Cantabile 3 - New User

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I need some help using Cantabile 3. I’m at the beginning of the learning curve. I gone through the startup video walk-through. I’ve set up the audio/midi in/out connections; installed and inserted some plugins; I began setting up a rack by following the video tutorial on Racks. At this point I need some understanding making the connections between one process and another.

Is there a logical learning order that I should follow, from beginning to end, at least to learn the basics? The videos are good but missing some detail as to why things are done. They seem to be made for users that have some experience with Cantabile and from what I can most of the Cantabile community here are experienced users.


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Hi Stan

In basic terms, MIDI Controller -> out to rack. Rack input to VST -> rack out & Rack output to Audio output. Again, very basic. Can be much more to it.

You can also skip the rack and do: MIDI Controller -> out to VST plugin & VST output to Audio output.

Simple routing. BTW, there are many new users here…I was one a very short time ago. :grin:

Welcome, Stan.

As @Corky points out, Cantabile is as deep as you want it to be. I just wrote a bunch of stuff and then erased it to start over. Let me give you the steps, then refer to the Guides (they have PICTURES!) for the details. If you’ve installed and configured any DAW, it’s not that different in the basics.

  1. Install Cantabile 3 (C3) for either 32 or 64 bit VSTs. If you have all 64-bit it is easy, install 64bit. If you have a mix you’ll have to decide whether to use JBridge. Not C3’s fault, that’s just the standard. No different from any DAW.

  2. Set up your ASIO or WASAPI interface. You can also use ASIO4All (if you don’t have an interface, Google ASIO4All). Go to Tools-> Audio Engine, then Tools-> Audio Ports. Be sure you assign your output to Output Port - Main Speakers

  3. Setup your MIDI keyboard (or other MIDI device). Go to Tools-> MIDI ports. Assign your keyboard to Main Keyboard.

  4. Tell Cantabile 3 (C3) where to find your VST plugins. Note that C3 doesn’t support VST3. Suggest you select one VST for now to get the hang of it. Just like any DAW, it needs to know where to find the VST DLLs.

  5. Go to File-> New Song and create a new song.

  6. Add a VST Object. to your song. Look for Add Object near the middle of the screen.

  7. Create a MIDI Route from Main Keyboard to your VST. Leave it as Omni, that’s the default.

  8. Create an Audio Route from the VST to Output Port - Main Speakers.

You should have sound.

Some vocabulary lessons:

Cantabile has Songs, that is where everything comes together. Songs have Main Keyboard and other inputs, VSTs, Racks, and Outputs. Songs also have Routes and Bindings.

Routes are the “cables” (either MIDI cables or Audio cables) that hook Inputs to VSTs and VSTs to Outputs.

---------------------- Understand everything above this line before proceeding --------------------

Bindings are for controlling things–you’ll get to that later.

Racks are ways of holding VSTs, effects, etc. in manageable chunks. Racks can have VSTs, Routes, Bindings, etc. They are kind of like mini-songs.

There are also States. States can be part of a Song (names like: First verse, Chorus, Second Verse) or part of a Rack (names like synth patches: Luckyman lead, Glass Piano, Brasspad, etc.)


Thanks Corky,

I got passed the setup part of it. I actually used a couple of plugins with my group, this past weekend. I tried my hand at creating states for a song, intro: strings and electric piano; Verse: Synth patch and electric piano. I think RackedBrain touched on my problem a little bit… I’m a little confused with the terminology. Songs; Racks; States etc

Hi RackedBrain,

I understand steps 1 through 8, it’s more of the vocabulary, as you put it, that I’m having problems with…In Cantabile, is a “Song” a composition or is it more; It’s a little confusing when I hear that a Rack is like a song. I’m understanding “States” somewhat. You’re “vocabulary lessons” do help.

Also, in what order should I learn the Cantabile program, Song, States, Racks, song switching. In other words, should I learn one before the other?

Thanks RackedBrain

Songs are … songs. They have names like “Yellow Submarine”, “Feelings”, and “Green-Eyed Lady”, They have Parts like Verse1, and Chorus, and Bridge, etc. Verse1 may be a Piano sound, Verse2 has Piano w/StringPad added, and Chorus is B3…etc.By the way, Songs go in Set Lists!

Racks are like hardware synthesizers. They contain VSTs, effects, Bindings, Routes, etc. Much the same elements of a Cantabile Song, but rather than Verse/Chorus/Bridge, their States are like Patch Names.

To get started with Racks, suppose you have a generic poly-synth like FM8. Today, you use 3 patches from FM8, e.g. CS-80 Pad, AquaBubble, and Brasspad. You would create a Rack, add FM8 as a VST object, connect Input port Rack: MIDI-In (not Main Keyboard!) with FM8 using a MIDI Route. Then you connect FM8 Audio output to Rack: Stereo Out (not Main Speakers) with an Audio Route.

We need a name for this, so you click on New State radio button in the Rack window (on the top left-hand side). Name the New State e.g. CS-80 Pad. Here’s the tricky part. On the left side, under where you clicked New State, below it, there is a box for Rack Behaviors. Checking the Middle column box causes the Rack to remember (stored with the State) various options including Patch and Bank. Depending on the way Patching is implemented in the VST you may only need to put a tic mark besides Patch. Some VST will also require a tic mark besides Bank (there are other ways, but this is the “Horsey, Ducky” version).

Now, the State in the Rack will remember that you want this Patch. Go back to a Song and add an Object using Add object-> “Existing Linked Rack” and add the Rack you just created. The bar that represents the Rack (in the Song) will have a pull down menu with all the Patch names you created (as Rack States). For this Song, you select “CS-80 Pad” and when you load the Song, the Song will load the Rack, and the Rack will set FM8 to the CS-80 patch!

If you look at the State Behaviors in the Rack, you will see there are a lot of things the Rack can remember including Volume and Patch. So, it’s like a hardware synth. You bring up the name, and it remembers all of your settings.

Now go through and create a few other Rack States for AquaBubble and Brasspad. One word of caution, don’t try to boil the ocean and create every single patch you may ever use. After attempting that several times, I find it’s easier to create 2 or 3 Rack States, then whenever I need one, create it then.

BTW, the left-most tic box in the State Behaviors box delegates remembering the Patches, etc. to the SONG. That’s advanced stuff, but very useful for things like Volume. You have a bunch of Racks in a Song, get the mix like you want it, and the SONG will remember the levels.


To answer your second question, you can do everything with Songs. Then use Setlists to call up songs. Racks only make things (much) easier.

If you only used Piano, Organ, and Strings, you could probably do everything with one Song. When you get all Prog Rock, you start to have a bunch of patches. Or you’re in a cover band and your trying to get that exact sound in the hook–you’ll have a lot of patches.

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Thank You:grinning: Exactly what I was looking for. That’s what I was talking about, making mental connections with the program. Now I can start to move forward.

I definitely want to use the Racks and States to my advantage, especially on those songs that use several patches.

Brad should place your post on Cantabile’s main page. I know it would help new users and potential users better understand how the program works. You explain it very clearly.

Thanks again.