Strategies for Bridging Studio and Live Performance

Interested in taking your studio-based compositions and turning them into live performance ready tracks? Timo Preece is here with some helpful workflow and layout suggestions.  

Programs like Ableton Live have made it easier to take an idea, improvise with it and record it into an arrangement. The challenge can be reversing this process and taking a completed work and readying it for performance. With this in mind, I have begun searching for creative ways to optimize my layout and workflow. 

Although there are a vast amount of possible scenarios for building a performance setup, my personal set of main priorities break down to the following:

  • Preparing and arranging backing material for playback
  • Building flexible, processor efficient instruments and effect racks 
  • Automating system tasks to handle things I do not manually control

If you are curious about how to get started brainstorming building a performance setup. I recommend reading Preparing a Custom Live Performance Setup which I wrote previously.

Backing Material

At times I have found it challenging to find my role in the music that I was performing in an inspired way. If I included too much of the ‘studio’ into my set, the sound was polished but predictable and not always exciting to interact with. On the other hand, if it lacked the right amount of prearranged material it could appear less produced and unrefined. 

A simple solution was to create more space by stripping down parts and sections of the backing layers, making the arrangement more spontaneous and less dense. I came to think of the piece as ‘additional instrumentalists’ rather than material that I simply played over.

Below is a list of several techniques I deployed:

  • Non-uniform placement of clips in the timeline 
  • Backing material with dynamic transitions'

Timo Preece (Certified Ableton Trainer, ProTools Expert) is an accomplished audio technologist, multi-media consultant, sound designer and electronic musician. He graduated with a degree in Ethnomusicology from UCLA and a Masters in Sound Design at the University of Edinburgh, UK. From conceptualizing and building cutting-edge setu... Read More


Want to join the discussion?

Create an account or login to get started!