How to use the same set of PC messages to select parts in any song

How to use the same set of PC messages to select parts in any song

For users coming to Gig Performer from other audio plugin hosts, there is some confusion as to how to configure Gig Performer so you can use the same set of Program Change (PC) or Control Change (CC) messages for different parts of a song, no matter what song you’re playing.

A very typical scenario is where you are using a MIDI pedal controller where the bottom 5 buttons (say) are configured to always send out PC 1 to 5 and a couple of other buttons are used to “Move Up”/“Move Down” to switch to another song, perhaps by sending program changes starting at PC 6 (for example) so that each time you press the “Move Up” button, the PC number will increment.

Alternatively, you may have a keyboard controller that allows you to directly enter a PC number so you can go immediately to any song.

So let’s see how one configures Gig Performer to behave this way. We assume that you are already familiar with Gig Performer 3’s implementation of Songs and Song parts. If you are not, you can read all about them in our user manual.

OK – let’s take a look at Gig Performer with a setlist loaded. The example here is real, used by this author with one of his bands. If you look down the left hand side where the songs are listed, you’ll see a number to the left of each song. That number is in fact the PC value that you need to send to Gig Performer to select the song.

Program Change value needed for Gig Performer to select the song

Now, notice the song called “Hey Nineteen”. You’ll see that the PC number for that song is 16. But wait a moment — there’s another line underneath (Rhodes/Synth) and it also has 16 to its left. What’s going on here? Let’s look at that part of the setlist more closely:

Song “Hey Nineteen”, Program change numbers are associated with song parts, not with songs themselves

So when the song “Hey Nineteen” is selected, directly below is the list of song parts for the song and here’s the critical thing to understand.

Program change numbers are associated with song parts, not with songs themselves.

This is because a song always has at least one song part. You cannot have a song without any parts in it.

Further, although you can assign separate PC numbers with each part of a song, in most cases, you will only want to assign a PC number to the first song part of a song. When only one song part is assigned a PC number, the PC number is displayed beside the song itself for convenience.

So when you send PC 16 what is really happening is that you’re selecting the song part “Rhodes/Synth” which is owned by the song, “Hey Nineteen”.

The parts of a song are also displayed in bigger fonts in little panels across the top of the Gig Performer window:

Parts of a song are displayed in bigger fonts in panels across the top of the Gig Performer window

You can switch to a specific part by just clicking on one of those panels. However, let’s now look at the Setlist Options (Click the Options menu and then select Setlist):

Setlist Options, assign any unique MIDI event to each of those not assigned entries

Note that there is a list of song part entries (Song Part 1, Song Part 2, etc.), all marked, “(not assigned yet)”.

You can assign pretty much any unique MIDI event to each of those entries so that, when you generate the MIDI event, the associated song part will be selected and that will work for every song. You could assign some unused notes from a keyboard, or perhaps drum pads, some CC numbers (typically buttons on a controller) or PC numbers, or even a mixture. Just click the “Learn MIDI for selected item”, select one of the entries and send a MIDI event to it.

In the example below, I’ve assigned the bottom four notes (technically Note On events) of my 88-note keyboard controller to the first four song parts and am getting ready to assign the next note to the fifth part. By the way, although a song can have as many parts as you need, you can only assign MIDI events to the first 24 parts.

Learn MIDI for an unassigned song part in Gig Performer, setlists.

Here is another example, where I have assigned PC numbers 1 through 5 (coming from an Evolution U-Control) to the first five song parts.

PC numbers 1-5, from an Evolution U-Control, to the first five song parts

Once you have set up these assignments, you can use the same MIDI events to select the desired song parts, no matter what song is selected.


Related topics:
How to change sounds and control plugins from your MIDI controller
How to automate switching rackspace variations and song parts using the MIDI File Player
Songs and Setlists
Basic terminology in 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.