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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.
Because of its innovative time-stretching capabilities and collection of virtual instruments and audio effects, it's only natural that Pro Tools users will want to use Ableton Live in conjunction with their Pro Tools sessions. In this video we'll learn how to use ReWire to slave Live to Pro Tools. So anytime that you're using two audio applications simultaneously, one is going to have to act as the host and the other as the slave. In this example, we'll be slaving Ableton to Pro Tools via ReWire. So I'm going to create an instrument track in Pro Tools to start off. Let's go up to the track menu. I'll choose New.
Let's go on stereo, instrument track, and I'm going to use the command Command+Equals--that would be Ctrl+Equals on a PC--to move from the Edit window to the Mix window. And let's go to the first track insert here, and I'm going to add Ableton as a multi-channel instrument plug-in. Note that when this opens up, it doesn't actually open Ableton Live, but it opens the ReWire plug-in that's going to allow us to communicate back and forth between the two programs. I'm going to launch Live.
Notice that it's saying Running as a ReWire Slave as it opens. Now I'm going to go to the Clips folder here, and into the Drums, and let's go into Electronic, and I'm going to choose one of these Eckhose clips, and I'm going to drop that on the MIDI track. But let me first tab over to arrangement view, because this only works in arrangement view. I'm going to drag that to this default MIDI track here. Just so that we have enough here to listen to, I'm going to duplicate that a few times using the duplicate command, which is Command+D or Ctrl+D on PC.
I'm going to tab back to the session view, because it's a little easier to use the mixer on this side. I am going to take that out of record, and I'm going to set the output on the track to ReWire Out, and I'll use the default outputs, which in this case are left and right. Notice that we have several others that we'll be able to use as well. Now I'm going to go back to Pro Tools. I need to do a couple of things here. First of all, in this instrument track I need to set the MIDI out to that MIDI track that we have in Ableton, which is the Eckhose track.
And then, since this is the first track we're using, I don't need to reset the audio inputs that are coming back from Ableton. We're just on mix left and right, because that's the default. So I should be able to hit play and hear sound coming back from Ableton. Let's give that a shot. (Music playing.) Okay. So it's working. Now currently the MIDI clip is actually sitting on a track in Ableton, but I can also put the MIDI on a track in Pro Tools and send MIDI over to Ableton and get audio back.
So let's go over to Ableton. Let me tab to the Arrangement view, and I'm going to select one of those MIDI clips and go to the File menu, and choose export MIDI clip. There's the name, and let me put that on the Desktop. Now I'm going to delete these clips from the track in Live, switch back to Pro Tools, I'm going to close that plug-in--we don't need to look at that now-- I will go back to the edit window, and I will bring the Finder window on top, and I see the Desktop, and there is that .mid file.
Let me select that, drag and drop that on the track in Pro Tools. Again, I'm going to select that and duplicate it. In this case, the command is the same thing: Command+D or Ctrl+D on a PC. I'll put that out a few times, hit my Return key to put the cursor at the beginning of this session. So now when I hit play I'll send MIDI to Ableton, which will trigger their virtual instrument device, and I'll get audio back. (Drums playing.) Awesome! In addition to MIDI, I can also use the audio clips that are available in Ableton.
So let me create an Aux track for this example in Pro Tools. Again, I'll go back up to Track menu, choose New, choose Stereo, Aux, Input track, Create, and I am going to Command+Equals or Ctrl+Equals over to the Mix window. And again I'm going to add Live as a multi-channel instrument plug-in. Again, ReWire opens. Back over to the Live. Let me close that up a bit. And now I'm going to go down into the Samples folder, into the Loopmasters, and let's go into Electro.
I'm going to grab one of these audio clips. Let me drop that on this default audio track. Again, I'm going to duplicate that a few times: Command+D or Ctrl+D on a PC. Tab back to the session view window so I can see the mixer. I'm going to go to Audio out, ReWire, and on the subchooser, this time I'm going to choose 3/4. Back to Pro Tools. And let me set the audio inputs that are coming back from Ableton to bus 3 and 4 as well.
Now from experience I've found that sometimes the clips in Ableton can play a little bit loudly. I'm going to actually go back over there briefly. I'm going to pull that level down just a little bit. Back to Pro Tools, and let's hit play and see if we've got signal. (Music playing.) Okay, so that's working. Now one of the nice things is that I can actually change tempo in Pro Tools and have that effect what's going on in Ableton--get a corresponding tempo change.
So I'm going to bring up the transport, which in Pro Tools is Command+1, or Ctrl+1 on a PC. I'm currently in Manual Tempo mode because the conductor is disabled, which is going to allow me to go into this field and change the tempo. So as I play the session back, I can actually scroll up and down and change this tempo. We should hear a corresponding change to the tempo that's coming back from Ableton. (Music playing.) So you can here that those MIDI clips and the audio clip are staying synced to tempo.
Now before we quit, there is a couple of things we need to talk about. First, because Live is not a plug-in that actually resides in Pro Tools--it's a separate application--I need to save that Ableton session if we're going to reopen this at a later date. So I'm going to go back over to Ableton, then go to the File menu and choose Save Live Set. And I'm going to navigate to the Pro Tools folder that I'm using. So let's go into Pro Tools ReWire, and let me give that a title, go ahead and hit Save.
I've got that. Then if I'm quitting for the day, I need to make sure that I quit the slave device first, or the ReWire device, which is Ableton in this case, and we're done. The ReWire routing can seem a bit confusing at first, but the advantages as of adding Ableton Live via ReWire to your Pro Tools sessions are worth it. Give it a shot!
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