Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Parallel Effects in Ableton Live using Racks

I’ve been working with Ableton for quite some time now, but I have to honestly say that I only am aware of a small subset of features available.

I’ve been trying to play around with anything that looks intriguing to me, and yesterday's foray was experimenting with using racks to achieve parallel effects on a given bit of audio.

I found a YouTube video that got my gears turning, and from there I just let my experimentation run.

I had some random samples laying about from a previous session where I was using external drum pads to play some live drum sounds, and recorded them into Audacity of all things (this was back before I really was using Ableton).

I picked a sample that I wanted to experiment with and I singled out my looping section in Simpler.

I dropped a chorus effect into the track, and then right-clicked "group" to create a chain for the Chorus. I fiddled around with the modulation until I found a spot I liked, and turned the Dry/Wet all the way up (100% wet). My goal was to use the chorus to create a sort of odd sound, not so much a chorus effect in the traditional sense.

Adding another chain into the rack, I put an Overdrive effect into this. I also assigned the x/y parameters of the Overdrive to my midi controller, giving each its own knob so I could manipulate them independently in realtime.

All set to go, I went to Arrangement View, and armed my MIDI track to record, being sure to enable automation recording as well. I just usually let myself run wild with these sorts of moments, it's like audio finger-painting to me, I approach it playfully. When I felt like I had a few minutes of material I was happy with, I was ready for my next stage.

First, I route the Master Audio Track into the input of another audio track, then record what I've done in MIDI to audio. 

This gets me a set of tracks that looks like this:

I disable the original midi track but usually keep it intact case I want to tweak it and redo the audio. From here I chop up the audio into loops I like. My favorite part is the nuances of sound sculpting the recorded automation creates. I can take the same underlying rhythm and get very different sounding samples from it.

When I'm freestyling, I avoid click tracks, quantization, all of that. Just the rhythm of me recorded raw. I was ear taught at a young age, long before I ever knew what a metronome was or why to use one, so when attempting to flow freely I find them cumbersome. 

This means my raw audio usually has a decent internal timing, but it's never aligned to the tempo of the beat grid. At this point, I take the loops I like and use warp markers to properly align them to the grid. It's important for me to keep them as intact as possible to truly preserve the spontaneity of the original, but interesting sounds can definitely arise from extreme warping as well. When properly aligned in the clip view, I drag them over to arrangement and export audio to create a new loop.

Through this process, I ended up with a handful of new loops in my library, and had some fun as well (always a bonus). 

For demonstrative purposes, I will update this post when I've thrown a couple up on SoundCloud.

Stay Creative.

UPDATE - Below are two of the loops I came up with using the above techniques.

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