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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.
The MIDI Editor area in Live is like a small application, or world, unto itself. So let's take a look at the different components that make up the MIDI Editor, and learn how to configure and navigate the MIDI Editor. So the MIDI Editor window is part of Details view, which is located at the bottom of Session view. Now, I can open a clip in MIDI Editor by simply clicking on it, and I'm looking at the Note Editor area here. And there's a second thing I can see down here by clicking on this other tab, and that opens the device that's actually playing that MIDI clip. Let's go back to the MIDI Editor.
So the Note Editor provides a graphic display of the MIDI events that makeup a MIDI clip, so I've got note events and velocity information. If you point at a note, over here in the piano role it displays the note number. So I know that these note right here A1. If I click on the MIDI note block in the MIDI Editor, I should hear the assigned sound. Right now, that's not working because I need to turn on the Preview button. Let's give that another try. (Music playing.) Now in some cases you may want to reduce what you were seeing in the MIDI Editor area, by clicking the Fold button. This will actually eliminate any notes that don't have any MIDI notes on them. Now, that's particularly useful when you're looking at a drum clip.
Let's go over here and take a look at this Onna Groove clip. So in this case, if I undo the Fold button, we can see all the notes that are there. And if I re-enable it, we can see that I'm just seeing the notes that are actually part of this clip. And the other part, when I have Impulse preset up here, I can actually see the names of the samples that are assigned to those notes, so that I know which ones are available. So I've got a kick down here and a snare and so on and so forth, and I should be able to hear that if I enable the Preview button. So I can simply click on the piano role to hear what notes are there.
Now located at the bottom of the Note Editor area is the MIDI Velocity Editor. Here I can click one of these markers to edit the velocity of the associated note. So if I click on the note, we'll see the Velocity Editor light up, and I can click or drag to change the level of that note. Now there's a second one hiding in the back on because there's hi-hat hit that's up here. Now at the top of the Note Editor area, we have the beat time ruler, and that provides a time reference for the clip. So I've got a clip that's four bars long, and these numbers that I'm seeing at the beginning of each bar. I can zoom in and see more detail by simply clicking and dragging up and down in the beat time ruler. And you notice that as I go in I get to see more resolution, so I start to see not just the bar lines, but I see the bits as well.
Now I can also zoom in and out by moving my cursor down in here to the clip overview hotspot, and I can do the same thing: drag up to zoom back out drag down to zoom in. And I can do the same thing by clicking in the Note Editor itself and then using my Plus and Minus keys on my num pad. Plus will zoom you into more detail. Minus take you back out. Now this grid that we're seeing in the background can also be adjusted by right-clicking on the Note Editor background and choosing a value from either the Fixed Grid area or the Adaptive Grid area.
For example, if I choose 16th notes here, we'll see that the grid immediately gets finer. I'll right-click again, and let's try quarter note. If I got a triplet figure in the rhythm of the performance that I'm editing, I can turn that on by clicking on a Triplet Grid. You right-click again, and that's a toggle so I can toggle that off by clicking on Triplet Grid again. Now I can change the grid using shortcuts, and that would be, on a Mac, Command+ one through five--on a PC, Ctrl+one through five. So if I go Command+2, I can widen the grid--Ctrl+2 on a PC--or Command+1 or Ctrl+1 will narrow the grid.
Command+3 toggles on and off triplets, and Command+4 will show or hide the grid. That will toggle that on and off. Command+5 will toggle between fixed and adaptive grid. Now if I choose an Adaptive Grid setting, as I click and drag to zoom in and zoom out, that's when I'll see that grid change and get finer or wider, depending upon my zoom level. One last thing I'll point out in the MIDI Editor is the loop end and start points. There are times when you going to want to change these. There may be a four-bar clip or an eight-bar clip, and there are actually two bars inside that clip that you want to use.
Let me choose another clip here. And I can change those lengths by simply moving my cursor up in here to beat ruler and dragging the start time to the point where I want to start and the end time where I want that to end. And now I simply have a two-bar clip instead of having an eight-bar clip. So until you're familiar with the MIDI Editor, working here can be very awkward. Spend some time practicing the things we talked about, and you'll be much more comfortable when you start to edit your own MIDI performances.
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