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Preparing a project for dummy clips

From: Ableton Live 9 Tips and Tricks

Video: Preparing a project for dummy clips

While previously working with clip dnvelopes, I set up envelopes to modulate my chosen device parameters and to create dummy clip actions, clip envelopes do come into play. But there's a key difference between a normal clip containing a clip envelope and a dummy clip containing a clip envelope, and that difference is where the audio originates from. The parameter modulation created in a clip envelope impacts the audio from the clip it's embedded in. But a parameter modulation within the dummy clip alters the signal of any audio source routed through it.

Preparing a project for dummy clips

While previously working with clip dnvelopes, I set up envelopes to modulate my chosen device parameters and to create dummy clip actions, clip envelopes do come into play. But there's a key difference between a normal clip containing a clip envelope and a dummy clip containing a clip envelope, and that difference is where the audio originates from. The parameter modulation created in a clip envelope impacts the audio from the clip it's embedded in. But a parameter modulation within the dummy clip alters the signal of any audio source routed through it.

That concept bears repeating: audio must be routed through a dummy clip for it to process audio. Grasping this concept is the first step to understanding why I would route my audio in the following manner. You may have noticed dummy clips reside on their own audio track. So, I begin earlier by creating new audio track and renaming it dummy. I'll now select all the tracks containing the audio I'd like processed and set their output to feed this track. Since it's been renamed, it will show up in the Audio To dropdown as Dummy.

If I trigger the clips, I won't hear anything. Why is that? Because the dummy track is still behaving as an audio track. It's waiting to receive audio from a clip placed on the track itself. This can be changed easily enough by toggling the monitor selection from Auto to In. That enables the track to pass audio from the input instead. If I now hit Play, I can hear the routed audio loops from other tracks. (music playing) If I was treating this simply as an audio bus, it would be easy enough to place a few devices on the track and process the mixed signal. But this can be somewhat limiting.

I want to add multiple devices on the track and have the option to choose when those effects will be processing the mixed signal at the input. That really shouldn't be too hard. I could accomplish this by creating a MIDI or keyboard assignment that controls the device activator buttons on each device, or I could group several devices and create macro assignment. But then I would have to memorize and keep track of multiple key commands or controller assignments, and that can definitely be cumbersome. More importantly, I not only want to choose which effects are processing the signal, I also want to choose how those effects are processing the signal.

I want to create preprogrammed dynamic events which will increase the impact of those effects combinations, like this one. (music playing) I have got my dummy track, I have set my routing, and I've gone ahead and added all the plugin devices I want to use. The key to effectively employing dummy clips is the use of an audio effect rack to manage different device combinations and parameter changes. You'll see why this is important in a minute.

If you aren't familiar with racks or how they work, I encourage you to checkout lynda's Ableton Live Essential Training Course, which contains a comprehensive chapter on racks. However, you don't need to watch it right now. You'll still be able to follow along. But having an understanding of the inner workings of racks will allow you to comprehend mechanics behind where I'm about to do a bit better. Within a rack, each separate grouping of devices is called a chain. Clicking on this button will expand the viewing area of my rack to show all of my chains. There are four right now, and I've name them all in a way which describe their contents.

Each chain contains different effects combinations. Four different chains, four different effects options. And triggering the corresponding clips in my dummy tracks switches between them freely. (music playing) While the types of devices and affects you use for this technique is completely up to you, these are the basic steps necessary to prepare a project to use dummy clips successfully.

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Ableton Live 9 Tips and Tricks

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Michael Kiraly
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