ABLETON LIVE 9
Unlock Ableton’s DAW with these top tips from Brian Funk
Right-click the title bar of a track or device to make those settings the default. Go to the File/Folder tab in Preferences to make the current Live Set the default. Save a Live Set to User Library » Templates to save it as a template. Create new defaults for a variety of actions by placing devices in the folders within User Library » Default.
Live’s Browser allows you to quickly find anything. Access the search function with the shortcut Cmd-F on Mac or Ctrl-F on PC, then start typing. Live will narrow down the results as you type. Press the down arrow to highlight what you want, and hit Enter to load it to the selected track.
Find a piece of music with a groove you’d like to use and drag it into a clip slot in Session View. Right-click and select Extract Groove(s). Live will calculate the timing of the clip and place it in the Groove Pool. Apply the timing of this groove to any clip by simply dragging and dropping the groove onto a clip.
Instrument Racks can house up to 128 chains, and each chain can house an instrument with audio and MIDI effects. Above the chains, the Key button allows you to set a key range for each chain; set a specific velocity range for each chain with the Velocity button; and the Chain button allows you to a set a range along the Chain Select Ruler for each chain. Use these settings to create complex Instrument Racks that trigger a variety of sounds depending on what keys are played, how much velocity is applied, and where the Chain Select Ruler is.
Add a chain and open the Chain Selector. Name the first chain Dry and the second Wet. Stretch the first chain’s zone from 0 to 126 and the second’s from 1 to 127. Pull the first chain’s white Fade Range bar all the way to the left, and the second’s all the way to the right. Map the Chain Selector Ruler to a macro and name it Dry/Wet. Place any combo of effects on the Wet chain and use this macro to mix them in.
Click Add Folder (at the bottom of Places) to add any folder to Live’s Browser. Try adding a Dropbox folder, and anything you add to it – whether on your phone or your computer – will be waiting for you inside Live.
Instead of automating a track’s volume fader, place an empty Audio Effect Rack on the track, click the Show/Hide Chain button (middle button on left of the Rack) and automate the chain’s volume. Now you can adjust the track’s level without overriding its automation – and unlike Live’s Utility device, its minimum level is -inf dB (ie, complete silence).
For instant A/B comparison or extra creativity in your effects, you can create setups whereby activating one device deactivates another simultaneously. To do this, map a key on your QWERTY keyboard to the on/off switch of two different devices. Then turn one device on and the other off. Now when you press the key you mapped, one device turns on as the other turns off. This is great for quick comparisons or creative device-switching on the fly.
There’s a way to change MIDI instruments by launching clips. Create a multi-chain Instrument Rack with different instruments on each chain. Place each instrument’s chain on a different spot along the Chain Select Ruler, and map the Chain Select Ruler to a macro. Create MIDI clips with an automation breakpoint for the macro control that corresponds to your chosen instrument’s Chain. Launching the clip will automatically select the desired instrument – perfect for live performance!
You can make Sampler trigger a random sample with every note you play. To start, drop a number of samples into Sampler. Press the
Sel button (Sample Select Editor). Select all the samples, then right-click and choose Distribute Ranges Equally. Next, Turn on LFO 2, choose the Sample and Hold waveform, set it to a high Frequency, and turn off Retrigger. In the
A Destination, select Sample Selector. Raise the value to 100.
To create your own multiband effects, create an Audio Effect Rack with three chains named Low, Mid and High. On each chain, place an EQ3. On the EQ3s, disable the Mids and Highs on the Low Chain, the Lows and Highs on the Mid Chain, and the Lows and Mids on the High Chain. Effects placed after an EQ3s will only affect the corresponding frequency band.
To place any groove on a clip you would like to quantise, in the Groove Pool set the Base to the value you’d like to quantise, and turn everything else to 0. By raising the Quantize percentage, you can audition the amount applied.
For instant humaisation, place any groove on a clip, turn all the values to 0, and slowly raise the Random percentage. Live randomly alters the timing, creating a more human performance.
By using Follow Actions in a clip’s Launch panel, you can select for all clips on a track to be followed by Any other. This means that any variations of the clip you have on the same track will be played in a random order – great for creating varied and interesting drum patterns, for example.
Open the Envelope section on a clip. Under Loop, press the Linked button to make it read Unlinked. This will allow you to change the loop length of the automation independently from the loop itself. For example, a four-bar loop can have a 32-bar automation loop, for evolving effects.
For quick MIDI percussion, send audio from a beat to a tempo-synced delay on a return track. Create an audio track, route the return into the track’s input, and record a clip. From here, slice the clip to audio to create weird percussion! Or, rightclick on the new Clip and select Extract Groove(s). Drag the new groove onto an empty clip slot on a MIDI track loaded with a percussion instrument to give you fresh grooves.
Set the Audio From on an audio track to Resampling. This track will now record the master output (Live will automatically disable monitoring to prevent feedback loops). This is a quick way to record whatever the master channel is outputting – a powerful tool for sound design and mangling, or to make sure you’re recording when inspiration strikes.
You can control Live devices with your voice! Create an audio track with its Audio From set to a microphone, and turn Input Monitoring off. Place the Max for
Live Envelope Follower on the audio track. Press the Map button on the Envelope Follower and select a parameter you’d like to control. You can now modulate this parameter with your voice.
Live’s Compressor can be used to de-ess a vocal. Click the expansion triangle and enable the EQ button. Set the filter type to bandpass and the Frequency at about 6-8kHz. The Compressor will only lower the volume when that frequency exceeds the Threshold.
The Options.txt file can be used to enable some of Live’s hidden features. It is located
on a Mac at /Users/[username]/ Library/Preferences/Ableton/Live x.x.x/ and on a PC at \Users\ [username]\AppData\Roaming\ Ableton\Live x.x.x\Preferences\
Adding lines of text will enable features. A Google search will reveal them all, but favourite include -EnableMapToSiblings=1, which allows you to map all similar parameters to a single Macro Control (all Filters in a Drum Rack, for instance) and -ShowDeviceSlots which displays a list of devices on a Track.
With different instruments in each Rack chain, MIDI notes – and therefore clips – can be used to select them
Want to use any insert effect as part of a multiband setup? Build your own multiband Rack like this, and you can!
Slice a rendered delay signal to MIDI for instant beats
Quantise audio by custom amounts in the Groove Pool
Reveal hidden features with Options.txt