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Ableton Live: Rotating Rhythms

Ableton Live Tips & Techniques
By Len Sasso

Screen 1: RRG generates Kick, Side Stick, High Hat and Conga patterns with different Division, Offset and Swing settings. The effect of Rotation is shown at the bottom.Screen 1: RRG generates Kick, Side Stick, High Hat and Conga patterns with different Division, Offset and Swing settings. The effect of Rotation is shown at the bottom.

We look at a different approach for creating rhythms in Live.

Live's free CV Tools Pack includes a Max For Live device that offers a refreshing take on MIDI note sequencing. As its name implies, the Rotating Rhythm Generator (RRG) is designed specifically for generating and manipulating rhythm patterns, but its uses extend well beyond that. Unlike the other devices in CV Tools, RRG is a standard MIDI effect rather than a CV output device. Should you wish to use it with external hardware or software, you can use other devices in the CV Tools Pack to route control voltages to and from it.

High RRG

RRG starts with four identical note generators. The controls in the lower part of each generator set the rhythm. The numbered button on the left edge identifies the generator by colour as well as turning it on and off. The three numericals in the black window at the top set the pitch, velocity and length of the notes generated. At RRG's right end you'll find four buttons used to rotate the four patterns relative to the four note outputs. When you choose a rotation other than the first, each black window's colour coding changes to show which generator controls its note output, and the controlling generator's number also appears to the left of the note display. Generators must be enabled to work in rotations, but you can suppress note outputs by setting their velocity to zero. When you do that for all but one generator, for example, rotation becomes a pattern swapper for a single note. Rotating patterns is a powerful tool for adding variety to a...

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Published October 2019