Rethinking a faster way to switch setlists

Since many of my band members like to switch the song order, sometimes even on stage :blush: it would be good to think about ways we can anticipate on that.

On my intone setup i had a USB keypad where i could type the number of the song and hit enter at the right moment. I have to check if this is possible with cantabile.

But maybe we could think of a better playlist manager. Afterall this is what it’s all about.
Some ideas I’ve had on my mind:

  • import a simple text file with the show structure, this way somebody can send you via email and you can import. Export in the same way. I love to work with a spreadsheet where i can reorder by number.
  • maybe have a dedicated part in cantabile only for managing playlist? Where you can reorder and create?
    I’ll make a model for this.

What I am doing currently is the following:

  • I have a static setlist in Cantabile named “Repertoire” - simply all songs in our current repertoire, arranged in alphabetical order, addressed by bank select / program change via a binding in the background rack. So whenever Cantabile receives a program change, it immediately loads the respective song.

  • I use my homebrew program LivePrompter to display lyrics / chords / comments in time with the song. I usually manage my set lists on LivePrompter; when selecting a song, it sends program changes to Cantabile. So with one touch on my LivePrompter tablet, I get the lyrics/chords displayed on my tablet and the correct song loaded in Cantabile. Since it is pretty easy to change the current song in LivePrompter (big list, just tap on the song title), I can be pretty flexible if someone wants to skip a song in the set list or bring in a new one. So once I’ve found the right song in my lyrics collection, Cantabile dutifully tags along.

  • I’ve built a setlist manager for LivePrompter that allows me to easily compile and edit set lists - but I don’t use this live; only in preparation for a gig. When changing the song order during a gig, I just manually select the alternative song or skip forward in the set list - which is easy with my LivePrompter tablet.

  • As a fail-safe, I usually create a gig-specific set list in Cantabile from my master list, with the songs in the order of our set. In case the connection between LivePrompter and Cantabile fails, I can simply step forward / backward in the Cantabile set list with two buttons on my keyboard/controller

But you can also be very flexible without LivePrompter :wink:

The easiest way to do this is to keep all your songs in one set list (maybe sorted alphabetically) and assign each of them a program change number. If you have more than 128 songs, no problem: you can assign bank/program changes like 1.14 (bank 1 PC 14). Now to load any song, simply type its number and then hit S. Now you only need a friendly printed list somewhere on stage so you know the number for each song.

And yes, you can also assign the Enter key to select the song instead of the “S” key: Tools->Options->Keyboard & Controls -> Enter Key Action. Now you can use your USB number keypad the same way you used to with intone




@brad: is there a way that the “printed setlist” template can be tweaked to display the program numbers after the song title? Would be super-helpful for a scenario as outlined above…




Cool and thx again Torsten for your help !
Great stuff you have there, seems you’re way more experienced with these things.

In my previous band it was really horror with playlist, the band member switch all the time the order. So I could never make any preparations for it.

Anyway, I think software like this should be focused on creating and managing setlist.
Maybe not such a big part of the software, but an important one !

Searchable setlist?



Good idea Ade !

What have we got:

  • import a simple text file with the show structure, this way somebody can send you via email and you can import. Export in the same way. I love to work with a spreadsheet where i can reorder by number.

  • maybe have a dedicated part in cantabile only for managing playlist? Where you can reorder and create?

  • Searchable

  • Sortable

I see there already exists some apps for that, ideas to steal :wink:

So here’s an idea, feel free to edit the file:

The problem with this is that the song names in the text file would have to match exactly with the names of Cantabile song files, otherwise Cantabile wouldn’t be able to match them up to actual paths to song files.

Cantabile setlists are stored in json format, which if you’re not familiar with it is a kind of structured text file, where each entry has fields for song file path (relative and absolute), and the program/bank number. It would probably be fairly straightforward to write a little script in Python or other scripting language to convert a simple text list of song names into a Cantabile setlist file, although you’d still have the problem of making sure you can match song names correctly.

But it doesn’t seem such a big requirement for me - Cantabile’s setlist tools are pretty good, so you can create a new setlist and choose the songs you want on it from a master list of all songs, and then re-order them etc. I’ve personally never felt the need for anything beyond that, as it only takes a minute to create a setlist this way anyway. Might it be that you’re just more used to using a spreadsheet to setup your setlists, and haven’t jumped over to Cantabile’s setlist manager fully yet?

Cantabile’s setlist already allows this, doesn’t it? You can re-order (Ctrl-up/down), cut, paste, save as a new setlist and so on.

As Torsten says, the Quick Controller (see the guide here) is probably the best way to get your USB keypad working for dialling in songs.

Something @brad might want to consider is a new feature of the Quick Controller, allowing incremental search by song name. So you’d press a certain key to trigger search, then start typing the name, and once it matches you can press enter and it’ll load. This is probably the fastest way to deal with random song requests from a large repertoire, where you maybe don’t remember all the song numbers.


Added back reference from this card (global search) to here.


Why not open a selector menu when clicking the Set List name (above the songs list), with the latest 5 setlist.?
This way we can quickly switch setlist, and not go through the menu?


For the suggestion list (I probably asked this before):
Drag and drop the order in the setlist.

Maybe with extra functions like copy while holding a function key like ctrl+drag. And a lock icon on top?

Sorry Brad :slight_smile:
Just thinking along.

Don’t apologize - just about everything in Cantabile is based on user feedback. Sometimes I’ll log it as a good idea, sometimes it’ll already be logged somewhere (either Trello board, or in other notes I keep) and sometimes it’ll just be registered and if raised enough will wake me to something needing attention.


Hi folks!

I have the same case as @So_Godly had mentioned i.e. the band member switch all the time the order of songs in a setlist.
My working setlist contains about 30 songs and they are not easily accessible via ticker bar.
Hence I found a ticker bar unsuitable for my purposes.
So I switched to setlist in a right sidebar, but now I cannot see setlist, song states and monitor at the same time.
Any suggestions ?

P.S. Printed list with song numbers - not a good option. Why not use Cantabile instead of additional paper tools ? :wink:
Btw useful feature request by @Ade and @Neil_Durant (searchable setlist) :slight_smile:

kind regards, Alexander


Hi Alexander,

I have a thought on this problem and here’s my bit. I have some set lists with over 60 songs, so the same problem occurs when the leader jumps around the list. I would like to be able to have a single icon and hotkey that would spread the entire setlist full screen, maybe like a calendar style with boxes (suggest possible squeezing up to 75 or so songs to one screen). Now all titles are in front of me no scrolling, I click one and auto return to live screen with notes (or other options for select song screen). For a tactile band that reads the mood of the crowd to decide next number this would really help! I guess if it’s not out there already this would be a request for @brad



@brad I think this could be included in your new User Control Panels


Sounds like this. Please vote if like.

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Above other new features, this should be in top. (Ow did I do a Trump here lol)
No serious, the setlist functionality is the second most important, if not the base of a live vst host.
It should be carefully thought about.

So i agree with a full-screen where you can

  • select songs from the list (current setlist or all songs)
  • search or a-z index
  • rearrange easily by dragging (with ctrl for example as lock and replace or move function)
  • select an other setlist from a selector on top
  • maybe notes or give a color

I think we nearly have a maquette here, a model. :blush:

This should be the basic functionality imo.

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Ow by the way, I love the function that if you insert new songs, it hides the ones that are already in the list. Love that !

Finally I have found a Song selector button for choosing song - which is perfect workaround :slight_smile:

kind regards, Alexander