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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 using Ableton Live in live performance, it's a good idea to have a strategy in place for how you're going to trigger clips and scenes. In this video, we'll learn how to trigger clips and scenes using follow actions. Now there is a few different ways we can trigger clips or scenes. Let's take a look at all three of them. So first of all, I have got a track here set up where I have sectioned a song into the different intros, verses, and choruses. Now one way I can trigger these is to use my computer mouse, but in Live performance that can get very awkward. Some alternative ways are to click your Key Mapping button and assign keys on your keyboard.
So I have got the first one selected. Let me press the letter A on my computer keyboard. I'll go to the next one and press the letter S, and I'll hit my Escape key to get out of the Key Map mode, and now I can trigger that scene by pressing the letter A-- (Music playing.) --and the second scene by pressing the letter B. Another way I can do that is to use MIDI Map mode, and before I do that I am going to go back into Key Map mode here and delete those two, hit my Escape Key to get out of there, and now I'll go into MIDI Map mode.
And notice everything turns purple that I can map using MIDI Map mode. I'll again select that first slot, and I am going to press a key low-down on my keyboard that I'm unlikely to use. And I have assigned that to C1, and let me press the next one, and I'll assign that to D1. Again, I can escape MIDI Map mode by pressing Escape, and now I can trigger that first scene by pressing C1 on my keyboard controller. (Music playing.) And D1 triggered the intro B clip.
Okay. I am going to get rid of those two before we move on. Now in both cases, if I'm actually playing an instrument, taking my hands off the instrument to trigger clip might get tricky. So another way to do this is to use follow actions. So if I click on this clip and come down here into my Clip View area, you'll see that I have a box called the Launch box. Now I can show and hide that by clicking on this L that's down here in the Show/Hide buttons.
So one of the things that I can do here is set on amount of time that I want this clip to play before the next action happens, and I do that by typing values in this first row. So for instance, if I want that first clip to play four bars before moving on, I'll type that in. And after setting that length, I can choose a follow action from this menu here. So a couple that are obvious would be Next, meaning that after this clip goes through its four-bar length, it will go to the next clip. If I choose Previous, it would go to the previous clip.
So let me choose Next in this case, and we'll see what happens. So if I fire off Intro A-- (Music playing.) --it went on to Intro B, and we immediately saw that that was going to happen because the Launch button on Intro B started flashing green to say, "Hey I am the next thing that's going to happen." So we can set a variety of time, and we can also use a number of these different follow actions.
So, some of the others are First, which means that as a clip goes through its length, it will trigger the first in a group of clips on a track. Now note that those clips need to be grouped in such a way that there aren't any empty clip slots between any of the clips. Same thing with Last; in that case I would go to the last clip in a group. Or if you want to be a little bit more random, you can choose Any or Other. Now sometimes, you don't want the same thing to happen every time you go through a song. And we can do that because Live offers us to set two follow actions against a clip.
So if I say 4 bars, and then I say follow action 1 might be to go to Next, but I can set up another one to say, "Hey, let's go to any clip in the group," and then I can set a ratio of how that's going to happen. So for instance, if I put a 3 here and 1 over in the second one, I'm setting a 3:1 ratio that the next follow action will be this Next option versus the Any action. And by the way, if there is a 0 in any one of these fields, that action won't happen at all.
So let's see what happens here. (Music playing.) So I don't know if you caught that, but the follow action that happened, it actually did the Any that time, and what it did was it replayed itself. So it chose itself out of the group of clips before then on the second pass it triggered and went into Intro B.
Okay let's take a look at another example. And I am going to open up another Live set to do that. And in this case, I've got clips on several tracks, and I want to trigger them all using follow actions. So on this first track on the drums here, I have got a follow action set there to go the next clip, and I have got that set at 8. Let's change it to 4. I am going to the same thing on this Pad track. And so if I fire off Intro A, because these clips have the same follow actions, we should see them trigger clips on the next scene.
(Music playing.) Okay, and that worked. Now on the next scene, I've got clips going across the entire set of tracks. Let's see what happens in that case. (Music playing.) So that worked, and in each case, you'll notice that it dropped down and played a clip on the next scene.
But in the cases where there wasn't another clip to play on the next clip slot, nothing happen there. So that causes a problem in this whole sequence of events. Now what I did here on this second scene was I put a bunch of empty clips there, so that even though there isn't actually anything on this Bass track, when we went to the next scene it triggered the next clip. So in this case, if you're trying to set things up to work this way, we actually need to either put a blank clip in place so that we can go through this sequence of follow actions, or we need to remove the Stop button that's on a track.
So, for example, if I want the first scene to trigger every clip on the next scene, I am going to need to put those blank clips in there. I have already got this set up with a blank four-bar clip, so let me copy that one. That's Option+Click and drag. And then I'm going to copy that across to these other slots. Now I'll stop those, and we should see this first row all fire off, and you should see the lights blinking on the Launch buttons of the second scene.
(Music playing.) Okay, so that worked. Now in the next case, I may not want to put a blank clip slot, and I actually may want something to continue playing. For example, if I wanted this Brass patch to continue playing during the scene, one of the things that I could do would just be to remove the Stop button here so that that's blank and then make sure that I set the follow action on this particular clip to be the length that will then play until it gets down to this next clip slot.
As you can see, follow actions are a very powerful feature of Live. Using them can get a bit complicated at times, but they can make performing with tracks a real performance experience.
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