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FL Studio: How to perform live?
August 10, 2012 9:33 PM   Subscribe

DAW/ConcertFilter: Help me take music I've written in FL Studio and perform it live. I'd really like to avoid walking onstage and pressing "Play".

I'd like to be able to take the songs I've written in FL Studio and perform them live as a set. Has anybody else done this, and if so what was the workflow?

My music is largely electronic rock, and I've found the FL live mode to be a major drag to work with using my existing keyboard controller, what with all the drum loop switchups, et cetera: For example, this track looks like this in the DAW.
Honestly, it's one of my simpler tracks, and it's a real headache to trigger each damn loop and stop it looping at the right time using FL's Live Mode. This approach might work for progressive trance, but what I'm doing here it gets in the way.

The other problem with FL Studio (besides getting the loop sequencing to play nice while performing a set) is that it doesn't work well switching between project files when time is of the essence. In the performing world, how do people deal with this problem?

I'm getting the feeling that sticking with FL is not the best way, but my sound is so effects- and synth- based that just lifting my notation from FL and dropping it into another DAW wouldn't really give satisfactory results. What's the best way to do this?

Finally, what should I have for basic audio output hardware, if any? Any other suggestions about stuff I might not be aware of?
posted by dunkadunc to Media & Arts (5 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
it's a real headache to trigger each damn loop and stop it looping at the right time

There's really no need to trigger each individual loop throughout the entire song; I think that's over complicating things.

Probably the easiest way to go about doing this is to "isolate" the specific loops that you want to manually trigger, and then mix the rest of the song (sans isolated loops) down to a single mp3/WAV file. Then you can just play the single mixed file, and manually trigger the loops that you want as the track progresses.

So, using your song as an example, you could mix the OrionString/Atmospheric/Bass down to a single file, play the file, and manually cue in the drum/snare roll/chorus pad when you want to. Or, contrarily, you could have some of the drum patterns mixed into the single file, thereby allowing you more "room" to manually cue in other instrumental patterns at various points.

Now, as for the shortcomings of FL... I hear you. It's been my DAW of choice for years (basically because it's what I first learned/what I know best), and yeah, playing a live set is going to be rough. I just don't think that the workflow, as you pointed out, is in any way conducive to performing (especially if you're playing several tracks as part of a set...)

Check out Ableton Live if you're going to start performing regularly; I know next to nothing about it, but it seems to be the go-to for many electronic artists/DJ's.

Best of luck! Please feel free to MeMail me -- I'd love to hear how it goes.
posted by lobbyist at 10:27 PM on August 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


When I was doing electronic music I and a friend who wrote similar stuff would always perform together. Neither of us were writing stuff that we could "perform" so we would burn a CD alternating our tracks and, usually the day before, figure out something to do on stage.
If we could borrow a projector we would play video games against each other. Once we brought a couch on stage and sat there drinking beer and throwing the cans at people. We borrowed boxing gloves and boxed in slow motion for 25 minutes.
I'm sure some people think this is obnoxious, and it might not be up your alley, but we had a whole lot of fun, most of the crowd enjoyed it, and we always sold a few records.
posted by gally99 at 11:38 PM on August 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'll second Ableton Live, I'm about as amateur as amateur gets with making music but I love how well it works. It's just fun, especially if you find an interface you like - I'm partial to touchOSC, an iOS/Android touchscreen control layout. If you don't want to spend too much on software, you can get a stripped down version of Ableton Live with a lot of different hardware, I ended up with two copies (one with my Saffire 6 USB audio interface, one with my cheap Alesis Q49 keyboard). Even though Ableton Live Lite is stripped down, it's definitely useable for this sort of thing if you carefully plan around the limits.

Another bit of fun is a good hardware sampler - the Akai MPC series is a classic (that I sadly have never had a chance to use), I really love my Ensoniq ASR-X Pro, which I got for free from an exceedingly nice person.

If you're handy with electronics, you can build MIDI triggers into dang near anything to trigger loops in a way that fits your performance style. That's well outside of my capability, but I've seen some cool stuff out there.
posted by jason_steakums at 12:55 AM on August 11, 2012 [1 favorite]



The other problem with FL Studio (besides getting the loop sequencing to play nice while performing a set) is that it doesn't work well switching between project files when time is of the essence. In the performing world, how do people deal with this problem?


Many people use software that's designed for performance, like Ableton Live. It's designed to deal with the problems you're having.

I get that you're used to working in FL - if you want to continue to write/create stuff on that platform, you could still use ableton for performance. Render sections of the track as loops, assemble them in Ableton. I'm happy to talk to you about the specifics of how to do that if you're interested.

For a while soundcloud was offering a lite version of Live; I know some hardware or software will occasionally bundle in a demo version also, which isn't quite as full-featured as the paid version but should still let you trigger clips just fine.

Here's a link to 30 day free trial of live.
posted by dubold at 12:57 AM on August 11, 2012


Thirding ableton live. It was designed for this. Bounce your parts out into loops.
posted by empath at 5:38 AM on August 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


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