Creating tracks that loop smoothly
Video: Creating tracks that loop smoothlyAudio warping is a tool that seems to magically allow us to change the tempo of an audio clip. But sometimes it's necessary to edit our audio files in order for warping to work the way we expect. Let's take a look at how you can edit transient markers and create warp markers in order to create clips that smoothly loop. So Live analyzes all audio files and clips to determine where the transients and attacks are. Now in Live, we can see evidence of that when we zoom in. Now, notice I am looking at this click here in the Sample Editor, and I can see these little lines that are appearing just above each attack, or transient.
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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.
- Putting together a DAW system
- Setting up Ableton preferences
- Importing and exporting content
- Recording MIDI
- Editing and quantizing MIDI data
- Recording audio
- Recording in Arrangement view
- Using sends and returns in the Live Mixer
- Grouping tracks
- Signal processing
- Creating and editing automation envelopes
- Using fades to mask audio pops and clicks
- Looping and warping audio clips
- Mapping device controls to a MIDI keyboard
- Working with virtual instruments
- Integrating Live with Pro Tools and Logic
Creating tracks that loop smoothly
Audio warping is a tool that seems to magically allow us to change the tempo of an audio clip. But sometimes it's necessary to edit our audio files in order for warping to work the way we expect. Let's take a look at how you can edit transient markers and create warp markers in order to create clips that smoothly loop. So Live analyzes all audio files and clips to determine where the transients and attacks are. Now in Live, we can see evidence of that when we zoom in. Now, notice I am looking at this click here in the Sample Editor, and I can see these little lines that are appearing just above each attack, or transient.
And if I zoom in a little bit, we will that those convert into these little triangles. Those are transient markers, and that's where Live sees all the attacks in this particular clip. Now, those are only visible and only active when the warp button is enabled in the Sample Box. If I click that, they go away. So I need to re-enable that, and I'm also going to turn on the Loop function to make sure that this loops. Then I am going to close that, so that we have a little more room to operate. So I've chosen to work with a four-bar section of this drum clip, and I've done that because I need a nice little loop to work with. But the overall file has a symbol head at the beginning that I don't want as part of this particular loop.
So I have found a nice four-bar section, and I looked for one also that has a little bit of a fill at the end, so this is going to work great for me. As I zoom in though, on the beginning of bar five here, I'll notice that this kick hit is in front of the beat, and I want that to line up right on the beat. So in order for me to manually change the way Live is going to warp this audio, I need to convert that transient marker into a warp marker. With the warp marker, I can actually move the actual placement of that particular transient.
So as I mouse over the transient, you'll see this little other gray box appear, and that's called the pseudo-warp marker. I can't move that, but if I double- click on it, I will convert it into a warp marker, and that I can move by simply clicking and dragging. Let me undo that. I will turn on the grid: Command+4 on a Mac or Ctrl+4 on a PC. And now that will snap right onto the grid. Okay, so let me zoom back out, and I am going to zoom in over here on the end of the loop.
Again, I have got a transient marker here that defines the end of the loop, and I'm going to convert that into a warp marker. I am double-clicking it and snapping that onto the grid. Okay, now as you notice, as I move those, it was actually telescoping the audio in between and on either side. That's significant, and we'll talk about that in a little more detail here in a second. So now I've got the outside edges of my loop pin, and I will listen to it to make sure the loop smoothly across the end. (Music playing.) Okay, so for the most part it sounds like it's grooving, but there is a little bit of a double-hit there at the end that I want to avoid.
So if I zoom in on the end of that clip, I will notice that the beginning of that transient is out in front of bar nine, and that's not going to work. So I'm going to select that warp marker, delete it, and then I'm going to zoom in on that transient marker. And I will notice that it's actually into the attack, and I actually need that to be over there at the beginning. So I can move that transient marker by hovering my mouse over it and then holding my Shift key down and dragging that to the new place. I am going to drag that over here, and I want to make sure that that starts right before the transient beginning. And I want to make sure that's at a zero crossing, so there's no audio at that point.
Now once I've found that, I can then hover my mouse back over that, convert that into a warp marker by double- clicking, and then snap that on to the grid. And we will zoom back out and let's give that another listen. (Drums playing.) Okay, so that's a lot better. Another thing that you are going to want to notice as you're working with your clips is the location of all of the transient markers.
So as I look through here, they look to be fairly regular, and they look to be associated with transients, but in this one little spot it looks like I don't have one, and then that looks like there's two right there. And that's a good example of a couple things that can happen when you're working with clips. So let me zoom in on that spot. So it looks like it's added a second transient marker here in what's actually decay. There might be a little bit of a spike there that the analysis says, "Hey that looks like a transient marker," but it really isn't.
So I am going to get rid of that one by simply clicking on the triangle, and when that turns black, it's selected, and now I can at hit my Delete key and get rid of it. Now if I move my cursor away from that point, you'll see that the transient marker isn't there anymore. If I move over to this one, I can see where there's not one. But that looks like that's what the hi-hat chip, or there is actually something there that I want to be able to warp to the tempo. So I am going to add one there. And to place it correctly, I am going to get rid of the grid temporarily by pressing Command+4 on a Mac or Ctrl+4 on a PC.
Now I can click right there near the beginning of that. I can zoom in if I need--and I am hitting the Plus key on my Num Pad to do that. And I will place that very carefully. And now I can turn that into a transient marker with the command Command+Shift+I--that would be on the Mac--or Ctrl+Shift+I on a PC. I've got that, and now we are ready to go. So if I need to change the tempo of this file, those should warp correctly. Now at other times, you may take a look at one or more location of transients and say, "You know that's a little bit too far off the beat to make me feel comfortable so I want to actually adjust that." So if I move this particular transient location, it's actually going to move the ones around it. And if those are actually located in good spots, I want to make sure that when I move this one, it doesn't move those two.
In effect, what I need to do is pin this one in place and pin that were in place so that I can move this one. And there's a nice function in Live to allow us to do that by simply holding down your Command key as you hover over a transient, and you'll notice that I see pseudo- warp markers at all three locations. Now I can simply double-click, convert all three of them into warp markers, and now when I move this one in the middle, these two over here actually won't move. So I can grab that and click and snap that onto the grid.
So after you've gone through and carefully edited your loop, you may want to save your changes for use in later session. We can do that by going to the sample box and simply clicking on the Save button. Another thing that I might want to do is crop this particular sample so that I have it without all the additional audio. Before I do that, I would probably Option+Click and drag a copy of that to another spot, so that I can select that one, and then right-click on the area that I am working with, and choose Crop Sample.
So if I go back to the original you can see that I have got the whole file, and then if I go down to this one, I have only got that piece that forms the four-bar loop that I am trying to work with. So while there is no substitute for a good performance, warping is a great way to fix rhythmic errors and create clips that smoothly loop.
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- Q: Can I use Ableton Live Lite to work through this course?
- A: For the most part, yes. However, there are a few limitations. For example, there are some drum sounds that won’t work with the Lite version. Lite also has a limited track count, which may cause problems with some of the larger Live Sets in the course. If you do not have the full version of Ableton Live, you can download a demo of Ableton Live Suite (http://www.ableton.com/download-suite-trial), which will run for 30 days. This will allow you to do everything in the course, and get a look at what the full version can do at the same time.
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