How to use BandHelper with Gig Performer [guest article]

How to use BandHelper with Gig Performer [guest article]

In this guest article written by Ray Myers learn how to use BandHelper with Gig Performer.

BandHelper is a browser-based and iOS/Android application used by many bands to create set lists and share band activities among all members. Originally called SetListMaker, the application is solid, well-supported and well-maintained. See for more information.

Gig Performer is a rock-solid Mac/PC application for hosting plugin instruments – but unlike a traditional DAW, it is optimized for live performance. See for more information.

Although there is some overlap in functionality, using the two applications together can be a very powerful combination.

It took some time digging into both applications to make them play nice together, but now, it’s very solid for me and makes my live performances run more smoothly.

My goal was to use the features of BandHelper to answer the question “What are we playing at the next gig?” – and if needed, tweak the set order or contents just before the show. Also, since BandHelper will run on an iPhone or iPad quite nicely, it’s easy to keep on the stage and work with its touch friendly interface during a live performance rather than dealing with a laptop, mouse, keyboard, monitor, etc. So, when we finish a song and touch the interface to move to the next song, BandHelper sends a message to Gig Performer to let us know which song we are playing. Of course, Gig Performer has a nice setlist feature with many advantages, but the rest of the band doesn’t use it.

I then use Gig Performer to manage all the plugins to run fast and never ever crash during a performance.

If you’re not familiar with BandHelper – here are a couple of screenshots. It is very customizable. I use it for set list management, notes on patch mapping, and performance notes (which are stored in ChordPro format). It’s great to have the song, its key, the tempo, who will be singing, and who starts it right in your face. It also tracks things like how much time has elapsed in each set, and how much time remains.

The left side of the screen shows a set list for a single show. Touching any song title loads the song notes and sends MIDI messages to Gig Performer to load the appropriate Song Part which in turn loads the appropriate rackspace/variation.

Using BandHelper with Gig Performer

Imagine a live scenario where the band makes a last-second change and decides to play “Don’t Bring Me Down” by the Electric Light Orchestra to open Set One. That’s easy – scroll to the song, touch it. All the song details appear on screen and Gig Performer instantly loads everything I need to perform that song.

How to use BandHelper with Gig Performer - song

As you read the instructions below, it might seem like a lot of work to do this – but like everything in live performance, time spent planning, testing and automating can make things run much more smoothly when you’re up on the stage.

I offer this document to help others along the way – and even if the interfaces for each product change over time and this document becomes out of date, hopefully the principles remain and so you might find this helpful.

I assume the user has at least a basic understanding of each program (they both have excellent documentation and support channels) and a passing familiarity with how MIDI works.

What About Windows and Android?

I have not gotten Bluetooth MIDI to work well with Windows (yet). If anyone else has – I’d love to trade info! I’m a new Mac user, so hopefully others will benefit from my learning curve below. Some of my band members run BandHelper on an Android device very successfully. But as usual, integration can be simpler with fewer vendors in the mix.

MIDI Over Bluetooth on your Mac

The first time I tried this it was very frustrating, being a new Mac user. I’ll try to remember all the things I had to learn. First of all, Bluetooth and MIDI Bluetooth are very different things. This is nothing like pairing a keyboard or some AirPods.

  1. Run the Audio MIDI Setup app (which is found in the Applications/Utilities Folder for other new Mac users)
  2. From the Window menu, choose Show MIDI Studio.
  3. Look at all the teeny tiny icons on the MIDI Studio window and click the one with the Bluetooth icon (you may need your glasses on to see it)
  4. On the Bluetooth Configuration window, click the button labeled Advertise.

Since you will need to do this over and over, you can save a few steps by downloading this free app called QuickMIDI.

This app is free. It puts an icon onto your global toolbar that looks like a piano keyboard. Just click it, then click Open Bluetooth Configuration. (Two steps instead of 4, and no teeny tiny icons to find. I’m also looking for a way to put a Mac into Advertise mode when it starts – looked into Automator, Apple Script, Terminal commands – so far, no luck. Suggestions are welcome!)

Connecting Native iOS BandHelper to your Mac over Bluetooth

These instructions assume that you have already installed the BandHelper app on your device and that you created an account.

  1. Run the BandHelper App on your iOS Device (iPad or iPhone)
  2. Click the MIDI icon
  3. Click Connect to Bluetooth Device
  4. Click the name of your computer that you set up in the previous section. The status should change from “Not Connected” to “Connecting…” to “Connected”. (If you have any problems with this, troubleshooting is just like any other Bluetooth troubleshooting – make sure both devices have Bluetooth enabled and discoverable. Re-starts fix a lot of things, too.)
  5. Click Done to close the MIDI Status window and return to BandHelper

You can also use a wired connection – but without the right dongles, I prefer to use the one plug on my iPad to keep the battery from dying. Bluetooth has not failed me (yet).

You can read more here if interested:

Create a MIDI Device in BandHelper for Gig Performer

I find it easier to use the browser interface on a big computer for these tasks, although you could do them on an iPhone or iPad if you needed to.

  1. Log-in to BandHelper at (NB: you must have an account to do this).
  2. Usually, your view opens to Repertoire, but if it doesn’t, just click Repertoire. Then click the MIDI Devices link on the second row of options.BandHelper, the Repertoire tab
  3. Click the button labeled Add a MIDI Device.How to add a MIDI device in BandHelper
  4. On the next page, set the following values:
    • Name: Gig Performer
    • Port: All
    • Channel: Pick a number, but remember it – it will be important. I chose 15. Depending on other MIDI integrations you already have, you may need to use a different channel number.
    • Numbering: 0-127 (this is important)
    • Notes: You can leave blank or add a note
    • Projects: Check the boxes of each project where you want to use this MIDI Device
    • Users: Check the names of each user who can use this MIDI Device (it is probably only you)
    • Active: Make sure the box is checked.
    • Click the Save buttonHow to enter Parameters in BandHelper

Gig Performer Options

In Gig Performer, from the Options menu choose:

  • General tab:
    • In the advanced Advanced section, turn of the Auto-assign a permanent PC number to new rackspaces (first variation) toggle button:Auto assign permanent PC number to new rackspaces
  • Global MIDI tab
    • Program Change Control
        • Use zero-based PC Numbers: ON
        • Only Accept program change messages on a specific channel: ON, and set the channel to the one you set up in BandHelper.
        • MIDI Song select to PC and use MIDI Channel: ON, and set the channel to the one you set up in BandHelper.Global MIDI Program Change Control in Gig Performer
  • Setlist
    • MIDI
      • PC and Next/Previous MIDI assignments switches to Setlist view automatically: ON
      • MIDI Out Device: choose the iOS device you set up earlier
      • Channel: use the one you set up earlier in BandHelperConfiguration of Gig Performer Setlist Options for BandHelper integration

Gig Performer Song Part Settings

You will need to do this for each Song you want to use. Get one working before you do a lot of them.

  1. Go to the Setlist view
  2. Click the Song you want to work with
  3. Double-click the first Song Part of that Song
  4. Turn on Assign program change number for this song part
  5. Set the PC#, Bank # MSB, and Bank # LSB to any unique numbers you want (don’t worry, Gig Performer will tell you if it’s already been used) – you will need to know these for the instructions below, so you might want to do one song at a time.

BandHelper MIDI Presets

You will need to repeat this process for each song in your Repertoire. Use the BandHelper web interface for these steps, it’s easier. Get one working with the steps above before you do a lot of songs.

  1. Click the MIDI Presets link near the top of the page.
  2. Click the button labeled Add a MIDI Preset.
  3. Fill in these fields:
    • Name:  The name of your song
    • Notes:  Leave blank
    • Projects:  Choose the projects you want to use
    • Users:  Choose the users who will use this setting (often, just you)
    • Active:  Checked
    • Under Program Changes (not Control Changes) you should see “Gig Performer (All Parts, Channel __”)
    • Set the Bank MSB, Bank LSB, Program boxes to match the song settings you made in the previous section. Note: Be very careful – Gig Performer and BandHelper put these in a different order on their interfaces and have subtle label differences:
      • Here’s an example of what Gig Performer may look like:
        Using Gig Performer with BandHelper, Song Properties
      • And this is how it will look in BandHelper:
        BandHelper settings for Gig Performer
    • Click the Save button to save this MIDI Preset.
  4. Open the Song you want to use in BandHelper
  5. Under MIDI Presets, click the + button
  6. Search for the MIDI Preset you just made and check the box by it, then click Save.

Testing the Bluetooth MIDI Connection

Perform these steps to test the connection:

  1. Run Gig Performer
  2. From the Window menu, click Global MIDI Monitor.
  3. In the BandHelper iOS app, click any song that you have set up with a MIDI Preset
  4. You should see three lines of output:
    • CC 0 Bank Select __ Channel __
    • CC 32 Bank Select (fine)  __ Channel __
    • Program change __ Channel __
  5. The numbers in the blanks above should match the MSB, LSB, and Program numbers you put on the MIDI Device for the song you selected.

Putting it all Together

Now is when the magic happens. I’ll suggest creating a short Set List in BandHelper – but now any Set List that anyone in your band creates should work as long as you have performed the steps above.

You will do these steps every time you want to use the 2 products together:

  1. Run Gig Performer on your Mac
  2. Make sure you Mac is Advertising Bluetooth over MIDI
  3. Run BandHelper on your iOS Device
  4. Make Sure BandHelper is Connected over MIDI Bluetooth to your Mac
  5. Open any Set List in BandHelper
  6. Click any Song
  7. Gig Performer should switch to that song automatically

As part of my pre-show checklist – I always go through the entire Set List (in BandHelper) – ensure it switches correctly in Gig Performer, play some or all of the song to check all the Rackspaces and plugins.

Leading up to the show, band members may collaboratively change the set list order.

During the shows, I have access to the up-to-date set list. I can change from one song to another on my iPad in BandHelper in seconds – even pull ad hoc requests from other set lists or change the order on the fly. This loads up what I need in Gig Performer and I usually beat everyone else in the band into being ready to go!  How often do keyboard players get to say that?

Trade Offs

The “Predictive Loading” feature of Gig Performer requires you to create a set list of all your songs in order in Set List view – in my case, this isn’t really an option since the set list order changes often, and sometimes at the last minute or second!

You need to work with the All Songs setlist – building a new setlist will re-number the Program Changes – even if you specify them as Permanent (this is a feature Gig Performer was working to improve at the time this was written). You could probably also ignore the Set List view and map your MIDI song changes directly to Rackspaces. Either way, this means longer load times if you have a large gig. I’m hoping to publish my thoughts on decreasing load time in the near future.

Like Gig Performer, BandHelper also supports ChordPro format and has an audio player. In my opinion, it does these things slightly better than Gig Performer (since it all runs on a tablet). My rig has an iPad mounted above my keys so I can change songs. My computer is hidden from the audience – I never need to mess with its interface. Any settings I need to adjust in the real-time are mapped to my keyboard in easy reach.

If the rest of your band uses BandHelper – the tradeoffs could be worth it.

If you have questions or want to share your feedback with us, please visit this community thread.

Share this article it to support Gig Performer and spread the word! 🙂

Own The Stage® with Gig Performer®

Related topics:
How to use OnSong with Gig Performer

Scaling Curves

Scaling curves allow you to control the shape of the output of a widget or convert an incoming note velocity to a new velocity. Various predefined curves are available and they can be tweaked as necessary. You can also just draw your own curve as well to achieve the effect you require.


MIDI File Player Plugin

You can load up to 128 MIDI song files in a single plugin instance. Switch from one song to another, mute tracks and/or change their channel numbers. Tempo can be controlled by individual songs or you can use the global tempo and tap tempo to control the BPM interactively.


Favorites and Presets

Create a sound by placing and interconnecting your desired plugins, such as a synth, some effects and perhaps a mixer. Select them all and then save the selection as a named favorite. The favorite will subsequently show up in all plugin insert menus, making it easy for you to recreate that configuration whenever you need it again. This feature is also very powerful for creating your needed sounds on your studio computer and then transferring them to your touring laptop.


Probabilistic Sound Designer

Parameters you select in an open plugin are captured into the Probabilistic Sound Designer dialog window. When you click Randomize, you're only adjusting those selected parameters. Each entry in the PSD dialog has a curve but unlike widgets where the curve controls scaling, in the PSD the curves are used to define the probability of particular values being selected. Make sure the filter cutoff never gets too slow so as to block all sound. Perhaps adjust the max range of the VCA attack parameter so that the sound doesn't have too much delay. Constrain the octave ranges of the oscillators, perhaps ensuring that 1/3rd of the time we select 8' and 2/3rds of the time we select 4'. The possibilities are endless.


More Widgets

Numerous new widgets are included in Gig Performer - a new sustain pedal, plastic knobs, drum pads and more colored sliders. Shapes can be colored with different borders and fill colors and morphed from rectangular to circular. Your creativity is now the limit to creating fabulous front panels in Gig Performer.


MIDI Message Helper

Select MIDI devices by name. Choose the MIDI message type and adjust the appropriate parameters for the specific type



Layout management

Gig Performer supports arbitrary resizing. Layout your widgets the way you want - resize the main window and the widgets will grow or shrink as necessary to maintain the same interrelationships. No matter what size screen you have, your front panels will still be neat and usable.


Undo Support

If you move your widgets around and/or resize them, or even delete them by mistake, the Undo facility will correct your mistake. Minor moves to a widget by mistake will no longer spoil your design


Plugin Channel Count

Some plugins support a large number of outputs and they depend on the traditional channel strip to control how many ports should be available.   When you only need a stereo pair, it is convenient not to have a large horizontal block. In Gig Performer, the number of available ports  is controlled by the channel count override, which can be applied to individual plugins and will be remembered when the gigfile is reloaded or if the plugin is saved as a favorite.


Input muting and output fading

Rather than a single audio length tail, Gig Performer 4 gives you the ability to control input muting and output fading separately. Input muting controls how much time it takes for audio input to be silenced when you leave the rackspace. Output fading controls how much time will be taken for audio to fade out when you leave the rackspace.


Faster Plugin Finder

Instead of searching through menus of perhaps hundreds of plugins (you know who you are!), the Quick Plugin Finder makes it easy to find the plugin you need by simply typing partial strings. For example, as shown here, to find the Modartt Pianoteq 7 plugins, it's enough to type pia mod 7 (in any order, by the way)  to restrict the list of available plugins to those matching your query. The Quick Plugin Finder also knows about manufacturers, presets and favorites.



Touch Friendly Input

Any entry field can be changed by either dragging your mouse (or finger) up or down, or by using the large popup touchpad where you can just tap on the squares to enter a value. The large popup keypad also does validation so you can't enter an invalid value. You can also just tap the BPM field to pop up a larger view where you can quickly change tempo, tranpose, trigger Tap Tempo and enable Ableton Link, the last allowing you to synchronize Gig Performer with any other application that also supports Ableton Link.


New Tuner Display

The tuner view makes it easy for guitarists to quickly check and adjust their tuning. You can toggle into the tuner view from any other view and toggle right back as soon as you're done. All output will be silenced automatically while you're in tuning mode. You can adjust the concert reference pitch from its default of 440 Hz to suit your own needs. The tuner view fills the entire screen so you can easily see it from a distance.