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Ableton Live 8 Essential Training with Rick Schmunk offers a comprehensive overview of Ableton's live audio and MIDI sequencing software and the techniques required to compose, record, and edit music, in real time, on stage, or in the studio. The course includes tutorials on compiling live sets from audio and MIDI clips, loops, or samples, applying MIDI effects, warping audio, and recording and producing songs in any number of contemporary styles. Exercise files are included with the course.
Drum loops often have a limited use because there's no way to add effects to a single drum that's part of the loop. Let's take a look at how Live drum racks can solve that problem and more. So in this first track, I have an Impulse drum device-- let me switch to Device view, so we can see that--and I've got an effect here as well. Each one of the elements of the drum set in this example are actually flowing through that compressor. If you don't want to work that way, one of the things that we can do--and I am just going to delete this compressor by selecting it and hitting the Delete key--and I can pull the audio outputs from these individual drum elements onto different tracks.
To do that, I am going to create some additional audio tracks. So that's Command+T, or that would be Ctrl+T on a PC. Now, I need to set the input to that to the track, so that Impulse drum machine is sitting on Impulse track. So I'll make that Impulse, and then from the second chooser, I can choose individual elements. So I am going to choose the Kick here, and then on the second track, I'll choose Impulse again, and I'll choose the Snare. I am going to put these tracks into input monitoring, because there actually isn't any audio on the track; I'm trying to monitor the audio that's flowing through the track.
So now when I click Play, I should hear the Kick and Snare coming through these tracks, and we should see the signal from them flowing through those meters. (Drums playing.) Okay. So that's working. Now, one of the big benefits of this is I can now drop effects onto these tracks separately. So let's say I wanted to put a compressor on the Kick track to make it a little punchier. Come down here and find a Drum Compressor preset, and I'll do that. So we've got the compressor there, and then perhaps maybe I want to add a little more snap on the snare. Let me find an EQ.
So we've got the 8-band EQ. I can drop that over there, and I can add just a little bit of highs here at around 4 K, and get a little more snap out of that. Let's hear what that sounds like. (Drums playing.) Okay. So that's working. Now if wanted to group this, I can. Right-click on the Device header, choose Group. I've got a group. And if I want to add any effects to this, I can. But remember, all of these signals will be flowing through those effects.
So if I save this as a group, I can pull it back and use it again, but the one thing I won't get out of that is these tracks that go with this and where I've got the individual outputs set. So there is a better way to go about doing that. So let's start off by creating a MIDI track. I am going to go Command+Shift+T on a Mac, or Ctrl+Shift+T on a PC. Then I am going to go up to the Instrument folder, up in the Live Device browser, and I'm going to grab the Drum Rack. And remember that if I grab the folder here at the top of the level, that's actually going to create an empty device.
So when I drag that onto the track, the first thing I see down here in Device view on that track is this Pad view, and that's something that is unique to drum racks, and we'll come back and talk about that in a minute. I am going to open up the chain list. And then next, I am going to go down, and I am going to find the individual samples for each of the different drums. So if I go down into the Library folder, and into Samples, into Waveforms, and into Drums, I've got one-shot samples of each element of the drum set. So I am going to grab the Kick folder here first, navigate down, and find one of the kick samples, and I am going to drag that directly into the chain list.
So in this case, the kick is going to be a separate instrument. Now, you notice that when I dropped that, it mapped it automatically down here on C1. And these little pads here that are part of this area of the drum rack are essentially shortcuts to the individual MIDI notes. Now, if I open up the I/O view of this drum rack, one of the columns I get is what MIDI note that that particular element is going to receive on, and I want to change that to C3. Let's do that. I'll drag up here, find C3, and reassign that.
Now, the reason I did that is because most of the drum clips that we have in Live that are associated with Impulse all map their notes, starting on C3 with kick drum, up to C4, which is usually something like an open hi-hat. So now, if I press C3 on my keyboard, we should hear that kick. Yeah, that's working. Okay. So I am going to go back into the folder here and load some additional samples. So let me close that Kick folder. And I'll go into the Snare folder, and let's navigate down.
I'll choose a sample here, and this time, I'm going to drag it directly onto the Drum Pad part. So let me move up there. Now, one way you can navigate on this Drum Pad area is to simply choose that selector by clicking on it, and then you can use your up and down arrows to actually navigate through that. So now that I can see where I want to go, I am going to grab that snare sample, and I'll drop it right there on D3. Then I am going to use my left arrow to close that folder. Then I'll navigate up, and let's grab some percussion down here at the bottom.
So I am going to put the E9 right there on G and E14, we'll put on A. Now if I actually only put that on the wrong slot, I can just grab that and drag it and put it on the intended slot. Again, my left arrow to close that folder up, and let's go up to Symbols, and my right arrow, I can navigate down through that, and the down arrow as well. Okay. I am going to put number 10 there on the closed hi-hat and 11 on the Open.
So I am going to drag this drum clip that's on the first track over here onto the drum rack, and I am going to hold my Option key, and drag that, and make a copy of that. So let me stop that clip. And now if I trigger this one on this Drum Rack Track, we should see and hear all of the elements that we just assigned. (Drums playing.) Okay. So that looks like it's working, and you can see signal flowing through this and on the meters as well over here.
Like the past example, I might want to add some signal processing. This is different now, because I can actually do this within the rack on the individual elements. So I am going to go back and grab that same compressor that I was using for the kick, and I am going to drag and drop that right on the Kick element itself. Now, when I did that, that's basically creating a little chain or rack within the rack, so the signal that comes to trigger the Kick sample will then cause the Kick sample to trigger, and the audio will flow then through this drum compressor, but none of the other drums will do that.
I can do the same thing, for instance, by coming back over here to the chain list and dragging, let's say this Compressor here for the snare, right onto the Snare track, and now do the same thing. I'm holding down Command+Option-- that would be Ctrl+Option on a PC--to actually drag that over. Now, we can see that I've got a different compressor on that. So that's really handy. Now one of the other things that's really great about drum racks is that I can have parallel processing for things like delay or reverb right within the rack.
So I am going to open up the Return area by clicking on the Show/Hide button down in the lower left-hand corner, and I am going to go up into my Effects area, and let's find a reverb. So I'm going to go in here. Let's see. I think there is a nice drum reverb sound within the room area. Yeah, there's a Drums Room. Just to select and add little ambience onto the snare and maybe the symbol parts here. So once I've actually added this effect down in this Drop Audio Effects area, I can also open up the Sends area by clicking on the Show/Hide button.
Notice that when I did that, it opened up this additional column right here. Now, this is much like the sends that are on the track here will allow me to copy some signal onto the send and then route it over here to a return track. In this case though, I can do this all within the rack. So I am going to go on the send itself, and I'm going to copy some signal onto that send, which is now going to go down into this reverb here. And I can do the same thing with the hi-hat tracks.
If I want a little bit less reverb, I just won't copy as much onto the send. Now, if I play this drum clip on the Drum Rack track, we should hear the snare with some reverb on it. (Drums playing.) That's great because the kick is still dry. One last thing that we should take a look at here on the Drum Rack portion is this thing called choke. This is a great feature, in that there are some samples where when you trigger that, you want it to choke one of the other samples that are part of the rack.
And in this case, I've got these two hi-hats, and since you wouldn't hit the closed and open hi-hat simultaneously, you'll want one to choke the other. So I'll click that column, and I'll put that on one of the groups. None of them are being used right now, so any of them will suffice. So I'll put that on 1, and I'll put the open hi-hat on the same Choke group. So now triggering the closed hi-hat will mute the open hi-hat. And then if I want, I can set levels for the different drums here in the Volume column, and I can change Pan settings. I can mute or unmute or solo tracks as well.
Now, I can also do that up here on the tracks themselves. Now, while I was actually adding these different elements into the drum rack, Live was actually adding additional tracks that it was routing the audios through. And if I click the Unfold button, we can see these additional tracks. So for instance, if I go over to the Hi-Hat track and change the level on that track, we should see the volume change correspondingly right there, and we do. Same thing with our Pan positions. So I can pan the hi-hat hard right, if that's what I want to do. And we see that in both places.
So I can make the change up here, or I can make the change down here. But often times, it's a lot easier to do that within the mixer without having to dig through the rack. When you're ready, if you're finished, we can actually save this drum rack as a preset that we can use at a later time. So if I go up to the Drum Rack area that's up here at the top, if I want to save it there, all I need to do is click on the rack itself and drag and drop that into that folder. It's going to ask me if I want to copy any of the elements that are part of that from the Library, including samples or additional assets from the library that are being used. And if you are just going to use it on the same computer, you don't need to do that. But if you might move that preset to another place later on, you might want to go ahead and copy that.
So I'll do that, and it gives me an opportunity to name that. I'll call that "My Drum Rack." That's saved for later use. If I want to use that again in another session, all I need to do is grab that from the drum rack and drop that on the track. We've got it. Okay. So now you know two ways to set up drum racks, both of which can be used to open up how effects can be added to drum loops. Remember to use drum racks to save complicated drum setups for use in other songs and live sets.
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