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What is a software instrument?

From: Ableton Live 9 Essential Training

Video: What is a software instrument?

Ableton Live Suite comes with a great software instrument that cover the basic need of any computer music enthusiast. Let's take a closer look at some of these devices and their key parameters to get you going. So if a new to program like Ableton Live, a virtual instrument or software instrument is a software version of real Synth like a Minimoog or a DX7 or a Drum machine or a Sampler. And we have versions of all of thos here in Live. So for example, Analogue is a software version of a Minimoog or Oberheim style synth. Collision is a device that physical models mallet-type instruments.

What is a software instrument?

Ableton Live Suite comes with a great software instrument that cover the basic need of any computer music enthusiast. Let's take a closer look at some of these devices and their key parameters to get you going. So if a new to program like Ableton Live, a virtual instrument or software instrument is a software version of real Synth like a Minimoog or a DX7 or a Drum machine or a Sampler. And we have versions of all of thos here in Live. So for example, Analogue is a software version of a Minimoog or Oberheim style synth. Collision is a device that physical models mallet-type instruments.

Electric is an electric piano simulator to create sounds like a Fender Rhodes or a Wurlitzer. Impulse is a drum machine. Operator is an FM style synth like a DX7. Sampler is a, a full on sample device where you can either sample or play samples. And Simpler is a very simple sampler that's a one sample player. And Tension is another physical modeling device that models string style instruments.

Now Simpler and Impulse are included in all versions of Live and the others are additional purchases or included only in Ableton Live Suite. In addition to that we've got things like Instrument Racks and Drum Racks which allow you to combine multiple instruments or multiple devices into one preset. So we're going to take a look at just a couple of these. Let's start off by taking a look at impluse and I've already got one loaded on this first track, so that I can audition and I want to go ahead and record and enable that track. Impulse is a drum machine that allows you to have eight samples of different drum instruments loaded.

And I can see this indicated by these eight little squares that go across the top here. So I can select one of these slots, and then the parameters across the bottom relate to that slot. For example, if I choose the tom here, we'll see these parameters change, and as I go across, we'll see that change as well. So, on your keyboard you can find these because they're mapped starting at middle C, which is C3 (audio playing) up to C4 on all the white keys. Additionally we've got global settings over here on the right side where I've got Volume and Transposition, and those effect the entire virtual instrument.

Now in the next track, I want to go ahead and load Simpler. Now I can do that one or two ways. If I just grab the folder at the top and Drag and Drop it, that's going to load a default version. If I click the little disclosure triangle and go into one of these other sub-folders, I can eventually get down to a preset and load that. But just to really give you an idea of what Simpler's capable of, I'm going to go ahead and load a default device. And I drag that either on the track, or down here in the drop devices area. And in this case, I've loaded an empty simpler.

Now what I want to do here, is I want to load a sample into that. So I'm going to go ahead and I'm going to do a little search here for something like Snare, and then I'm going to go down into the All results or Samples area. And this is going to allow me to see samples that are available that have Snare contained in the name. And if I pull down here a little bit, I'll see something like the Ludwig snare. And I believe this one's contained in the base library, so we should all be able to load that. If not, just grab any snare that's available in your library. And I can drop that down in the sampler, and again that is now record enabled because I loaded that preset. And if I hit C3 (audio playing), that's where that sample is mapped to in its native format.

If I play above that or below that, (audio playing), you're going to actually hear the pitch change as it plays that. So C3 is where you're going to get the sound unaffected. Now across the bottom of this, we have a lot of the typical things that you're going to find in any synth like device or sampler like device. So I've got a filter that I can turn on and I can choose a filter type there. And then as I dial the frequency on that, I can actually open and close that filter and change the tone. So just for example, (music playing). So in that case, I have a low pass filter.

And as I dial that lower, you're actually hearing it cut off the higher frequencies. Now you can run the signal through this middle area which modulates either the filter or the pitch. And then over on the right-hand side here, we can set the Pan and the Volume output on this. Last, we've got over on this third track, I've got analogue, which is one of those synths that is an extra purchase or is only included in Live Suite. And this is that Analog Subtractive Synth style, virtual instrument. So this one is a two Oscillator device. Right now, oscillator 1 is enabled, oscillator 2 and then this 3rd noise oscillator are not enabled.

So the signal from this oscillator outputs in this case triangle wave and if I want to change that I can go to assign or a square or a random wave. Let's leave it on that triangle wave and then that output it through this filter. If I click that I can see the parameters that affect the filter. And let me play another one, let's hear what we get (audio playing), okay? So, the filter is closing rather quickly because of the shape of that, the envelope settings that are here. That then goes through an amplifier section, and then over here, on the right, we have a low-frequency oscillator, or LFO that I can use to control either the amp or the filter area.

So I'm going to turn that LFO on, and it's set to 0.9 hertz, and I can go in and I can see that the LFO has been turned on here. And if I click on this (audio playing), and hold the key down, you can hear that filter opening and closing as the oscillator in the LFO modulates. Now the other interesting thing we can do with this is I can actually turn this on to Sync mode and now it's going to sync at a rate of an eighth note.

(audio playing). So, we hear that open and closing very rapidly. Now, if I hold this key down and turn that parameter, we can hear that change from eighth to different rhythmic values. (audio playing). And there you hear your kind of classic Wobble Bass effect. So as you see Ableton Lives Suite comes with several software instruments. Hopefully our discussion here gives you a place to start. You can start by using the presets available in Live and then modify them to meet your needs.

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This video is part of

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Ableton Live 9 Essential Training

80 video lessons · 12961 viewers

Rick Schmunk
Author

 
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  1. 2m 36s
    1. Welcome
      1m 6s
    2. Using the exercise files
      43s
    3. What you need to know
      47s
  2. 7m 44s
    1. What is a digital audio workstation?
      4m 13s
    2. Choosing the right gear and setting up a system
      3m 31s
  3. 11m 8s
    1. Setting up audio preferences
      4m 0s
    2. Setting up MIDI preferences
      2m 44s
    3. Optimizing performance
      4m 24s
  4. 38m 55s
    1. Nonlinear sequencing with Session view
      3m 42s
    2. Understanding the Session view window
      5m 8s
    3. Exploring the Live browser
      5m 49s
    4. Loading and playing clips
      4m 35s
    5. Moving and copying clips
      2m 55s
    6. Working with clip properties
      8m 17s
    7. Working with scenes
      8m 29s
  5. 24m 15s
    1. Using the browser
      4m 56s
    2. Searching for and auditioning clips and devices
      4m 19s
    3. Working with Live sets and projects
      4m 16s
    4. Managing files in Live
      3m 12s
    5. Exporting clips and devices
      7m 32s
  6. 33m 0s
    1. What is a software instrument?
      6m 29s
    2. Preparing to record MIDI
      5m 0s
    3. Recording and overdubbing MIDI
      4m 47s
    4. Using a computer keyboard to enter MIDI
      5m 26s
    5. Utilizing the pencil to enter MIDI notes
      5m 45s
    6. Taking advantage of third-party and multi-output MIDI devices
      5m 33s
  7. 33m 22s
    1. Navigating and zooming in the MIDI Editor
      5m 29s
    2. Configuring the MIDI Editor grid
      5m 2s
    3. Selecting and quantizing MIDI
      5m 3s
    4. Quantizing with grooves
      7m 23s
    5. Editing pitch and note duration
      6m 1s
    6. Editing MIDI velocities
      4m 24s
  8. 10m 10s
    1. Preparing to record audio
      5m 43s
    2. Recording audio
      4m 27s
  9. 34m 22s
    1. Understanding Arrangement view
      4m 10s
    2. Zooming in and out and playing in Arrangement view
      4m 46s
    3. Recording in Arrangement view
      4m 4s
    4. Recording from Session view to Arrangement view
      5m 22s
    5. Adding and using locators
      3m 32s
    6. Copying, duplicating, and editing clips in Arrangement view
      5m 53s
    7. Reworking clips
      6m 35s
  10. 25m 35s
    1. Understanding the mixer
      7m 36s
    2. Using sends and returns
      6m 52s
    3. Building headphone cues
      4m 58s
    4. Grouping tracks
      6m 9s
  11. 41m 7s
    1. Working with effect devices
      5m 59s
    2. Understanding EQ and filters
      7m 30s
    3. Using compressors and dynamic processors
      6m 26s
    4. Building interesting effects with delay effect processing
      7m 20s
    5. Using reverb effectively
      8m 5s
    6. Setting up side chain effects easily
      5m 47s
  12. 11m 15s
    1. Creating rhythmic patterns with the Arpeggiator effect
      6m 3s
    2. Building background parts with the Chord and Scale effects
      5m 12s
  13. 11m 44s
    1. Mapping keys with Keymap mode
      4m 12s
    2. Mapping device controls to the MIDI keyboard
      3m 16s
    3. Using the instant mapping feature
      4m 16s
  14. 31m 51s
    1. Recording real-time automation
      6m 24s
    2. Drawing automation manually
      7m 48s
    3. Automating clips in Session view
      8m 36s
    4. Editing existing automation information
      4m 57s
    5. Using fades to mask audio pops and clicks
      4m 6s
  15. 20m 59s
    1. Understanding the basics of warping
      8m 43s
    2. Creating clips that loop smoothly
      6m 37s
    3. Using warp features to quantize audio
      5m 39s
  16. 10m 12s
    1. Exporting audio from Live
      6m 29s
    2. Freezing tracks
      3m 43s
  17. 42m 22s
    1. Exploring Impulse
      5m 5s
    2. Using Impulse as a multi-output instrument
      9m 15s
    3. Getting the most out of Impulse instrument parameters
      6m 23s
    4. Exploring Simpler
      7m 50s
    5. Smoothing sample start and end points in Simpler
      6m 32s
    6. Tweaking the parameters of Simpler
      7m 17s
  18. 36m 55s
    1. Unlocking the power of FX racks
      10m 48s
    2. Utilizing instrument racks
      10m 13s
    3. Creating drum racks
      9m 50s
    4. Working with rack macros
      6m 4s
  19. 10m 22s
    1. Introducing Max for Live
      4m 52s
    2. Exploring the Mono Sequencer in Max for Live
      5m 30s
  20. 5m 54s
    1. Working with video files
      5m 54s
  21. 24s
    1. Next steps
      24s

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