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Ableton Live: Velocity Manipulations

Ableton Live Tips & Techniques By Len Sasso

Screen 1: This MIDI Effect Rack uses Velocity and Key zones to reroute incoming C1s (kick) with velocity below 80 to G#2 (alternate kick).Screen 1: This MIDI Effect Rack uses Velocity and Key zones to reroute incoming C1s (kick) with velocity below 80 to G#2 (alternate kick).

We look at how you can use MIDI velocity to manipulate Live and route notes to different instruments.

We tend to associate MIDI velocity with loudness — a measure of how fast your finger or hand is flying when it strikes a keyboard or drum head. On acoustic instruments, that indeed influences how loud the resulting sound is, but on electronic instruments, coming from a MIDI keyboard or pad, velocity is just a number that you can apply to volume or any other malleable parameter. This month we'll take a look at using velocity in Live to route notes to different instruments. This bears a passing resemblance to velocity switching in your favourite sampler, but it lets you velocity switch between any number of different instruments of any kind as well as to modulate the switching settings.

Split The Kick

You can use velocity to split any note lane in a drum clip between two Drum Rack pads so that low-velocity notes play one pad and high-velocity notes play the other. The simplest way to do that is to use a Live MIDI Effect Rack's Velocity zones, as shown in Screen 1. To split a single-note lane, create two chains in a MIDI Effect Rack and set each chain's Key zone to the single note you're splitting (C1/kick drum in this example). You'll also need one or two additional chains to pass the rest of the notes to the Drum Rack. If the note lane you're splitting corresponds to the highest or lowest pad used in the Drum Rack, one additional chain will cover the rest; otherwise you'll need one for the higher pads and another for the lower pads. The...

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Published February 2020