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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.
When preparing to record MIDI, it's a good idea to have a routine. In this video, we will go step by step through the process, so that you'll be ready to create music. First, it's always a good idea to make sure that you are receiving MIDI signal from your MIDI keyboard, and we can check that by looking up here at the MIDI In indicator. Now, when I play a key on my keyboard, I should see that little box flash, and it's not doing that. So I am going to go into Preferences, which is Command+Comma on a Mac or Ctrl+Comma on a PC. Now I'm going to check the state of my devices here.
So I've got two devices that I am using, and one is the E-MU keyboard, and I have also got the Akai APC40 hooked up here. And they're both recognized, so I am going to come down here into the MIDI Ports area and make sure that everything is turned on like it needs to be. Now, immediately I see that my E-MU keyboard input under the Track column is turned off. That's where you actually turn on the input for that particular device. I'm also noticing, while I am in here, that the APC40 Remote button is off.
Now, that should be enabled for any external device where you're sending MIDI back to the device. So I'll go ahead and click Escape to shut this dialog box. And since this is my first track I am going to record in this session, I am going to go up and set a tempo. I'll click in the Tempo field here. And if you need to type a tempo that actually has something past the decimal, all we need to do is type the numbers, then a decimal and the additional numbers. Next, I'm probably going to want to be able to hear that tempo, so I am going to enable the metronome. And I am going to want a count-in for my first track I am going to record here, so I am going to right-click on the Metronome button and choose one of the available count-ins.
Let's go with 1 Bar for now. If I need more or less, I will come back later and change that. So next, I am going to need to load a MIDI device onto my track. So I am going to go to Live's Device browser, and navigate down here to Impulse, the drum machine, and then into the Electronic folder, and I'm going to load Beat Bugz. So I'll just drag and drop that on the track. Now I should be able to play a key on my keyboard and be able to hear a sound from that drum machine. (Music playing.) Okay. So I've got the kick happening there.
Now, note that the samples and the Impulse device are mapped starting at C3, which is middle C. Now if you are playing below that, you're probably not going to hear anything, and if you're playing an octaves that are way above that, you probably also won't be triggering anything. But that's pretty good. I have got that happening. Now I'm also going to want to just briefly take a look here at my MIDI inputs. So I've got two choosers here: one is for the actual devices, and the other one is for the specific MIDI channel. Most of the time when you're using a virtual instrument, one of Live's devices, you'll leave these set at All Ins and All Channels.
Let's just take a brief look here. So it does list my APC40 and also my computer keyboard and the E-MU keyboard that I have hooked up here and another interface that's on my system. I don't really care which device that Live is receiving input from, because I'm only playing one at a time. But if you are actually recording to multiple MIDI tracks at the same time using different devices, you are going to want to set the specific device that this track should be looking at. In this case, I am going to leave it at All Ins. This other MIDI chooser is for the specific MIDI channel. And as I said, since I'm only using one device, I really don't care what channel I am receiving on, just as long as I'm receiving the MIDI signal.
In other cases, you might want to set a specific MIDI channel. When you create a MIDI track and you add a device to it, it automatically record- enables itself, and that allows us to hear the instrument. After you've recorded a MIDI clip, you may end up disabling the Record button. And when you go to play that track and maybe practice a little bit more in preparation to recording another clip, you press a key, and you don't actually hear the sound. So you can do two things at that point: you can either re-enable the Record button, or you can put the track in input monitoring by clicking this In button.
(Drum playing.) Now, I can hear myself again. But when you get ready with your record, you're going to want to put the track back in Auto Monitoring, and record- enable the track, and now you will be ready to start recording again. And last, in the future there may be a time when you're going to want to use an external device, like a synthesizer or sampler or a drum machine, with Live. To do that, you are going to need to create a track with an external instrument device on it. So let me grab that from the Live Devices browser. And I am going to drag and drop that over here in the Drop Files area and create another track.
Again, you want to address the MIDI inputs, the keyboard, and the channel that you're on, if necessary. And then to send that MIDI signal to the outside world, we'll need to go down here to Device view and click on the MIDI To chooser and set that to a device. Now, in this case, I'll actually choose my E-MU keyboard. It's not actually a sound source, but it does allow us to address this other field as well. So here's my device chooser, and then again, I have a channel chooser. So if I've got a drum machine that is set to play on channel-1, or I have got a bass sound on channel-2, or a keyboard sound on channel-3, I'll choose the appropriate MIDI channel to send to.
So, let's choose 1 here. Now remember that MIDI data is not audio, and I am going to want to capture the audio output from that device, so I'll have to plug a cable from the device to the input of my interface. Once I've done that, I can choose that input from my Audio From chooser here. So if I click on that, I'll see that I have 1 and 2 as a stereo input. And if I have two signals coming from that sound module, that's a good choice. If it's only mono though, I'll want to choose 1 or 2.
Now that we've gone through the process of getting ready to record MIDI, we're ready to troubleshoot the most common MIDI problems and ready to make some music.
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