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MIDI controllers offer straightforward control of mixer and device parameters in Ableton Live. If you can't afford a MIDI controller yet, don't worry, because in Live the computer keyboard can also be configured to work as an effective MIDI controller. So there're two things that we can do in Ableton Live to configure the keyboard to work as a MIDI controller. First of all, we have the Computer MIDI Keyboard mode. If I enable that, the letters A through K on a keyboard, and some of the other letters, actually will trigger notes from your virtual instrument. So if I select the bass track here-- and we can see that I've got a virtual instrument there, and I'm going to flip over--actually let me bring up a clip so that we can see the keyboard here.
So if I press the letter A with the Computer MIDI Keyboard button enabled on the control bar here, we should see the letter C3 light up, and we do. So if I press A, I'm going to get C. If I press S, I'm going to get D. D will get me E. F will get me F in that case. G will get me G. H will get me A. J will get me B, and K will take me to the next octave, which in this case will be C4.
Now for black keys, if you look at your computer keyboard you'll realize, so if A is C and S is D and D is E, then the keys on your computer MIDI keyboard above that in between the keys will act as your black keys. For instance, so W will act as C# and E will act as D#. Now I can change octaves here and what I'm triggering by pressing my Z and X Keys. Z you'll notice will take me down an octave, so now I'm triggering C2. And if I go another Z, I'll drop down another octave.
So I'm at C1 through D2. And if I use the letter X, I can go back up in octave each time I press the key. So now I am back to C2 and D3. Another time C3, and now I'm up to C4. Also, I can control the velocity that I'm triggering, using my C and V keys. So I'm back to C3 as middle C, and if I press the C, it's that loud. If I press the letter C on the computer keyboard, it will drop my velocity 20 at a time.
So now I should be softer at 60 velocity. I will press V. It will take me back up 20 each time. And I'll have a maximum velocity of 127, and a minimum of 0. Now another way that I can use the computer keyboard to trigger is to use Key Map mode. I'm going to disable Computer MIDI Keyboard mode here for a second. And when I click on Key Map mode, you'll notice that everything that I can map on the screen turns orange.
So a couple of obvious choices are going to be clips or scenes. So if I select, for instance, this clip right here, and then press a key on the computer keyboard, I'll assign that. So in this case, I've signed the letter Q. We see that in the upper right-hand corner of the clip. And then you'll notice that also over in the browser area, I have a special browser called the Key Mappings browser, and it lists anything that I've assigned. So I'm seeing that I've got that clip assigned: slot 1 on the 6th track Pad-eMotional. And if I hit the Escape key to get out of Key Map mode, I can now trigger that by pressing my letter Q, (Music playing.) And I'll go back into Key Map mode.
This time I'll go Command+K to do that-- that would be Ctrl+K on a PC. I'm not going to assign other letters to do things. So I'm going to come over here and grab this first clip. I'll assign that to A and then the intro to S and verse to D. Now I should warn you that if the Computer MIDI Keyboard button is enabled, I'm going to set up a situation where those assignments are going to override my key mapping assignments. If the button is not enabled, I'll be okay. All right.
So I'm going to hit Escape. I'll hit the Stop All Clips button, and now I'll hit the letter A to trigger that first scene and so on and so forth. Now I'm going to warn you here that triggering the scenes is still impacted by your global quantization setting. So I've got that set at the default of 1 Bar, which means that when I press my letter A, it will wait until the next bar to actually trigger that scene. So here is the letter A, and I'll trigger the intro A. (Music playing.) And as you watch that, you saw me triggering the other two scenes.
So very simple and very effective, and a great way to get away from using the mouse to try and trigger these events. Now in some cases you can also use the Key Map mode to assign keys to controls that are variable in nature. So let me go to this Pad-eMotional track, and on that I've got a synth here. And I'm going to choose in this case the octave parameter. Let me turn on Key Map mode-- remember, that's Command+K or Ctrl+K on a PC--and I'll select that parameter, and I'm going to assign that to the letter Z. We see it there. And I'll hit Escape.
Now as I press the letter Z, you'll notice that that's advancing one level at a time. So I do get control over this variable nature here in this particular case. Let me go back into Key Map mode again. This time I'm going to select the Volume. I'll assign that to the letter X. Escape to get back out of Key Map mode, and now when I press the letter X notice that I'm just going to two states: on and off. No volume at all. If I press it again, I'll be all the way on.
So the nature of assigning these keys is really best when it's launching clips and scenes, or using this to trigger parameters that are either on or off in nature. Some cases we can use it to do variable controls, but not really dependable in that matter. Now if I need to delete a key map assignment I can bring back up the Key Map mode and simply select this in the Key Map browser, and hit your Delete key, and you can easily delete those and reassign them if necessary.
So now that you see how easy it is to use key mapping, try using it to launch scenes when recording from Session to Arrangement view, or to record automation in real time.
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