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Understanding the power of clip envelopes

From: Ableton Live 8 Essential Training

Video: Understanding the power of clip envelopes

Clip automation envelopes are overlooked but powerful aspect of Live. Let's take a look at how you add automation to a clip in Session view, and while we are at it, we will see a couple of innovative types of automation that are unique to Ableton Live. So in an earlier video, we took a look at how to write automation in the Arrangement view. This time we'll take a look at Session view and how to write automation to a clip. So if we choose a clip, we look down here in the Clip Overview area, we can see automation by clicking the Envelope Show or Hide button. Then we get this extra box that appears, and we get a couple of choosers that work just like the choosers that are in the Arrangement window.

Understanding the power of clip envelopes

Clip automation envelopes are overlooked but powerful aspect of Live. Let's take a look at how you add automation to a clip in Session view, and while we are at it, we will see a couple of innovative types of automation that are unique to Ableton Live. So in an earlier video, we took a look at how to write automation in the Arrangement view. This time we'll take a look at Session view and how to write automation to a clip. So if we choose a clip, we look down here in the Clip Overview area, we can see automation by clicking the Envelope Show or Hide button. Then we get this extra box that appears, and we get a couple of choosers that work just like the choosers that are in the Arrangement window.

But we get a few more additions in this case. So for instance if I click on the Device or Clip chooser, I will choose Mixer here, and then in the sub-chooser, I can see the same types of options that were available in the Arrangement view. So if I click on Volume, I now get a volume graph, or a volume envelope. And we can add automation in the same way as we did in the Arrangement view. I can click with my mouse and add break points, and I can make adjustments to that, so on and so forth.

And when I play back the track, we will actually get those changes in real time. I can delete that automation by simply selecting it and hitting my Delete key. In addition to that, we also get these options that are available at the clip level. These are a little bit different. So I get Volume again, which is a little bit confusing, in addition to Transposition and Offset. Let's first talk about why we have clip volume in addition to the Mixer volume. So the clip volume actually happens at a different point in the signal path.

So as the signal is traveling through the channel, and we get to the clip, Clip volume will actually change the level. And then as we proceed through the path and go through the devices and then get to the fader, we actually get the mixer volume level. So Clip volume is pre-effects, and it affects any volume that actually input into your effects. But in addition to that, we get these other two functions, and let's first take a look at Transpose. So Transpose is actually going to allow me to draw in changes that will change the pitch of the audio file that's passing through this track.

So I'm currently at a quarter note. And let me change the grid background, so that we are more in line with the rhythm of the actual audio file. So if I right-click, let's try an 8th note, see if that's line up. And looks like it does. So I am going to zoom in a little bit on that. And now if I take my Draw mode, I can draw in changes. And as I do that, we can see that I can do this in steps. And I can draw in changes of pitch there, in terms of steps, so two steps is going to be a whole step, so on and so forth.

So as I play that back, it's going to actually change the pitch of the clip in real time. Let's give that a check. (Music playing.) If I undo that, we can hear what the track sounded without that automation. (Music playing.) So we can hear it's a single pitch here for the first four notes until we change chords. So that could be very useful in taking a pre-existing audio clip that you like the rhythm, and you like the note lengths, but you need different notes to fit different chords or a different chord progression.

On the next track, we have a MIDI clip. Let's take a look at some of the differences that are there. So again, I can show and hide the envelopes by clicking on this E button, or the Envelope Show or Hide. And again, I get the Device chooser, and I get the sub-chooser. In this case, because I'm using a rack, I have got quite a number of things to choose from. I've got the virtual instrument itself and a number of effects and other virtual instruments that are being used here. But if I choose that one, I can also see the other available parameters.

And in this case, I've got some filters and level and things like that. And if you look at the Pad1 filter, you can see some automation that I have actually already written here on the track. In addition to those parameters that are associated with the actual virtual instruments or effects, I can also go to the mixer. If I click on the sub-chooser here, we can see that we've got volume yet once again. So I can do that either at the clip level, or I can do that at the mixer level. And I would just alert you to the fact that at the MIDI level that's only going to be 0 to 127 resolution for your volume changes, where at the mixer level the resolution is going to be quite a bit higher.

In addition, I get some quick chooser buttons here, so that I can immediately go to some of the more commonly used MIDI continuous controller. So I get Pitch Bend information and your MIDI Volume and MIDI Pan. And while we are at it, let's go back to that audio clip, and we can see that I have also got some quick choosers there as well. In this case I've got Transpose, Volume and Pan. Last but not least, let's take a look at this other audio clip. And I want to take a look at one other type of clip automation that's really, really powerful.

And that is the sample offset. And what's sample offset does is actually take pieces of your clip and move them forward or backwards in time. So as I draw an automation, if I go above the 0 line, I'm actually advancing that particular part of the clip. And if I draw below the line, I'm actually delaying that particular part of the clip. Okay. And we are set at 16th notes. I am going to zoom in just a little bit, so we can see what we were doing a little better. I am going to randomly draw in some changes.

By the way, I can advance things 8/16ths, and I can delay them a maximum of 8/16ths. So let's give that a check and see what that sounds like. (Drums playing.) --which is different when we hear the original, (Music playing.) which is just a conventional loop. So let me redo that. Bring that back.

And you can see that it's scrambling that. Now this isn't the surgical way that we can do this in Arrangement view, but if you've got to make some quick changes, this can be very inspirational. You can come up with some really cool things. Now one other thing that can actually make this even more powerful is that I can unlink the automation from that clip itself. And in that way, I can have clip automation that's a four-bar loop-- I will drag this out to bar five, beat one to accomplish that-- while the audio clip itself is only two bars long.

And that's going to allow me to vary that clip even more across the four-bar span, rather than just limiting it to the exact length of the clip. So again, I'll use my Draw mode to draw in some changes. Let's hear what that sounds like. (Drums playing.) So if this is the first time you've seen the power of clip envelopes, you will probably agree that it's fantastic way to alter the way clips play back.

Give it a try, and see what you can come up with.

Show transcript

This video is part of

Image for Ableton Live 8 Essential Training
Ableton Live 8 Essential Training

69 video lessons · 17100 viewers

Rick Schmunk
Author

 
Expand all | Collapse all
  1. 1m 30s
    1. Welcome
      49s
    2. Using the exercise files
      41s
  2. 8m 43s
    1. What is a digital audio workstation?
      4m 13s
    2. Choosing the right gear and setting up a system
      4m 30s
  3. 12m 59s
    1. Setting up audio preferences
      3m 54s
    2. Setting up MIDI preferences
      3m 31s
    3. Optimizing performance
      5m 34s
  4. 35m 42s
    1. Understanding Session view
      8m 7s
    2. Working with Live browsers
      5m 3s
    3. Working with Live clips
      7m 57s
    4. Understanding clip properties
      7m 52s
    5. Working with Live scenes
      6m 43s
  5. 28m 16s
    1. Building Live Sets and projects
      4m 25s
    2. Learning Live file management
      4m 2s
    3. Exporting content from Live
      7m 32s
    4. Importing and exporting Live Packs
      3m 17s
    5. Searching for and auditioning clips
      4m 58s
    6. Setting up frequently accessed folders
      4m 2s
  6. 23m 3s
    1. Preparing to record MIDI
      5m 51s
    2. Recording and overdubbing MIDI
      4m 32s
    3. Working with alternate MIDI entry methods
      6m 49s
    4. Using multi-output virtual instruments
      5m 51s
  7. 24m 26s
    1. The MIDI Editor
      4m 49s
    2. Quantizing MIDI data
      6m 6s
    3. Advanced MIDI editing
      6m 49s
    4. Setting up groove in editing
      6m 42s
  8. 9m 18s
    1. Preparing to record
      5m 0s
    2. Recording audio
      4m 18s
  9. 22m 37s
    1. Understanding Arrangement view
      3m 41s
    2. Recording in Arrangement view
      3m 51s
    3. Recording from Session view to Arrangement view
      5m 21s
    4. Reworking clips
      9m 44s
  10. 27m 57s
    1. Understanding Live's mixer
      12m 38s
    2. Using sends and returns
      3m 47s
    3. Building headphone cues
      3m 49s
    4. Grouping tracks
      7m 43s
  11. 43m 14s
    1. Working with effect devices
      4m 56s
    2. Understanding EQ and filters
      7m 14s
    3. Using compressors and dynamic processors
      7m 28s
    4. Building interesting effects with delay effect processing
      8m 18s
    5. Using reverb effectively
      8m 22s
    6. Setting up side chain effects easily
      6m 56s
  12. 15m 37s
    1. Creating rhythmic patterns with the Arpeggiator effect
      8m 38s
    2. Building background parts with the Chord and Scale effects
      6m 59s
  13. 25m 24s
    1. Building automation patterns
      8m 44s
    2. Editing existing automation information
      5m 3s
    3. Using fades to mask audio pops and clicks
      4m 10s
    4. Understanding the power of clip envelopes
      7m 27s
  14. 20m 17s
    1. Understanding the basics of looping
      6m 54s
    2. Creating tracks that loop smoothly
      7m 50s
    3. Using warp features to quantize audio
      5m 33s
  15. 17m 47s
    1. Using the computer keyboard to control Live
      6m 39s
    2. Mapping device controls to the MIDI keyboard
      4m 36s
    3. Using Live's instant mapping feature
      6m 32s
  16. 10m 44s
    1. Exporting audio
      5m 37s
    2. Freezing tracks
      5m 7s
  17. 20m 45s
    1. Building with the Impulse virtual instrument
      11m 35s
    2. Working with the Simpler virtual instrument
      9m 10s
  18. 36m 22s
    1. Overview of Live racks
      10m 13s
    2. Combining instruments and effects into a single device
      8m 22s
    3. Adding effects with Drum Rack
      11m 28s
    4. Assigning rack parameters to macros
      6m 19s
  19. 13m 53s
    1. Setting up ReWire with Pro Tools
      7m 3s
    2. Setting up ReWire with Logic
      6m 50s
  20. 33m 43s
    1. Preparing audio clips with the Warp tool
      14m 31s
    2. Triggering clips using follow actions
      8m 9s
    3. Using Live as a sound source
      11m 3s
  21. 7m 21s
    1. Working with video files
      7m 21s
  22. 37s
    1. Further Recommendations
      37s

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