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Working with alternate MIDI entry methods

From: Ableton Live 8 Essential Training

Video: Working with alternate MIDI entry methods

Not all of us that are interested in creating music using an application like Ableton Live own a MIDI keyboard or are proficient keyboard players. Often it's necessary to enter MIDI data using alternative methods. In this video, we'll take a look at how to use your computer keyboard as a MIDI keyboard and how to enter MIDI using step time and pencil entry methods. So if you don't have a MIDI keyboard, you can use your computer keyboard, by simply switching on the keyboard MIDI switch up here in the control bar. That's on by default. Let's load a clip. I'm going to over here to the Live Device browser and into Instruments and Impulse, and let's go into Acoustic, and I'm going to grab Big Rocker.

Working with alternate MIDI entry methods

Not all of us that are interested in creating music using an application like Ableton Live own a MIDI keyboard or are proficient keyboard players. Often it's necessary to enter MIDI data using alternative methods. In this video, we'll take a look at how to use your computer keyboard as a MIDI keyboard and how to enter MIDI using step time and pencil entry methods. So if you don't have a MIDI keyboard, you can use your computer keyboard, by simply switching on the keyboard MIDI switch up here in the control bar. That's on by default. Let's load a clip. I'm going to over here to the Live Device browser and into Instruments and Impulse, and let's go into Acoustic, and I'm going to grab Big Rocker.

I'll drop that on the MIDI track there, so we've got the sound loaded. And now the letters A through K on your computer keyboard will trigger notes. Let's give that a try. (Music playing.) Okay, so I hear that. There's K. Now this works great because I've got Impulse, and I've got the notes on my keyboard set to trigger those notes that are available in this Big Rocker sound. But note that if you're playing some other kind of a keyboard part, you might need to use other octaves. So I can change octaves on my computer keyboard by simply pressing the Z key to go down an octave, and when I do that you'll see the readout down here tell me which octave I moved to.

Okay, so computer keyboard and my current octave is C2. And X will take me back up on octave, so I'm at C3 and C4, C5, and then Z to get me back down to C3. Also, you may need to adjust the velocity that you're entering notes that. So the letter C will adjust the velocity down 20 and the V will adjust velocity up 20. Now usually this is set to a default of 80. So now, I just press the V key. I'm up to 100, and I'll take that back down by pressing the C key to 80.

And now I can record just as normal. All I've got to do-- the track is record enabled, I've got the Count off enabled, and all I need to do is click the Record button on a clip that I want to record on, and start pressing A through K on my keyboard. (Music playing.) So on and so forth. If I want to go in Overdub mode, just click that, and I can layer parts on top of that, just like if I was recording with a normal keyboard. Okay, let me undo that.

And next, let's talk a little bit about using step record. This is little bit different. Now I've got a track, and I have already loaded the device. So the next thing that I'm going to need to do to use step record is actually insert a MIDI clip onto one of the clip slots. So I can do that by right-clicking on the clip that I want to use and choosing Insert MIDI Clip from the Contextual menu. Or I can use the key command Shift+Command+M on a Mac, or Shift+Ctrl+M on a PC. And before I continue, again I'll need to set the length that I want to record into.

Now it defaults with that insert MIDI clip function to one bar in length. So let's drag that out so I've got two bars. So I'll go up to bar three, beat one. I'll size that so we can see the whole thing. Now next, I need to determine the default MIDI note length as I enter. I can do that by setting the grid. So I'll right-click here in the MIDI Editor, and from the Contextual menu in the Fixed Grid area, I can choose a value. So if I'm going to enter notes no longer than an eighth note, I might choose an eighth note.

If there is a possibility that I might record something that's a 16th note or smaller, I'll choose a different one. Let me just change that one, so you can see the grid change. Okay, so there is an eighth note grid, choose it again and choose 16th notes, and we can see that the grid just doubled there. So to be able to hear the notes that I'm going to play and to also enter Step Entry mode, I need to enabled the MIDI Editor preview switch, and that's this button right here. So now I'll click in the background here on the MIDI Editor--and I can use my right and left arrows to move around. So I will move over to the beginning.

Now I simply need to hold down a key on my MIDI keyboard--or in this case I'll use the letter A on my computer keyboard--and press the right arrow to enter that note, okay. Now if I need to enter a rest of that length, I'll just use my right arrow to go over again. Enter another kick hit here. And now I might want to put a snare in on two. Right arrow to go over there and hold down the S key and press right arrow again. Now, for example, in some cases you may want to enter a note that's longer than the default note length.

So if you would want to do that, you hold down the note that intended. Again, I'll push the letter S for the snare, and I'll put my right arrow. And as I continue to hold down the S, I can arrow over again to extend the length of that note. I can delete that by simply clicking the note and hitting my Backspace key. But if I had just entered the note--and I'm still holding it down--before I release if I just hit the left arrow, I can delete that same note. Now I can also enter notes in step entry by using the Pencil tool.

Now to activate that, I'll go up to the control bar, and I'll click on what they call the Draw Mode switch. I can also activate that by using Command+B. And now when I click on the MIDI Editor I'll enter a note of the value of whatever the grid is set at. So if I want to go back and enter a kick note, I can simply click near 1.3 there, and add a note, and add my snare. You can see how this can get very fast. So on and so forth. If I need to enter hi-hat notes on the eights, I can simply click, and then you notice that those are snapping to grid.

If I want to enter a note that doesn't snap to grid, you can hold down your Command key and override that. Now as I'm entering notes, it's also affected by the default velocity that I've got set, and the C and V keys also work here. So remember, C adjusts the velocity down 20 and the V up 20. And our total range of velocity is 128, so from 0 to 127. So 20 is actually quite a bit. Let me take that down a little bit, and I'll give you an example.

So now when I entered that snare hit, we can see that the velocity down here that's indicated by this line is quite a bit less than the velocity of the other snare hits. Now if you want to enter a custom note length using your Pencil tool, you can simply hold down your Command key and click and drag. And notice now that it's letting me put in a note of any length that I want. So alternate MIDI entry methods often save time, and are a great help to those of us whose keyboard skills need help.

These methods can be a bit tricky, so spend some time getting familiar and practicing with at least one of them. You'll be glad you did.

Show transcript

This video is part of

Image for Ableton Live 8 Essential Training
Ableton Live 8 Essential Training

69 video lessons · 16988 viewers

Rick Schmunk
Author

 
Expand all | Collapse all
  1. 1m 30s
    1. Welcome
      49s
    2. Using the exercise files
      41s
  2. 8m 43s
    1. What is a digital audio workstation?
      4m 13s
    2. Choosing the right gear and setting up a system
      4m 30s
  3. 12m 59s
    1. Setting up audio preferences
      3m 54s
    2. Setting up MIDI preferences
      3m 31s
    3. Optimizing performance
      5m 34s
  4. 35m 42s
    1. Understanding Session view
      8m 7s
    2. Working with Live browsers
      5m 3s
    3. Working with Live clips
      7m 57s
    4. Understanding clip properties
      7m 52s
    5. Working with Live scenes
      6m 43s
  5. 28m 16s
    1. Building Live Sets and projects
      4m 25s
    2. Learning Live file management
      4m 2s
    3. Exporting content from Live
      7m 32s
    4. Importing and exporting Live Packs
      3m 17s
    5. Searching for and auditioning clips
      4m 58s
    6. Setting up frequently accessed folders
      4m 2s
  6. 23m 3s
    1. Preparing to record MIDI
      5m 51s
    2. Recording and overdubbing MIDI
      4m 32s
    3. Working with alternate MIDI entry methods
      6m 49s
    4. Using multi-output virtual instruments
      5m 51s
  7. 24m 26s
    1. The MIDI Editor
      4m 49s
    2. Quantizing MIDI data
      6m 6s
    3. Advanced MIDI editing
      6m 49s
    4. Setting up groove in editing
      6m 42s
  8. 9m 18s
    1. Preparing to record
      5m 0s
    2. Recording audio
      4m 18s
  9. 22m 37s
    1. Understanding Arrangement view
      3m 41s
    2. Recording in Arrangement view
      3m 51s
    3. Recording from Session view to Arrangement view
      5m 21s
    4. Reworking clips
      9m 44s
  10. 27m 57s
    1. Understanding Live's mixer
      12m 38s
    2. Using sends and returns
      3m 47s
    3. Building headphone cues
      3m 49s
    4. Grouping tracks
      7m 43s
  11. 43m 14s
    1. Working with effect devices
      4m 56s
    2. Understanding EQ and filters
      7m 14s
    3. Using compressors and dynamic processors
      7m 28s
    4. Building interesting effects with delay effect processing
      8m 18s
    5. Using reverb effectively
      8m 22s
    6. Setting up side chain effects easily
      6m 56s
  12. 15m 37s
    1. Creating rhythmic patterns with the Arpeggiator effect
      8m 38s
    2. Building background parts with the Chord and Scale effects
      6m 59s
  13. 25m 24s
    1. Building automation patterns
      8m 44s
    2. Editing existing automation information
      5m 3s
    3. Using fades to mask audio pops and clicks
      4m 10s
    4. Understanding the power of clip envelopes
      7m 27s
  14. 20m 17s
    1. Understanding the basics of looping
      6m 54s
    2. Creating tracks that loop smoothly
      7m 50s
    3. Using warp features to quantize audio
      5m 33s
  15. 17m 47s
    1. Using the computer keyboard to control Live
      6m 39s
    2. Mapping device controls to the MIDI keyboard
      4m 36s
    3. Using Live's instant mapping feature
      6m 32s
  16. 10m 44s
    1. Exporting audio
      5m 37s
    2. Freezing tracks
      5m 7s
  17. 20m 45s
    1. Building with the Impulse virtual instrument
      11m 35s
    2. Working with the Simpler virtual instrument
      9m 10s
  18. 36m 22s
    1. Overview of Live racks
      10m 13s
    2. Combining instruments and effects into a single device
      8m 22s
    3. Adding effects with Drum Rack
      11m 28s
    4. Assigning rack parameters to macros
      6m 19s
  19. 13m 53s
    1. Setting up ReWire with Pro Tools
      7m 3s
    2. Setting up ReWire with Logic
      6m 50s
  20. 33m 43s
    1. Preparing audio clips with the Warp tool
      14m 31s
    2. Triggering clips using follow actions
      8m 9s
    3. Using Live as a sound source
      11m 3s
  21. 7m 21s
    1. Working with video files
      7m 21s
  22. 37s
    1. Further Recommendations
      37s

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