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Understanding the basics of warping

From: Ableton Live 9 Essential Training

Video: Understanding the basics of warping

Time stretch in audio is one of Live's best known features. Let's take a look at how Live analyzes, and processes audio in order to time stretch clips, and learn to choose a warp mode that matches the musical situation. So, changing the tempo of an audio clip or an audio file was not a really useful thing until we could do that without actually changing the pitch of the contained audio. So, let's see how that works in Live. So, I'm going to choose this first clip that I've got here on this audio track. And for Live to time stretch the audio contained there, we actually need to have the Warp button enabled. Now, if this audio clip was brought into the session and that Warp button hadn't been on.

Understanding the basics of warping

Time stretch in audio is one of Live's best known features. Let's take a look at how Live analyzes, and processes audio in order to time stretch clips, and learn to choose a warp mode that matches the musical situation. So, changing the tempo of an audio clip or an audio file was not a really useful thing until we could do that without actually changing the pitch of the contained audio. So, let's see how that works in Live. So, I'm going to choose this first clip that I've got here on this audio track. And for Live to time stretch the audio contained there, we actually need to have the Warp button enabled. Now, if this audio clip was brought into the session and that Warp button hadn't been on.

The audio will just play at its original tempo, which we can see in this case is 110. What Live will do as soon as that warp button is enabled, is that it will analyse the clip and it will look for transients. And from that, it will calculate tempo and length information. Then it actually saves that as an additional file. Now I'm going to Cmd+tab out to the finder, just so I can show you that inside this project file, there is an audio file called demosong.aif. And then just below that, there is another file that ends with a .asd distinction.

And that's that analysis file that contains that analysis of the transients and their location. And in the end, the tempo and the length information that Live has guessed from analyzing the file. So, again, we've got the Warp button enabled, and I should be able to play this clip, and then change the tempo. And we should be able to hear that as I speed up and slow down the clip. Let's try it. (music playing) And so we, we learned a lot from hearing that, because as I moved it a lot slower we actually started to hear some funkiness intrude there.

As the sample started to get so far apart that Live was having trouble kind of maintaining the integrity of the sound of that clip. When I move faster we didn't hear any problems at all because the actual pieces of audio that are contained for each transient actually get moved closer together. So, how does Live handle that? Well first of all, Live uses different algorithms for different kinds of audio. So anything that you're doing with a drum clip or, that has sharp transients to it, you're going to want to use what's called Beats Mode. An if I click on that you can see that we've actually got about six different modes.

As you choose a mode, you'll actually get different parameters that appear just below that. So, in this case the preserve option gives us two different modes. We have transient, which uses the transients in the audio clip to determine how it's going to warp it. Or, we can switch to a different rhythmic value, and in that case, Live will try and preserve the specific beat divisions that are contained within that file. I actually like Transient modes, I think it works the best, so I'll choose that. And then I'm going to drop down to this next chooser, which allows us to see the loop mode. The first one if called off, and what that means is that when you play it, it's going to play each segment or each transient, any decay. And then it's going to stop when it gets to the end of that, and it's going to wait until the proper time to play the next segment. So, this is a great example of showing you what happens when you slow down a clip.

So, again I'll play this and I'm going to slow it down, you know 30 or 40 BPM. (music playing) So you can actually hear it play that piece and then wait for the next one before it moves on. Now the other two options that we have here are called Loop Forward and Loop Back and Forth.

So what Loop Forward does, that's the second one here. Is it will, play each segment, and then when it gets to the end, it will jump back to the middle. And then it'll play it to the end again, jump back to the middle, until it's time for the next segment to play. The loop back and forth which is the last one. It will actually play to the end of this segment, and then play backwards towards a point, near the middle. And then it will play it forwards again until it's time to play the next segment, and to me that's about the most natural one. So I'll choose that, and then this last setting here is a transit envelope sets a fade length. Now longer times are going to give you a much smoother transition between one segment and another one.

And shorter times will result in a gating like an effect. So, if I set this all way about 100 there is no fade, and down at zero I'll get each segment decaying very quickly. All right, for different kinds of audio you're going to want to use a different mode. So, the next clip is a base clip and on this one I would use Tones mode, which is good for monophonic type material which would be like a base line, maybe a guitar solo or perhaps a vocal. And the only option that we get with that particular mode is this green size. And what the people at Live tell us is that as it time stretches the audio it divides it into short segments that are referred to as grains as if the whole audio clip was a big pile of sand.

In some cases, you're going to want to choose a very small granular size. And in others, you're going to want to choose a larger grain size. And using their guidelines, they say that, use smaller grain size for content where the pitch is really clear. And larger grain size when it's not. So, let's give a shot at this, and just hear what it sounds like. (audio playing). Now I've dropped the tempo so slow, that I'm going to stop and I'm going to boost that backup, the original BPM is around a 100. So, lets do that about 90, and lets here it stretch at that point.

(music playing) You can see that when I got the grain size down to a smaller grain size it actually started to clear up and it sounded better. Some of the other modes that we have here would be Texture. That's good for polyphonic material like pads of synth parts or maybe strumming guitar parts. With the Repitch mode, there is actually no time stretching. Instead, it fits the clip to the tempo by changing the play speed. So, let's try that one on the third clip here, and hear what that sounds like. (music playing) So you could actually hear the pitch of the clip changing as I was changing the tempo.

The last two options here, we have our Complex and Complex Pro. And these are really good for warping or time stretching really long pieces of audio, like you're trying to do a whole song. Or something where you really want to pay attention to the real detail with the clip. In most cases I would suggest using the newest option which is Complex Pro. So, let's take a look at the last clip, which is a piece of the demo song that we have as part of this course. And I'll switch that to Pro, and one of the options that we get here is for formants.

Now, formant frequencies are that part of a sound, for example with a, a sax the formant frequencies would be derived from the actual length of the tube and the shape of the tube. And when you time stretch or transpose a file, those format frequencies can get transposed with that, and it's what gives us that chipmunk effect. So, Ableton actually gives us the ability to kind of lock those formants in place. Or at least adjust them so that as we time stretch or change the pitch. We actually don't get nearly as much of that chipmunk effect as you might otherwise get.

So, let's go ahead and play this, and I'll change the tempo on this one, and let's hear how it works with this entire song. (music playing) And you hear it's pretty successful at that. I actually started that about 40 BPM lower than the original tempo, and it still had the, the integrity to it. While this time stretching process is not perfect, Live's audio time stretching is so effective that it makes using clips of different tempos in the same song easy.

Show transcript

This video is part of

Image for Ableton Live 9 Essential Training
Ableton Live 9 Essential Training

80 video lessons · 14458 viewers

Rick Schmunk
Author

 
Expand all | Collapse all
  1. 2m 36s
    1. Welcome
      1m 6s
    2. Using the exercise files
      43s
    3. What you need to know
      47s
  2. 7m 44s
    1. What is a digital audio workstation?
      4m 13s
    2. Choosing the right gear and setting up a system
      3m 31s
  3. 11m 8s
    1. Setting up audio preferences
      4m 0s
    2. Setting up MIDI preferences
      2m 44s
    3. Optimizing performance
      4m 24s
  4. 38m 55s
    1. Nonlinear sequencing with Session view
      3m 42s
    2. Understanding the Session view window
      5m 8s
    3. Exploring the Live browser
      5m 49s
    4. Loading and playing clips
      4m 35s
    5. Moving and copying clips
      2m 55s
    6. Working with clip properties
      8m 17s
    7. Working with scenes
      8m 29s
  5. 24m 15s
    1. Using the browser
      4m 56s
    2. Searching for and auditioning clips and devices
      4m 19s
    3. Working with Live sets and projects
      4m 16s
    4. Managing files in Live
      3m 12s
    5. Exporting clips and devices
      7m 32s
  6. 33m 0s
    1. What is a software instrument?
      6m 29s
    2. Preparing to record MIDI
      5m 0s
    3. Recording and overdubbing MIDI
      4m 47s
    4. Using a computer keyboard to enter MIDI
      5m 26s
    5. Utilizing the pencil to enter MIDI notes
      5m 45s
    6. Taking advantage of third-party and multi-output MIDI devices
      5m 33s
  7. 33m 22s
    1. Navigating and zooming in the MIDI Editor
      5m 29s
    2. Configuring the MIDI Editor grid
      5m 2s
    3. Selecting and quantizing MIDI
      5m 3s
    4. Quantizing with grooves
      7m 23s
    5. Editing pitch and note duration
      6m 1s
    6. Editing MIDI velocities
      4m 24s
  8. 10m 10s
    1. Preparing to record audio
      5m 43s
    2. Recording audio
      4m 27s
  9. 34m 22s
    1. Understanding Arrangement view
      4m 10s
    2. Zooming in and out and playing in Arrangement view
      4m 46s
    3. Recording in Arrangement view
      4m 4s
    4. Recording from Session view to Arrangement view
      5m 22s
    5. Adding and using locators
      3m 32s
    6. Copying, duplicating, and editing clips in Arrangement view
      5m 53s
    7. Reworking clips
      6m 35s
  10. 25m 35s
    1. Understanding the mixer
      7m 36s
    2. Using sends and returns
      6m 52s
    3. Building headphone cues
      4m 58s
    4. Grouping tracks
      6m 9s
  11. 41m 7s
    1. Working with effect devices
      5m 59s
    2. Understanding EQ and filters
      7m 30s
    3. Using compressors and dynamic processors
      6m 26s
    4. Building interesting effects with delay effect processing
      7m 20s
    5. Using reverb effectively
      8m 5s
    6. Setting up side chain effects easily
      5m 47s
  12. 11m 15s
    1. Creating rhythmic patterns with the Arpeggiator effect
      6m 3s
    2. Building background parts with the Chord and Scale effects
      5m 12s
  13. 11m 44s
    1. Mapping keys with Keymap mode
      4m 12s
    2. Mapping device controls to the MIDI keyboard
      3m 16s
    3. Using the instant mapping feature
      4m 16s
  14. 31m 51s
    1. Recording real-time automation
      6m 24s
    2. Drawing automation manually
      7m 48s
    3. Automating clips in Session view
      8m 36s
    4. Editing existing automation information
      4m 57s
    5. Using fades to mask audio pops and clicks
      4m 6s
  15. 20m 59s
    1. Understanding the basics of warping
      8m 43s
    2. Creating clips that loop smoothly
      6m 37s
    3. Using warp features to quantize audio
      5m 39s
  16. 10m 12s
    1. Exporting audio from Live
      6m 29s
    2. Freezing tracks
      3m 43s
  17. 42m 22s
    1. Exploring Impulse
      5m 5s
    2. Using Impulse as a multi-output instrument
      9m 15s
    3. Getting the most out of Impulse instrument parameters
      6m 23s
    4. Exploring Simpler
      7m 50s
    5. Smoothing sample start and end points in Simpler
      6m 32s
    6. Tweaking the parameters of Simpler
      7m 17s
  18. 36m 55s
    1. Unlocking the power of FX racks
      10m 48s
    2. Utilizing instrument racks
      10m 13s
    3. Creating drum racks
      9m 50s
    4. Working with rack macros
      6m 4s
  19. 10m 22s
    1. Introducing Max for Live
      4m 52s
    2. Exploring the Mono Sequencer in Max for Live
      5m 30s
  20. 5m 54s
    1. Working with video files
      5m 54s
  21. 24s
    1. Next steps
      24s

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