The Tonic Pad Player in The Simple MainStage Template plays an ambient pad in the key of your choice and it’s a great way to glue together the sound of your band, nail transitions between songs and keys, and it’s also great for underscoring quieter moments of a church service. Be sure to check out all the video tutorials over on the Simple MainStage Template Resource Page.
Check out the video or the steps below it to learn more about Tonic in the Simple MainStage Template:
The Tonic Pad Player gives you an ambient pad designed to complement any chord in the key signature. The key is set by clicking the key button of your choice. The Tonic Pad Player is independent of the patches in the Simple MainStage Template, which means that it’s always available and will continue to play across any patch changes you make. You can adjust Tonic at any time and the settings will apply across all patches.
How to turn Tonic Off and On:
- To turn Tonic on, press the On button.
- To change keys, simply click a new key button.
- Press the on button again, to turn tonic off.
Tonic is designed to fade smoothly between keys, just make sure that the new key isn’t going to clash with the old one during the transition.
The smoothest transitions will be between complimentary keys, with the most common being keys that are a 5th, a 4th, or depending on the song, a minor third apart. If your song is in a minor key, the relative major Tonic drone may sound better than the actual minor key. Try both options to see which feels better.
The XY Transform Pad:
Tonic doesn’t rely on a pre-recorded audio file, the pad is actually being generated in real time, which means you can do cool stuff like:
- Click and drag the blue dot around the XY pad to change the sound organically
- Move up the transform pad the amount of shimmer and the drone will increase it and as you move down, it will decrease.
- As you move from left to right, the brightness will increase and vice versa.
- As you move towards each of the four corners of the transform pad, the drone will take on a distinctly different tone.
- If you’re not sure where to set the transform pad, right in the middle is designed to sound great for most contexts.
The Motion Button:
Below and to the right of the transform pad is the motion button. Clicking the motion will automate the movement of the transform pad and the “speed” control just to the right controls the speed of that motion. Keep in mind that when the motion button is engaged, the transform will jump to the center position, so it’s best to engage the motion button when the the dot is in centered in the transform pad to avoid a sudden change in the sound.
The Shift Up Button:
To the right of the speed control is the “Shift Up” button. This shifts the entire drone up an entire octave, which can be useful at times to get the pad to sit right in your mix. This button also interacts in interesting ways with the “Drone Center” control in top right corner of Tonic.
To the right of the Shift Up button is a volume control. For most contexts, halfway up should be a good place start for the volume of Tonic. Tonic is designed to fade in and out smoothly when turned on and off, but you can also use the volume control to make that transition slower and in some cases smoother.
Drone Center Control:
In the top right corner of Tonic you see the Drone Center control. By default, you’ll see the word “Mid” underneath the label. You can click and drag or two finger swipe up and down within the Drone Center to change the drone center. You can shift the pitch of the drone down up to 2 octaves, and up a 5th, an octave, and two octaves. The drone center control and the shift up button interact in unique and interesting ways across different combinations so feel free to experiment and find out what works for you. Keep in mind that it’s recommend you use the Drone Center control in advance of live performance to dial the pad in how you’d like. Changes made to the Drone Center control while Tonic is running will tend to be somewhat abrupt and may not be desirable during live performance. If you need to change the drone center control during a performance, you can do so during a big moment of a song where the transition would go unnoticed or fade out the volume of tonic between songs, change the drone center, then fade the tonic volume back in.
Tonic 8 Ambient Pad Presets:
You can choose one of the 8 Tonic presets from via the top left corner of the tonic section. Just like with the drone center control, you can two finger swipe, or click and drag up and down to switch between different presets. Each preset has a distinct character with some being subtle, some airy, some ambient and some more aggressive. Each preset can sound totally different with different combinations of the drone center control, and the transform pad so be sure to spend some time experimenting to find sounds that you like.
Just like the drone control, Drone preset changes will likely sound abrupt and are designed to be made during preparation or during moments of a song or service where the abrupt change won’t be noticeable.
Save Tonic Settings:
To save the current Tonic settings as the default the next time you load the Template, dial in the settings you’d like on screen and then hit command + S on your keyboard. Keep in mind that in the Simple MainStage Template you can’t automatically change Tonic’s settings when you change patches.
If you’re wondering how to best control tonic during a live performance, it’s often easiest for beginners to just use their computer’s mouse to select a key and turn Tonic on/off. You can also easily Assign any midi hardware you’d like to control the features of Tonic. Check out this video for how to do that and assign and connect any knob, button or fader to the Simple MainStage Template:
If you’re happy with Tonic’s audio output being sent out of MainStage on the same channels as your keys audio then you are good to go! This works great for most users and you’re able to use the volume control within Tonic to blend it in with the keys parts you’re playing live.
If you’d prefer to separate your Tonic audio from the rest of your keys playing and send it to your sound desk independent of your live keys parts so the audio engineers at the sound board can choose how to use Tonic in the mix, you can also set that up.
By default Tonic is sent to the same output as all of your keys sounds. In MainStage it’s called Output 1 & 2.
As long as your audio interface has 3 or more outputs you can designate a separate output for Tonic, here's how:
- Make sure that your audio interface is connected and selected as the audio output in MainStage audio preferences.
- Select the concert level by clicking the name of the concert to the left of the orange folder.
- Then, look to the channel strip area on the right side of the screen. If you don’t see the channel strip area, click the show/hide channel strips button right above where they should be.
- Now, scroll to the right of the channel strips using a two finger drag on your touch pad or scrolling with your mouse until you see a channel strip with a purple bar at the bottom named “Tonic Output”
- To change Tonic’s output, Click and hold on the area of the channel strip that says “Output 1-2” then hover over the word “output” in the menu and select output 3-4, or if your interface has more than four outputs, whichever pair of outputs you’d like to designate for Tonic.
Tonic’s sound will now be isolated and separate from your keys parts. if you ever need to change it back, just go back to the purple Tonic output channel strip and change the the output back to 1-2.
Be sure to check out all the video tutorials over on the Simple MainStage Template Resource Page!