Understanding clip properties
Video: Understanding clip propertiesAs we've been discussing, audio and MIDI clips are an integral part of using Ableton Live. In this video we'll discuss the differences between audio and MIDI clips, and see how those differences are reflected in the clip properties. We'll also learn how to adjust the properties that affect how a clip plays back. So there are differences in audio and MIDI clips worth noting. Audio clips are short audio recordings, and if we double-click on a clip on the audio track, notice that the clip opens in Detail view at the bottom of the session window. In the Sample Editor area if we can see the audio waveform.
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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.
- Putting together a DAW system
- Setting up Ableton preferences
- Importing and exporting content
- Recording MIDI
- Editing and quantizing MIDI data
- Recording audio
- Recording in Arrangement view
- Using sends and returns in the Live Mixer
- Grouping tracks
- Signal processing
- Creating and editing automation envelopes
- Using fades to mask audio pops and clicks
- Looping and warping audio clips
- Mapping device controls to a MIDI keyboard
- Working with virtual instruments
- Integrating Live with Pro Tools and Logic
Understanding clip properties
As we've been discussing, audio and MIDI clips are an integral part of using Ableton Live. In this video we'll discuss the differences between audio and MIDI clips, and see how those differences are reflected in the clip properties. We'll also learn how to adjust the properties that affect how a clip plays back. So there are differences in audio and MIDI clips worth noting. Audio clips are short audio recordings, and if we double-click on a clip on the audio track, notice that the clip opens in Detail view at the bottom of the session window. In the Sample Editor area if we can see the audio waveform.
If I select a clip on the MIDI track, we'll see that the Sample Editor changes to the MIDI Note Editor, and here I am seeing the note blobs representing notes. I can also click the Track View Selector and see the device chain that's being used with this MIDI instrument and to convert that MIDI data into sound. That's something that's not necessary on an audio track. Now audio and MIDI clips share some properties. Let me reselect the audio clip, and I'm going to go back into the Clip Overview. And over here on the left-hand side of the details view I see the Clips box.
This is actually the same for both audio and MIDI clips. In the upper left-hand corner, I see the Clip Activator button, and if I disable that, the clip won't play. That also frees up system resources. Under that field I see the clip name. If you want to change that, you can always click in there, and this time I'll rename it "Bass." Underneath that field I see the clip color. And if I want to change that, I can go ahead and bring up this drop up menu and click a different color.
Now you can see that it's assigned here. I see the color at the top of the box here and then also on the clip up here on the track. Underneath that I see the default time signature for the clip, and below that I see the Groove area. That's something that we're going to talk about in an upcoming video. Now on audio clips only, I get the Sample box, and at the top I see some properties about that. I actually see the name of the source WAV; in this case, it's 0001 Bass.wav. And then I see the sample rate, which is 44.1 kilohertz, the bit rate--16-bit--and 2 channels indicates that this is a stereo file.
Now underneath that I see the Edit button, and if I click the Edit button this will actually open up this file in another program for further audio editing. And you can indicate that program by going into your Live Preferences--which on a Mac is under your Live menu, or on a PC under the Options menu--and going to the File Folder tab, and then under Sample Editor, you can browse your hard drive and choose another program. In this case, I have got it set to Pro Tools. I'm going to close that by hitting my Escape key. Now, if I make changes in the clip properties, I can save them by clicking the Save button here. And that won't affect other Live sets that use this particular clip that we created earlier, but what I recall this clip later for use in other sets I'll get the settings that I use here.
The next button is kind of a fun one. If I click that, it's actually going to reverse the clip itself and will play the samples in reverse, so that I will hear decay first and then the attack. Let's check that out. (Music playing.) Pretty cool! I'm going to undo that for right now. Two other buttons that you might use for effect as well are the Half Tempo and Double Tempo. So if I click to Half Tempo button it will actually play the clip back at twice the rate.
(Music playing.) And if I click the Double Tempo button, I can take it back to the original tempo, and then again I'll actually hear it play at half the rate. This time it's going to pretty slow. (Music playing.) So that might not be the thing to do in this particular set, but at times those can be very, very useful buttons. Now under the Edit button, over here I have the Hi-Q button, or High-Quality button. This uses a process that requires more processing power, but results in a higher quality playback, and allows for greater transposition range.
Next to that, I have the Fade button, and when this is enabled Live automatically drops a very, very short fade on the beginning and ending of a clip. This ensures that there are no clips or pops that are heard because of poor editing. Next to the Fade I have got the RAM Mode button, and when this is enabled Live will actually load this particular clip into RAM and access it from RAM rather than streaming it from the hard disk. This is helpful if the track kind of high and your experiencing dropouts or other problems. But the recommendation here is use this carefully and as a last alternative.
Below that I have the Transpose area and the Clip Volume setting, and I can change those by simply dialing these two knobs. So if I need to play this back at a different pitch, I can click and drag on this, and I'll transpose this up, and I'll click again. (Music playing.) And we are hearing some artifacts there. It depends upon the particular clip on how successful Live is going to be able to play that back at a different pitch. In this case, I've gone 12 steps, which is an octave, and it's struggling a little bit. But from my personal experience I can tell you that going about a minor third you can do pretty well.
Above that, it's just really is the luck of the draw. So let me put that back at 0. I can also fine-tune this by dialing in the sense field down here and the sense divides a half step into 100. I can also affect the clip playback volume by grabbing this slider and moving that. So let's check out what that does. (Music Playing) This is useful when you run out of headroom on your fader, like you can't turn up a clip loud enough actually using the volume slider on the track.
In the next column we've got the Warp button, and when that is enabled Live will actually cause the clip to play back at the same tempo as the session, regardless of the tempo that the clip was actually recorded at. So this is really handy, and it will allow us to sync this clip with other clips, no matter what the tempo is. Over on the far right-hand side we see settings for how the clip is going to loop back and forth. I can set the start and the ending of this clip, and in this case if I play it, since the Loop button is not enabled, it'll only play one time.
So I'm going to enable that. Now I've found that it's a lot easier to set the clip beginning and ending over here in the sample editor than actually dialing in and by typing in these boxes. So if I just click on the edge of the clip here and drag, I can set the clip's start point to later. I can do the same thing over here on the end. So it's going to play these two bars instead so the 4-bar length of this clip. (Music playing.) Now, notice that it looped back on itself.
Let's take a look at the MIDI clip and see how that's different. Now the Clip box shows the same properties. So I have got the clip name, and I have got the Clip Activator button. Again, I can change the clip color and a time signature and the groove; those are all the same. But instead of getting a sample box, I get the Notes box. Again, there are a couple of things that are the same. For instance, see the Original BPM, and I can use the half and double the original tempo buttons. But where it's a little bit different here this in this area. So if I'm using external MIDI device, I can actually send bank and program change messages to that.
So simply click the dropdown menu and select a number here, and it will send that bank change number, or I can go down do the same thing with the program change. But the clip start points and end points and looping are exactly the same. So understanding the differences between audio and MIDI clips will help you when you need to adjust their properties.
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- A: For the most part, yes. However, there are a few limitations. For example, there are some drum sounds that won’t work with the Lite version. Lite also has a limited track count, which may cause problems with some of the larger Live Sets in the course. If you do not have the full version of Ableton Live, you can download a demo of Ableton Live Suite (http://www.ableton.com/download-suite-trial), which will run for 30 days. This will allow you to do everything in the course, and get a look at what the full version can do at the same time.
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