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How To Integrate Modular Soft Synths With Ableton Live

Ableton Live Tips & Techniques
By Len Sasso

Screen 1: Freezing eight copies of a four-bar MIDI clip yields eight different four-bar audio clips from this U-he Bazille patch.Screen 1: Freezing eight copies of a four-bar MIDI clip yields eight different four-bar audio clips from this U-he Bazille patch.

We show you how to integrate your modular soft synths with Live.

This month we'll take another look at modular synthesis in Live. In the May 2015 Live column, we covered the Max For Live modular system OSCiLLOT from Max For Cats. The December 2017 column dealt with how to implement modular techniques using just Live Racks, instruments and effects. This time we'll focus on getting the most out of the many virtual modular synths now on the market. You'll find a brief catalogue of what's out there in the 'Cable This' box.

The Hookup

Beyond the default setup for sending MIDI to and receiving audio from instruments in Live tracks, modular synths often require some special treatment. For one thing, they may have multiple audio outputs to which you can send different sounds from a single modular patch. For another, they may split their MIDI note inputs into separate gate, trigger, note number and velocity signals, allowing you to then cable those individually. Finally, they may provide ports for routing MIDI from their sequencers and CV modules to Live (LFOs, graphic mappers, trigger generators and so on). Exploring the in and outs is well worth the effort.

One of the best features of modular synths is their ability to generate evolving sounds that never or almost never repeat. Many synth plug-ins have control-voltage generators with aleatory modes such as Sample&Hold LFOs or sequencers with random step order, but a modular synth's ability to patch these wherever you want makes them much more useful. The downside is that once an aleatory patch generates something you like, it's gone. An easy workaround for...

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Published May 2019