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Documenting my return to using MainStage


JimDavidson
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If anyone cares, that is. Ok, a week or so back, I decided to try and use MainStage in my live setup again. Used it a lot a few years back, but changes happened and I went to either totally live players or using Logic when I needed some backings for my gigs. Things have changed again, post covid, and so MainStage is getting a new look at. My initial issues are that my old concerts don't work correctly now. There are a lot of possible reasons. New computers, new OS, version updates in MS.

I basically used MS for guitar and keyboard processing and for backing rhythm-ish tracks for my solo gigs. So my goal is to have about 20 or so songs ( sets ) in one concert. I made different concerts with different songs depending on the gigs.

So I'm building all new concerts from scratch. Create a set, add a playback strip, load in one backing track, as an AIFF, per set, along with whatever guitar or keyboard patches that song ( set ) needs. The catch for me is that because I'm old and work in various groups, memorizing different arrangements and keys and such is just not happening. I need to see the markers I've made in the Logic versions of my backings.

How I did this in the past with MS was to use a " selector " to view the markers. That worked once a long time ago. Now, it's iffy and I can't figure out why. I build sets, one for each tune, link a selector to the markers, and there they are, as a nice list. It will even move a highlight bar as the tracks plays. Sweet. No, I'm not trying to see all these at once, I use another " selector " to move between sets ( songs ).

It works great ..... until ...... ( add scary music here ) ....

After I get a dozen of so sets ( songs ) in and all mapped up to various screen controls, it starts losing those markers. When I select various sets ( songs ) the marker selector randomly goes blank except for the empty highlight bar. And once this starts, it loses more, or different song markers with each opening and closing of MS.

That's it for now. As I figure this out, I'll try to explain here. Or, maybe I'll just give up and go back to Logic, or go totally live like some coffee shop acoustic act :-)

As of now, I have a band rehearsal in a few, and will see how long MS lasts today. I stripped a bunch of stuff out last night and it appears to work. Another option would be to forget using a selector to view markers, and use the " current " and " next " marker options linked to a text box. I could do that but it'd be a mind strain trying to keep the overall arrangements in my head. Doable, but us old people don't like change much :-)

Logic Pro 10.7.3, MainStage, macOS Monterey, intel MBP and MacBook Air, and a room full of gear
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Quick update, it survived band rehearsal. No keyboard patches in this version of my " concert ", just some backing tracks and guitar patches. I really like MainStage when it works. Really like the synths and guitar effects. I'm far too lazy to carry much gear out now. So I'd really like to sort these disappearing lyrics and the thing where the file size grows up into the 100 meg range. Gonna load this concert into my little MacBook Air and use it for an hour gig tomorrow. Wish me luck.
Logic Pro 10.7.3, MainStage, macOS Monterey, intel MBP and MacBook Air, and a room full of gear
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It's late, but I had a thought. Perhaps the problems I was seeing are related to trying to use old MS projects and just updating the songs. I know that at least a few of the interface things I did in the the past just flat don't work anymore. As an example, it use to be possible to use a level meter to indicate the progress of a playback. That doesn't work anymore. Now you have to use the circular progress indicator.

 

Makes sense. They have tightened up what graphic objects will respond to what data types.

 

Ah, but what happened to the internal memory pointers and such if I use my old projects as templets ? The graphics don't work, but the code is probably still trying to send data to them. And where is that data going ? Who knows.

 

This isn't the entire picture, as I have had totally new, built completely from scratch concerts lose their minds. But trying to update old concerts from earlier versions of MS may explain some of the problems I'm seeing.

Logic Pro 10.7.3, MainStage, macOS Monterey, intel MBP and MacBook Air, and a room full of gear
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Did a solo gig with MS 3.6 today. One hour, used MS in my 2015 MacBook Air. MS was doing one guitar patch and a single playback plugin per tune. Had about 20 tunes ( sets ) in the concert. A nice simple setup.

The good ... MS runs nice and easy in that MacBook Air. No issues with its puny i5 processor. No problem with only 4 gig of ram. MS sounded good, didn't crash.

The bad ... the playback plugin ( or the selector when used to view playback markers ) is basically chock full of weirdness. When I turned it on this morning, there were two songs ( sets ) where the markers ( as viewed from a selector set to do that ) disappeared. Just blank. The fix is to delete the playback plugin on that set, put a new instance back, load the AIFF, then relink any screen controls liked to that plugin.

Doable, but not at a gig. If MS randomly loses the markers of a given song at a job, that song is just off the list for then.

So at the job, it didn't lose any markers. It DID tho, refuse to scroll the markers in two, iirc. The highlight moved down correctly for a few sections, then stopped moving. The backing, playback plug, continued to play, but the markers as seen in a selector set to view markers, just froze.

Do I trust this thing ? Not really. I may spend some time trying to use the waveform to view markers in a playback plug. That seems to work. Or, maybe I can just use the Current and Next markers in text windows. Or go back to using Logic live. Logic has way more screen clutter, but it's predictable. Weirdness at a live gig isn't something I can live with.

Logic Pro 10.7.3, MainStage, macOS Monterey, intel MBP and MacBook Air, and a room full of gear
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  • 3 weeks later...

Playing with 3.6.1.  Same issue with a selector window that I use to see markers in a playback plug instance losing the markers and going blank.  Well, almost the same. It seems that sometimes I can go into the editor mode and " reconnect " the selector to the markers. It sometimes works, sometimes doesn't. Before ( ver 3.6 ) I never saw that happen. Once the markers were gone, only deleting the playback plug on that set and then adding a new one would get the markers back.  So maybe something is changed on that issue. 

Ah, but I did stumble on a sure fire way to cause the problem.  I have a concert with a separate " set " for each song / instance of playback. If I set up a few songs, get it all working, then move one of the sets ( songs )  position in the concert, save and close the concert, then reopen, that's it. The song I moved will now have lost the markers as shown in a selector window. And, one or two more songs below that will have the markers gone also. Eh, if I can track this down further, I should send in a note to apple. Hadn't done that before because the behavior was so erratic, but now it's only half maddeningly weird. 

Logic Pro 10.7.3, MainStage, macOS Monterey, intel MBP and MacBook Air, and a room full of gear
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