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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.
Quantization is great for fixing rhythmic errors, but it's time consuming to use to impart a sense of groove to an entire Live project. In this video, we will learn how to use Live's grooves to apply a rhythmic feel to both audio and MIDI clips. So groove quantization, or groove templates, both refer to the process of applying a collection of timing and velocity attributes derived from a human performance or from a legendary drum machine like the Roland TR 808, Akai MPC players, or the E-MU SP-12. So how does it work? Well I have a clip up here on my track that's just 16th notes. Now, notice over here that I have opened the groove pool.
That's this button that's on the bottom of the browsers. What I am going to do is I am going to right-click in this area, I can choose Browse Groove Library, or I can go up into my Library itself using one of my Library buttons, and navigate down to the Grooves folder. Now you notice that I've got grooves by style, some that are even indicating programs, like Logic, and some of the groove templates that they have in that particular application, and then some that are referencing some of those famous drum machines that I mentioned like the MPC folder and the SP 12 down here and so on and so forth.
So I am going to go into the Logic folder, and I am going to browse down here, and down towards the bottom, I think I like this Logic Swing 1658.agr-- by the way, that indicates a groove file. I am going to drag and drop that down into the groove pool. Once you've done that, you can actually go down on the clip box of the selected clip, and down in the Groove area, you can click the chooser here, and you will notice the groove that's available in that groove pool is populating the chooser dropdown menu. And I'll choose Logic Swing 58.
And now what should sound like straight 16th notes actually should sound quite different now. (Music playing.) So let me undo that, so that we don't have the groove applied. I'll play it again, so now you can hear it straight. (Music playing.) Very straight, right? I will go back to that and listen one more time. (Music playing.) Now I am going to click to Commit button, so we can actually see what it's doing.
And you will notice that it moved over every other note, and now it's imparting that swing feel. So how is it doing that? As I said earlier, there are timing attributes that are part of this groove file. Now if I look over here in the groove pool, I can actually manipulate some of those attributes. So the Base column here shows a 16th note, and what this does is set the rhythmic value at which groove quantization begins. For example, if you choose a 16th note, the groove file will affect rhythmic values 1/16th note and smaller.
Rhythmic values with an 8th note and larger will not be quantized. And in this case, it's not affecting every 16th note; it's affecting every other one. Now the Quantize column here, if we use that, will actually quantize the selected clip before it applies the groove file. The next column is the Timing column, and this shows to what percentage the groove file is actually being applied to the selected clip. And then in the last column, we have Random, and that allows us to apply small or large amounts of randomness to how the groove file is being applied.
And if you're using something that's emulating a drum machine, it's really a great idea to add just a small amount of randomness to add in that human inconsistency that we all like in music. So I might click and drag in that and add maybe 3 to 5%. The Amount field that's at the top is global and affects any of the groove files that are being used in this session, and that sets the intensity of which groove files are applied. At 100%, the groove parameters are applied as set in the groove pool. You can go up 130% to overaccentuate the parameters of a specific groove file.
Now we can also edit these groove files by dragging them and dropping them on a MIDI track. So if I take this Swing 60 and drag it on a empty clip slot here, we can actually see, in the MIDI Note Editor area and the Velocity area, what this groove file looks like. So I can see the velocities are changing quite a bit: every other one is quite a bit softer. And if I come over here, and scroll down in the piano, I will actually, when I get down to C1, I will see the notes that are available. And again, this is kind of a swing type feel, and so it's moving every other note off the grid slightly to give it that kind of hip-hop swing feel.
So if I take any of these and move them around at all-- so I will select in here, and I am going to select one of those and use my Command+click and drag to just make some small changes-- I can now go up and right-click on this and choose Extract Groove. And now we will see that the changed groove file is over here in the groove pool. And if I want, I can go ahead and update that and change the name.
Now as I was saying earlier, these groove files can be applied to both MIDI and to audio clips. So let me hit my Stop Clips button here, so that these guys won't play, and I'll fire off this scene that I have got set up here. (Music playing.) Okay. So, I've got one of these clips. It's an audio file--you see that there --and the other one is a MIDI file. I'm going to take this Swing 58. Another way to apply that is not to go through the chooser down here on the clip's box but actually to drag that and drop it straight on the clip.
So I will do that, and now let's give that a listen. (Music playing.) So we can see that that's actually changed both of those entirely. Now, if I go back and I select the audio file here so that we see that, and I click Commit, let's see what it does. Now we can see that it's, again, moved everyone of those over again, and I see my work markers up here. That's something that we will talk about in a later video.
Let's see what it does to the MIDI clip that we applied that to. And again, if I zoom in deeply enough, you will see that it's moved over every other one of these hi-hat hits that were on the 16th notes, but it's left those that are on the quarters alone. So using Live Groove files turns groove quantization into a very simple process that creates a powerful tool that you can use to improve the feel of your projects.
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