Ableton Live 9 Essential Training
Illustration by John Hersey

Ableton Live 9 Essential Training

with Rick Schmunk

Video: Drawing automation manually

Not everyone has a MIDI controller with knobs and faders to record automation in real time. And sometimes it's just easier to add automation by clicking or drawing it. Let's take a look at how you can add graphic automation to control device and mixer parameters. So to add graphic automation, I first need to display the actual automation line. And I can either do that by going to these choosers that are under the track name. And choosing either the Device or a Mixer and then choosing the specific parameter. And I could also do that by simply clicking the parameter itself.
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  1. 2m 36s
    1. Welcome
      1m 6s
    2. Using the exercise files
      43s
    3. What you need to know
      47s
  2. 7m 44s
    1. What is a digital audio workstation?
      4m 13s
    2. Choosing the right gear and setting up a system
      3m 31s
  3. 11m 8s
    1. Setting up audio preferences
      4m 0s
    2. Setting up MIDI preferences
      2m 44s
    3. Optimizing performance
      4m 24s
  4. 38m 55s
    1. Nonlinear sequencing with Session view
      3m 42s
    2. Understanding the Session view window
      5m 8s
    3. Exploring the Live browser
      5m 49s
    4. Loading and playing clips
      4m 35s
    5. Moving and copying clips
      2m 55s
    6. Working with clip properties
      8m 17s
    7. Working with scenes
      8m 29s
  5. 24m 15s
    1. Using the browser
      4m 56s
    2. Searching for and auditioning clips and devices
      4m 19s
    3. Working with Live sets and projects
      4m 16s
    4. Managing files in Live
      3m 12s
    5. Exporting clips and devices
      7m 32s
  6. 33m 0s
    1. What is a software instrument?
      6m 29s
    2. Preparing to record MIDI
      5m 0s
    3. Recording and overdubbing MIDI
      4m 47s
    4. Using a computer keyboard to enter MIDI
      5m 26s
    5. Utilizing the pencil to enter MIDI notes
      5m 45s
    6. Taking advantage of third-party and multi-output MIDI devices
      5m 33s
  7. 33m 22s
    1. Navigating and zooming in the MIDI Editor
      5m 29s
    2. Configuring the MIDI Editor grid
      5m 2s
    3. Selecting and quantizing MIDI
      5m 3s
    4. Quantizing with grooves
      7m 23s
    5. Editing pitch and note duration
      6m 1s
    6. Editing MIDI velocities
      4m 24s
  8. 10m 10s
    1. Preparing to record audio
      5m 43s
    2. Recording audio
      4m 27s
  9. 34m 22s
    1. Understanding Arrangement view
      4m 10s
    2. Zooming in and out and playing in Arrangement view
      4m 46s
    3. Recording in Arrangement view
      4m 4s
    4. Recording from Session view to Arrangement view
      5m 22s
    5. Adding and using locators
      3m 32s
    6. Copying, duplicating, and editing clips in Arrangement view
      5m 53s
    7. Reworking clips
      6m 35s
  10. 25m 35s
    1. Understanding the mixer
      7m 36s
    2. Using sends and returns
      6m 52s
    3. Building headphone cues
      4m 58s
    4. Grouping tracks
      6m 9s
  11. 41m 7s
    1. Working with effect devices
      5m 59s
    2. Understanding EQ and filters
      7m 30s
    3. Using compressors and dynamic processors
      6m 26s
    4. Building interesting effects with delay effect processing
      7m 20s
    5. Using reverb effectively
      8m 5s
    6. Setting up side chain effects easily
      5m 47s
  12. 11m 15s
    1. Creating rhythmic patterns with the Arpeggiator effect
      6m 3s
    2. Building background parts with the Chord and Scale effects
      5m 12s
  13. 11m 44s
    1. Mapping keys with Keymap mode
      4m 12s
    2. Mapping device controls to the MIDI keyboard
      3m 16s
    3. Using the instant mapping feature
      4m 16s
  14. 31m 51s
    1. Recording real-time automation
      6m 24s
    2. Drawing automation manually
      7m 48s
    3. Automating clips in Session view
      8m 36s
    4. Editing existing automation information
      4m 57s
    5. Using fades to mask audio pops and clicks
      4m 6s
  15. 20m 59s
    1. Understanding the basics of warping
      8m 43s
    2. Creating clips that loop smoothly
      6m 37s
    3. Using warp features to quantize audio
      5m 39s
  16. 10m 12s
    1. Exporting audio from Live
      6m 29s
    2. Freezing tracks
      3m 43s
  17. 42m 22s
    1. Exploring Impulse
      5m 5s
    2. Using Impulse as a multi-output instrument
      9m 15s
    3. Getting the most out of Impulse instrument parameters
      6m 23s
    4. Exploring Simpler
      7m 50s
    5. Smoothing sample start and end points in Simpler
      6m 32s
    6. Tweaking the parameters of Simpler
      7m 17s
  18. 36m 55s
    1. Unlocking the power of FX racks
      10m 48s
    2. Utilizing instrument racks
      10m 13s
    3. Creating drum racks
      9m 50s
    4. Working with rack macros
      6m 4s
  19. 10m 22s
    1. Introducing Max for Live
      4m 52s
    2. Exploring the Mono Sequencer in Max for Live
      5m 30s
  20. 5m 54s
    1. Working with video files
      5m 54s
  21. 24s
    1. Next steps
      24s

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Watch the Online Video Course Ableton Live 9 Essential Training
7h 24m Beginner Apr 16, 2013

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

Create music in real time, on stage, or while producing in the studio, with Ableton Live. In this course, music professor Rick Schmunk shows you how to compose, record, remix, improvise, produce, and edit your musical ideas. Along the way, get familiar with the Live interface, work with its views for recording and editing audio and MIDI, and explore its unique real-time recording and mixing capabilities. Plus, learn real-world production skills that can be applied to songwriting, studio production, and DJing. The final chapters offer an inside look at features added in Live 9, such as new Instrument Racks containing over 3,000 production-ready sounds, and Max for Live, a toolkit for building custom devices.

Topics include:
  • Choosing the right gear to use with Ableton
  • Setting audio and MIDI preferences
  • Optimizing performance
  • Loading, playing, and moving clips
  • Exporting clips and devices
  • Recording and overdubbing MIDI
  • Quantizing with grooves
  • Editing pitch and note duration
  • Understanding EQ and filters
  • Recording real-time automation
  • Looping audio
  • Creating beats with Impulse
  • Creating drum racks
  • Introducing Max for Live
Subject:
Audio + Music
Software:
Ableton Live
Author:
Rick Schmunk

Drawing automation manually

Not everyone has a MIDI controller with knobs and faders to record automation in real time. And sometimes it's just easier to add automation by clicking or drawing it. Let's take a look at how you can add graphic automation to control device and mixer parameters. So to add graphic automation, I first need to display the actual automation line. And I can either do that by going to these choosers that are under the track name. And choosing either the Device or a Mixer and then choosing the specific parameter. And I could also do that by simply clicking the parameter itself.

If I click the Pan here, the Pan Automation is showing. And if I click the Volume, the Volume Automation is showing. So, one of the ways we can add graphic automation is just to click on the line itself and that will add a break point. You'll notice as I hover my mouse over that dotted line, it turns into a solid line. If I click and take my mouse away, you'll see that there's a break point there. Now to get rid of that break point, I can go back and just click on it again, and it's gone. Now, let's start off by adding a little volume swell into the first part of this filter pad track.

So, I'm going to zoom in a litle bit by going up into the ruler there and dragging down. And I;m going to add a break point to leave the volume level where it's at before I actually pull down on that line. So, I wnat to swell up to about that point, so I'll add a break point there. And now I'm going to go to the beginning of the track and I'll add another break point. And I'll pull down now to set where I want to start with the volume. Normally with volume changes, they're not a straight linear change like we see there. They're normally curved so that there's less of a change in the beginning and more of a change at the end. Now we can do that in Live by holding down the Option key, and clicking anywhere between two break points.

And then dragging up or down to add that curve. So now we've got more of a non linear volume change and that's a little bit more realistic to what we would like. But I could also add animation to a range. So for example I might want this next section of the filter pad track to go up a little bit in volume. So I will move my mouse away from the line, click and drag to make a selection. And now when I move my mouse down towards the line if I hold my Shift key, you'll notice that it turns blue. And I can now click on that line and drag upper down to make a static voulume change.

Now I might want to do this same thing to mute the track in a place. So, the next section here are click and drag over here to make a selection. And then I'm going to go choose the Track Activator button so that I display that automation. And I clicked it again just to reactivate it. And now I'll click and drag across it here. And again a hold down my Shift key and click an drag on the line to pull it down. Now note that the Track Activator or Mute button is either off or on. So now if I click over here, you'll notice that the Track Activator button is on, an when I click in this area, it's off.

An then over in this area again, it goes back on. Now let me zoom back out. I want to move over here to the next area of the filter pad track and let's take a look at adding automation using the Pencil tool. So again, I'll do that to the volume area, so I'll click in there to display that line. And I'll activate the Pencil tool by clicking on it up here in the Control Bar. So if I move my mouse down into this area, and click and hold and drag, I can add automation. Which you'll notice that it's being constrained by the grid, which is currently at a quarter note.

And when I use the Pencil tool to add automation, I like to do this without the grid active. So I can deactivate the grid by going, Cmd+4, that'll be Ctrl+4 on a PC. Now you can see that there are dotted lines and now I can click and add that automation smoothly the same way. I could also do that with the grid active and I'll reactivate that again by going, Cmd+4, Ctrl+4 on a PC. This time I'll hold down my Option key as I click and drag, and that will temporarily disable the grid as I do the move.

Okay, another interesting way that I can use the Pencil tool to add automation, I'll do on this wobble bass track. That's a little bit above that, so I'll scroll up. And go to click on the track area where I want to work. And then I'm going to click on the parameter here that's actually on this virtual instrument. I want to work with the rate here, so, I'll click that to display that. Then I'll go up in the ruler so that I can zoom in a little bit. So, this is the key parameter in creating that Wobble Bass effect that you often hear in dubstep music. And what their doing is their using an LFO to control the filter opening and closing and their doing that sync to tempo at some rhythmic value. So as I hover my mouse here and click and drag across here, you'll actually see it displayed in the rhythmic value that I'm working at. So right now, I'm at a half note, and I'm going to move that up so I'm at a quarter note.

And then in the next area, I'll advance that to a eighth note. And then in the next area, I'll do that to an eighth note triplet. And then I'll go one step further up to a 16th note so that we can see that. And let me just solo that so we can listen and hear what it's doing. I'll disable the Pencil tool by using the key command which is Cmd+B on mac or Ctrl+B on a pc. Now we see the break points that I've written. And I'll hit play here so we can see what that sounds like (music playing).

So you can clearly hear it changing the value at which that filter is opening and closing. Here I've just advanced the rhythmic value so we could hear that. But normally you do that more randomly as you see over here to the left in the first part of this track. So I want to end by showing you some interesting automation that we can do on the master track. So in the Mixer area, one of the options here is for Song Tempo. Now when you choose Song Tempo, you actually get these Min and Max values that you can set. So you can constrain the tempo changes between two values. And through experience I can tell you that you want to set it just a little bit higher and a little bit lower than your target values. So that the automation line is easy to grab.

So, I'm at 131, that's my max tempo, so I'm going to click in this field and I'm going to type 140. Just to give me a little bit of room to maneuver above my temp. Let me hit enter, to log that. And then the tempo that I'm aiming for is around 120, so I'm going to go into the minimum value and type 115, and hit enter. And now I can go to the end of the song here where I want to slow the tempo. So I'm going to cilck and add a break point here around 119, and then I'm going to pull that down at this last section, down to about 120, and let that go.

And then again, I'm going to add a little bit of a curve on that by holding down my Option key and clicking and dragging on the line so I've got just a bit of a curve. And then I'll disable the Solo button on this wobble base track so I can actually hear what we're doing. And I'll click right before that tempo change and I'll hit play so we can hear what's happening. (music playing) We can clearly hear the tempo change there.

And the ability to actually create the tempo change really dramatize that effect where we went from one style to more of the dub step style there at the very end of the song. So as you can see adding graphical automation is not difficult and it could really bring out the details in a mix.

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