As a guitarist I’ve always loved tremolo pedals, which modulate volume rhythmically.
Ableton’s Auto Pan does this perfectly. You just to set Phase to 0 to affect volume instead of panning. This preset does it for you:
You can change the shape of the modulation from a smooth sine wave to a more abrupt square wave, change the phasing (when volume starts to go up or down) or whatever else really when you start racking with other effects. This is my go to rack for tremolo and chorus for guitar and keyboard:
Tremolo + Chorus [jethroe].adg
Here’s a few of the movies I worked on for Push. I’m the hand model and made the music (you can download the Live 9 Set here: Push Demo.alp). That’s the smooth sound of Dennis DeSantis you hear doing the voice over. Sorry, I meant Dr. Dennis DeSantis.
Ableton Push highlights
Making beats with Push
Playing notes and chords on Push
Working with Sounds
Recording and Improvising with Loops
There are good articles out there on setting up your external synthesizers with Ableton Live, such as this one from Sound on Sound magazine.
But in this post I wanted to gather info on going a bit further, and show how I use Push with my setup:
The basic idea is to use Ableton’s External Instrument Device, along with Max for Live editors, so I can leave all my synths to the side of my studio, and load and edit presets, and play all my synthesizers directly from Push (though you could do this with any other MIDI keyboard too).
Once you drag the External Instrument onto a MIDI track, you need to set the MIDI output to go to the synthesizer you want to control, and the Audio Input to come from the synthesizers outputs. I use an RME Fireface 400 for both, and an additional MIDIsport 4×4 for more dedicated MIDI channels. If you have a lot of synths, it’s helpful to have a patch bay or mixer too to bring the audio back in. I use a Focusrite Octopre, connected by ADAT to my RME FF400, which gives me 18 ins/Outs, connected to my half-normalled patchbay, so I can route anything to anything. This way, I have all my ins and outs permanently set up — with my setup I save this external instrument as a preset, and call it up from Push’s browser, and I can play notes from Push’s diatonic grid, with all the correct routing already setup.
Some synthesizers, like my Arp Odyssey and Sequential Circuits Pro One only take Control Voltage, not MIDI. So I can convert MIDI to CV with Stretta’s max for Live tools (Stretta has some crazy shit going on).
For MIDI to CV, you’ll need to have a DC coupled audio interface or a MIDI to CV converter. I found my RME FF400 already has a DC output (the headphone jack 7/8 only). MOTU makes DC coupled interfaces too, more info on compatible audio interfaces here.
I ended up buying a hardware midi to CV converter to make things simpler, and I just split the CV from one unit with a Y cable to go to the Pro One and Odyssey. That’s probably not supposed to work but it does just fine.
But I also want to be able to change presets on my synth with Program changes. So now I need a Max for Live device to send Program changes. Here‘s a cool one that lets you store some of your favorite presets too.
Note that many synthesizers need to be set to ‘allow’ external program changes in their setup menu, and many older synths like the Arp and Pro One don’t have a way to save or access presets. So now I can play, and change presets of my external synthesizer. What if I want to edit the parameters of that synth?
Some synths make it easy, and accept CCs. Here‘s a cool Max for Live device that lets me do that. You can write the parameter name and CC number on the device and save presets for each synth.
You need to read your synth manual to see what CCs to send it.
This is about the limits of my knowledge — I can open these types of patches up, change some CCs around enough to make a few editors, so here’s a few I made for my synths:
These are very hacked together, are not bi-directional and some parts don’t work (like bank switching). I offer no support – but please let me know if you improve them!
Other synths need to be controlled by Sysex. Here‘s a really cool editor for the Roland JX8P, which sends syses to the Roland to control it, and also syncs with your iPad, so you can control parameters with your iPad.
It’s on my list to make these kind of editors for my Oberheim Matrix 6R and Xpander (unless you or Christian Kleine do it for me first).
These slicing files let you chop beats like you’re used to on an Akai Professional MPC2000 in Ableton Live.
– you hit a pad, it plays to the end without having to keep the pad depressed.
– each pad chokes (cuts off the sustain of) the next pad you hit.
1) Right click and save this slicing preset:MPCSlicingPresets
2) Put it into your Live Library:Defaults:Slicing
3) When you want to slice a beat, control (right) click a drum beat/audio clip in Session view in Live and select “Slice to MIDI.”
4) Choose MPCDrumRackSimpler. You can select “Slice to 1/4” to start with, but you may want to try Slice to Warp Marker, the way Ski Beatz does it in this video I worked on with the always hilarious filmaker Chandler Kauffman
5) Bang away with your beatpad, Launchpad/APC20 in Note mode, keyboard, etc.
Our goal here is to set a “master” clip in Live, so that other files you record or drag in will follow the original tempo of the master audio file.
1) Warp the audio file you’d like follow very tightly. You can follow my fast warping instructions to get started, and use Beats mode for the most transparent sound.
You may want to make other audio files follow the Master clip even tighter by quantizing the audio to 1/4 notes.
To quantize audio: Command-click on the audio file in Clip View:
I choose 1/4 note here, that should be fine enough for my purposes:
Now click Master — this sets this clip as the master tempo for the set, all other clips will be slaved to this clip’s tempo.
Note that if you have multiple clips set to master, the one highest in the set in arrangement will be master (there can be only one master at a time).
If you look at the Arrangement view’s tempo automation, it is following the tempo of this clip.
Next you’ll want to know about multi-track warping, coming soon…
There’s an easier way to do this. Follow J. Period’s instructions for multitrack warping (but you’re only warping the beat, then having the acapella follow those warp markers.
Old lesson just in case:
1) In Liveâ€™s Browser, navigate to the folder that has your acapella and instrumental (or the original mix). Hold shift to multi-select the instrumental and acapella and drag them into Liveâ€™s arrangement view.
Note that holding command/apple when you drag the files in brings the files in in parallel on different tracks.
2) Select both files and turn warping off.
Make sure the Start Marker flag in the clip waveform of both files is set at the very beginning. Press the space bar to listen.
If your acapella and instrumental donâ€™t sync up unwarped, you have little chance of making them sync up warped. If they are out of sync, you can try moving the Start Marker flag of the acapella around to sync them up.
3) Once they are playing in sync unwarped, you need to make sure both files are exactly the same length. You may need to consolidate the files to make them exactly the same length. To do this, drag around both tracks in the arrangement view, with a length longer than the longest of the two tracks and Consolidate (Command-J).
4. Now select both files (select one and hold shift to select the second) and turn warping on again.
5. Mute the Acapella track and warp the Instrumental/Mix file as you normally would. See here for more info on how to do this.
6. Now we need to duplicate the instrumental track. Click on the Track Name
And press Command-D to duplicate the track:
7. Drag the acapella back into your browser to create a Live Clip and press enter:
8. Double click on the duplicated instrumental file to bring it up in the Clip Waveform below:
9. Now drag the Live Clip into the clip waveform of the instrumental track. You can delete the original acapella track.
10. Your acapella should be warped like the instrumental/original.
I’ve been working a looooong time on The Bridge with my good friends at Serato, and it’s finally here…
Here’s a little master bus effect rack for Live 8 that I put together. This is the one used in the APC40 video. Thanks to Ableton user joesapo, I used some of his effect racks as components in this one.
Fade to Red uses Live 8’s new modes for the delays, for some nice dubby delay, similar to an Electro-Harmonix Memory Man.
Note: edited on 9.3.10 to fix the delay mode to fade on one one of the inner delays. This is so it doesn’t crackle when slaved to a variable tempo…like say, The Bridge ;)