Working with the Simpler virtual instrument
Video: Working with the Simpler virtual instrumentSimpler is another instrument devices that is included in all versions of Live 8. It's a sample player that incorporates the filter, LFO, and pitch parameters of a simple synthesizer. Let's take a look and see how it works. Now, I can load a Simpler preset by going into the Live Devices browser, finding the Simpler folder, and then from one of the subfolders, choose a preset. So let me choose the E Piano Mk1. I'll drag and drop that on the MIDI track. (Music playing.) We can hear the patch. Now I can also load Simpler by dragging the folder itself, which is an empty Simpler preset, and dropping that out here in the Drop Files and Devices area.
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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.
- Putting together a DAW system
- Setting up Ableton preferences
- Importing and exporting content
- Recording MIDI
- Editing and quantizing MIDI data
- Recording audio
- Recording in Arrangement view
- Using sends and returns in the Live Mixer
- Grouping tracks
- Signal processing
- Creating and editing automation envelopes
- Using fades to mask audio pops and clicks
- Looping and warping audio clips
- Mapping device controls to a MIDI keyboard
- Working with virtual instruments
- Integrating Live with Pro Tools and Logic
Working with the Simpler virtual instrument
Simpler is another instrument devices that is included in all versions of Live 8. It's a sample player that incorporates the filter, LFO, and pitch parameters of a simple synthesizer. Let's take a look and see how it works. Now, I can load a Simpler preset by going into the Live Devices browser, finding the Simpler folder, and then from one of the subfolders, choose a preset. So let me choose the E Piano Mk1. I'll drag and drop that on the MIDI track. (Music playing.) We can hear the patch. Now I can also load Simpler by dragging the folder itself, which is an empty Simpler preset, and dropping that out here in the Drop Files and Devices area.
Now the cool thing about that is that I can load any sample that I have into the sample player. So let me go down to the Library, I'll go to the Samples folders, and in the Loopmasters subfolder, I am going to grab one of those. Let's grab this one, and I'll drop that in this Drop Sample area here. Now I can trigger that by pressing one of the keys on my keyboard. Now this particular sample is by default loaded on C3. (Drums playing.) I can also trigger that pressing other keys. But as I go up the keyboard, it will actually play it faster, and therefore it will actually be pitched higher.
(Drums playing.) If I go down, you will get the same corresponding change, where it plays it slower and the pitch is dropped. In this upper area in the Sample window I can set the start and stop points for the sample that I am triggering, and I can do that by dragging these flags that are on the right and left. So let grab the sample end, and I am going to try and lop off about one bar of that, and I'll drop that. Now let me hit play. I'll hit C3. (Drums playing.) Okay, that's not too bad.
Sometimes you get a little click or a pop at the end, and you need to zoom in. Now, I can do that just the same way that we do in the Clip window or in the Arrange window, by actually dragging down here, or up to zoom back out. In this case, we are going to try and move that sample end point over here right before that next transient. And I want to do that without triggering any part of the next thing, because that'll probably end up giving me a pop or a click. Let's see what that sounds like. (Drums playing.) It sounds like we are okay.
Now when I am zoomed out, if I want to move around in this window, I can also hold down Option and Command, and when my cursor turns into a hand, I actually drag right or left to get the different area. Again, I can drag straight back up to zoom back out. Now another way that I can set the end point of this is using the Snap feature, and that will try and snap the loop end point to the closest zero crossing in that waveform. Now the bad part about that is as that might give me a nice end without a pop or a click, but that might not actually work out rhythmically.
It's probably going to be too short to actually loop correctly. So I am going to take the Snap feature back off, and I am going to turn the Loop feature on. Now when I hit Play this will actually Loop that sample. And I can work with the pops the clicks by dialing in a little bit of a Fade percentage on that. These other three parameters over here--Start, Loop, and Length--help me to fine-tune the length of the portion of the sample I am using. So Start will delay the start of that on both sides. Loop will actually, by percentage, set a different beginning and ending point, as well as Length, which will dial from the back end.
Now in this case, I have already set what I want just by dragging the loop start and end points. So I'm okay there. Let's take a look at another area of this. So, I can also control what's happening here by using the effect areas of the Simpler interface. The first one I am going to look at is this Filter. So I'll turn that on, and then I can set the type of filter that I am going to be using from this category. As you might expect, there are some typical filter shapes there, so I have got low-pass, band-pass, high-pass, and notch filters. I am going to choose the Low Pass12, which means a low pass with a 12 Db per octave slope.
I can set the cutoff frequency for that filter by dialing the Frequency knob, and as I trigger the sample or the loop, I'll pull that Frequency knob back, so you can hear what it does. (Drums playing.) So as you might expect, it's passing low frequencies, and then above a certain frequency--which in this case I've got it at 1.45 kHz--it's chopping off, or attenuating, the higher frequencies. So in this case, I'm getting a darker sound. The Resonance feature is going to enhance, or lift, the frequencies around the cutoff frequency, which will give me a little more of an aggressive effect out of that.
So let's hear what that sounds like. (Drums playing.) So we can hear that. In addition, I can modulate that or change the effect by velocity. So the harder I hit the key, the more I'll get, and the lighter I hit the key, the less I'll get--and that's by dialing up this Velocity percentage. (Drums playing.) So you can hear that changing the actual timbre based upon the velocity. The Key setting here makes changes based upon what key you are triggering.
So C3, being the default placement, won't be affected by that, but keys above C3 will be affected greater by the Frequency setting, and keys below C3 will be affected less. In addition, I can affect things by using this Low Frequency Oscillator section. I am going to switch back to the Electric Piano Track for that part. Let me record-enable so we can hear that. By the way, notice up here in the Sample area that we don't see an actually sample, and that's because this particular preset is made up of multi-samples, and we actually can't do that in this particular instrument.
You'd have to actually open this up in something like Live Sampler to be able to make any changes to that. So, the interface in Simpler only allows us to modify the loop start points and things like that for single samples. But I am going to turn of filter on again here, and I am going to put this at about 650 Hz, and I will dial a little resonance in there. And again, I've got this on a low-pass filter shape, and this time I want to dial in the LFO. Now the LFO, is a low frequency oscillator that's so low that we actually can't hear it, and that also means that the speed of that low frequency is going to be relatively slow.
Now this LFO offers us the frequency of about .1 Hz up to about 30 Hz. So I am going to turn that on, and if I want the LFO to actually work on the Filter section, I need to dial up a little bit of a percentage here so that will actually work. And again, I can set this by shape. My actual shapes I have here are related to WAV shapes. You'll notice that I have got a sine wave shape, but that's going to give me a smooth effect. The square wave shape will give me more of an on/off effect and so on and down here to the random one that will actually give me a random effect.
I am going to stay with the sine wave here, and I'll set a speed. Now I can either do that by locking it to the tempo by clicking on this little 16th note and then making a change there, or you can do that by the number of hertz, by clicking that button. And I am going to dial that back so it's fairly slow. So maybe .5 Hz. Let me play a note and let's see what that sounds like. (Music playing.) So you can hear it slowly opening and closing this filter. This time I'll do that again, and I'll speed the frequency up, so you can hear what happens.
(Music playing.) Pretty cool! So, in addition to being able to modulate this by the LFO, I can further shape this by turning on the ADSR that's included in Simpler. I can turn that on for multiple things, but in this case I am going to enable that for the filter, and then I'll get these four settings here for Attack, Decay, Sustain, and Release. Now the Attack will set how long it takes for the effect to reach its peak value.
The Decay will set the time it takes to reach the sustain level. The Sustain will set the level at the end of the decay stage, and the Release will set the time needed to release the note after you actually release the key, or you send a MIDI end note message. So I am going to dial back just the attack just a little bit and set the decay just a little longer, and let's hear what that sounds like. (Music playing.) The frequency down here might be just a little fast for my taste, so let me pull that back just a little. (Music playing.) Little more of a subtle effect.
Here's what it sounds like with the ADSR turned off. (Music playing.) So it's subtle in this case, but it's a useful thing. Now, in addition, I can set the LFO to modulate the Pan by lifting up a percentage here, so that will actually set it to move between speakers. I can also do the same thing over here on the Volume area. So now that you're more familiar with how Simpler works, you'll be able to modify Simpler's presets to work more effectively with your own music.
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- A: For the most part, yes. However, there are a few limitations. For example, there are some drum sounds that won’t work with the Lite version. Lite also has a limited track count, which may cause problems with some of the larger Live Sets in the course. If you do not have the full version of Ableton Live, you can download a demo of Ableton Live Suite (http://www.ableton.com/download-suite-trial), which will run for 30 days. This will allow you to do everything in the course, and get a look at what the full version can do at the same time.
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