Ableton Live 9 Tips and Tricks
Illustration by John Hersey

Creating a basic dummy clip


From:

Ableton Live 9 Tips and Tricks

with Michael Kiraly

Video: Creating a basic dummy clip

Session view is my environment of choice for keeping things flexible and dummy clips are my favorite way of auditioning complex and creative effect sequences at the touch of a button within Session view. Here's a few that I have already set up. Let's take a quick listen. (music playing) Now I am going to delete them and start from scratch so you can see how I created them in the first place. The first thing you need to know about creating dummy clips is that you need an empty clip to work with.

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Watch the Online Video Course Ableton Live 9 Tips and Tricks
1h 7m Intermediate Mar 22, 2013

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Join Ableton Live expert Mike Kiraly as he dives deep into some of the advanced features that Live offers for unique and creative manipulation of sound. First, discover how to use clip envelopes to create constantly changing transitions between clips. Then Mike demonstrates how to create playable effects and effects transitions with dummy clips, build automated playlists and song arrangements with follow actions, and use dummy clips and follow actions together to generate complex effects.

Topics include:
  • Creating clip envelopes and putting them to work
  • Unlinking clip envelopes
  • Exploring follow actions
  • Creating song arrangements with random follow actions
  • Creating a basic dummy clip
  • Sound designing with dummy clips and follow actions
Subject:
Audio + Music
Software:
Ableton Live
Author:
Michael Kiraly

Creating a basic dummy clip

Session view is my environment of choice for keeping things flexible and dummy clips are my favorite way of auditioning complex and creative effect sequences at the touch of a button within Session view. Here's a few that I have already set up. Let's take a quick listen. (music playing) Now I am going to delete them and start from scratch so you can see how I created them in the first place. The first thing you need to know about creating dummy clips is that you need an empty clip to work with.

There isn't any Create Dummy Clip or Create Empty Audio Clip command. So, I'll copy one of my other audio clips and drag it into my dummy track. It actually doesn't matter which clip I choose. It's not going to produce audio, even if it has audio within it. The tracks monitor, set to in, will look for audio coming from somewhere else. Therefore, it's going to ignore any audio within the clip itself. So, do not place an important track element on the dummy track thinking you'll be able to trigger and hear it whenever you please.

See, you can't hear any audio, even though there is audio within this clip. All clips you wish to trigger need to remain on other tracks. Now that I have a clip, I'm going to rename it Dummy, just to keep things straight for the time being. I have created for chains within this rack down here. Each one has a distinct processing scenario. I want each chain to work independently, just as I'd set them up, and I want to be able to choose when they become active.

To do so, I need to create dummy clips that will contain instructions telling Live which of these effect chains I want working at any given time. Because the action of triggering these clips is what's going to lead to the change in the chains, I'll need a total of four individual dummy clips. I have one already, so I'll copy this clip three times, and then I'll rename all of them that correspond to the names of the four chains you see below.

I need to return to the Chain List in the rack for a moment. More than likely, this Hide button will be illuminated over the Chain List. This option hides the Chain Selector, something I'm going to need because it's critical to my next steps. So, I am going to turn this off by clicking on this Chain button, and now we can see the Chain Selector. I'll once again refer you to the lynda Ableton Live Essential Training course for a deeper comprehension of chains and the Chain Selector. But I'll help the uninitiated by telling you that the Chain Selector is exactly what it says it is: it's a way to select the effect chains within a rack.

It's done by assigning a specific value or range of values called zones to each chain. When received by the rack, these zone values will activate the corresponding chain. Let me show you what I mean. So, my new dummy clips--or actually, I should say a clip envelope within each of my dummy clips--will be the carrier for that control message that I need to make the chain selection process occur; essentially, it's going to send a Zone value. Look at the Chain Selector again. See these little blue rectangles? These are what indicate the zone value assigned each chain.

I'll be the first one to tell you that this editing area is very difficult to see, so you have to really look close. Unfortunately, it doesn't allow for zooming, so you just have to be careful when you make changes. I have actually already set up my zones here, but the default state for all new chains is its Zone value of 0. If you look at this first chain, this is what the default looks like. That means that this chain will activate whenever a Zone value of 0 is received. Again, it's my dummy clips that we are going to send this Zone value, and I'm going to show you how that works in just a moment.

Because I want the freedom to select each chain independently, I'll want each chain to respond to a unique Zone value. So, I've moved these tiny blue rectangles so that each one is assigned a different number. Because they're so small, moving these rectangles can be difficult. You need to hover over the zone you're looking to edit until your cursor turns to a line with two arrows extended to either side. This is when you can actually move them. You'll notice that the cursor can also change to the left- and right-facing braces; these are used if you want the zone to encompass multiple values.

Finally now, I get to the actual dummy clips themselves. I am going to double-click on my first dummy clip. Then I am going to make sure that the Envelope Editing area is open. This is where clip envelopes come into play. In the Device Chooser, I'm going to select Audio Effect Rack, and then in the Control Chooser, I'm going to make sure I've got Chain Selector selected. I can now create Chain Selector Zone values with the clip envelope, almost like automating the Chain Selector Zone Value.

So, how would I do that? I double-clicked on the first dummy clip which was name DRY. I want to launch that clip and activate my first chain, also named DRY. My DRY Chain has a Chain Selector value of 0, so the clip envelope value must also be set to 0. In this case the default value of the clip envelope is already 0, so I just need to create a breakpoint on line to make sure it's going to stay that way. I can now repeat this process for the other three clips.

Each clip needs to be set to the corresponding value in the Chain Selector. Otherwise, it's not going to work. Each time the clip is triggered the embedded clip envelope will send the value and activate the zone. Now, listen as a hit play and trigger each dummy clip. (music playing) Each dummy clip activates the corresponding chain.

I can now spontaneously process multiple audio sources through different audio chains at the click of a single button. As complex as this might already seem, it's really only a basic usage of a dummy clip. They can automate intricate effect sequences, scene transitions, mixer automations, and much, much more. Their potential is almost limitless, and that's why I find them to be such an invaluable tool within Ableton Live.

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