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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.
Working with audio files the same way we can edit MIDI data was a dream in the not so distant past. Let's take a look at how you can use Live's warping features to quantize audio and discuss the best method of applying quantization to multi-track audio clips. So setting and moving warp markers can get tedious, especially if you have a clip that needs a lot of rhythm error correction. But audio can now be quantized just like MIDI. Let's take a look how that works. So I've got a clip here on this basic rock track. I'm going to work with that. But before I get started, I'm going to make a copy of it, so I have something to go back to if I don't like my results.
So I'm going to Option+Click and drag that. And I've got 4-bar area that I want to turn into a loop. So before I try quantizing this, I'm actually going to set the outside edges. Remember, you do that by hovering your mouse over a transient marker, and then double-clicking the pseudo-warp marker that turn it into the warp marker, and then simply dragging and letting that snap to the grid. Let me go the other end quickly, and I'll do the same thing. Okay. So when I want to quantize something in Live, I can do that to either a portion of an audio clip or the entire clip.
So for instance, I'll zoom in here a little bit, and we can see that these markers right through here look like they're all behind the groove. So I can make a selection here and drag across there. Let's say I want to do this much. And now I can quantize this by invoking the Quantize command that found by right- clicking on your selection, and then from contextual menu, you can see I've got both Quantize and Quantize Settings. Quantize contains the last settings that you chose when you went into the Quantize Settings dialog box.
So I tend to avoid using the Quantize function and always go straight to the Quantize Settings choice, so that I can see what my Quantize Settings are and make any necessary adjustments. So let's check that out. So currently, it's set to a 16th note, and that happens to be the smallest rhythmic increment that's in this selected clip, or in my selection. So I will leave that at a 16th note. And then I need to choose the amount of quantization I want to apply. Now 100% is going to hard-quantize my selection right onto the grid, and I would like to retain a little bit of that human "imperfection" so to speak.
It just depends upon the context of what you're doing, but in this case I am going to choose something in 85% to 90% and give that a shot. So I'll click OK, and you'll notice that Live put warp markers past my selection. It put one on either edge to pin those areas, so that they wouldn't be moved, and then added a warp marker to everything in between and then snapped those onto the grid. So I can do that with just a portion of the clip, or I can actually do it with the entire selection that I'm working with.
So let me zoom back out. I'll select everything between those warp markers. And this time I'm going to bring up that dialog box by using the shortcut, which on a Mac is Command+Shift+U, or on a PC Ctrl+Shift+U. Again, my quantize amount to set to the smallest rhythmic increment in the selection. I've got my amount set. I'll say OK, and it's now added warp markers to every one of those transients. Let's check out what that sounds like. (Drums playing.) Sound pretty good.
Now occasionally you're also going to want to do this with multi-track audio clips. So I've got the same drum groove here, separated out into individual parts. So I've got the kick, a couples snare tracks, hi-hat, and overhead. So I'm going to flip over to the Arrangement view by pressing my Tab key, and now I'm going to select these clips. You'll notice that after I've made the selection the title bar here in the sample and clips box, down in the Clip Overview area, show a diagonal color striping.
That happens whenever you've got multiple clips selected. Now I've selected all the clips because when you want to fix something in the multi-track-audio-clip situation, you have to do the same thing to each clip. If you don't do that, and you adjust just one of those clips, you're going to move any bleed on that track out of phase with the other clips, and you're going to get some really undesirable results from that. So I've got all the clips selected. You may find that if you want to work with a particular clip because the transient is more visually apparent there, that you'll need to Command+Click or Ctrl+ Click that clip to bring that up down here in the Sample Editor.
So now I'm looking at snare track. Again, I want to fix this one transient, but I don't want to change the location of the transients to either side of that. So to do that, I need to hold on my Command key on a Mac, or Ctrl key on a PC, and hover over the associated transient marker, and when I see the pseudo-warp marker appear, I can double-click and turn those into warp markers. Now if I move this one in the middle, it won't affect the location of these other two. Now as I move this, you should see the results on all of the clips.
As you saw, they all snapped onto the grid. So now you know how to quantize audio clips and fix rhythmic errors in multi-track audio files. Now there's no reason for your music not to groove.
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