Within the score for our school production the keyboard part has to change voice every other page and there isn't time to change the voice manually.

Rather than having 6 different keyboards in the orchestra pit, I'm looking for a piece of software which can receive MIDI from a keyboard and output various different instruments, then I can list up the different voices I need in a list, so pressing enter/space or just the arrow keys could quickly and simply change the output instrument from a list.

Does anyone know of any software/hardware that could achieve this?

Thanks Matt

  • Out of interest, why is changing the voice manually so tricky? What keyboard are you using? On most keyboards i know it takes a couple of seconds. – topo Reinstate Monica Feb 27 '18 at 21:08
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    @topomorto Modern musicals call for instantaneous changes of multiple voices assigned to different regions of the keyboard. – MattPutnam Feb 27 '18 at 21:14
  • @topomorto I played guitar for a production of Cats once. There were i think four keyboard parts in the original score but the licensed score had been condensed to two. The synth keyboard part had hexagons with patch numbers for sound changes quite frequently throughout, sometimes after only four measures on a particular sound with maybe a 1/16 rest to make the change. Today that kind of thing might be handled by prerec using Mainstage or Live (hint hint). Hamilton has lots of sounds and lots of prerec. – Todd Wilcox Feb 27 '18 at 22:31
  • @MattPutnam sure, but many of the keyboards I've played allow that without any extra equipment - you'd simply line up the patches in the order you'd need, and use the program change wheel or buttons to move to the next patch. – topo Reinstate Monica Feb 27 '18 at 22:33
  • @ToddWilcox yes, if you need to change the patch with rhythmic precision, then I can see that a pedal or some other solution could be in order. But the OP only mentions needing to change every other page - and pressing the up button or dial every couple of pages doesn't necessarily seem too arduous, and I'm assuming that in a school production, a lightweight solution might be appropriate. – topo Reinstate Monica Feb 27 '18 at 22:35

The industry answer to this is Apple's Mainstage. It's only $30, but it does require an Apple laptop (and a newer one at that, it's a heavy resource hog). You can rig up any MIDI-sending pedal or button to trigger a patch advance.

There are also several keyboards with this kind of functionality built-in, such as the Yamaha Motif and Korg Kronos. If you don't want to buy another keyboard, you can find old synth modules like the Roland JV-1080 for cheap. They can be programmed, but it's pretty painful. There are various solutions to making this programming easier, but honestly this is probably not the route you want to go so I'll avoid diving down that rabbit hole.

In short, I highly recommend using Mainstage.

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    I find my five year old MBP does just fine running mainstage for MIDI messages but does bog down quickly if I stack up too many virtual instruments or effects. This IS the best answer to this off-topic question. – Todd Wilcox Feb 27 '18 at 22:32

Many (most?) modern midi-capable synths accept "program change" midi commands to immediately change the patch. This is especially true if you have a workstation or an arranger keyboard, but any synth with pre-sets should have this. In any event "program change" is the language you'll want to search for when looking for tools. There are pedals that can be programmed to send program change commands from a pre-defined list or software that can send program change commands from a pre-defined list, etc. Some workstations even have a list of "favorite" buttons that you can assign to the desired patches (based on the question, I'm assuming you don't have that capability on your synth).

Unfortunately, I haven't needed to do this myself so I can't recommend specific software or pedals, but they do exist and are used routinely for live performances.

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