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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.
Live is an incredibly powerful MIDI production environment, which can be controlled by a variety of different external MIDI devices. Let's take a look at how you can map control of Live to a MIDI keyboard or MIDI control surface. So MIDI Map mode in Live allows you to assign a button or knob on a MIDI keyboard or MIDI controller to control a parameter in Live. Now first I am going to double check and make sure things are set up correctly in Preferences. So that's Command+Comma on a Mac, or Ctrl+Comma on a PC. So I see my E-MU keyboard is here, and under Tracking, it's on.
That's going to allow me to trigger notes from the keyboard. But to be able to trigger control changes, I need to make sure that the Remote button is also enabled. Hit Escape to get out of there, and now I can enter a MIDI Map mode by simply clicking on the MIDI button in the control bar or by using the keyboard shortcut Command+M, which would you Ctrl+M on a PC. And now all I need to do is click a parameter to select it and then turn the knob I want to assign to that on the controller or MIDI keyboard.
Now I've done that, and you'll see that it's assigned number 10 on the keyboard. And if I look up under the MIDI Mappings browser, I can also see more details. So it shows Control Change number 10-- that's the actual knob on the keyboard-- is assigned to track number 2, and the device is Pad-eMotional. You can see that down here. And the Parameter is the cutoff frequency for oscillator 2, which I see down here. And I am going to hit Escape. Now I should be able to turn that knob, and you'll see that it's now controlling that parameter on that instrument device.
Now one of the really useful things about MIDI mapping is I can assign it to multiple knobs if I want. So I am going to go back into the Mapping feature, so Command+M, Ctrl+M on a PC. And this time I'm going to in the click the resonance parameter and also assign that to the same knob. Now I am going to want these to do two different things, so I am going to be using the Minimum and Maximum values to define the range that I'll be able to move that particular knob. I've already experimented with this a little bit, so I am going to set the Minimum on the cutoff frequency to around 600 Hz.
Now just remember that as you get close you may want to move in smaller increments. And if you hold your Command key down and drag, it will allow you to do that. And I'm going to go to the maximum here, and I am going to set that around 7K. And then with the Resonance, I am going to set that about 40 to 60, so let me do that quickly. Okay now I am going to hit Escape, and as I turn this knob, we should see both of those moving.
There we go. It took just a second. And I will turn that down to kind of their lowest value, which is around 600 Hz, remember, and 40% resonance. Now if I turn it all the way the other way, so I have defined that range. Now the real power of using these Control Change knobs is to record automation. So I am going to tab over to Arrangement view. I have already got my track in Record. Let me put my cursor over here at the beginning where I want to start. The Overdub switch is enabled, which I am going to need because I want to overdub these control changes and not actually wipe out the MIDI notes that are already recorded.
I will put the system in Record by clicking on the Global Record Button, and then I'm going to actually enable a count-in for this by right-clicking on the Metronome button and making sure that I have got a one-bar count in. Now I am doing that because I need to have my hand over here on the knob previous to actually starting to record. But if you have got your hands on your computer keyboard or doing something else, it takes a second to get there. So let me put the count- in on and the metronome on. Now all I need to do is hit the Spacebar to start playback.
(Music playing.) So you can see how easy it is to record automation using a Control knob. Now if you need to delete an assignment, that's pretty easy as well. Just need to go back to the MIDI Map mode by clicking on the button, and now if I just select something here in the Mappings browser and hit my Delete key, they are gone, and I can reassign them.
So in the past, mapping MIDI controls was a painful process. As you can see, the designers at Ableton had made this easy, and being able to set ranges helps to achieve consistent and musical results.
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