Comments on Instacomposer / Blue Cat / Ableton (not a tutorial...)

I’ve been trying this combination out, and thought I’d share some initial experiences with setup and workflow. Live does not handle multi-channel MIDI, and Plugin B promoted Blue Cat as a solution.

I first tried Omnisphere, which is multitimbral, and therefore only needed one VST instance for all 5 Instacomposer channels. This routinely crashed Live, so I abandoned it and reverted to monotimbral synths pro tem. (I’ll explore the Live crashes later)

It was fairly straightforward to set it up (see Plugin Boutique’s Josh Casper video on this), but it rapidly became evident that all is not as expected (at least not by me).

I’d assumed that it would provide a mechanism to split the 5 channel MIDI input from Instacomposer and route it as MIDI to 5 VSTs loaded in Live tracks. Not so, it seems. Although Blue Cat sits as a VST3 in Live, Instacomposer and the target synths are loaded by Blue Cat in the same way as Nanohost / Cantabile. The audio is routed directly to the master audio out by default, unless the VST has multiple audio outs.

Therein lies a snag. There is no way to apply effects or other signal processing to the individual channels, within a Live track. Blue Cat does have it’s own effect section, but that’s not what I bought it for. For me, as a primary tool, it’s thus useless, as you only get the mix, not channel audio, as far as I can tell so far.

An alternate workflow is to explore various auto-composed pieces, and then port the MIDI as individual tracks to Live and then work as normal. Drag and drop is supported and it only takes a few seconds. Unlike scaler, there is no way to sync the source of your work to something in Live.

What I can’t report on yet is what the end product sounds like yet, and whether the multi-timbral synth issue is with Omnisphere or Instacomposer. However, as I routinely use Omnisphere in multi-timbral mode without problem, I suspect Instacomposer at this time.

Part of the problem here is Live. There is no way to set the MIDI channel of a track in Live. I encountered this before I think. In Cubase it’s not a problem. You would just route instacomposer to 4 tracks and set each track to the correct MIDI channel. Boom done. Most other DAWs are the same. Live needs to fix that.

@jamieh Forget

the problem is Live: it combines all midi channels into a single channel when outpuuting midi from a track (i.e. midi file 0).

@yorkeman Back to Cakewalk?

TRUE. But I don’t think Live or Reason do.
However, in Live you can create multiple Instrument Racks and assign Instacomposer channel outputs to them, adjusting the note range to fit within it. We can also use Element, or Cantabile, or Gig Performer, routing the outputs to loopmidi. Something that simply lengthens the process, of course. However, in Reaper I have no problem assigning the midi channels. The truth is that lately I use more Reaper than those other DAWs so expensive and so clumsy for my purposes

I am just evaluating Reaper, so I haven’t got there yet, but I only mentioned Cakewalk because I think @yorkeman already uses it Which Daw do you use? - #10 by yorkeman

Can you give an example of how to use instrument racks to split midi channels? I haven’t come across this before.

I bought the ‘next up’ version of Cantabile and use that for manipulating multi-channel midi a la Instacomposer, and its flexible and easy to use. {I’d previously reverted back to Cakewalk with the inbuilt TTS synth for auditioning, before dragging any useful elements to Live].
As it happened I have a copy of Bome Midi Translator MIDI Translator Pro – Bome Software
and use that for the virtual ports.

[I bought this to attempt to integrate my Roland JD800 into the ‘in the box’ set up, as it only outputs Sysex from the numerous physical controls.]

Although I have Insta, Captain Epic and even an older BIAB copy, I hardly ever use any of them as I continue to discover new ways to use Scaler.

As a slight side note to the multiple channels issue, I have been working on something with 16 midi tracks (small beer to some of the folk here, I guess) and went down the route of using multi-timbral synths like Omnisphere to ‘simplify’ things, and found out it doesn’t. Furthermore, by default, it increases resource, and makes it more complex by having to have ‘sends’ etc. It’s not an issue from a computer perspective as I have a ballsy box and an M2 SSD, but I realise it’s yet another thing to learn about.

Hmm I must watch what I write, as Google translate people might be scratching their head over es cerveza pequeña …

Here you go …

I tried this, but prefer my Cantabile approach …

…or you can download a template free from Ableton Live (10/11) - Instacomposer Template

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Brilliant, thanks @yorkeman I must be getting old ((no of semitones in an octave x 5) + 1 octave) as I never thought of splitting midi channels that way.

Element para asignar canales midi en Ableton - YouTube
In this video I explained some time ago how it can be done with Element.
Anyway, I still say that in Reaper, you can directly assign each channel to each sound without much work.

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If the 66 refers to your sojourn thus far on the planet, then guess how I feel as the (so far) unchallenged geriatric master …


@yorkeman , with age can come wisdom(I hope)

@jjfagot one reason I am thinking :thinking: of moving to Reaper

Hi Yorkeman.
I hope the translator doesn’t mess up what I want to say on purpose either, :grinning: :grinning:
As you know, my instrument is the bassoon (fagot=bassoon, and nothing else). The bassoon is a double-reeded wooden instrument. But, in Spanish, a reed is not always just a reed. It is also, as you say in England, a pint of beer. So, the other day, a co-worker told me: we’re going to have a beer, and I replied: I’ll have two; you know i’m double reed

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:smiley: :laughing:

Something new learned every day here !

Not sure what the context here is but I’d like to point out that Ableton Live can do different midi channels if you set up tracks that contain an external instrument plugin for each midi channel you want to use. For example, EWS Opus can set up multiple instrument on different midi channels in a single plugin instance. Put that on one track then for each midi channel add another midi track with its sending midi to OPus with a channel number per instrument. You can then record midi for each separate instrument in Opus. Hope I’ve explained that and it helps to resolve your issues.