Ableton Live 9 Tips and Tricks
Illustration by John Hersey

Exploring Follow Actions


From:

Ableton Live 9 Tips and Tricks

with Michael Kiraly

Video: Exploring Follow Actions

I've got a project here that contains a song I am working on. Each element has been placed on its own track, and each track contains multiple clips containing variations of those elements. (music playing) I am keeping these clips in Session view so I can trigger them spontaneously. And I have set up a MIDI controller to help that process as well. Trying out different combinations and transitions to help guide the arrangement is going to be very, very helpful later on.

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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

Exploring Follow Actions

I've got a project here that contains a song I am working on. Each element has been placed on its own track, and each track contains multiple clips containing variations of those elements. (music playing) I am keeping these clips in Session view so I can trigger them spontaneously. And I have set up a MIDI controller to help that process as well. Trying out different combinations and transitions to help guide the arrangement is going to be very, very helpful later on.

You'll notice that this drum loops track has a bunch of clips lined up and ready to go. The same goes for this track over here. These clips are individual variations of the bass line. I have placed all of these here like this because I'm fairly certain for now that this is the order I want these clips to play in. (music playing) It's kind of like a prearrangement for these two elements. I don't want to merge them or move them over to Arrange view because I like them here, where I can delete them, copy them, move them around, really do anything I like.

Right now I really want to keep my focus on experimenting with these clips over here. (music playing) Improvising with this many clips might not seem too difficult, but it can get busy very quickly, especially if I also need to launch the drums and bass line clips over here. So, to keep my hands as free as possible, I am going to tell Live to launch these prearranged clips for me. That's what creating a follow action accomplishes.

Watch what happens when I trigger this first clip. (music playing) The Launch button on the second clip starts to blink immediately. A blinking Launch button means the clip has been triggered and it's going to begin playing when the global quantization value is reached. My project has been set at 1 bar, so a clip with a blinking Launch button means it's already been triggered and is waiting for the next measure to start playing. But I didn't actually touch this clip; I triggered this first one up here.

So, why then did this one begin to blink as if it had been triggered as well? Because it was the follow action that triggered it for me. Basically, a follow action is a set of instructions contained within a clip that tells Live what to do after the clip has been launched. For example, launching this clip right here-- (music playing) --will activate a follow action that tells this next clip to begin playing after 4 bars. In essence, the first clip is triggering the second. Now if I trigger the second clip, it'll trigger the third.

This will happen as I click each clip in sequence. I've created follow actions in all of these clips, so each one will play until it's time for the next one to take over. Playing clips in sequence is a really basic example. Follow actions can be used to generate all kinds of complex and automated events. And this unique feature is just one of the many reasons that Ableton Live has become the DAW of choice for so many musicians and producers.

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