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Ableton: Swapping Kit Pieces On The Fly

Ableton Live Tips & Techniques
By Len Sasso

Screen 1: The A  side of Live's Crossfader plays the clips with the original kit; the B side plays them with the three kit-piece swaps indicated by the red, green and blue arrows.Screen 1: The A side of Live's Crossfader plays the clips with the original kit; the B side plays them with the three kit-piece swaps indicated by the red, green and blue arrows.

We show you how to chop and change drum kit pieces on the fly in Ableton Live.

This month we're going to look at real-time kit-piece swapping using Live Drum Racks. In the examples, the Drum Racks and their associated MIDI clips come from the Drum Essentials Pack included with Live 10, but these techniques work with any instrument plug-in (not just drums) and any batch of MIDI clips.

Change Is Good

The easiest way to swap two kit pieces in a Live Drum Rack is to drag one Drum Rack pad over the other. The instruments assigned to the two pads will then be swapped, whereas the notes that trigger the pads will remain the same. (You can accomplish the same thing by changing the pads' MIDI Note-In assignments in the Rack's Chain List.) Depending on the MIDI clip you're playing, some swaps work better than others, but it's surprising how often unlikely candidates work. An easy way to check this out is to load a Drum Rack into Live along with several clips that play it, duplicate that track, swap some pads in the duplicate track and then assign the A and B sides of Live's Crossfader to crossfade between the two tracks. In Screen 1 above, I've swapped the kick and hi-hat, the snare and tom and the conga and clave. In this example, the rapid hi-hat patterns in clips 1 and 3 don't work well when swapped with the kick, but the other swaps produce more subtle and interesting variations.

Another way to swap kit pieces is to swap note lanes in the...

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Published July 2019