New user and I feel like an idiot

I am a lifelong musician, pretty advanced in performing, recording, arranging etc., and I have recently had an idea to take my music down another path, which has really excited me. The problem is, it is all so complicated to me and when I read about it, the terminology makes my head spin.

My goal is to use Cantabile for live, improvised performance with looping. I have numerous plugins set up and have been having a great time using MIDIGuitar 2, Mobius and numerous VSTi. I have managed to corral Mobius and set up a MIDI foot controller to access all necessary functions for each track. The problem for me is getting control of the other VSTs so I can make quick and easy changes. I kind of don’t even know where to begin with this, as changing plugins and patches manually is a real joy-suck. I was thinking that maybe I would set up a single VST patch for each MIDI channel and just scroll through to get what I want with a MIDI Mouse foot controller, but my instincts are telling me there has to be an easier way.

Also, something as simple as setting up a carrier (microphone) for the Arturia Vocoder is maddening to me. I’ve read several threads about it, but I need the For Dumber Dummies version, as none of it is clear to me.

Oh well, sorry to be such a downer with this as I really am enjoying it, but my goals are far beyond my abilities when it comes to even knowing where to begin. It’s just extremely frustrating.


Hi Mike

Welcome to the forum

I am using the Performer version of Cantabile. You are thinking in DAW setup mindset. Cantabile is a live performance program. I know you are wanting to use it live, but you have to adjust to our terminology, which takes awhile. Cantabile very powerful and has quite a learning curve, and normally takes a few weeks to get a feel for things. It’s something that will take patience and endurance.
All the things you mentioned can be done, but it is up to you to read the manuals, and watch the videos, and to get the basics under your belt. I could spend hours telling you what you need, but it would be a waste until you get some basics in. The search engine on this forum is chock full with many subjects you want to know. Try “rig setup”.
With the things you describe, you will need to understand racks, states, and bindings. Once you get your feet wet, you will probably want to move to performer, if you haven’t already.
I’ve been playing live music for over 55 yrs. Cantabile completely changed the way I performed all those years. I normally use two keyboard controllers with knobs,pads, and sliders. Also a foot pedal with 4 switches and expression pedal. I also play guitar thru the same system. I can make things happen that normal keyboard players don’t understand. The control of everything I want to do in a song is in my controllers and foot pedal. The playing is up to me.

Check out the website, and the forum search engine.

We all felt the same way at the beginning. No shaming here. We totally understand.




I completely understand. I was you just a couple of years ago. Some specifics still cause me to think twice - I still find the concept of a Cantabile ‘Rack’ unintuitive, for example!

I also do live improv with a looper (actually a Mellotron, a Line 6 Helix and a looper), and Cantabile controls the whole shebang for me. In fact, Cantabile has now become my Mellotron, Helix and looper!

So I will simply say to persevere. Yes, some of the terminology is confusing, and yes, Cantabile is demanding of your time and patience at first. Once the pennies begin to drop you will begin to see how flexible and powerful it is.

I guarantee that your first few attempts at building a Cantabile-based system will be clunky, to say the least. I needed four or five goes at it before I started to ‘get it’. You will get it wrong, and you will paint yourself into corners and dig yourself out of holes - accept this and learn from it, then have another go.

But I promise you that having gone through the learning process you will realise that Cantabile is a true gem, and you will be offering other people the same advice that I am here!

And this forum community is very supportive - you will never be stuck for help and answers, unlike most software options out there…

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Thanks for the camaraderie and encouragement. I should stress that my frustration is more with my inability to grasp these concepts easily than it is with the software itself. Also, so much of this virtual existence is new to me, but I am committed to making it work.

I will watch the videos, read the manuals and reach out when I need to. I am not afraid to look clueless. In fact, that is probably what has helped me so much in my career, and it’s comforting to know there is such a good support system here. Thanks!

Hi Neer.

I confirm that I too, initially, felt a bit stupid with Cantabile. Partly because I play for simple passion, partly because for me the current midi world is a whole new world, but very open, thanks to the power and versatility of Cantabile, open to a thousand possibilities.
I premise that my midi experience is certainly not at your level, as I read in your post and you certainly have an advantage.
But it is important, as the friends who answered your post told you, to read the various manuals and videos and to be patient. If necessary, there are expert friends here always ready to support you, as they did and continue to do so with me.
It is important, because Cantabile’s modus operandi may seem strange even for someone who is already familiar with this way of making music.
But I assure you that you will fully enjoy the possibilities that Cantabile offers compared to other similar programs. You can do everything with it, even make coffee…
Best wishes and welcome to the world of Cantabile!

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Hi Mike,

Like all plenty-of-function-programs (e.g. photoshop), Cantabile has a quite learning curve. Don’t give up at the first snag. Time spent learning, worth!

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Hi Neer! I have at least something of a programmer mindset from a former life and even then there are a lot of concepts in Cantabile that are not entirely intuitive at first. But, when they click you’ll wonder why it was ever confusing. I’ll echo the others and say you should probably start by wrapping your head around 2 basic concepts:

  1. racks, and
  2. bindings

After that the rest will follow pretty easily. As mentioned, read this forum, watch the videos, and just jump in and get your hands dirty and start screwing around! You can’t break anything!

Plan on devoting a couple weeks to getting up to speed on the basics, but when you have them you’ll see there us simply no more powerful live performance tool anywhere. It’s worth it.


Thanks for replying. i have begun building racks and next will start exploring bindings. I am having the most fun I’ve had in a long time and I think I definitely going to make this a permanent part of my future endeavors.


Keep it up! Once you get your feet wet, check out these amazing videos by our forum member, The Professor Terry Leigh Britton: Look for his Cantabile video classes.