August 20, 2013  

9 Lives Of Ableton: Episode 5 – Importing and Manipulating Audio

This week, Point Blank tutor and Ableton Live expert Anthony Chapman, who’s working with the likes of Franz Ferdinand and Klaxons, tackles how Ableton Live’s audio warping features help you creatively manipulate audio. This episode includes using transient and warp markers and slicing to new midi track to transform the way your loop behaves. Watch this week’s episode below and don’t forget to check out episodes 1 – 4 if you haven’t already.

If you’re feeling creative and want to get more deeply into making music in Ableton Live 9 we have a limited offer in place right now. Anyone signing up for our Music Production with Ableton Live Online Certificate during our 9 Lives of Ableton tutorial season will get a FREE copy of Ableton 9 Live (worth £339).

By the end of this certificate you will have learnt Sound Design, Electronic Music Composition and how to mix your own tracks in Ableton Live. You will come off the course with your own EP and the option to sign it to Point Blank’s label (distributed by iTunes, Beatport, Juno Download and Amazon).

For more detail, click HERE or contact one of our course advisors about how to enrol.

[button size=”small” window=”true” color=”orange” link=””]Click here to take a free Ableton Live course[/button]

Video Transcription:

Anthony: Hi, I’m Anthony Chapman, and I’m a tutor here at Point Blank Music School. I’ve got over 20 years industry experience as a producer, engineer, mixer and composer, working with the likes of Franz Ferdinand and Crassens [SP], and you’re watching Nine Lives of Ableton. If you’re new to making electronic music, these videos should give you an overview of how to get started using Live and an idea of what it’s capable of.

If you’re experienced with other platforms but new to Live, you’ll probably find these videos really useful as well. So, some of the sounds in this project are audio loops that I’ve dragged and dropped straight into the session view window. Now, Live usually does a very good job of automatically fitting imported audio into the project. Now, if I preview this loop in my library here, you can hear that’s a lot slower than the project, which is this tempo, but if I preview it while the project is playing, we hear in tempo.

If I click and drag it, it creates a new track with that loop as a clip, and I can play it. So, there you can see it’s really easy to bring the loops in. This works for pretty much any kind of audio. I’ve got the sample editor for this clip visible and if you look at these small gray triangles above the sample, these are your transient markers. A transient is a very, very fast change in volume, so when we’re talking about drums and drum loops, almost always, it’s going to be like the beginning of a drum hit, a kick drum, a snare drum, a high hat, something like that.

Live has detected these. This is how Live changes the tempo automatically of the audio, so that it fits with everything else in the project. Now, these yellow ones are warp markers and if I click and drag that, you see that [Constantine] is down. It’s basically shrinking. If I go the other way, it stretches it. Okay? So, what I’m going to do is, if I double click on the transient markers, they turn into warp markers. Alternatively, I can just make a selection and right-click and go “Insert Warp Markers.”

Now, every one of the transients in that loop has a warp marker in it. What that means is I can change the way this loop plays. I can change where all these hits come by shrinking or stretching them. Okay? So, let’s just hear this loop on its own. I’m just going to experiment and try moving some things around. Okay, so that’s kind of transformed the way that the loop plays. Now that I’ve done this what I can do is freeze and flatten the track.

What that basically means is it creates a new version of the clip with all of my edits in place. I’m going to right-click here and go “Freeze Track.” Yes, I want to stop audio. It freezes it. Now, I’m going to go “Flatten.” Flatten makes a new audio file which has all of those edits in it. So, if I play it… okay, so now I want to take this even further. I’m going to right click on that clip and I’m going to choose “Slice to new Midi track.”

You see this dialogue comes up and it’s telling me it’s going create one slice for every transient that’s detected in the loop. What’s going to happen now is it’s going to create a new track with a drum rack device, where each part of the drum rack contains one of these slices and then it’s also going to create a Midi clip which plays the loop as it is here. If that sounds a little bit confusing let’s just demonstrate. So, I’ll click “OK” and you see it’s created the drum rack there and it’s made this new track here. Okay?

I’m going to stop that one and start this. Double click on the clip and we can see the Midi is playing. Okay? Just let me crop this and now I’m just going to manipulate this even further. Each one of these Midi notes is playing a bit above beat. So, let’s just play with this. So, there we go. I’ve managed to completely transform that from what the beat originally was. Remember if we listen back to the original one, we’ve gone from that to… all in the matter of a few clicks.

So, we’ve seen how Lives audio warping features can help you create or even manipulate audio. In the next video we’re going to explore some of Live Nines new features for converting audio to Midi.

Unknown: At Point Blank Online you’ve got two methods of interaction with our tutor. Firstly, you’ve got the weekly online master class which is in real time and then also we’ve got feedback on your assignments and that’s known as DVR.

So, the online master class is a one hour session you get with your tutor every week. You can ask questions about lesson content and get instant feedback and also demonstrations on the fly from the computer desktop with our streaming technology.

DVR stands for Direct Video Response and the concept is really simple. We upload your Ableton Logical key based project files to your tutor. He downloads it and then pictures record on the screen capturing software and evaluates your work. So, basically giving you one to one feedback.

You see all of the mass movements and any parameter changes made by your tutor is kind of like sitting in the studio over their shoulder watching what they do whilst they work. We found the DVR process has truly revolutionized the way that we teach online and the results speak for themselves. Book your place in the course now by visiting

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