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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.
Audio and MIDI clips are an essential part of using Live. In the video, we'll learn how to load, play, and stop clips in Session view, as well as how to copy and paste clips. As we began discussing in the last video, clips are short audio or MIDI recordings. In Live, clips are musical building blocks that can be used to build a song or a section of a song. A clip might be a drum groove, a bassline, or even keyboard part. Live clips are generally 2, 4, or 8 bars long, and are edited so they can easily be repeated or looped. So let's take a look at how to load clips.
I want to go into one of the file browsers here, and let's look at the Samples, and I'm going to drop down to the Loopmasters folder and into the Bass Loops folder and Electro, and I have a bunch of audio clips here. Now I can select one of those clips, and I can load it to a track by hitting the Return key. Now notice that Live created the appropriate kind of track, audio in this case, and loaded the clip to the first clip slot on the track. Now I can play that clip by clicking on the Launch button here (Music playing.) and stop the clip by either pressing the Spacebar or one of the Stop clip buttons on the track, or the Stop all Clips button over on the Master track.
Notice that when I click that the clip now is deselected, and the Play button is not green anymore. (Music playing.) Now I started playing the clip again because I wanted to show you that if I stopped the clip by pressing the Spacebar, the clip is still selected and ready to play. And if I press the Spacebar again, it will start playing. (Music playing.) We'll come back to this issue when we have several clips in the session. So we have loaded an audio clip. Let's now take a look at loading a MIDI clip.
So I'm going to go into the Clips area. Let's take a look at the Drums. And I am going to go into the Electronic and then down here to Eckhose. It looks like there is a subfolder, and then I have got some MIDI clips. This time I'm going to load the clip, not by hitting Return key, but by double-clicking on the file itself. So it took a second, but it created a MIDI track, and it loaded the clip onto the first clip slot. We can tell that there is a little bit of a difference going on here, because now I see something down in the details view area and specifically I'm seeing the device.
If I go back over to the audio clip, I'll see that there is nothing there. Or if I click on the clip overlay, I'll see that I've got the audio file and the sample editor. If I go back to the MIDI clip, I'll see that I've got MIDI data down here. So we can see that there is a difference. So I'm going to click the Stop Clip button here on the bass track, and now I'll trigger the drum groove by clicking on the Launch button. (Drums playing.) So we hear the MIDI clip.
Now what I can do is I can fire off the MIDI clip again, and then I can add to the bass clip to that. (Music playing.) Okay. So I just click the Stop button there to stop those from playing, and I'm going to go ahead, and I am going to click the Stop Clips button here to deselect both of those. I'm going to do this again, because I want to show you how Live is going to add that second clip. (Music playing.) Now hopefully, you notice that time it took a little bit longer for Live to launch the bass part, and that's because of the global quantization setting that's up here on the control bar.
Now currently it's set at the default of 1 bar, but I can set that to other values as well. Now what this means is that when I have clips playing in the session and I launch yet another clip, it's going to wait until the next bar before it actually starts playing that new clip. So, so far when we've been adding clips to the session, tracks have been automatically created. So let's just take a brief second to see how we can actually manually create tracks. I can go over here to the Create menu, and notice here that I have two commands for Insert Audio Track and Insert MIDI Track.
And you should just note that if you actually create an audio track and you later drag a MIDI clip onto it, Live is smart enough to know that it can change that into a MIDI track. Also, I could have done that using the key command Command+T for an audio track-- and that would be Ctrl+T on a PC--or Command+Shift+T for a MIDI track--or Ctrl+Shift+T on a PC. Now, I can also load multiple clips at the same time. So let me grab these other three grooves here on the drums folder here for this Eckhose drum preset.
Now I can click and drag those selected clips onto the drum track and load those on adjacent clip slots. Now I'm going to fire off one of these clips by clicking on the Clip Launch button. (Music playing.) Notice that when I click the succeeding clips that they were launched, and when they started, by default, the previous clips stopped playing. So that's telling us Live will only allow one clip to play on a track at a time.
Let's do the same thing with some more audio files. So I'm going to drop back over here into the Electro folder, and I'm going to grab a couple more of the bass WAV files here. Notice that I can either select files contiguously by clicking and then Shift+Clicking to select a range, or I can Command+Click on a Mac to select nonadjacent files, and that would be Ctrl+Click on a PC. Now if I want, I can click and drag those onto that track. And again it's going to load them on adjacent clip slots.
Now I can fire off this drum clip. (Music playing.) Notice that while I was launching those clips that Live allows you to have a clip playing on one row on one track, and I can indiscriminately launch clips on other tracks, regardless of what row they're sitting on.
Now, another way I can load multiple clips into a session is I can select them-- and I'll do that with the same three files here-- and I can Command+Click and Drag those. This time I'm going to actually drag those and drop them in the drop files area. But notice that when I let go Live is going to put those on adjacent tracks instead of adjacent clip slots on the same track. That's because I Command+Drug them into the area. On a PC, that would be Ctrl+Drag. Now some other things that we can do with clips are we can move them around.
So I can Click+Select a clip, and I can drag that to another clip slot. I can also copy a clip by either selecting the clip and going Command+C on a PC and then Command+V on the next clip slot-- and that would've been Ctrl+C on a PC, or Ctrl+V. The other way to do that would be to select the clip and simply Option+Click and Drag that to the desired clip slot. Also, you might want to rename your clips. I can do that by right-clicking on the desired clip and choosing Rename from the contextual menu, or using the key command Command+R on a Mac, or Ctrl+R on a PC.
Now I can type in the new name there. So I might want to call that "Drum Chorus." And that way I know that clip belongs with the chorus of the song. So, take some time to get familiar with loading and launching clips in Ableton Live.
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