Mainstage Mondays: Managing a Large Setlist

I’m heading to Chicago in a couple weeks to play some shows with a country band, and Mainstage is factoring in big time to what I’ll be doing onstage. Here’s how I’m using Mainstage to help me get the job done: 

 

1. I’m using Mainstage for all my charts

 

There’s over 50 songs in the setlist, and just to make sure I’m remembering everything I’ve charted out all of the songs in Nashville Numbers. I then used one of my sheet music templates with a few modifications to put in all of my charts into Mainstage. Whenever I switch patches, Mainstage brings up the correct chart automatically with the patch change message. 

  For this gig, I'm using a modified version of the Nashville Numbers system to keep track of each songs changes. I'm currently tweaking this method of quickly writing in changes using a keyboard, and I'll probably post about it in the future. 

 

For this gig, I'm using a modified version of the Nashville Numbers system to keep track of each songs changes. I'm currently tweaking this method of quickly writing in changes using a keyboard, and I'll probably post about it in the future. 

 

2. I’m using it to send program changes to my Nord Stage 

 

I love Mainstage, but for this gig I’ll be relying on the hands-on control of my go-to keyboard, the Nord Stage 2. I’ve set each patch to bring up the correct patch on my Nord Stage whenever I switch patches. For details on how to make this happen, check out this blog. 

 

3. I’m using it for quick song selection 

 

Often artists will choose to go without a setlist for shows, or even pick songs out of their setlists at random to match the mood of the audience. This can be disastrous for keyboardists, since almost all of our patches are song-specific. I’ve found myself several times madly searching through your patches to find the correct song before the downbeat. 

 

Mainstage makes this so much more simple by allowing you to click specific songs in a patch list, even in full-screen mode. I manage my patches by putting everything in alphabetical order, then putting all the patches into folders based on their letter like this: 

 

When I go into live mode (command-4) it looks like this: 

 

I can easily select the correct song quickly just be clicking through my list with either my mouse, or the up/down arrows on my keyboard. 

 

4. I’m using it for extra sounds

 

While the Nord Stage rocks, there’s just some sounds it doesn’t do particularly well. I was asked to play a few banjo parts on this tour, and Mainstage has a killer banjo sound. I activated the external section on my Nord Stage 2, which allows me to use my Nord as a midi controller with Mainstage. I’m leaving all of the patches empty of actual sounds, except the ones that have Mainstage-specific patches. The Nord will transmit midi into Mainstage, but will only trigger sounds on the songs that I’ve set to have Mainstage sounds- very elegant.  Here’s what a patch looks like without any sounds in it: 

 

Here’s with it: 


I’ll probably be posting an after-the-gig blog about how things worked, but in the meantime, let me know if you have any questions. Thanks!