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Ableton Live: A Different Approach To Arranging

Ableton Live Tips & Techniques By Len Sasso
Published April 2021

Screen 1: Drum loops from Simplers on five Drum Rack pads are captured in four MIDI clips of varying complexity.Screen 1: Drum loops from Simplers on five Drum Rack pads are captured in four MIDI clips of varying complexity.

We show you a different approach to arranging in Live.

Building a song in Live typically involves a separate track for each part with clips on each track holding variations of its part. You sketch out a song by triggering combinations of clips in Session view and organising the keepers along Arrangement view’s timeline. This month we’ll look at an alternative approach when building a song from audio clips: using a Drum Rack on a single Live track to hold all the clips. This allows you to sketch multi‑part song fragments by triggering drum pads from a MIDI keyboard or button box and to capture these fragments in MIDI clips. You can then trigger the MIDI clips in Session view during a performance or arrange them along Arrangement view’s timeline. This does require accurate realtime triggering (or a bit of after‑the‑fact quantising), and it’s a little less flexible when mixing. But it is a great tool to add to your playing and arranging toolkit.

Building The Drum Rack

By default, when you drop an audio clip onto a Drum Rack pad, Live creates a Simpler instrument holding that clip. The Simpler will be in 1‑Shot mode with Trigger enabled and no filter, LFO or envelope settings on Simpler’s Controls page. That is a good choice if you want the audio clip to play once when you trigger the pad. If you want playback to stop when the pad or key is released, choose Gate instead of Trigger. When you want the clip to loop as long as the pad or key is held, use Simpler’s Classic mode.

Simpler’s Slice mode can also be useful, but...

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Published April 2021

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