How to Automate Song Slides with Ableton Live

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Proclaim can use MIDI signals to execute a number of actions, including advancing the slides.

Paired with a DAW like Ableton Live that can create and play back MIDI tracks, we can create a MIDI track that will advance our song lyrics right in time with a song.

To do this, we’ll get our song finalized in Proclaim. We’ll then tell Ableton to fire a signal to Proclaim when we want our slides to change. We'll set Proclaim up to receive a particular MIDI signal. Finally, we'll go On Air, running Ableton and Proclaim side-by-side, and play our song in Ableton, which will then advance the slides in our presentation.

 

Create a Song In Proclaim

First, create a Song item and add lyrics to your Proclaim presentation and adjust the lines on each section as you like. I prefer to limit each slide to two lines.

Uncheck the verse order or leave it blank. When using Ableton and the Go to service item slide... command (which we will be), it is best to leave the verse order very simple in Proclaim, and use Ableton to repeat the chorus not the verse order in Proclaim.

 

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We'll come back to Proclaim in a while to add MIDI commands, but for now we'll switch over to Ableton to set up our track.

 

Add the Audio to Ableton

To get started, create a new live set in Ableton. By default, I was given two MIDI tracks and two audio tracks. Because I only want one of each, I deleted the two extra to keep things tidy.

 

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To make our lives easier, go to View > Toggle Arrangement/Session View. This will lay out the two tracks horizontally, making it easy for us to drag in our MIDI cues and audio.

Drag the backing track file into the audio track. Warp will alter the tempo of your audio file to match Ableton's selected tempo, so if you want to override Ableton's tempo, disable Warp on the audio track.

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Configure the output to go where you want, then click play to listen to your track.

 

Set Up the MIDI Commands

You can do this manually, or download an Ableton project ready to go with all the commands in Proclaim pre-mapped to MIDI clips in Ableton. This great tool put together by Churchfront with Jake Gosselin makes it a snap to set up your services. This is what we'll use as an example.

To add the project in the left pane of Ableton, click Add Folder and select the project folder you just downloaded.

 

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Click the added folder to see all the pre-made MIDI clips.

 

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Configure the IAC

In order to let Proclaim hear the MIDI, we need Ableton to output the MIDI notes somewhere. For that, we configure the IAC driver. This article from Ableton explains how to do that natively on Mac and gives third party options for Windows.

Once that's set up, select it from the dropdown.

 

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Proclaim will automatically listen for any MIDI signals and pick up anything sent to the IAC driver.

 

Set Up the MIDI Commands in Proclaim

We'll be using the Go to Service Item slide... command a lot in this example. This maps each note to a specific slide in a service item, which lets us spread the lyrics of a verse or chorus over several slides and reference each one specifically in our MIDI track.

Go to No Text shows the selected slide without text.

In Proclaim, go to Settings > MIDI Input and add these two commands to Proclaim. You may need to return to Proclaim to add more as you go, but this will get you started.

 

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All the Select slide cues from Ableton use the MIDI note G-1 and the No Text uses G1. I can verify this in Ableton by clicking on the MIDI Clip and looking at the notes section towards the bottom of the app.

 

Drag in the Cues

Before you add your MIDI cues, double check the song order. Make sure the song is laid out exactly the way you want, or your slides and MIDI cues will be misaligned.

Now we can start dragging in our cues. Expand the Select Slide section and begin dragging in MIDI Clips. Each Slide number corresponds to the number of a service item slide in Proclaim. "Slide 1" would map to the first slide, "Slide 2" the second, and so on.

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Using Proclaim with Ableton in Service

Now you've got your song set up in Proclaim and automated with Ableton. Now when you reach that song and you are ready to play, hit Play button in Ableton. Ableton will fire the MIDI and progress your song slides. 

 


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