Control the GMS Via Ableton Live

Currently I am busy preparing for the Ostracon show at the In / Out Festival of Digital Performance that is coming up on September 17 and 18 in New York (we are playing on the Saturday the 18th at 9:30pm). Part of my preparation involves minimizing my setup for ease of transport. For one thing, I am not bringing my Korg MS2000 as a controller for the GMS, as I have done for other performances. However, because I’m projecting the live video source, I cannot use the on-screen controls in the GMS.

My first idea to solve this problem was to share a single Korg nanoKONTROL between Ableton Live and the GMS. Unfortunately this approach was not practical because it would require some major reconfigurations as well as recompiling the GMS with a set of new external MIDI controls. My next idea was to route the MIDI control and program changes to the GMS via MIDI clips in Ableton’s session view. This worked immediately and I knew I was on the right track. The only problem was that there seemed to be a MIDI signal feedback loop when using the same bus for output and external control in the GMS. I solved this problem by creating a second IAC bus for the external control and using the first bus for the MIDI output. Finally I configured a combination of keyboard controls and Korg Nano buttons to trigger the clips in Ableton that, in turn, trigger the specific functions in the GMS. Voilà!

The flexibility of Ableton never ceases to amaze me. I had never used session clips to send MIDI program and control change messages to an external device, let alone, independent software running simultaneously. Nor had I ever needed to do this in the past. Yet the thought occurred to me, I wonder if Ableton can do this? It turns out that it can. Thanks to Ableton this solution has saved me many hours of redundant and tedious programming, and well as making my setup more streamlined and efficient for upcoming performances. How have Ableton’s capabilities surprised you?