Ableton Live 9 Tips and Tricks
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Using Follow Actions to create an automated playlist


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Ableton Live 9 Tips and Tricks

with Michael Kiraly

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Video: Using Follow Actions to create an automated playlist

I am in the middle of a project and I'm testing out some arrangement ideas with a few of the melodic elements in my new song. (music playing) I am less concerned about the arrangement of the drums or the bass line. For those elements, I've gone ahead and laid out a basic playback order. Now I'll create a few follow actions to automate that playback process. To get started, I need to double- click on a clip to make sure I open up Clip view. Then I need to make sure that I expand this area by clicking on this L button.
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Watch the Online Video Course Ableton Live 9 Tips and Tricks
1h 7m Intermediate Mar 22, 2013

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

Join Ableton Live expert Mike Kiraly as he dives deep into some of the advanced features that Live offers for unique and creative manipulation of sound. First, discover how to use clip envelopes to create constantly changing transitions between clips. Then Mike demonstrates how to create playable effects and effects transitions with dummy clips, build automated playlists and song arrangements with follow actions, and use dummy clips and follow actions together to generate complex effects.

Topics include:
  • Creating clip envelopes and putting them to work
  • Unlinking clip envelopes
  • Exploring follow actions
  • Creating song arrangements with random follow actions
  • Creating a basic dummy clip
  • Sound designing with dummy clips and follow actions
Subject:
Audio + Music
Software:
Ableton Live
Author:
Michael Kiraly

Using Follow Actions to create an automated playlist

I am in the middle of a project and I'm testing out some arrangement ideas with a few of the melodic elements in my new song. (music playing) I am less concerned about the arrangement of the drums or the bass line. For those elements, I've gone ahead and laid out a basic playback order. Now I'll create a few follow actions to automate that playback process. To get started, I need to double- click on a clip to make sure I open up Clip view. Then I need to make sure that I expand this area by clicking on this L button.

This toggle button opens the Launch box. This area contains options pertaining to all of the different ways you can launch a clip. It's this bottom area here that I'm really interested in. Conveniently, it says Follow Actions. There are three distinct types of instructions that need to be in place for a follow action to occur. It's essentially the when, the what, and the how often? The first is the when. When do I want to follow action to occur? This information is entered right here in these three familiar-looking boxes.

These boxes are just like the ones you see over in the Loop section of Clip view. It's where I need to input the length of time between the clip's launch and the subsequent follow action. Just like in the Loop area, this time is denoted in bars, beats, and 16th notes. So, right now it's set for 1 bar, which means that I'm telling Live that I want something to happen exactly 1 bar after the clip is launched. I can change this value to pretty much anything I want. In this case I want the loop play 4 measures and then move to the next, so I'll change this to 4 and leave these two set to 0.

(music playing) As I trigger the clip, it becomes obvious that I haven't set up a follow action just yet because the next clip hasn't started to blink. I have input the when, but it's still unclear to Live what I want to happen next. This is the what. This dropdown box contains all of the possible actions I have at my disposal. So, after the 4 bars, the clip can either stop, play again, play the previous, or the next, play the first or the last, play any clip, at all or any other clip except that clip. Because I want these loops to scroll through in order, I am going to select Next.

(music playing) Excellent! Triggering the clip results in a blinking clip Launch button on the next clip. So, I know it's queued up. I'll verify that the length is also correct. (music playing) This is perfect; this is exactly what I was aiming for. The first clip launches and then 4 measures later, the second clip launches. This area down here is the How often I referred to before. I almost never need to edit this, but let me explain it briefly.

It's called the Chance box, and it's the likelihood that the chosen action will actually occur. But this is slightly confusing. This parameter only needs to be altered when you choose to have two separate follow actions. You might have noticed that there is a second set of boxes here. These are duplicates of the first set, therefore creating an alternate follow action within the same clip. But two different follow actions can't occur simultaneously. It would be impossible for the clip to play the next clip and play the previous clip at the exact same time.

So, these Chance boxes determine the odds of one happening over the other, but I rarely need to alternate between two different actions and I definitely don't need to here. I know that I always want it to play next. I know exactly what I want to happen. So, I'm not going to choose a second action. And even if I did, it's not going to matter, because the chance of the second action is set down here, and it's set to 0, meaning it has zero chance of ever happening. So as long as follow action A is set to any number above 0, it will always be the one that's chosen.

The default value here is 1, so I don't need to touch it. The Chance boxes are a great way to add a little unpredictability to your follow actions, and they're definitely worth exploring further on your own. While it took only a few seconds to create this follow action, I don't want to keep doing it over and over. I need all of these drum loop clips and all of these bass line clips set up the exact same way. The great news here is that I can select as many clips as I see fit and edit all of their follow actions at the exact same time.

I know that I want all of these clips to play 4 measures and then advance to the Next one. (music playing) So, if I trigger the first clips in each track, I can watch as they cycle through after playing for 4 measures. One last note: follow actions only work on clips that are adjacent to each other. Even if the clip below the empty space has a follow action attached to it, Live will ignore it, and that makes complete sense. If my action is set to Next, for example, then what would happen here? There's nothing to trigger and so my actions would be forced to stop dead.

(music playing) So, I have set up exactly what I was hoping for: an automated clip playlist that I can just set and forget. But I can always change my mind and rearrange these clips if I think there's a better sequence to be had. It's very quick and extremely flexible. With just the few quick clicks, I can now play around with all of these clips over a pre-sequenced drum part and bass Line; hopefully it will lead to some inspired decisions when it comes time to arrange my song.

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