MIDI Editing in Ableton 9 was given a bevy of new features – here’s how some of them work…
Ableton Live was originally designed to be a live performance tool, based around the use of audio clips. It did this (and continues to do this…) very successfully, with an audio engine that is revered for its rock-solid stability and efficiency.
However, as DAW developed, it began to offer the ability to incorporate MIDI clips into a session- a very smart move. Though the MIDI editing in Ableton was blessed with the same, simple, elegant interface, it seemed to lag behind the audio features that were steadily being added.
Thankfully, Live 9 redressed this, with some very neat new additions. Here’s a guide to some of them…
The MIDI Editor in Ableton 9 has several new ways of transforming MIDI notes. Firstly, MIDI clips or selections of MIDI notes can be doubled or halved in playback speed. Here, we’ve done this with a simple drum pattern.
1. Create a drum rack, and add a pattern to one of the clip slots on its channel.
2. Double click the clip to open the MIDI editor for it
3. Click once anywhere (other than on a note) within the clip edit window to make sure no individual note is selected.
4. In the info box to the left, under the ‘Notes’ section, there are 2 buttons- ‘:2’ and ‘*2’. The ‘:2’ button halves the length time it takes for the clip to playback, whilst ‘*2’ doubles it. Here, I’ve copied the original clip to another cell, halved its playback time, to create a simple, D ‘n’ B beat. Then, I’ve copied it across to another Drum Rack track.
I now have a low-tempo intro, and hi-tempo main break from the same simple loop.
Yes, there are other DAWs that can do this. However, now that it’s included here, it’s just another ‘string’ to Ableton’s impressive ‘bow’. Essentially, it allows the user to lengthen notes, filling in the gaps between staccato sections, or fixing small errors from playing notes in.
1. Here, we’ve created a pad sound, and dropped some short, 16th notes into a clip. We’re happy with the notes, but need it to fill the space in the part.
2. Double click the clip to open the editor
3. Click once anywhere in the edit window to make sure no notes are selected.
4. Click the ‘Legato’ button under the ‘Notes’ section to the left of this. The notes will automatically be lengthened to fill the gaps between notes.
Reverse and Inverse
Though MIDI editing in Ableton has already become a lot more powerful, and quicker, thanks to the features outlined above, the ‘Reverse’ and ‘Inverse’ features provide an inspiring means to kick-start ideas and create variations.
In my session, I have copied my bass part to a new cell, and used ‘reverse’ to create a new version of it (original shown above).
1. Follow the steps 1-3 listed above
2. Click the ‘Reverse’ button, and the clip will be reversed, playing the last notes first. Click the ‘inverse’ button, and, and the rhythm of the notes will remain the same, but the pitch will be reversed.
In the session downloadable below, I’ve used the new features to (very quickly) create variations, then arranged them into scenes to create a simple structure (again, very quickly)- just to give you an idea of how quick and easy it can be to work like this.
MIDI editing in Ableton has never been so quick, powerful or inspiring.
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Joe is a contributor for the Dawsons Music blog. Specialising in product reviews and crafting content to help and inspire musicians of all musical backgrounds.