Newbie - Most effective way to work with instruments/racks/songs


Just to be precise on terminology and functionality

Linked racks are simply files very much like song files - they contain references to plugins (not the plugins themselves), plus the “memory blob” of these plugins, including Cantabile’s plugin presets. and of course the routing and plumbing to connect everything.

Linked racks are again referenced in songs: the content of these racks is not stored with the song, but just a reference of the rack used and its rack state and some other parameters. A linked rack is NOT imported in a song (unless you convert it to an embedded rack); when you add a linked rack, it stays its own self-contained file. This also means you must save changes to the rack when you make some.

Racks are also never used in a set list directly - a set list contains SONGS, that again use plugins and racks. A set list is also just a set of references to song files; the song files aren’t contained in the set list file. So if a song is part of several set lists, any change you make to the song is part of the song file; these changes will then apply to the song in all set lists that use the song.

Hope this makes things somewhat clearer.

Just one recommendation: if you are really a newbie to Cantabile, I’d suggest you start small and simple and work your way up to the more complex setups. Currently, it looks like you’re jumping directly into the deep end of the pool without a full understanding of the complexity behind Cantabile - there may be a whole lot of potential confusion and frustration on that route. I can only echo @RackedBrain’s words - don’t try to boil the ocean in your first week…




It is on these fora that I learned the trick of creating racks for incoming keyboards that split off the incoming messages into notes, sustain, modulation, pitch-bend, controllers, etc. Using this method you can assign anything to anything, and give yourself ultimate flexibility - like not having to worry which keyboard a sustain pedal is physically attached to, for example.

If there’s one thing I wish I’d understood right from the start it is this. The guys here have been over it several times, so try a search or three. If you can get your head around this it will save you lots of pain in future!

The other trick is to use Symbolic Links to allow you to use a rack multiple times within a song. Another life-saver.

I’m certain there will be other tricks I’ve not yet come across, but these specific examples turned Cantabile from being a mountain to climb to being a Sherpa to carry the weight!


Since you mentioned symbolic (and hard) links, here is my favorite guide for making them:



Thanks, @Torsten that helps. The reason why I need to know some of the deeper functionality is because if I don’t, and work through setting up favorite patch banks, racks, etc. without that knowledge then months in I fear I’d have to do a ton of rework. Instead, I prefer to understand the structure initially, find out what seasoned folk like you do in your setups, and build to a standard that I won’t likely need to rebuild anytime soon.


Yeah, that helps, thanks @Torsten. When I want to build a new rack from an existing one I’ve used this idea; created an embedded rack by bringing in a linked rack file… then making changes as I wish, exporting to a new rack file. Sometimes easier than creating a new rack from scratch. I guess it’s probably even more expedient to just make a physical copy of the existing rack file, then bring it in as a linked rack and make changes.