What is your live set philosophy?


What is your philosophy when building a live set?

Tame the chaos !

More specifically, are you more on the side of pre-planning or improvisation?

Improvisation, which means a lot of practicing before. I do have prepared grooves (Digitakt), ready to serve as nets when things go wrong or a base to be modified.

Do you work with loops? Full stems? Nothing at all?

No stems, I find them too frustrating in the improvisation context.

Does it involve audio files? Or is everything synthesized on the spot?
Song mode? Patterns? Looper?

Like I said, some grooves on the Digitakt, a drum machine with no prepared patterns (TR8S) and a modular synth not pre-patched as well, with it’s own sequencers (no patterns stored)

Does it involve a computer? How much do you “audio engineer” yourself?

No computer on stage. Don’t want them, don’t need them. We already have many specialized computers with great sound and interface AKA elektron, roland and korg boxes :slight_smile:


Good luck! Hope you have fun


Yeah, good luck! Tell us how it went!


Love this CheatSheet! Nicely done!


I’ve been slowing brewing my live with the Elektrons set for years, they do keep going into storage for months so there’s that. I’m come from playing guitar in jam bands and I play by ear so can just make things up as I go, been playing guitar for 26 years now. I do have all sorts of riffs, patterns, and other similar things that I draw from, but I always play them a bit differently and in different tempos and keys.

I’m working on a set that’s mostly improv but based of similar recognizable patterns and they open up in the middle for full exploration and then come back to the loose structure to close. Using OT as a looper/hub, AR for drums, moog on bass, guitar, and vocals, sometimes theremin. My OT has a lot of work put into it but in a way that just manipulates live audio in certain ways, it doesn’t sound the same because I feed it different live input from the instruments. My AR I’m programming drum patterns in but I choose freely which ones to use at any given moment and they can run at any tempo. Eventually I’d like to just live record/loop AR patterns on the spot but I need to work on my finger drumming. I freely mix and match any OT pattern/part with any AR pattern. I usually start with the drums then start looping bass, then guitar, and after that I can start mixing things up and kinda Octa DJ the loops I just put in and switch up things on AR. I warp the OT loops as I go by running them through pre made buffer remix tracks, and slowly remove the original loops and replace them so things evolve. I can sing, play guitar, or synth over any of it at any time and freely choose what to sample or loop again. As an improv guitar player I almost always have an extended exploratory guitar based journey in the middle of the tunes.

I thought about just sampling AR patterns and Moog lines into OT to not lug around stuff, but in the end I’m going for a live looping experience so I’m going to haul shit around for the sake of the music. I’m going to progress towards this. I just started giging again but just on guitar with fx for a couple bands around here. Soon I’m going to bring my OT as a guitar processor, a crazy one that layers my guitar all warped, sliced, and backwards and stuff, I’ll use tap tempo to match the band. After some practice with that next I’m going to try live sampling the other band members and throwing slice remixes back at them. Somewhere in there I’m going to play at a local chill spot but with just OT, AR, guitar. Finally after those practicing gigs I’ll play with the full works. When I do finally play the full works looping gigs, I plan on always having two guest musicians that come and go from the set so it’s not just the all me show. When they play I’ll get behind the OT and be crazy audio scientist throwing warped cuts of their stuff at them to play on top of, which I would have practiced with the band gigs I mentioned.

I’m going to make a custom IPad Lemur template that controls levels and the most used functions of all my gear and have the IPad clipped to a mic stand so I can quick adjust things as I sing and play guitar… It’s quite a project but it’s what I live for!


My cheat sheet. For every segment i note the initial pattern or preset number per device.


All improvisation done on one pedalboard: Octatrack (mixing, samples, singlecycle bass), Cocoquantus (looping), OP-1 (pads), H9, Bigsky.

I just get some loops going on coco, bring in bass and rhythmic elements with OT and add pads/leads with op-1. I like it to be easy and fun.


Inspiring! I’m trying to get my guitar and OT working together, so I can play and interact with whatever OT is making of the guitar. I also thought of using the soma ether as an input on the same basis. Guitar into AB, ether into CD, and generate music on the fly. Damned if I can find the time and usually end up noodling on the sofa which I have misnamed ‘practice’
Then there’s the stuff with the other gear…


One main thing I’m going to do for the band guitar processing is use autosampling (solid record trigs) to capture bar or multiple bar samples of my guitar every so often and spread that recorder buffer across multiple flexes that have it sliced, reversed, pitch shifted, etc. Then I’l have scenes to morph more playback parameters on those flexes. Probably some stuff with trigless locks for gating type sequenced fx with delays and whatnot. And of course thru machine with neighbors and scenes for those fx… Scenes… Scenes… Scenes! :smile: :smiley:

I’ll tap tempo to be in time with the band and if it’s slightly off I’m sure they’ll adjust to match me if needed…


I use Digitakt and a Roland Sound Canvas rompler. DT goes through a stereo distortion. Plus vocals.

Most of the action is muting and unmuting and changing patterns. And singing, or sometimes just ranting at the audience about local planning laws or whatever, over some atmospheric beats, I dunno, people seem to like it.

To transition between songs I’ll drop out most of the tracks - maybe leave kick and hi-hat for eg - and adjust the tempo til it matches thenext song I want to move to.

I’ve enjoyed seeing how others lay out their set lists, so here’s one of mine:


My philosophy is that close to a band. I write the songs and play them loosely the way they are written but have a lot of room for variation. I’ve seen great improve bands that can entertain me, but I am always more into the idea of a dynamically written song over a free flowing one.

Right now I am just using a MD and MM with a mixer and KP3. (I have my POs and Volca to plug in for added fun but not required.)

Run down of how I got my latest set.

  1. Load a bunch of fun samples and drum hits into the MD…

  2. Pick a general style. Usually is good for me to pick a tempo first then write a few in that tempo to see where it goes. I decided 130BPM kinda bordering on some dancey late 90’s vibes.

  3. Write a bunch of a songs. Before even deciding how I was going to perform the set, I just wrote a bunch of songs and decided how to organize them on the machines. I gave each song 8 patterns of space so I knew I could hold 16 all together but ended up going with A,B,C,D banks with 2 songs each bank and E,F,G,H with 4 songs each since some were not needing 8 patterns. Those are my more jammy songs with less of an idea of song arrangement.

  4. I practiced each song individually a bunch to see get a loose idea of how I want to perform them live (like memorizing a set workflow for each song to get into and not loose track of where I’m at). Recording the jams to video also helped me motivate to get it to a place I like so I can share the videos.

  5. Figure out how to blend the songs. Thats where the KP3 comes in. I figured it would be best to make a loop of the portion of the song I’m playing and then queue up the next song on the MD and MM while the loop plays, then build in and mess with the loop of the last song to make the transition. It turns out its a lot of fun and give a really fun back and forth feeling while performing so you’re not just sitting focused on one instrument. I think the crowd can recognize it a little and helps them anticipate the next song is coming up.

  6. Practice the set and play it live :slight_smile: That’s the scary part!

Here are some of the jams I recorded:


What stereo distortion are you using? Almost every search related to distortion gives me many many guitar pedals in mono, but maybe I‘m looking in the wrong places.


EHX Operation Overlord… Not very transparent at all but lots of character. I think there’s a thread about it on here somewhere.


Not sure if this was said already but I focus mainly on the performance macros when building a live set.

It took awhile for me to really find my workflow to actually finish something (mainly used DAWs as writing tool for years so it was a task to let the limitations of the my dark trinity become assets).

I now use the Arranger on the OT to sequence the macros on AR and A4 as well as the song itself. When the song it “done,” I change the MIDI out CH on the OT and loosely aim for the previous sequenced stuff.

Works good so far except there is a lot of note taking as I’ve learned my brain is just not reliable enough on it’s own.


This is something I’ve been wrestling with for a while. I have an album coming out soon and want to do some gigs with the tracks I’ve made, but they were all made in Ableton.

I have an OT so it’s easy to play them. Too easy. Trying to find the right balance between ‘just pressing play’ and ‘playing’ the tracks.


See here Machinedrum + analog filter/overdrive - experience


Just learned that I’m going to play live in two months at a big venue here in Oslo (with Cuckoo among the acts:) so I better get my s**t together:)

Strategy: DT and DN with a set of atmospheric techno patterns. DT will have only one bar patterns so I don’t get lost and variations will be plocked and played live along with some live ctrl all action (gotta practice that a lot for maximum effect), sample changes and muting-unmuting of parts. Having just one bar length will allow me to quickly punch in patterns and change the groove. Samples and sounds are loaded into the pool by types for quick live browsing. Will try to program some clever fills and make use of the conditional trigs for muting on fills and the Nei ones. DN will have bass, pad and some kind of lead sounds on tracks 1-3 and will keep t4 for live playing on top. At home when I’m relaxed it goes very well, I’ve noticed that allowing my self to step back, listen and dance a bit to the groove makes me figure better out what to do next and introduce changes slowly which makes for better effect, especially in the techno genre (that feeling when you drop the high hat after 5 mins of kick drum on top of some toms and dreamy pads;)

When writing, I’m trying to stay away from definite melodic structures because I’ve noticed that it forces the music towards some kind of closure and if you don’t pull it off on time it just becomes repetitive. I’m leaving chord progressions to hang for lack of better words. So more open-ended sonic experience than a melodic/compositional one - something that Elektron gear allows very well for.

Hope I’m useful with those ramblings - it’s just my second time live so very excited about it! It’s going to be Elektron-heavy night - after me is the main act with just an OT playing insanely good techno.


…it depends on the question, i f i have to reproduce already existing trax or not…

played mostly seated audiences in the last few years and there i always need some fixed sonic backbone…so, yep, ot is providing pre fixed stems triggered by one shot trigs…and i only have a few things to twiddle along with that and the rest is pretty much pretending…

because…stop thinking of cheating…ur only cheating if u play stuff from others and pretend it’s urs…
live is live as long the stuff u play is really made by u…even if u just hitted once a play button…

so forget about the cheat issue…but of course it’s boring to just watch ur gear do great all by itself…

so at least one or two lead elements should be always ready and waiting for u to tweak the hell out of it…

this winter i started also perfoming in clubs again…so less songs, more tracks…and there i improvise a lot…there i can surprise myself on the fly, wondering in realtime how did i get here…

best of both worlds is always to have the track available to just shoot out…and whenever u feel the mood to leave that path, u go for dedicated jam patterns, where are some of the elements u got running already are seamlessly waiting to be twiddled and taken anywhere u want them to go…

if u hit stages without computers, there is no way around proper preparation…

and in set up…i always use an ot for granted…and an analog heat for granted…

depending on the live mission…i add a dtone…and or the ugly swedish model…which is doing a great job on stage…as i’m finding out these days…

i never use more than three elektron boxes at once live on stage…because of loosing the overview…

and it’s always a good thing, if u got the ot in use, to stay strictly to basic rules…like…only one track/song per bank…a scenes are always used as snapshots…1-8…b scenes are always slider progressions…9-16…16 is always affecting master track settings only…etc…


More thoughts: pay attention to the audience, work the vibe, it’s for them not for me… Nudge from where they’re at and build up, don’t slam em if they’re not ready, bring em there…
And then, Just f’n go for it! By all means necessary…
Don’t worry bout nothin, just try to stay in the zone…


I am a classical/jazz trained drummer.
I do not live from my music but music IS a way of life for me :slight_smile:

Started mixing drum’n’bass some 20 years ago and quickly got an interest in gear/home studio. Went for it and set up mine in France… Then dropped the ball as life does sometimes throw things at you… That was 1999.

Couple of years later, got myself into it again :slight_smile: but as technology is supposed to be here to help/facilitate I decided to go the “digital” way. Traktor and Maschine were there :slight_smile:

I am usually mixing 3/4 tracks in Traktor and a fifth track from Maschine. Using a MODEL1, my approach of mixing has really evolved: I select whichever frequency of a track (say a kick) with whichever other. In the end no one really knows the tracks I am playing. This has led me to approach live situations from a different angle: improvisation. This has led me to the purchase if a DT which I will now include in my lives :slight_smile:

I ditched my 2 NI X1mk2 (Anyone interested?) and reprogrammed my Maschine Jam used both in MIDI mode (to control Traktor) and Maschine mode. Also use it to control my synths through CCs.

Nowadays, concentration goes to the vibe, not the tech side of things. I often end up not mixing tracks in Traktor but use it to play my own stuff.

Next: making sure I have assimilated the 5000 code lines for Maschine Jam :joy::rofl: