It seems that almost everyone’s first instinct when faced with idea of creating a live electronic set (as opposed to a DJ set), is to use a large number of tracks. After all, performing with 8 tracks obviously offers much greater opportunity for improvisation than a two track set.

In practice however,  working with too many tracks can resut in a decrease in performance creativity rather than an increase. The problem is that eight or more tracks is a lot to keep track of on a gig. That’s 8 different places where your filters and effects need to be set properly, 8 different tracks to make sure you’re launching the right clip on, and so on.

It’s not that it cant be done, its simply that given the reality of most performance situations, having so much to keep track of can lead to playing it safe and repeating a series of actions that you know to work, rather than inventing things in the moment.

On the other hand, working with a smaller number of carefully prepared tracks gives you the opportunity to be more creative with a more limited (and therefore more manageable) set of tracks.

Think about this in relation to your own set. Try making some submixes of parts you’re playing separately and take a look at how this could make your life easier. Of course, this will also probably create some problems – they’re not always easy to foresee until you try it out.

We’ll take a look at an example from the set I’m preparing for this weekend next.