Song Markers in Pro Tools for Live Performance

Fun Seeker John asks:

I have recently started using ProTools for loops/programming and click tracks for several of our songs. I’m using ProTools on stage with my Mbox 2 Pro. Sending my loops/programming out 1 & 2 and my click out 3.

The difficulty I’m having is the time it takes to close one file and load the next song – takes too long and makes it impossible to do two songs back to back with Pro Tools.”


John,

Thanks for asking… We actually put all loops / programming for an entire worship set in one single Pro Tools session, and simply (and instantly) move from song to song with only click of the mouse!

It means adding Markers for each song along the length of the session, and appropriate tempo and time signature changes at those points. You can also customize your click subdivision when you add a tempo marker.

Here’s an excerpt from our North Point Music Multi Tracks Users Manual – included free with every North Point Music Multi Track!

Steps 5 & 7 are what you’re looking for.

Hope it helps!

– – – – –

Pro Tools – Step 5: Creating New Markers, Tempos, and Meter Changes

At bar 1/1/000 you will see a yellow “Marker” (a.k.a. Memory Location) with the name of the first song you imported, along with a tempo (e.g. quarter note = 120 bpm) and meter (e.g. 4/4).

You will need to create new Marker, Tempo and Meter markings for each subsequent song.

1. Marker (Memory Location): Make sure you have selected “Grid” mode (button in the upper left hand of the main screen). Line up the cursor with the bar you wish the second song to begin (e.g. Bar 154) and simply click OR type the desired bar number in the main locater window (top middle of the main screen). This will indicate where you wish the new marker to be located.

Next, click the “+” sign next to the word “Markers” found near the upper-left side of the main page. This will open a new window in which to name the new song.

2. Tempo: Click the “+” sign next to the word “Tempo” found near the upper-left side of the main page. This will open a new window in which to select the tempo of the new song. The tempo is found as part of the song’s Mono Click & Countoff File”

3. Meter: Click the “+” sign next to the word “Meter” found near the upper-left side of the main page. This will open a new window in which to select the meter of the new song. Most songs are the default 4/4 time, but you may need to change to 6/8, or whatever the chart specifies or song requires.

Here are a few screenshot examples:

#1 – Session with multiple tracks per song:

Picture 3.png

#2 – Just a few files per song with track heights on “medium” – 1 loop on Song 1, Loop and Tambourine on Song 2, 1 Loop on Song 3, multiple programmed files on Song 4:

Picture 4.png

#3 – Same song as above, but with track heights on “small”

Picture 5.png

#4 – Close-up of Tempo, Meter and Markers timeline:

Picture 7.png

Pro Tools – Step 7: Using Markers / Memory Locations Window for Live Playback

The Memory Locations window is accessed through the “Windows” drop-down menu. This window is essential for ease of live performance playback.

During a live performance, each song is immediately accessed by clicking on the song title in the Memory Locations window.

Picture 9.png

Try it now using the following steps, and listen along using the headphone jack on your Mbox 2 or 002R unit.

– Click any song title in the Memory Locations window

– Press Spacebar (Start); the song will start playing

– Press Spacebar again (Stop)

– Click on another song in the Memory Locations window and press Spacebar (Start)

(You can even start a new tune by clicking on its Marker without even stopping via the spacebar!)

NOTE: You can also click on the blue Markers line and Tab between Markers (opt+Tab for backwards). Some guys prefer to use that once they’re comfortable with the software.

It’s that simple during live performance!

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6 thoughts on “Song Markers in Pro Tools for Live Performance

  1. Are you running these from your laptop on stage or from front of house . . .

    We have been using Reason alot, but you can’t run them in sequence . . . and we use alot of loops and tracks. . .

    Any thoughts . . . we record our services to ProTools, any way you can simultaneously run your tracks and record at the same time . . . ?
    KC

  2. Question, is there any way to make playback stop at next marker? For example if we play through Song 1 and want to flow a bit before we actually begin song 2, without having to reach over and hit spacebar is there a way to have playback stop at marker 2? Basically only play from marker 1 to marker 2 then stop. Our drummer is running tracks so the less he has to use his hands the better. Thanks.

    • Hi Brian – we actually switched over to Ableton Live for our live click, loops and auxiliary tracks several years ago. There are many online tutorials if you need assistance.

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