Working With Ableton Clips

Working With Ableton Clips: Ableton Live Tutorial [Part 2]

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(Last Updated On: March 18, 2019)

Every Ableton Live user when a newbie always stuck when working with Ableton Live clips. However, it’s not as complicated as you think. In this part of the Ableton live tutorial, we will learn how to work with clips in Ableton to make songs.

In the first Ableton Live tutorial, we went through all the basics of Ableton Live, Such as what is DAW, Ableton Live vs other DAWs, Ableton session view, Ableton arrangement view, using Live browser, Preferences etc.

If you haven’t read the first part of this tutorial ie; “Ableton Live Tutorial [Part 1]: Introduction To Ableton” then you must read that before proceeding.

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As you know that the audio recording is fully shifted to digital domains where we use DAW software to record with computers. Most of the DAWs today has the benefit of Midi programming and clip editor. With these two tools, we can produce industry standard soundtracks sitting right under your home’s roof.

All you need a good DAW, an audio interface, some good VST instruments, samples and loop libraries.

Ableton Live is one of those best DAWs which have all the above features under one roof. It has a great sample and loops library, several inbuilt VST instruments, and its very easy to use.

In this part, we will talk about some essential topics of Ableton Live programming, Such as,

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  • Audio Clips
  • Midi Clips
  • Warping
  • Importing Audio Clips in Ableton
  • Launching Clips

So, let’s begin.

Building Blocks of Ableton Live: Clips

As you know in the audio recording world, clips are actually prerecorded sound signals. In analogue clips are recorded in magnetic and other types of media wherein the digital recording audio signal is a series of  0 and 1 numbers which are captured by mics and other input devices and stored in a storage media like a hard disk.

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In Ableton live we have two types of clips.

  • Audio clips
  • Midi clips

Ableton Live has a big library of Audio and Midi clips which are used to produce music in this DAW. So we can say that,

Clips are the Building Blocks of Ableton Live.

When you buy the full version of Ableton live you get more than 25GB of audio and MIDI clip library in the package. You can add external clips into the library as well. There is also a “saving and recalling preset” feature available in the Live browser where you can save your own clips and recall them whenever you want to use them.

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What are Ableton Live Clips

As I told you above that Ableton live has a browser feature where all the clips, VST and effects are saved and one loads them into the arrangement editor to produce soundtracks.

Clips are the prerecorded audio and Midi music and beat parts which can be reused in the sessions. You can import them into the session, manipulate as per your need and also save as a new clip into the LIve browser for future use.

Audio Clips and MIDI Clips in Ableton

There are two types of clips in Ableton Live.

  • Audio Clips
  • Midi Clips

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Audio Clips – Audio clips are prerecorded sound signals stored in the computer’s hard disk and can be used multiple times. You can create those types of clips with the number of input devices such as mic, kea\yboard, guitar, drums etc. Ableton Live has a big library of prerecorded clips as well.

Midi Clips – Midi clips are the sequence of commands which are a symbolic representation of musical material. You can say it a digital version of written scores. these scores are saved in .mid format in the hard disk. In DAWs, Midi clips are used to play VST instruments. You just need a Midi controller like Ableton Push 2 to play the VST instruments.

By using the combination of Audio and Midi clips you can produce tremendous music tracks in Ableton within minutes.

Now you are aware of what are clips and how they can help you to create great music in Ableton, its time to explore the second important and very useful feature of Ableton Live clip editing – Warping.

What is Warping in Ableton

Warping or time warping is a feature of Ableton which allows you to automatically time stretch audio clips or songs to match the given tempo.

Though this is not a new feature and other DAWs such as Logic and FL studio already have it, Ableton has some effective tools to speedup the process.

Time warping is a great tool when you are dealing with out of time audio clips. Its also helpful when you want to re-purpose an already recorded song.

Let’s see how it works in Ableton.

Step 1: First you need to drag the desired clip (wav, aiff, mp3) into the Ableton Live. You can drag clips from the browser, desktop or directly from the iTunes.

In-default auto-warp feature is enabled in Ableton live so when you drag the clip into the session, it will attempt to auto-warp. If it gets right, you’re done with a tempo matched audio clip.

Sometimes, Ableton’s auto warp mode fails to perfectly warp the clip. In this situation you need to tighten up the warping. If this is the case, follow the steps below.

Step 2: First double click on the clip to access the waveform view. Click the yellow triangle to launch the clip. Now by listening find the first beat or the “one.” Zoom in the clip waveform by using the magnifying glass above the waveform window.

Step 3: You need to double-click on the transient above the first beat to create a yellow Warp Marker. Right click on the warp Marker and select “Set 1.1.1 here.”

Step 4: Now, right-click again and select “Warp From Here.” Now turn on the metronome to hear if it gets right.

Its really simple to implement warping in Ableton Live.

Working with Audio Clips in Ableton Live

In this section we will discuss on how to work with audio clips in Ableton Live?

As you know, audio clips are the pre-recorded sound signals stored in your computer hard disk which ca be used to create songs in different DAWs. Composing songs with the help of pre-recorded audio and Midi clips is called music programming.

In Ableton Live its very easy to use pre-recorded audio clips in the sessions. You have been provided a clip browser called Live browser to access the clips.

Let us know how you can import Audio clips from the Live browser to the session.

Importing Audio Files in Ableton

It’s very simple in Ableton.

Step 1: Create a new session and in the browser window which is located at the upper left corner of the Ableton interface find the clip folder. Or you can also go to the “packs” section to find the audio clips. When you click on the clips folder, there will be several clips available on the right side which you can import directly into the Live session window.

Step 2: Drag the selected clip into the arrangement window. Ableton Live will automatically warp that clip to match the tempo.

That’s it, Your Clip is now imported into the session. You can also drag audio clips directly from the desktop to the session.

Launching Clips in Ableton Live

“Clip launch” is an exclusive feature of Ableton Live. Many Ableton Live users don’t know well about this feature and skip it, but beleive me its one of the most powerful feature of Ableton Live.

Clip Launch allows you to create a groups of Clips that trigger each other in various ways.

Let’s dig dip into it.

In Ableton Live you are provided with a “Clip Launch Box” which is the setting window for launching the clips. The launch Box only accessible to session view clips.

To access the Launch Box you need to double click the clip in the session window and open the Clip View.

In the clip view click on the yellow button next to the “Clip” and then click on the clock icon located at the bottom as shown in the image above.

Now the Launch feature – the region marked by the yellow color is opened. Here you can change the settings as per your need to lauch the clip. Let us know what are the settigs in the launch feature.

Launch modes: Launch mode has four types of modes – Trigger, Gate, Toggle and repeat. These modes change the behavior of clip such as trigger will down starts the clip while up is ignored, where Gate down starts the clip and up stops the clip.

Clip Launch quatization: Clip launch quatization allows you to adjust an onset timing correction for clip triggering.

Velocity: You can adjust the effect of Midi note velocity by adjusting velocity Amount control 

Legato Mode: This mode allows you to toggle all the clips in the track without losing the sync.

Follow actions: With follow actions setting you can create chains of clips that can trigger each other in an random or orderly way or both.

So here you learnt some of the most important features of Ableton Live and how to use them as well.

If you want a free video course to Ableton Live, you can Join this here

In this video course, you will learn,

  • Introduction and Understanding the Interface
  • Clips, the Building Blocks of Ableton Live
  • Working with Audio Clips
  • Working with MIDI Clips/Instruments
  • MIDI and Audio Clips Together

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