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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.
Layering synth and sampler parts in most DAWs requires multiple tracks. Let's take a look at how Live racks can be used to combine multiple instruments and effects into a single device capable of delivering complex sounds on a single track. So there are existing presets that are instrument racks. If I go up into the Instruments category here in the Live Devices browser, you will see that there's an Instrument rack folder right here at the top. I'll go into one of these subfolders, and I will grab one of these presets and drop it out here.
And I know that this is a rack because I see the macro that's part of this, and we'll talk about macros in a later video. And if I click on the Show/Hide Chain List--actually in this one, there is only one virtual Instrument; there are probably more effects that are part of this if I drag this over. Yeah, we can see that there is a Reverb and Chorus. But these Instrument racks can also include multiple virtual instruments. So let's go to this first MIDI track, and I'm going to drag an empty rack into the Drop MIDI Effects area on that track, and then from there, I can go down and choose some presets.
So I'm going to go into the Electric category, and let's grab this Keys 4-AM. Let me show the list again. So I see the Keys 4-AM, and now I can add multiple virtual instruments or effects down here by dropping in them in that area. So let me scroll down. Let's see. I will go into Operator and into Synth Pad and click on Snow Pad preset and drag and drop that into the instrument rack. So now, I've got two virtual instruments happening simultaneously. And if I hold down some keys, we should hear the sounds. (Music playing.) I see signal coming out both of those, so I know that they're both working.
Now I can mix these together by using this Volume feature here, and I am going to bring the pad down in level so that I hear more of the Key-Roads sounds and less of that overall pad. (Music playing.) Now if I want, I can hear those individually by either muting one of those, so there's just the Keys part now. (Music playing.) Or I can solo them as well by clicking on this button over here. So now I should just hear the Snow Pad sound, (Music playing.) which is much softer because I mixed it down.
I can also pan those right, by dragging up, and left, by dragging down, so you should now hear one on one side and one on the other. (Music playing.) Actually let me take that solo off. (Music playing.) There you go, and you can see in the meters, it's only coming out one side on both of those. I am going to move over to this instrument track that I have got here. Let me record-enable that one. And I have got actually three parts loaded on this one, so we're a little bit further in here. So I have got the Roads part again, and I've got an Operator patch, kind of mellow, and I have got a kind of Strings thing that's mixed in.
Now one of the things that's different about instrument racks is I get these two other areas that we didn't see in the video on audio effect racks. So, one of those is for a Key Zone Editor. Now I get these bar graphs that define which notes on the keyboard are going to trigger these sounds. So I, for instance, could locate the Road so that it's down here, just up to C2, and then this next patch could take over at C2 and go to C3. I am just moving my cursor to the edge of those bar graphs and dragging. And I could grab this last one and make that at about C3, all the rest of the way up.
So now if I play down here on the bottle of my keyboard, I'm triggering only the Road sound, and you see signal only in the Roads meter here. If I go up on octave, I am in the next patch, and up another octave. Since I have got both of those a little bit overlapping, it's actually triggering both of those sounds. Again, this narrower graph that's on top will allow me to set fades. So these are a little bit overlapped, more like this, I could set a crossfade by dragging on that narrower bar graph on top, then on the one below, dragging that over to the right, so that you can see that those are now crossfading between each other.
So when I get right there on that C2, down below that, you can see that I am triggering both parts. Okay, let me make those-- all back over here. I need to drag that. This way we can go on, and we can check out the Velocity settings. So a similar area is this Velocity Zone Editor. Now I can set what patches are triggered out of these three sounds here by how hard I hit the keyboard.
Let's make the Roads go up to about 80. Then I will take these other two, I will select their names so that I can do them together, and I'll drag those over to 81. Okay, so now that I have the velocity zone set, I should be able to hear just the Roads part when I play softly, and when I play the keyboard harder, I should trigger these other two presets. Let's give that a shot. (Music playing.) So I play it lightly. Then I will play a little harder. I will get the other two presets. (Music playing.) Now that might be a really good thing to use, for instance, when you have got a bass preset, and you want to only have that in the low range of the keyboard. And then if you have got more of a piano sound or pad sound or string sound, you might want that only in the upper part of the keyboard.
But let's take a look at how we can add effects to an instrument rack as well. Now, let me hide that by clicking on the Hide button, and I'm going to hide the devices as well, because I want to see this area over here. So let me click over here in the Live Devices browser, and I am going to close these by pressing my Left Arrow key, because I want to get down here, and I want to see the audio effects. So if I open that up and scroll down, you can find something like a reverb that I might add to all three of these effects.
So if I grab, for instance, the Concert Hall and drag it over here, what happens is a signal will pass through the track, the MIDI signal, and then it will hit these three presets and trigger the sound, and then the audio will flow out of all three of these and then through the Concert Hall. Now whenever you use something like a Delay or Reverb where you've got a DryWet setting and use it on a rack, in this case, you need to make sure that you dial in the amount of the effect that you want; otherwise, you are just going to get all reverb. So let's play a little bit and let me dial that in. (Music playing.) Okay, that's okay.
And in other cases, you may want to add an effect that only affects a single member of the group. So I am going to go into my Audio Effects again. Now let me find a Chorus preset, and I am going to drag and drop that only on the Roads. So in this case, what's happening is we see that I've got the Roads patch here, and then next to that, I see the Chorus effect. And if I drag that over, we can see that that's where the rack ends, meaning that this effect is only on that particular preset as part of this rack.
It's not affecting the other two presets. Let me close that by double-clicking on the title bar, and let's drag that over so we can see a little bit more. So we can see that I have got the Key- Roads preset selected, and that's in here. That's been minimized. And then I see that effect, and then the rack closes. And then over in this other area, I still see the Concert Hall, but that's situated so that as the signal passes out of the rack, then it hits the Concert Hall. So I should be able to solo the Roads part, and we should hear that with Chorus.
(Music playing.) Let me turn off the reverb, so we don't hear that. (Music playing.) And now if I solo the operator and undo the Roads, you can hear that there's no Chorus on there. So creating interesting combinations of sounds and effects using Live racks seems simple, and the possibilities are endless. Experiment and have fun!
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