Cre­ative sam­pling in Able­ton Live 9


Boast­ing a wealth of fea­tures de­signed to fa­cil­i­tate cut­ting-edge sam­pling tech­niques, Able­ton’s ever-pop­u­lar Live – now on ver­sion 9.7 – has be­come the go-to DAW for cre­ative au­dio ma­nip­u­la­tion. Whether you’re trans­form­ing loops, re­work­ing ex­ist­ing au­dio ma­te­rial on the fly or just fid­dling around with bits of au­dio, Live is fully stocked and ready to rock.

But why is Live such a pow­er­ful tool for au­dio ma­nip­u­la­tion, ex­actly? Well, it helps to think of the DAW as a tempo-sync’d mul­ti­chan­nel sam­pler of sorts. Al­though you can work on a tra­di­tional ‘left-to-right’ time­line via its Ar­range­ment View, it’s the Ses­sion View – a non-lin­ear loop-launch­ing and sam­ple-trig­ger­ing en­vi­ron­ment orig­i­nally aimed to­wards live per­for­mance – that al­lows you to com­pile au­dio and MIDI events (called ‘clips’) in­de­pen­dent of your main ar­range­ment, that all stay in sync with the mas­ter bpm. This en­cour­ages a fun, cre­ative ‘drag-and-drop’ ap­proach when pro­duc­ing with au­dio: throw au­dio loops onto the page and they’re au­to­mat­i­cally ‘warped’ to sync with the project and your other parts; edit a clip’s warp mark­ers to in­stantly al­ter tim­ing and groove; or au­to­mate mul­ti­ple clip and ef­fects parameters on a per-clip ba­sis. An elec­tronic mu­si­cian’s ‘sonic sketch­pad’, if you will.

Live’s bun­dled sam­plers

You’ll find sev­eral sam­plers in Live’s In­stru­ments folder, each with its own ad­van­tages and quirks. Al­though the bun­dled Sim­pler can only hold one sound per in­stance, and fea­tures a mere +/-5 semi­tone pitch­bend range, it’s still the go-to work­horse for sam­ple play­back, one-shot trig­ger­ing, sam­ple loop­ing and beat slic­ing – find out more about its three dif­fer­ent sam­pling modes below. Sam­pler (ei­ther bought separately or in­cluded with Live 9 Suite) is the big­ger brother – a ‘power’ sam­pler to ri­val Kon­takt et al, of­fer­ing more ad­vanced multi-sam­pling ca­pa­bil­i­ties, ve­loc­ity splits, sev­eral loop­ing modes, ad­di­tional LFOs/mod­u­la­tion en­velopes, wave­shap­ing and even an AM/FM os­cil­la­tor. Both are in­te­gral to the Live sam­pling work­flow: call up Sim­pler when you’re work­ing with a sin­gle au­dio file (say, a drum loop), or en­rol Sam­pler for multi-sam­pling and in­tri­cate loop­ing du­ties. And you can al­ways con­vert one for­mat to an­other, too: right-click Sim­pler’s header and choose Sim­pler>Sam­pler to switch to the big­ger brother, or vice versa.

Else­where, Live’s Drum Rack is de­signed for – yep, you guessed it – the play­back and per­for­mance of mul­ti­ple drum sam­ples. It’s not a sam­pler in it­self, but in­stead al­lows you to load a Sim­pler in­stance on each of its 128 pads, giv­ing you in­stant beat trig­ger­ing and slic­ing. And then there’s the oft-over­looked Im­pulse, an 8-part mini drum sam­pler that, al­though some­what re­dun­dant since the in­tro­duc­tion of Drum Racks, still houses sev­eral unique fea­tures such as global pitch and stretch con­trols for mash­ing up all eight sounds at once.

Speedy sam­pling

Al­though other DAWs now in­clude warp-style time-stretch­ing, sam­plers, al­ter­nate ar­range­ment en­vi­ron­ments and other sketch­pad-like fea­tures, Live’s ad­van­tage is the sheer speed with which com­plex sam­pling tasks can be achieved. Wanna play back any sam­ple across the key­board? Just drag and drop it over to a MIDI track’s De­vice View and the au­dio is loaded into a Sim­pler in­stru­ment for in­stant chro­matic play­back. Slic­ing a loop? Right-click the au­dio clip and se­lect Slice To New MIDI Track. Multi-sam­pling’s a breeze, too – chuck a bunch of sam­ples into Live’s Sam­pler in­stru­ment and they’ll be mapped across the keys for an in­stant multi-sam­pled patch. Plus, you can also ren­der any MIDI track to au­dio with just a cou­ple of right-click com­mands (Freeze and Flat­ten, to be ex­act), keep­ing you firmly in the com­po­si­tional flow. Learn to use, and com­bine, these handy speed-ups in con­junc­tion with key­board com­mands and you’ll whip up in­spir­ing, unique sounds in no time.

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