Ableton Live 9 Tips and Tricks
Illustration by John Hersey

Modulating the pitch content of loops using clip envelopes


From:

Ableton Live 9 Tips and Tricks

with Michael Kiraly

Video: Modulating the pitch content of loops using clip envelopes

Most often, clip envelopes are associated with the modulation of audio effect device parameters, but Ableton allows the modulation of clip parameters as well, including things like volume and transposition. The actual parameters available for modulation are dependent on the warp mode selected within the clip. So, you have to choose your warp mode carefully to enable clip envelopes for certain parameters. For more information on warp modes, make sure you check out lynda's Ableton Live Essential Training. This clip was warped via Beats mode.

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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

Modulating the pitch content of loops using clip envelopes

Most often, clip envelopes are associated with the modulation of audio effect device parameters, but Ableton allows the modulation of clip parameters as well, including things like volume and transposition. The actual parameters available for modulation are dependent on the warp mode selected within the clip. So, you have to choose your warp mode carefully to enable clip envelopes for certain parameters. For more information on warp modes, make sure you check out lynda's Ableton Live Essential Training. This clip was warped via Beats mode.

Beats mode warps audio in a manner not unlike a Slice mode in a traditional sampler or the Propellerheads' ReCycle REX-file format. This means each segment of audio can be treated individually when it comes to the transposition of its pitch parameter via clip envelopes. The setup is mostly the same as in Effects control. I'll head directly to the Device Chooser and select Clip. The Control Chooser below now displays all of the available clip parameters which can be manipulated with a clip envelope. Again, the selections in this dropdown change depending on the warp mode.

So, if you don't see what you're looking for, double-check you have the correct mode enabled. I'll select Transposition. I'll unlink the Envelope and set my end point and loop length to an arbitrary value. By the way, just as it is all throughout Live, you can edit these loop and end values by dragging the flag markers back and forth over the timeline. This is often a lot easier than entering values into the boxes, especially if you don't need precision. Modulating the transposition can create a vast range of colors and characters.

Clip envelopes that shift between extreme values will create extreme impact. Conversely, varying the modulation over 1 or 2 semitones will create subtle movement. Of course, this really only applies to non-melodic content like this drum loop. Modulating the transposition over a musical region will obviously change the notes. This is a great tool in working with melodic content, which can lead some inspired composition and arrangement changes. But when working with a tonal content, there can be greater freedom, because you aren't constrained by musical notes or scales.

I'm going to start drawing my envelope, and I'm going to vary between small, subtle shifts and huge, sweeping changes. The audible impact is immediate. (music playing) I've managed to push a boring 2-measure drum loop into a glitched-out slice of craziness, and the best part is that the offset durations of the clip envelopes mean that the audience will be listening to a new combination of these changes throughout the entire arrangement.

I did one more thing to enhance this drum track. I've used the same technique on the clip's volume parameter. I've made small precise changes to the volume clip envelope. What I can now hear is a constant change in the gate or decay of the individual beats. (music playing) So, by adding two basic, easy-to- create clip envelopes, I've transformed an ordinary drum loop to something extraordinary.

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