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Creating rhythmic patterns with the Arpeggiator effect

From: Ableton Live 8 Essential Training

Video: Creating rhythmic patterns with the Arpeggiator effect

Live has several MIDI effects that allow you to alter a MIDI signal before it enters a virtual instrument. In this video, we'll discuss how you add a MIDI effect to a track and learn to use Live's MIDI Arpeggiator Effect device. So let's see how this works. I have got one track in the session here, and I've got this brass patch loaded on it. So I am going to go into the Device browser and open up the MIDI Effects folder here, come down, and grab Arpeggiator. And remember, I can either load the Arpeggiator device, or I can load a device with presets if I open up and choose one of these items here.

Creating rhythmic patterns with the Arpeggiator effect

Live has several MIDI effects that allow you to alter a MIDI signal before it enters a virtual instrument. In this video, we'll discuss how you add a MIDI effect to a track and learn to use Live's MIDI Arpeggiator Effect device. So let's see how this works. I have got one track in the session here, and I've got this brass patch loaded on it. So I am going to go into the Device browser and open up the MIDI Effects folder here, come down, and grab Arpeggiator. And remember, I can either load the Arpeggiator device, or I can load a device with presets if I open up and choose one of these items here.

I am just going to choose the default. I am going to drag and drop that on the track. Now, you'll notice that if I try and put it after the virtual instrument, then I am getting a warning message down there at the bottom of the screen that says, "MIDI effects have to be inserted before the instrument." So I'll drop it over there, and what's going to happen then, as the MIDI signal comes through the channel, it's first going to go through the Arpeggiator device, whose purpose is to take multiple notes that you hold down in a chord and break them into an arpeggio. I am going to hold down one note and let's listen to what it does.

(Music playing.) So we hear that one note pulsating, and it's doing it at the rhythm of an 8th note, based upon the tempo that's currently set in my control bar. If I speed that up to a 16th note, we'll hear that pulsate twice as fast. (Music playing.) So if I hold down two notes, it's going to alternate those two notes at that rate. (Music playing.) If I hold down three notes, it will alternate the 3. (Music playing.) Now, if I go up to the style chooser, we'll see that there are several arpeggio shapes, or styles, available. So I was on Up.

Let's try Up and Down. (Music playing.) Okay. That's pretty easy to understand. If I chose Converge, it's going to play the notes on the outside of the arpeggio, the lowest and highest, and then the middle. (Music playing.) If I choose Diverge, it's going to play the middle note and then the outer notes. (Music playing.) Now, we can combine those in several ways to get different patterns. I like the Converge and Diverge.

This time I am holding down four notes. (Music playing.) You get a much more random sound out of that. Now, let's take a look at a couple of the other parameters. So I've got the rate set. The Gate setting is going to allow me to control how smooth or short the notes sound. (Music playing.) So, smaller values are going to yield a very staccato, or short, sound; whereas, longer values are going to give me more of a sustained, or legato, sound. (Music playing.) If I go over 100% and change chords in the middle of that, you will actually get some overlapping that occurs.

(Music playing.) Now, if I hold something down and have the Hold button enabled, those notes will continue to repeat until I change to other notes. So here, I'll hold down the C chord. (Music playing.) And that continued until I change to a D minor chord. I can also set time, by the way. Instead of being locked to the rhythm, I can set that in Free mode, which allows me to set a length of time in milliseconds or seconds.

Typically, when I use this, I use it in Sync mode. In the middle section, we have a Transpose function. This is a little bit complicated. So when I am in the Shift mode, the amount that I transpose is set by this distance parameter, and that's in half steps. You can see I can set both positive and negative values. If I set that to +2, I'll go up a whole step. And I'll go up a whole step a number of times, depending upon the Step setting. So if I move that to 1, I'll transpose one time a whole step.

So I am holding down C, and we'll hear both C and D. (Music playing.) Let me dial that gate a little bit shorter, so we get a little more separation. (Music playing.) If I move the step parameter to 2, I'm going to transpose the original note, C, two times, each a whole step. My distance is +2, so I'll get a whole step to D and then to E. (Music playing.) Now if I hold down multiple notes, I'm going to get that same effect applied to each note that I am holding down.

(Music playing.) So I was holding down an A and an E, and I was transposing both of those two times a step. Now, if I change the Transpose function to Major, I'm actually in a mode now, and it's going to force all notes that I play, or that would be transposed, into that mode, or key. I am in Major, and right now I'm in the key of C. One thing that changes here is that the Distance function is no longer in half steps, but is now in scale steps.

So if I set that to +1, I am going to go up a whole step. If I set that to 2, I am going to go up a third in the scale. So again, I am going to move this down to 1. Now, if I hold down a C, it's actually going to transpose it up a major third to E. But if I hold down D, it's only going to transpose a minor third because from D to F is a minor third, and that would be the note that's in the key. (Music playing.) So if I hold down two notes, I'll transpose both of them by that increment.

If I hold down three notes, I'll transpose that, and it will all stay in the key. I can also transpose this and be in another Key. So if I wanted to go to the key of D for instance, I can shift it there. And now instead of the notes being forced into the key of C, they will be forced into the key of D. So for instance if I hold down an F natural, it's actually going to play an F sharp. (Music playing.) So I was actually holding down a D minor triad there, and it was actually arpeggiating based upon a D major triad.

I can do the same thing in both major and minor. Let's put this back on shift. I am going to set this to one of my favorite settings, which would be a 5th above, and I am going to put that on a 2. This time when it transposes it, it's going to transpose each note that I hold down by a perfect 5th higher than the note, and it's going to transpose that twice. I am going to hold down three notes, and we'll hear that. (Music playing.) So we're getting a quite interesting pattern.

Now, I want that to change in time, so I am going to turn on the Velocity function. What will happen now is that as I hold the notes down, they're going to change to a target velocity set by this parameter here. So if I want them to get softer, I'll turn this down to a target velocity near 0. And we'll hear, as I hold this down, that it's actually going to decay over time to that velocity. Now, 1 second is pretty quick, so I am going to make the decay time just a little bit longer by dialing up this parameter. (Music playing.) That gives us that ability to change over time, and that's a very, very cool effect.

Okay, and the last thing that we'll look at here in the Arpeggiator plug-in is this Retrigger function, and this determines how a pattern is retriggered. So if I turn on Retrigger, and I go to this area over here, I can set this into Beat mode, Note mode, or Off. In Beat mode, it'll retrigger the pattern based upon a length of time. Now, it defaults to 1 bar. So if I turn this up, for instance, to a longer time, I'll hold those notes down, and then you'll see this little yellow light flash when we meet that length of time, and it will actually retrigger and start the pattern again at the full velocity.

(Music playing.) So we saw that pulsate at the end of two bars. Now I can also do this based upon when I actually play another note. So I'll hold down a pattern, it'll trigger the pattern, we'll hear the decay, and then when I play the next set of notes, we'll hear that retrigger at the top velocity, and then begin to decay again. (Music playing.) So it's a very useful effect to have the pattern actually change over time.

That creates a lot of interest. So Live's Arpeggiator effect can be used to create parts that dominate a song or to create underlying parts that add interesting detail to a song. Give Arpeggiator a spin, and try it in combination with other MIDI and audio effects.

Show transcript

This video is part of

Image for Ableton Live 8 Essential Training
Ableton Live 8 Essential Training

69 video lessons · 16902 viewers

Rick Schmunk
Author

 
Expand all | Collapse all
  1. 1m 30s
    1. Welcome
      49s
    2. Using the exercise files
      41s
  2. 8m 43s
    1. What is a digital audio workstation?
      4m 13s
    2. Choosing the right gear and setting up a system
      4m 30s
  3. 12m 59s
    1. Setting up audio preferences
      3m 54s
    2. Setting up MIDI preferences
      3m 31s
    3. Optimizing performance
      5m 34s
  4. 35m 42s
    1. Understanding Session view
      8m 7s
    2. Working with Live browsers
      5m 3s
    3. Working with Live clips
      7m 57s
    4. Understanding clip properties
      7m 52s
    5. Working with Live scenes
      6m 43s
  5. 28m 16s
    1. Building Live Sets and projects
      4m 25s
    2. Learning Live file management
      4m 2s
    3. Exporting content from Live
      7m 32s
    4. Importing and exporting Live Packs
      3m 17s
    5. Searching for and auditioning clips
      4m 58s
    6. Setting up frequently accessed folders
      4m 2s
  6. 23m 3s
    1. Preparing to record MIDI
      5m 51s
    2. Recording and overdubbing MIDI
      4m 32s
    3. Working with alternate MIDI entry methods
      6m 49s
    4. Using multi-output virtual instruments
      5m 51s
  7. 24m 26s
    1. The MIDI Editor
      4m 49s
    2. Quantizing MIDI data
      6m 6s
    3. Advanced MIDI editing
      6m 49s
    4. Setting up groove in editing
      6m 42s
  8. 9m 18s
    1. Preparing to record
      5m 0s
    2. Recording audio
      4m 18s
  9. 22m 37s
    1. Understanding Arrangement view
      3m 41s
    2. Recording in Arrangement view
      3m 51s
    3. Recording from Session view to Arrangement view
      5m 21s
    4. Reworking clips
      9m 44s
  10. 27m 57s
    1. Understanding Live's mixer
      12m 38s
    2. Using sends and returns
      3m 47s
    3. Building headphone cues
      3m 49s
    4. Grouping tracks
      7m 43s
  11. 43m 14s
    1. Working with effect devices
      4m 56s
    2. Understanding EQ and filters
      7m 14s
    3. Using compressors and dynamic processors
      7m 28s
    4. Building interesting effects with delay effect processing
      8m 18s
    5. Using reverb effectively
      8m 22s
    6. Setting up side chain effects easily
      6m 56s
  12. 15m 37s
    1. Creating rhythmic patterns with the Arpeggiator effect
      8m 38s
    2. Building background parts with the Chord and Scale effects
      6m 59s
  13. 25m 24s
    1. Building automation patterns
      8m 44s
    2. Editing existing automation information
      5m 3s
    3. Using fades to mask audio pops and clicks
      4m 10s
    4. Understanding the power of clip envelopes
      7m 27s
  14. 20m 17s
    1. Understanding the basics of looping
      6m 54s
    2. Creating tracks that loop smoothly
      7m 50s
    3. Using warp features to quantize audio
      5m 33s
  15. 17m 47s
    1. Using the computer keyboard to control Live
      6m 39s
    2. Mapping device controls to the MIDI keyboard
      4m 36s
    3. Using Live's instant mapping feature
      6m 32s
  16. 10m 44s
    1. Exporting audio
      5m 37s
    2. Freezing tracks
      5m 7s
  17. 20m 45s
    1. Building with the Impulse virtual instrument
      11m 35s
    2. Working with the Simpler virtual instrument
      9m 10s
  18. 36m 22s
    1. Overview of Live racks
      10m 13s
    2. Combining instruments and effects into a single device
      8m 22s
    3. Adding effects with Drum Rack
      11m 28s
    4. Assigning rack parameters to macros
      6m 19s
  19. 13m 53s
    1. Setting up ReWire with Pro Tools
      7m 3s
    2. Setting up ReWire with Logic
      6m 50s
  20. 33m 43s
    1. Preparing audio clips with the Warp tool
      14m 31s
    2. Triggering clips using follow actions
      8m 9s
    3. Using Live as a sound source
      11m 3s
  21. 7m 21s
    1. Working with video files
      7m 21s
  22. 37s
    1. Further Recommendations
      37s

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