Completely New User

I am totally new to Cantabile and midi in general. I have been a musician for 45 years and a month and a half ago, I sold off a few of my keyboards to dive into the deep end of the midi pool. I purchased a new laptop 16 GB RAM - SSD HD, a StudioLogic SL88 controller, and kept my remaining keyboard, a Yamaha MX49 synth (in case it hits the fan during a gig). I have SampleTank 3, and Komplete 11, as well as a few other plug-ins. I play in a duo with a guitarist where we use backing tracks and want to be able to use my weighted controller (SL88) for piano/elect piano, etc. whether it be VST or the MX49 and use the MX49 as a controller for synth/organ/strings, etc., again whether it be VST or the MX49. I believe in the KISS theory and am looking for help. I recently tried using an iConnectivity 2+ to clean up the myriad of USB cables (controller/MX49/USB mixer) but the 5 pin connection kept causing errors and when I unplugged and went USB direct, voila! So, today I am going to go direct with a USB from my MX49 to my laptop, but run a 5 pin cable from my SL88 to the MX49 to access the instruments on that keyboard. In my head, this makes the most sense, however, with my limited knowledge of Cantabile and its routing capability, perhaps this may not be the best setup. I run both SampleTank3 and Kontakt Komplete 11 in stand alone mode. My goal is to be able to simply create songs, assign instruments to them, whether they be in SampleTank/Komplete or on my MX49 for gigging purposes. I just want to dial up a song, have the instrument(s) loaded and ready to go. Since my partner is a guitarist, I am the only one that can spare a free hand to manipulate the mixer/change effects etc. I also use my iPad with Songbook (lyrics/chords), as I have too many songs and chord progressions in my head, and I just don’t trust the old noggin to come through in the clutch. I am looking for the easiest, and most reliable way to get this done. Brad suggested I come here for help, so fire away! P.S. I am a huge fan of shuffling set lists so as not to be predictable or stale, so I think a per song approach is probably best, but I will leave the suggestions to you guys. Thanks for any help you’re willing to throw my way.

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Welcome!! I am celebrating my 50th year of being in live bands myself (not including school bands) so I can relate to the similar amount of time put into all this. Cantabile is the very best way to achieve what you are wanting to do. I, myself, load set lists with different songs which loads up your instruments, and changes when the song changes if needed, or if you change songs. In the notes section, you can type in reminders, chord patterns, pretty much anything to jog your memory. There are many great people here that are more than happy to help you out. Use the search and check out many discussions that will help you. Just fire away with questions!




Hi Steve and welcome,

Cantabile is flexible, so all the things you want to round up and organize can be stored in C3 (Cantabile 3) Song files. A few questions …

  • do you use more than one sound in a song and do you need to switch the keyboard patch during a Song?
  • do you require fast switching from one song to the next?
  • How many sounds do you need to round up and organize?

I ask because the software is complex if need be but also can be very simple so knowing these things would help explain the best way forward. With regards to using Songbook with Cantabile I would ask @Torsten or @terrybritton for advice because that would require a network connection. I copied and pasted my lyrics/notes into the excellent notes screen built into Cantabile which can be used to display the notes for each song as you go. It also allows display of Graphics files that are stored with each song when you save them. I have my C3 setup this way for lyrics/notes.


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Dave…I would say about 50% of the time I do use more than one sound in a song. It is generally some kind of combination like either organ/strings and piano/elect. piano. We also have 15-20 medley’s made up of generally 2, but some 3 song medleys. As far as switching from one song to the next, our material is geared 100% toward dancing, except when we do poolside gigs, so once the crowd is rolling, we like to keep them there, so not a lot of idle chit chat between numbers. As far as sounds, looking at our list, it is 2-3 acoustic pianos, 3-4 elect pianos, horns, either acoustic or elect guitar, and an occasional accordion. We’re sort of old school (Springsteen/Mellencamp/Petty/Stevie Ray). I’m all for conglomerating notes, but I can set Songbook up to coordinate with Cantabile’s set list if necessary. I just got an iConnectivity 2+, but the 5 pin connection to my controller at times has trouble connecting. I bought it to clean up the myriad of USB cables and to control Songbook, but with the unreliable connection, I just can’t have it. I’m starting from scratch here, so I want to figure out the best way forward and hit it hard.

Are you using Cantabile Performer?

Yes. I am just running out of the trial and will be downloading the full version tonight and doing an install on the new laptop. I have to clone my current drive and install my new SSD and then will be ready to rock

Sounds like you are well setup then. Cantabile is mostly seamless in song transition. If you pre-load your songs, the changes are instant. You will also be able to coordinate your backing tracks as well. If I were using several songs in a medley, I would put them all into 1 song, and call it ________ Medley. I would use states to change from transition or instrument change and to change any lyrics. I also have footswitches to make those changes, keeping my hands free.


Hi Steve,

OK, so … many sounds, many songs and medleys and switching within songs. In this case a good way to go is to use “Linked Racks” with multiple “States” (in the Rack States panel) to store all your sounds for a Gig and “preload the setlist” so that all plugin elements of the current set list are in memory with the only use of the disk for streaming samples. The logic for this is that if I have say 15 songs all with Ivory vsti and loaded them as plugins at the Song level for each song that’s 15 X Ivory in memory when using pre-load, if I use a linked rack with Ivory inside it I only load Ivory to memory once and share it across the 15 Songs. I broke my racks down to a Acoustic Piano rack, an electric piano rack, a horn rack, various organ racks, a guitar rack, and on and on. Another use of linked racks are as utility sources like bindings for pedals or as a master mixer or EQ.

Inside each linked instrument rack I created “States” (like snapshot of settings) for my various patches for each instrument. When done this way the patches (States) can be easily selected from a drop-down box later when they are loaded into a Song file and fast switched using Cantabile’s psuedo preset feature or in the case of multi-timbral like Kontakt or SampleTank most use MIDI channel switching capabilities to speed switch patches.(pre-load Kontakt as a rack multi midi channel )

Once the Racks are constructed Then I move on to creating Song files. In the Song file I load all the needed racks for that song or medley and set up the first Song State (in the States Panel) to the correct starting patches( Rack States) and name it. Then I create the next state and name it, set the patches and so on till the Song is done.(optionally you can lock the states once you’re happy with them so they don’t get altered) Then I save the song and optionally add it to a song list if one is open.

Once the Songs are created I build Set- lists and Set the pre-load set list function and load my set-list, and barring a problem I’m good to go for the whole night, ( I keep about 70 songs loaded at a time but could have more). As you get started, just post your querries and someone will help out.
Also …

you may not not need to do this. Cantabile can act as the router of all things so you plug your yamaha synth in via USB and plug in your SL88 via USB and let Cantabile route the SL88 to the MX49 using the existing USB MIDI connections. This is done in the input output routing tab of Cantabile main screen.The only reason I see to do it with a DIN cable is if the laptop takes a fall. Just wanted you to know it was do-able.

All the best with new rig!


edit : I changed embedded racks to read linked racks, my bad …


Corky…all the medleys are one long seamless song. They are matched up by tempo and key. Footswitches are definitely a good idea. I’ve already run out of hands. Thanks for the help


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Dave…that sounds like a super sensible way to do things. It seems like the setting up is the majority of the work, but once done it becomes much easier. I know as I start banging them out, it will start to become very familiar. I’ve got some pre-work to do as I just got Komplete 11, so I’m still in the exploring stage. Between the 1100 sounds on my MX49 and all the instruments in both SampleTank and Komplete, I have some weeding to do. As for the DIN cable, it kind of serves 2 purposes. First is a parachute in case as you say, a laptop grows wings but doesn’t fly and second is, most likely due to the layering feature of the MX49, using the ^v cursors, I can set one sound for my controller, and a completely separate one for the MX49 itself. It’s kind of like 2 keyboards in one. There may be some songs I choose to play that way. I’m feeling my way along. Thanks for all the great info. Rest assured, I’m sure there will be many queries to follow.

Dave…you seem to have a sensible head on your shoulders. I just swapped out a 1 TB HD with a new 525 GB SSD drive. Any suggestions as to what to do with the 1 TB drive? I feel like my options are to run it out of my SATA slot as an external drive (though dragging that to gigs and worrying about it sliding out is not something I am thrilled about doing) or getting a caddy and replacing my optical drive with it. I can’t think of an occasion I’d use the optical bay. Not sure if you are a techie or not, but I was wondering if some re-configuring would need to be done to allow the HD to operate as it should rather than be governed by the restrictions of the settings for the DVD? I’m sure I can take it to my local computer shop and be charge a small fortune. Any ideas. It would be nice to simply load and store all my samples/instruments and switch out as I need or want. I’d appreciate any input you could throw my way or anyone here who might be a wizard at that stuff.

Hey Steve,

I went with the caddy in a dvd slot and it was straightforward with no re-configuring. The system will recognize the new install after you put it in and away you go. At least that was my experience.


Dave…sounds good. I’ll order one up right now. Thanks

@dave_dore is right about Cantabile doing all of the routing. Very intuitive and versatile. My setup is much like yours though. I have an Akai MPK 261 plugged into my Laptop via USB. I am wanting to conserve USB slots, so I connect my Yamaha Motif MIDI out to the MPK261 MIDI in. That way, by Motif has exclusive control over Cantabile with a created MIDI input in C3, while not using another USB input. I try to stay away from hubs because some have become flaky. If anyone knows of a solid USB hub, I would appreciate it.

The C3 world is a great world. I am seeing if C3 can be used with the SoundCraft UI24 as an effect rack for that mixer. Should be interesting.