SCALE 20x venue

ProAudio Keyboards from Scratch


More and more musicians are using computers for live performances. You don't need proprietary software and a fancy aluminum body laptop to make it work. We'll go through what's needed to turn your machine into keyboard workstation:

  • Some hardware is needed. You need a midi keyboard, but not all of them are created equally. Not going to recommend a brand or source, but talk about the different features. Weighted keys, USB, Rotary encoders vs potentiameters, trigger pads, pedals. Most people will also want an external sound card, so we'll talk about some of those features as well. There's a little more compliance/compatibility issues with sound cards, so we'll talk about linux compatibility here and how to check for it.
  • It's easy to get into the weeds with scheduling. Let's review where to make scheduling changes to get a sane setting for low latency music production. We're not going to boot into an RT kernel, but we'll talk about the performace differences (which are significant) and when it becomes important.
  • A large part of using your laptop for live keys is understanding how Jack and ALSA/PipeWire work together. This is the mesh that will either support you, or cripple you as an artist. Some apps like Carla help reduce the overhead, but if you want to use a proprietary plugin running somewhere else, or mix two apps together, you have to have an understanding of how JACK works. We're going to be focused on Carla, Ardour, AlsaModularSynth, and probably Bristol. There are hundreds of apps, but the goal here isn't to get into the weeds on how each works, but breifly display the principal at work. 
  • Using plugins and effects are almost always required to "natural" proaudio sounds. But how do you find a decent reverb and compressor and add them to a patch setup?! I'm also going to be bringing a keyboard with me, so we'll have practical examples of good samples vs bad synths. We'll review some rules of thumb for creating your own samples, and how to map and tweak settings for synths to do circuit bending style performances.
Ballroom C
Saturday, March 11, 2023 - 13:30 to 14:30