression pedal is also multiclient capable. This is a bigger roll of the dice with midi drivers. If it’s not multi-client ready, then only one instance of GP will be able to receive midi from it at at time.

There are workarounds for both of those, but it can get complicated.

Also, if you’re already feeding all for outs from the Komplete 6 to the FOH a more complicated approach would be required.

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Well, if I told you I came from Mainstage running on a 5+ year old Mac Mini would that help clarify my concerns? :grin:

I guess I’m just concerned that having too many plugins in a single rackspace might lead to some performance problems, or the dreaded “drop out”. I know GigPerformer is much more efficient, and it can do some dynamic/predictive loading, but I thought that was just between rackspaces. If I have 20 plugins in a single rackspaces, with 25 variations, where each just changes what is bypassed, can it load that all nicely?

I am SOO excited for the Global Workspace. Before I purchased, I had a question about a shared effects bus type thing and the Global Workspace is the PERFECT solution. I’ll be able to use it to have a single place to adjust all FX and such for everything, making final rehearsals, tech setup and sound checks WAY easier!

Meh, in my Pink Floyd band I have quite a few rackspaces with way more than 20 plugins and none of them is bypassed! However, I very rarely use sample-based plugins — some of those can suck up huge amounts of RAM so be careful if you use too many of those in the same rackspace.

As far as CPU cycles are concerned, if you’re going to bypass most of them, you shouldn’t have any problems as long as the plugins themselves are well behaved (i.e, properly implemented) You could have 200 variations!

Here’s the thing. A decently implemented plugin, when bypassed, or even when not bypassed but not generating any sound, should reduce its CPU usage almost completely. So when bypassed it’s not using any significant CPU.

The thing one sees sometimes with poorly developed plugins is that they spawn off a bunch of threads that they just leave running and since those threads are not directly involved in audio, they suck up CPU cycles even when they’re not doing anything. In that situation, even if you put them on different rackspaces, they’ll still suck SOME cycles.