How to Use MainStage in Your Music Setup

You can add MainStage to your music equipment setup by following these steps:

  1. Stage 1: Creating a Concert from a Template

    You begin working in MainStage by creating a new concert from a template. MainStage includes concert templates for keyboard, guitar, and other instruments, making it easy to choose a template suited to your needs. MainStage recognizes many popular MIDI controllers and automatically assigns hardware controls on the controller to corresponding screen controls in the workspace, simplifying hardware setup.

    For information about choosing a template to create a concert, see Choosing a Concert Template.

  2. Stage 2: Adding and Editing Patches to Customize Your Sounds

    After you create a concert, you add patches for the sounds you want to play, and edit the patches by adding channel strips, instruments, and effects, and adjusting their parameters to “dial in” your custom sounds. You edit and organize patches in Edit mode. In Edit mode, your patches are “live” so you can hear the results of your edits instantly. You can select and play patches, choose channel strip settings, and edit channel strip and plug-in parameters. You can quickly define key ranges for channel strips to create keyboard layers and splits, scale expression and other parameters using transforms, and filter incoming MIDI messages.

    For information about editing patches, see Working with Patches in Edit Mode.

  3. Stage 3: Organizing Your Patches for Easy Access

    When you open a concert in Edit mode, the patches in the concert appear in the Patch List, where you can select them and start playing. You can edit patch parameters, add channel strips to existing patches or create new ones, and reorder patches to build your custom collection of sounds to use when you perform.

    You can also organize patches in sets for added flexibility. Sets are like folders that can store groups of patches you want to keep together, which can be useful in several ways. For example, you can store all your favorite lead synth patches in a set or store multiple patches you intend to use in a single song, and quickly select the patches you want while performing. You can also add channel strips at the set level, and have them available with every patch in the set.

    For information about organizing patches, see Working with Patches in Edit Mode. For information about creating and editing sets, see Working with Sets in Edit Mode.

  4. Stage 4: Customizing the Visual Layout of Your Concert to Match Your Hardware Devices

    In Layout mode, you arrange screen controls in the workspace to create the visual layout corresponding to your hardware controls. MainStage features a variety of screen controls, including keyboards, knobs, faders, pitch bend and modulation wheels, foot pedals, drum pads, and more. Also included are screen controls to display parameter and system informaton, text and images, and a selector that you can use to view and select patches or markers while performing.

    You can quickly add screen controls to the workspace, and move, resize, and copy them to create your layout. Alignment guides and other tools make it easy to visually arrange screen controls, and you can customize display color, text labels, and other parameters in the Screen Control Inspector. You can also group controls and arrange the grouped control as a single unit.

    For information about working with screen controls in Layout mode, see Working with Screen Controls.

  5. Stage 5: Making Connections Between MainStage and Your Music Hardware

    In Layout mode, you connect physical controls on your MIDI hardware to the screen controls in your concert by assigning the physical controls to the corresponding screen controls in the workspace. You can move and resize screen controls in the workspace and customize the display of visual feedback for parameter values and other information. You only need to make hardware controller assignments once for an entire concert, greatly reducing the amount of work required to connect your hardware with your computer.

    For information about making hardware assignments, see Assigning Hardware Controls to Screen Controls.

  6. Stage 6: Mapping Screen Controls to the Parameters You Want to Control in Performance

    Edit mode is where you map screen controls to channel strip parameters. You can map whichever parameters you want to modify for each patch to screen controls so they can be easily manipulated from your hardware when you perform live. You can also map screen controls to MainStage actions, such as selecting the next patch you want to play.

    For information about mapping screen controls, see Mapping Screen Controls.

You need not follow these steps in a strict order; however, in most cases you will find working easier if you create your layout before making hardware assignments and make hardware assignments before you map screen controls. If you plan to use one of the existing concert templates without modifying its layout significantly, you can concentrate on stages 1 to 3 and stage 6.

To make setup easier, MainStage divides these tasks into two groups, with separate modes for each group of tasks. You customize and organize your patches in Edit mode and customize your layout and make connections with your hardware in Layout mode. The advantage of this division is that it separates tasks you normally perform only once, such as setting up your layout (the Layout mode tasks), from those you are likely to repeat more often, such as editing your sounds (the Edit mode tasks).