Performing Like a Pro With Backing Tracks in Ableton Live | Solo Ray | Skillshare

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Performing Like a Pro With Backing Tracks in Ableton Live

teacher avatar Solo Ray, Music Producer + MD

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

20 Lessons (1h 9m)
    • 1. Intro

    • 2. Overview

    • 3. Hardware

    • 4. Settings

    • 5. Importing Files

    • 6. Grouping

    • 7. Sends and Returns

    • 8. Intro to Scenes and Clicks

    • 9. Cues

    • 10. Warping

    • 11. Midi Instruments

    • 12. Automating Patch Changes Part 1

    • 13. Automating Patch Changes Part 2

    • 14. Performing with Scenes Part 1

    • 15. Performing with Scenes Part 2

    • 16. Looping an Outro

    • 17. Creating an Ending

    • 18. Editing with Automation

    • 19. Midi Mapping

    • 20. Next Steps

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About This Class


My name is Solo Ray, nice to meet you!

If you have any questions at any time please leave something in the discussions tab and I'll get back to you ASAP with some help! 

In this class we are going to walk through my approach to backing tracks in Ableton Live, and how to utilize them to bring out the best parts of your performance. I will show you the following:

• How to group stems together

• How to use scenes in session view to navigate through your stems 

• How to use a "Cues" or "Guide" track

• Using automation in a live set

• How to setup multiple patches and chains of effects

• How to understand what in the world warping is 

and so much more!


You can download the DEITZY example stems HERE

You can download the finished example project (including stems) HERE

What you'll need:

• A copy of Ableton Live (I'm using Live 11 Suite but you should be able to follow along in standard as well just fine.)

• Depending on what you want to do you might need an audio interface with multiple outputs to take full advantage of using multiple stems, but it's not a deal breaker, and depending on what music you're performing, might not be needed at all.

• A computer! Anything that runs Live will work great.

• Your creative genius

Follow me on Instagram for more!


Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Solo Ray

Music Producer + MD


Hi! I am a music producer and music director based out of Montana. I predominantly produce, mix, and master in Logic Pro X, but I also enjoy using Ableton and Pro Tools.


I started playing piano when I was a little kid (hated practicing then, but now I'm so thankful my parents made me do it anyway), got my feet wet in GarageBand around 12, and produced my first album in Logic at 15. I can't wait to help you progress to the next step of your musical journey!

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1. Intro: Welcome to Performing Like a Pro with Backing Tracks in Ableton Live. Tracks should be something that hold you up, not something that you hide behind. I want to show you how to use the strengths of tracks, things like pre-recorded material, automation, patch changes, and the strengths of your performance, the flexibility, the freedom, the expressiveness that only you can bring. I'm Solo Ray. I produced my first record when I was 15, and I haven't stopped making music since. I've toured the country playing music. I music direct at my church every weekend, and I want to help you play your music live in the best way possible. In this class, we're going to cover how to transpose tracks, how to adjust an arrangement, how to loop certain sections, how to automate past changes of a keyboard or guitar or vocal or base, anything that you're playing. I'm also going to give some hardware recommendations for audio interfaces and midi controllers. We'll learn how to midi map the functions that you want access to right at your fingertips and so much more. For this class, as an exercise, we're going to be building a live set for an artist I produced named Deitzy. If you haven't heard of him, go check him out. His stuff is so cool. We're going to be building a very short live set of just two songs, his song 'Figure' and his song 'Magic Touch'. If you've never used Ableton Live before or any sort of backing tracks before, this class is perfect for you. I will go over everything you need to know in order to start playing your music using Ableton Live. Now that you know what you're getting into, I can't wait to start showing you how to take your music to the next level. Let's get going. 2. Overview: [MUSIC] Here we're going to take just a brief overview of the project that we're going to be building. It's a live set for Dietze like I said, two songs of his Figure and Magic touch. There are two folders here, pitched and rhythm. The reason I have those separated out is for transposing things. Opening up that pitched folder and just take a quick look at these individual stems we have going on. Then our rhythm group has percussion and drums. So if we are playing with a live drummer, I can still use all this fun stuff like the claps and the tambourine and the big risers and things, because I have them in their own percussion stem, I can turn off the main drum hits altogether. More stems generally allows for more flexibility. A perfect example of this would be if I was playing with Dietze, my instrument of choice is keys. So I would turn off this key stem and I would play those parts live. We have this live keys track over here. If I open this up we can briefly see what's going on, there's a couple different patches, couple different sounds and depending on where we are in the song, the keyboard will play something different. [MUSIC] The way that it's switching between those sounds is with automation on this midi clip here. Again, if you feel lost, if I'm going way too fast, don't worry, we'll go through all these things slowly individually. I just wanted to give a brief overview of how everything is working together. Then backing up one track to the left, we have a cues track with the way that we're using cues in this instance is to come together in the intro, which sounds like this. [MUSIC] Great. Now we can all come in together and still have an ambient intro it sounds nice and tight and professional. Another thing we might want to be able to do is have flexibility of when exactly we go into the verse. So we have this intro scene setup that will instead of starting the song and going right into the verse, the pads, the drums, all that other stuff will just loop those first couple bars until we're ready to go into the verse and then we can punch into the verse. Also you can fast forward through a set just by dragging on the play head up here. [MUSIC] So he's talking to the crowd, he's able to hype people up, whatever he wants to do. How we get into the verse, he will either give me a look, or I can read his body language, or if I have a talk back I can just say, okay, let's go into the verse now. The way that I would actually do that in Ableton is send us into this next scene, these verse one scene. So this is the start of the first verse. I could count him in into it, or let's say he'd be like at the top of this progression here to one, two, let's go. [MUSIC] Magic touch is doing something similar but on the back-end instead of the beginning. So that's a big picture of everything that's going on in the set. Now we'll go through and put this thing together from scratch, and I'll talk about why I'm making the choices that I'm making and hopefully this will be inspiring to you and give you ideas for how you want to use these tools for incorporating them into your own music. I don't want this to be a rule book of this is how you should do backing tracks, or this is the best way of doing backing tracks, this is what works for me when I perform live. Take what you want, take what makes sense to you and use it. The things that don't work or you think, you know what, I just really don't want to approach my music that way. Hey, you don't need to, you can do your own thing, and I think you should do your own thing. But hopefully this is inspiring and you can come away from this, wanting to play more music, that's always the best thing. So fat out of the way. Let's dive in and let's start putting this thing together. 3. Hardware: [MUSIC] Before we go any further, I want to briefly address some common hardware questions I get asked a lot, audio interfaces, what are they? Do I need one? Technically, no, you don't absolutely need one, but I would highly recommend one because yes, even though you can just plug a headphone jack out from your computer into a DI and send that to Front of House and call it a day but when you have an audio interface, especially one with multiple outputs, you're able to do things that will give you so much more flexibility. The way I like to do it is to have at least eight or so outputs in an audio interface. That way, I can send most of the tracks through one and two. Maybe I'll send my keyboard sounds through three and four, and maybe some base, I'll separate that out, maybe I'll separate out some vocal effects. The more stuff you're able to separate out, the more control you'll have in your monitoring mix of what you're actually listening to and the more control your Front of House engineer will have. He or she will be able to blend that stuff together in a way that makes more musical sense. So generally speaking, the more outputs you have, the more freedom and flexibility you'll have, but, if all you have is the headphone jack, hey, you can make that work. It all depends on the gig and how much setup time you have and everything like that, that is going to determine what's the best choice for you in that moment. [MUSIC] Lastly, MIDI controllers. Do you need one? Which one should you get? No, you don't need one. You might want one though. You can use your built-in laptop keyboard and you can MIDI map anything you want to that. Anything that you would map to a MIDI controller you can do on your laptop keyboard. I just don't want to play my laptop. I want to play an instrument, unless it is a DJ set or something like that it might be more acceptable, then sure, why not. But I like to have some sort of hardware controller like a Korg nanoKONTROL is great because they're super cheap and super tiny. You can put them anywhere and get access to all the controller that you need. You can even use your phone or an iPad. There are a bunch of MIDI controller apps. My favorite is TouchOSC. I really like using it because you can build your own interfaces or just grab one of their preset ones and control anything. It's completely customizable. It wirelessly syncs to your computer. I use this every weekend for controlling my keyboard sounds that I'm playing. I'll just toss it on the node and be able to control the different sounds right from my phone. I always have my phone with me. It's always there. It's very easy to set up. The only downside is I have to look at my phone to see what parameter I'm adjusting. With a hardware device, I don't even have to look at it. I can reach over and feel it and turn the knob and know that, okay, I'm turning the knob, whereas with my phone, you have to look at it, which might take you out of the moment. You can also use pretty much any MIDI controller keyboard. They're all basically the same. They do the same thing. It's just ways of doing that same thing. It's really whatever you can find the best deal on, whatever comes bundled with the best stuff, yeah, go with that one. I love the Arturia stuff I think is great. The key steps are awesome for just like a keyboard, where you just want to play stuff and have it be built as solid as possible for as cheap as possible. Yeah man, you can't beat the key step and their key lab stuff is good too for a little bit more control. It's not built as well weirdly, but it's still great option. So whatever you have lying around, go ahead and use that, that's great, or nothing at all and you can just run it off on a laptop that is totally fine too. 4. Settings: [MUSIC] Before we begin actually dragging files into our projects and building it out, there's a couple of settings that we should take care of first. Let's open live preferences. In here we can set a whole bunch of different things. I'm not going to go over every single thing in this preferences menu but just the stuff that pertains to us. If you have an audio interface that has multiple outputs and you want to use those, you'll need to tell Ableton to take advantage of that. You can do that in this output configuration button here. When you click this, you can highlight all the outputs that you want to use or don't want to use. If you're using the stems provided, those are at a sample rate of 48K. You can set your sample rate of your project here. If you know what sample rate means, then great. If you don't know what sample rate means, just use 48K and you'll be able to be just fine. All your files will fit pretty much anywhere they would need to. Your buffer size is how much time you're giving your computer to complete the task that you're asking it to do. The lower your buffer size, the less latency you'll have, and the harder it will drive your computer. I like to set my buffer size pretty big just to make it as stable as possible but it's all up to you. If you really prioritize the feel of it feeling tighter then you can lower that buffer size and get a lot less latency. That's the audio tab. Let's go over to this record warp and launch tab over here. These settings are important. When I import a long sample, so when I drag in a stem, Ableton by default will automatically try and figure out the tempo and slice it up and make it really easy for me to sample it. Sometimes that's great if I'm producing something it can be really useful but for running live tracks where I want to playback the audio file exactly as it is, I don't want Ableton to do that so turn off this auto warp long samples option here. Then for default warp mode, make sure that this is complex. The warp mode is the algorithm that Ableton uses for transposing things. They all have their own strengths and weaknesses. Generally complex sounds, the best and most transparent. It's a little bit more taxing on your computer but we're talking hairs of difference and I think that it sounds much better so I would go ahead and just throw that on as your default. If you want to use a different algorithm, [MUSIC] go ahead and swap it but I find myself using complex most of the time. Now that we have our setting set up, we're going to open a blank project and start putting this thing together [MUSIC] 5. Importing Files: [MUSIC] This is the default state when you make a new project in Ableton. There's nothing going on. How do we turn this into a live set? Well, if you have your own stems that you're working with, that's great, you can use those or you can download the DC stem. Use those to follow along. That's what I'm going to be using. Here we are. This is the samples folder that you can download. For our figure tracks, we got these bad boys for a magic touch ones. We got these bad boys. We're just going to plop them in here, left to right and just move down the line. I'm going to drop bass on the first one, BGVs on the second, yada yada. As I do this, you can see that the track name is being determined by the filename as I drop it in there. I could do that and drag these files in one by one and go through that way, but for me, organization is really important for getting lost or from not getting lost rather. What I've found to be helpful, and even though it might take a little bit longer up front, I think it saves time in the long run, it's just labeling things ahead of time. Instead of dragging all these in and having them be this way, I'm going to create the number of tracks I need, label where I want everything to be and then drop it in there. I can look at how many stems I have to work with. Okay, I got 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9. I've got nine different stems going. What I'll do is I will create an audio track by doing Create then Insert Audio Track, or I could use Command T. I have two here, so 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9. Then I'll label these whatever these stems are. Okay. Now that I've got everything labeled, I'm just going to drop these specific files into their specific track name. Also, if you're wondering what these ASD files are, they're files are able to automatically generates when you import a file into Ableton. It's like the waveform data for it to show you how loud certain sections are. All right. We're going to drop bass in here and the BGVs go in this spot. I will fast forward this. This will play back. If I go to launch this scene, which has all of these things here. If I launched this scene, everything on this row will play back together in unison, which will be our song. [MUSIC] Again I can fast forward by dragging up on here. [MUSIC] All right. Cool. That song is imported and good to go. 6. Grouping: [MUSIC] This video is all about output routing and grouping, really critical for keeping your project organized and keeping your workflow nice and fast. The way that I like to group stems together is to group all the pitched stems together that have pitched information, and all the rhythm stems, stems that don't have pitch information together. I'll go ahead and select all the things that have pitch, which are these guys here, and I've labeled that in these stems by putting a key in there. It has the name of the song, the BPM, the key, and then what it is, and these guys I didn't put a key in there because there's no key to put, it's atonal. I'll select all these guys and group them together. We can right-click on the track up here, and then I can group the tracks, this guy right here, or you can hit Command G. Now I've made this for our pitched information, I'm just going to click the group and Command R to rename it, pitched. Now I'm going to add another group within that for all the things that are vocal related. There are three different stems here that have to do with that. There's the background vocals, lead vocal effects, and then an actual lead vocal. The lead vocal we don't really use when playing live, but it's a stem here to have for referencing for things or if I want to listen to it as I'm setting up the track, it can be helpful for that. I'll group these vocals together by first placing them together and then selecting them all and Command G to group them. Now I have this vocals group and I can collapse that or expand that, and put this over on the edge here. This vocals group is still nested within this pitch group, but I can expand it further and get access to these individual stems. If I really want to be cool, I can color all these the same, right-click make them all, not that yellow. This yellow, cool and nice and pretty, and then all these things I can make all these the same color if I want, make them all that nice blue, it's a nice blue. Now within my pitch folder, I've got these little individual things, I've got my vocals altogether. Here's why it's important to group this stuff together. Beyond just the aesthetic of having them organized and being a little bit easier to navigate, we can actually do some functional things with that as well. If we look below here at this part of the interface, we can see some routing options. Audio 2 vocals, that means this audio from this BGV's track is feeding audio into this group, vocals, which is then feeding audio to that pitched group, which is then feeding audio to the master out, which is then feeding audio out our speakers 1 and 2. If I wanted to have an audio interface with multiple outputs and I wanted to send these vocal things through a specific channel, I could switch that from, instead of going to this pitched group, I could send it to an external out, and then I can select which channel I want this to go to. Right now, this would just bypass the master channel and go right to the speakers, or I could send it out of three and four. Now this vocal group is going out of outputs 3 and 4, but the downside to that means that now I can't [LAUGHTER] hear this if I solo this track and fast-forward to where this would play. I can't hear that because it's going out of three and four, not 1 and 2 my speakers are, and if I'm editing this on my laptop away from the stage, I will not be able to have seven speakers in front of me in order to hear all this stuff. How can we hear these things while they're still routed in this way? The solution is through using sense [NOISE]. 7. Sends and Returns: We're going to set up a bus in order to listen to the edits that we're going to make. I only need one bus, so I'm going to delete this default Delay bus that able to automatically made for us. I'll take this Reverb bus and get rid of this Reverb plug-in and I'll just call this Offline. It's just for when we're editing the project on a device that doesn't have a bunch of different outputs. But we don't want to unroute all those routings that we're going to make. This Offline edit bus, audio goes to the Master. Now anything that has an output like this, three and four, that we are not able to hear, we'll turn up the Send so that it's sending it to our bus, which allows us to hear it. Now, still have the background soloed. If I go over to where they would play, we should be able to hear them. Wonderful. Great. Now let's go through and route things as need be. Our rhythm stuff, yeah, I would probably put that in its own output. Let's put that in five and six. Let's put the base on its own as well. Let's put the base in seven and eight and this stuff can all be together. That's okay. Let's do that now. We want to hear this and we will already hear these things. We definitely want to hear this. Now, if we play the project back, we'll be able to hear all the stems through outputs 1 and 2, even though we have them routed to outputs that we might not have access to right now. Great. The only thing to keep in mind is, when you do get on stage or you do plug your interface in and then have access to all those outputs, you will be outputting the signal twice if you don't mute this bus, so we need to turn this off if we're going to use these other outputs and then we won't hear that stuff because it's going through those other outputs. We're just hearing the stuff that's going through one and two, which is basically just this. If you want to hear everything else, we can bring our bus back in, which duplicates those signals back into Channels 1 and 2. That's my approach to routing to different outputs. Next video, we're going to talk about cues and setting up a cues track. 8. Intro to Scenes and Clicks: Now, in order to make sure that we have a click running along with us, I'll make sure to type in enough information for Ableton to know what the BPM is and everything like that. I'll just label this scene over here. If I click on the scene and Command R to rename, I'll call this the gear. Then, I'll just put the full song and some brackets. Another thing I like to do just to stay organized is throw a bunch of spaces at the end when I'm labeling the scene so that it will justify the text to the left instead of it being down the middle, so I don't get texts that goes down the scene. It's like either all down the left and then if I want to indent it, I can just take those spaces away and it will indented in, show you what I mean. If I make a little wider here, it's [NOISE] great. I feel like this looks a little nicer. All right. BPM for the song is 111, and it is in 44. Now, 44 sounds like this. [MUSIC] That click might be great for you. For me, it's a little slow and I would want just a little more divisions in it. I could do that a couple different ways. I could double the BPM to 222 instead of 111 but that might throw like arpeggiator out of whack if that was sinking some other thing or whatever. I feel like best practice is just to switch it to 48 instead of 44. Musically, it's not exactly the same but for all intents and purposes, what it does is just double the click divisions, which you can hear like this. [MUSIC] Just a little bit easier to play to. Now, we got figure in there, let's drop magic touch in there as well. Same basic thing, all these stems are set up the same way, so I'll just throw them all on the same tracks that we have going. All right. This one command R, magic touch. This one is full, space 167 BPM, and this one, fourfold probably be fine because it's so much faster. Let's double-check. [MUSIC] Excellent. Now that everything is in here, it's a little difficult to actually see what each clip is. I can see what the label is, but if I want to see this information here, I can select all the tracks at once by shift clicking them, and then if I put my mouse on the side, I can resize things. But because I have them all selected, it'll actually resize them altogether, which is really handy. Now, I can just see a little bit more information about what each clip actually contains. Our tracks, [MUSIC] our stems, all the content that we have to playback is now successfully inside of Ableton. Now, we'll go through how to organize and group that and route that in the next video. 9. Cues: In this video, we're going to set up a cues track and a cues instrument as well. The way that that will work is by using these cue samples that I've included in here. Even if you don't use these stems and follow along with them, I highly recommend using these cues and setting it up as an instrument because, man, I use this thing literally every weekend. I constantly use these, they're so incredibly useful, and I think you'll see why once we start messing around with it. In this cues folder are all the cues files and the.ASD Ableton files. Because I only want to select all the WAVs at once, I'm just going to open this folder and organize them by kind. There we go. Now I can select all the WAV files altogether. I'm going to want to drop all of these into a drum rack. So I'm going to come back to Ableton, pop up in this window here to see all my stuff. I'm going to go to instruments, grab a drum rack. I'm just going to drag it over here into the empty space and it will create a new midi track for me. Down here we have all these empty cells that we can load samples into, in our case it's going to be cues. I'm just going to drag all these WAV files and I'm just going to plop them all starting on C1. With that last due if we double-click here and open a midi clip, we can see all these different cues here and we can audition them by clicking on it here. Fall band, it's are so low. Chorus again, double chorus, bridge. The way that we utilize these in a song is by queuing the band to do certain things. In order to use these, you'll either need to be performing with headphones or to have an inner system going some way to listen to things that isn't being sent to the audience to listen to. In order to put these into the song and time things out properly, I need to match the length of the clip with the length of the song. We'll go into more detail on warping in a later video, but for now I'm just going to warp this one track. I'm doing to make sure that my BPM is 111 and that this clip is 111. Now, when I click on warp, it will tell me the length of the clip which coincidentally happens to be 111 measures at 44. On this clip, I will set the time signature to be 44, and I don't want it to be a loop I want it to end at 111. Now, no matter where I'm at in the song this clip we'll be following. [MUSIC] I can go and add in a cue, so I want to add in a counting. [MUSIC]. I measure five, that verse started. I'm going to make a cue that counts the band end to the verse starting at Measure 5. If I want to draw, I can press B to give my pencil tool out. One, two, three, four. One, two, three. Let's go four on the floor. I don't want to go four on the floor, I actually want the number four. Four. There we go, four. Instead of one, I want it to say verse. So let me find verse here, here's verse. Verse I'll delete this one. One. Now when I start the scene, we should have a counting that goes verse 2, 3, 4 and the band would go in. [MUSIC] So it's up to you how in-depth you want to get with that. If you want to cue every single section or just the things that are of important , it's completely up to you. But having this instrument saved to be able to call up at a later point to just throw in some cues to something so useful, a highly recommend setting up a cues' track. We can save that just by renaming this cues, and then I can just drag this into my user library here. Yeah, let's toss it into our instruments folder. That sounds good. [NOISE]. Great. Now, if I could delete this project or delete that track rather not the project. I can bring this cues thing in and it will have my cues instrument all loaded and ready to go. Yeah, that's the basics of using cues in Ableton. In the next video, we'll expand on warping a little bit and how we can transpose our stems to different keys. [NOISE]. 10. Warping: [MUSIC] In this video, we're going to be talking about warping, which is Ableton's pick for slowing things down, speeding things up, re-pitching things. All of that is under the warping umbrella. If you haven't watched the settings video at the beginning, make sure to go through that. There are a couple of things in there that will make this process a lot easier. One of the reasons that we set up groups is so that we can warp things a lot faster and easier and not have to click warp on each individual stem that we're working with but we can utilize our groups to work things as a group. I'm going to collapse the pitched group and have everything inside this folder here. Now double-click on this little cell and I can warp it by clicking on warp. Now, what it will do when I click "Warp" is it will take my current project BPM and apply that to everything that I'm warping. In this instance, that's what I want because I have my BPM set for figure as 111, which if I turn this open again and look at everything, everything is 111. When I hit "Warp", it will apply that 111 BPM to all of those individual clips, basically telling Ableton, yes, these are 111. Don't try and figure it out. Don't try and map it out, I'm telling you they're 111. Hit "Warp". Now, all of a sudden I can see this wave form. If I go in here, all of them are set to warp and their BPM is set to 111. Now, if I'm playing back the song, I'll be able to transpose the song, pitch it down, pitch it up, and the tempo will stay the same. It will stay synced up to the other rhythm tracks. [MUSIC] Great. Everything is staying nice and consistent. We're able to pitch the tracks without pitching the drums. That's great. Now, you'll notice some of the vocals sounded a little chipmunky or a little demony, when we're pitching them. We can fight that a little bit using a different algorithm of warping. If you watch the settings one I said to always use complex because that generally sounds the best with most things. That is true with the exception being vocals. Vocals, there is a mode called Complex Pro that works a lot better at handling the formats, so you don't get things going down or getting high. It helps even out some of that weirdness. We can listen to that by clicking our vocal things and switching to Complex Pro. Because these are in a group, I can actually switch all these together by clicking this guy and it has a star letting me know that all of these options are not the same. But by selecting an option in here, we'll apply that option to all of them. I'll hit "Complex Pro" and it will change all of them to Complex Pro. The formats in the envelope. You can tweak these a little bit if it's not sounding natural, just fiddle them until it starts to sound more real. Generally, the default options work most of the time for me if I'm not transposing things too far, half step, whole step, and within that range. If it starts getting a little bit more than that. If you start going, I think anywhere like four and higher that's a pretty tough cell. You can do it but it's not going to sound natural anymore. Let's see how about bad it sounds. [MUSIC] It's really low. I don't think it's working quite right. That's something where if we did something a little more realistic like half-step down. [MUSIC] In actuality, we wouldn't be using this lead vocal live, so it doesn't really matter the quality of this. But the background vocals we would. So let's listen to those isolated and the effects too. I'll swap between the different algorithms, you can hear how they're affecting it. [MUSIC] Yeah, different flavors. I think the Complex Pro sounds a little more present, little brighter, a little bit not realistic, but just a little bit less pitched, if that makes sense. Whereas the normal complex feels more like it's being re-pitched, it depends on what you're trying to do. Which one is better for you and your situation. Again, like I said, for vocals I like Complex Pro and I like complex on the sense. 11. Midi Instruments: In this video, we are going to create a keys track for us to play. You could use the same approach for a guitar if you're playing guitar live, or if you're just singing and you want to sing through vocal effects, all these same techniques apply. I just think keys are easiest to demonstrate. In order to set this up, we'll need to create a midi track and we can right-click in an empty space and inserting midi track. We can hit Shift Command T, or we can just drag a plug-in or a preset into the empty space and able to make a midi track for us automatically. Let's start with a preset built into Ableton. I'll go to my sounds folder here and let's get some synth keys. Where's the guy that I like? Analog emulation keys. [MUSIC] Yeah, this one. Let's grab this. Toss this right here in the empty space. It automatically made this midi track for us and we can see on here it's got a couple different macro controls going on. Let's give it a play. [MUSIC] Cool, great. Let's say this is one sound, but if I want another sound, I want a Rhodes types of sound. Let's grab that and drag it on top of here and see what happens. Yeah, there it is. There you are, FM Piano Bright. Let's drag it on here. You can see I've dragged my sound onto my other sound and it replaced that sound. My first sound is gone and I have this one [MUSIC]. Both cool. But what if I want the other one at the same time? Here's how to actually layer sounds or switch between sounds. In the similar way to where we grouped our stems, we can group sounds individually. I'm going to click on my FM Piano Bright, plugin down here and I'm going to hit command G to put it in a group even though it's by itself. Here's what it will do. It grouped it and we have these extra group controls over here on the left. If I click this ''Show/Hide chain list'' to see the different things going on. It will show me there's one instrument in this group, and I can drag other instruments here to add them to this group. Let me go back to my first sound that we had, this analog emulation. Drag it in here. Now it will play both at once. [MUSIC] I'm just going to turn these down a little bit since we were clipping just to hear. [MUSIC] Cool. That's the basics of layering two sounds together. If I wanted to add an effect to both of those at once, I would drop that effect after that group. Let me demonstrate here. If I just wanted to add a little reverb. No, let's add some delay. Delay is more fun. I think Delay is more fun than reverb. I'm just going to pop this on the end. Now, [MUSIC] take this down. [MUSIC] Let's make a ping pong. [MUSIC] That's great. Let's say I wanted to apply that delay instead of to both of the sounds if I just wanted the piano, the FM Piano to have delay, but I wanted the synth to not have delay. I could put it inside the group. Because I am on the FM Piano portion here, that delay is only going to that part [MUSIC] or vice versa. Say, I wanted it just on the synth, pop it out of the group, go over to my synth, and then drag it inside the group here. [MUSIC] You'll notice on the synth, the synth is made up of a group too. If I open the list in the synth to see what's going on, I'll see I have its own instrument with a group and macros, and it has its own plugins and everything. It can get really complicated really quickly where you have groups within groups and all of these instruments nested within each other making these really cool sounds. But you can collapse everything at the end of the day. When you're actually on stage or running something or you just want to play and you don't want to worry about all the particulars, collapse everything down and you can just play and not have to worry about it. That's the basics of how to set up an instrument to play. Next, we'll go through how to automate changing between sounds and between instruments from section to section of a song. 12. Automating Patch Changes Part 1: [MUSIC] Now we're going to talk about how to automate those two different sounds to come on and off, depending on if we're in the verse, or the chorus, or whatever. The way that we're going to write that automation is similar to how we used a midi clip for the queues. We had an empty MIDI clip that was the length of the song, and then we could navigate around within that clip and place events wherever we wanted them. I'm actually going to copy that same midi clip from our queues over to this instrument, since I know it's the length of the song. I'm just going to open up that clip. Command A to highlight all the notes and just delete them. Now we have a blank midi clip with nothing in it. I'm going to navigate instead of the notes tab right over here in the middle, is for drawing automation. If we open here envelopes, we can see all the different things that we can automate. These are all kind of folders, and then these are specific parameters within that selection. I'm going to go to instrument rack. Then I'm going to go to chain selector. What the chain selector is, if we pop back over to this view here, you can also shift tab to switch between clipped view and the track view. The chain selector is this kind of long list of numbers here with this blue stripe that you can click and move around. What it allows us to do is select which elements of our patch are being triggered by our keyboard. For instance, right now, they are both on the first option, which is 0, these tiny little blue things right here. If I play the patch, it will play both sounds. [MUSIC] Great. If I want only it to play one sound, I'm going to move this synth instead of to 0, I'm going to move it to 1. Now that the chain selector is on 0 and I play, we should just hear the FM piano. [MUSIC] Then if I move the selector over to 1, we should just hear the synth. [MUSIC] Cool, great. Now back in our midi clip, we're going to automate that little blue stripe that we could move with our mouse. That is what we are automating here. I want us to start with the piano patch and then on the chorus, which I believe is measure 21. Let me just pop up in the drums here to double-check because drums are nice and easy to see when stuff happens. Yeah. Drums really kick in 21, that's the chorus. That's when I want the synth to really pop out. We'll have the synth be there. Then our keys patch will be on 0, which is here. I'm going to have to change happen slightly before that downbeat. Just in case I rush. I'll still trigger the synth sound that I won't be stuck on my old roads patch. Now let's test this and make sure this is working so I'll hit play and then fast forward to that spot. [MUSIC] Cool. The batch switched. Awesome. I did notice a couple of things that we could do to make this a little bit stronger. Firstly, when the synth did come in, it was just a little quiet compared to the piano. I want to bump that up in volume a little bit. Now if we move between those. [MUSIC] Nice, that's a little closer. Then also this octave that the synth is in, I want that to be higher, but I don't want to have to hit octave up on my keyboard. When that happens, I just want to keep playing and then have the synth move around me. I'm going to use a midi effect. We can grab this scale, which does a lot more than scale. You can actually use it for transposing. Because I want this just to affect the synth and not the piano, I'm going to drag this right on to the synth and it will automatically put it within this part of the patch. If I go over to my piano, that scale midi plugin is not there. I'm going to transpose this up an octave, 12 semitones, and now should have [MUSIC] an octave higher. [MUSIC] Lastly, I wanted a little bit more effects on the piano. I like where the synth is at. I don't want to add any reverb to the synth, but just to the piano. Similar to how we put that delay in the last video on that synth, I'm going to add just some reverb to this piano. I just drag in a reverb right onto the piano. Now we have this reverb here and I'll just very quickly dial in some basic settings. Nice long washy thing. Nice chorus thing, so we bring this down. Yep, brings down a little bit to switching back to our piano. Let's see how that sounds. [MUSIC] Then we can head to our synth. [MUSIC] Now we'd go through the length of the song and anytime we would want our sound to change, we would put a note in there and write the automation in to change to that chain that we'd want to play. 13. Automating Patch Changes Part 2: [MUSIC] One other thing that we can do to really unlock the potential of the chain selector is, let's say we wanted to play both sounds at once, but other times play one at a time. There's a way that we can use the chain selector to do that. Right now we have Chain 0, Chain 1. I want Chain 2 to be something as well. I'm going to extend the range of the synth so that it's occupying one and two, and then I'm going to also extend the range of this piano so that it's occupying zero and one. Now the piano is from 0-1 and the synth is from 1-2. If we are on chain Selector 1, we should actually be triggering both of those. [MUSIC] I know it measures 73, there's this big instrumental section that happens. At that point, I want the synth to add the piano as well. I'm just going to move this chain selector to two, which is just the synth, and then at 73, I'm going to move it to one, which is our synth and the piano. Make sure this is nice and tight here. Cool, now let's hear how that sounds. [MUSIC] Cool, that's how you can use the chain selector zones to create more interesting changes and transitions. [MUSIC] 14. Performing with Scenes Part 1: Now we're going to talk about how to adjust our arrangement and how to go to different sections of the song on the fly. I think the simplest way to explain this is with an extended intro that then we can send into the full song whenever we're ready. The way that we'll set that up is by creating a different scene. These horizontal rows are called scenes and we're going to use those to send us to different parts of the song. To start, let's leave this one intact, the scene that we've been working in so far. I'm going to hit command D to duplicate that scene. This is an exact copy of this guy. This scene, I'm going to label this instead of the full song, this will be our intro. Maybe just to differentiate this intro from this guy, I will maybe just put this here and I'll maybe delete some of these spaces at the end so that I can indent this. It's a little bit of a different and also let's add some spaces here. Lets tidy this up. I'm going to play the scene that we just duplicated up until the point where I want it to start looping and then I'll pause it so that we can tell it to do that. [MUSIC] Verse two, three four. Right there. That's where I want the loop to start, is when everything is in. Now that I have the playhead stopped at five here, I want to tell it to loop and I want the position of the loop, I can use this set button and that will set it to where my play head currently is at. The length, I want it to be eight bars or whatever. Now if I zoom out here by clicking and dragging on this bar, I can see that this clip still starts right at the start of the file at one, but when it reaches bar five, it will continue to loop in this little blue section here. Really useful for we can start the song is normal, but it won't go to the rest of it until I tell it to. This is still looping and now we're going to apply these same settings to the rest of the clips on this scene. I also want the keys to do this, I'm going to enable loop, set my position and set the length to be eight bars. Well in this case, I can see here that this scene actually doesn't ever play yet. So just to make it a little bit clear when I look at the scene, what's going on, I can just delete this. We do not need it. Same thing with a lead. Lead doesn't come in during that loop, so I don't need it. This scene do, so enable loop, set my position, set the length to be eight bars. Vocals. Vocals are in there at that point, but I don't want them in there yet because I want this to be an intro before we start the song and if they're singing going on, that might not be the right vibe. I'm just going to delete those and same thing, we don't need the lead vocal here or the lead vocal effects. Drums, I will want, so I'll loop those, set the start point and length and lastly, same with percussion. Percussion might not show up actually, let's see. Yeah, a tiny bit at the end. I'm just going to get rid of this so it's just kick the whole time. Let's also do the same thing with our cues, so you don't get those repeating. Then same thing with our patch changes, we'll do the same thing so that we don't all of a sudden switch sounds where we don't want to. Now, let's play the scene and it's going to start the song as normal, but it's going to now just continue to loop the intro and it won't go to the rest of the song. [MUSIC] Verse two, three, four. [MUSIC]. We took the vocals out so this can just be typing the crowd, intro, whatever. It'll go back to that spot. Cool. So that's how you set up a basic loop point. 15. Performing with Scenes Part 2: Now we're going to make a new scene that is all about bringing us into the verse. I'm going to go through our first scene. Command D to duplicate, I'm going to drag this below, only this one I'm going to call verse. I'm going to delete some of these spaces here just to indent it a little bit. I'm going to let this scene play, which is the same exact scene as this top one. But when it gets to the start of the verse, I'm going to pause it, and I'm going to set all the start points of the clip to be that verse. Verse two, three, four. Now that we're right at the top of the verse, I'm going to click my first clip and right next to where it says start, there's a button that says set, same as the set for loop points. I can click set, and it will set the start point to be where I'm currently at. I'll go through all these clips and do the same thing. I'm just moving through the clips with my arrow keys so that I can hit them all and make sure they all have a start point of five. Same thing on our cues, same thing on our clip of automation here. Okay, so now we can be in the intro, this can be looping, and when I hit this verse, it will automatically go right at the top of the verse with the vocals in there and everything else. Let's say it was going to be at the top of this measure here, one, two, three, let's go to the verse. Now that we're in that point, it will just carry on the rest of the song like normal. All automation is still intact, and we were able to stay in that intro for as long as we wanted. The real power of this technique is, you knowing what those really crucial spots are in your songs that you might want to have the option of hitting again are going back to set it up as a scene and then set all the start points so where you can still use stems, but you have the flexibility of going back to a section again, are hitting it again. Then you can always set up one for an ending. If you want to enter the song early, you can use this technique to do the same thing. 16. Looping an Outro: [MUSIC] In this video, we're going to set up another loop point like we did previously, but this is going to be at the end of the song instead of the beginning. Because we haven't worked on this song yet, none of these stems are warped to the proper tempo. I'll go ahead and do that real quick. I'll launch the magic touch scene, which will apply this BPN of 167 to our project. We can see in the upper left here. [MUSIC] Great. Now it's changed. Now, I am free to warp all the stuff together. Awesome. I'll do the same with the drums. I'll switch over my vocals to Complex Pro if I need to transpose them later. Now I'm going to go to the end of the song where I want things to start repeating. [MUSIC] Right there is where the turnaround happens. I have my play head stopped at that point. I'm going to turn on loop, set my position, and then set my length. Which this I want more, I'm going do 16 bars instead of eight, or maybe even longer, let's see here. I could do 32. Yeah, I'll set to 32. Loop set, length 32, loop set, length 32. Loop set length 32, loops set length 32. Actually, I'm not going to do that for these vocals because I don't want the vocals to be looping around at the end. They aren't doing anything at that point anyway, but no need to loop silence. I'm just going to leave those alone. Same thing, the drums, like the main drums don't really have any information, so I'm not even going to bother looping those. We'll do the percussion. Let's test this loop out. [MUSIC] There's a loop. Great, so that's how you set up a looping ending. 17. Creating an Ending: [MUSIC] Now you might be wondering that's great, that there's a looping ending, but we have to end the song at some point. I can't fade myself out how are we actually supposed to end to this thing? So now I'm going to show how to set up an ending scene. This is a scene that we can throw to just when we want to end the song. So it's just going to be a big hit of something at the end. Now the thing with magic touch though, is this song doesn't have that. Let's say your stems just end and there's not a real graceful way to end it. Here's how we can set up at least a way to end the song in a way that feels a little more purposeful than everything just shutting off. So I'm going to duplicate this scene. I'm going to call this END. So for all of these, I'm going to turn off our loop on all the clips I'm going to turn off then turn off loop. Great. Now let's just listen to the end of the song so you can hear what the default thing is and then we can make adjustments to it [MUSIC]. There's really nothing there. It just fades out so I could have it start at that tail, that's an option. Let's see what that sounds like so that would be right at 297, I think would be the downbeat of that. I'm going to play the whole scene [MUSIC]. I'm going to fast-forward to 297 [MUSIC]. Right there so set. Now this is set here we can be in our loop and then we can just send to this scene and it will just do that. [MUSIC] We're in the loop we're jamming let's say I wanted to end this on here, 2,3,4. It works but specifically that key sound, the tail doesn't sound super purposeful so let's say for ending the song, if I wanted it to, instead of starting right at the downbeat where everything stops, I'll move the start position of adjust to these keys stem to be the start of the last chord. So I can see on the waveform where the chords are happening and I'm just going to move the start point back here. Now when I go right to this end. Let's say I like that idea of ending on a chord, but I don't want that chord I want one of the earlier ones. Well, we can move and find this guy. So if I want this chord the real resolving thing to do it, let me solo this [MUSIC]. There we go but then it'll just keep playing, which I don't want that so I'm going to move the end point sooner. So I hit set just to warp it to where my play head was and then I'm just going to drag this over here. Now let's listen to how that sounds [MUSIC]. Better, but it's just ends abruptly at the end still so what I'm going to do is two things. One, I'm going to automate the volume down so I'm going to click over to instead of our warping and pitching functions, we have an automation page, same as the MIDI stuff and clip gain, which is the volume of this specific clip and I'm just going to draw a little volume down shape here. I'm also going to create a reverb send so insert Return track so the same bus that we have to listen to stuff but this is going to be more traditional bus in that it's for an actual effect. So I'm going to drop the reverb on our reverb bus. Make it a 100 percent wet. Make it really long so what I'm going to do is automate the send level. Instead of automating the clip gain, I'm going to go to the mixer and then this be reverb so that on this last hit, boom, it can send a lot of reverb to just make it last a little bit longer and make it a little more intentional [MUSIC]. Now in context, we're going to end the song 1,2,3,4. Then the last thing I think it'd be helpful if we just had one kick hit on the end instead of the keys all by themselves if there was just so what I'm going to do is move this start point to this kick here and then play it to set my playhead and I'm going to stop it pretty much right after to set my stop point. End boom. So now if we launch this end scene [MUSIC]. Let's hear that. Cool so that's how you set up an ending scene to wrap things up. If you have an ending Jam that you need some way to put a bow on. 18. Editing with Automation: [MUSIC] Now, one thing I've been hearing every time we go to that looping section at the end of the magic touch is this little click. There's some editing error on one of the drums. We can fix that using automation. It sounds like it's coming from this percussion, let's just solo it out and see if we can hear. [NOISE] Hear that little click that little [NOISE] sound? If I zoom really far in on the waveform, I can see it. There's some weird spike and then the actual transient of the drum here, probably from something unmuting or something. We can get rid of this using automation, so I'm going to switch over to my automation tab and clip gain. I'm adjusting the volume of this specific clip, and I'm going to put a node right on the downbeat. Then draw a shape around it, bring down the offending area, and now, [MUSIC] nice. Then I also heard one at the start of the song. You can hear. Here's with everything in [MUSIC]. Something similar edit. At the drums, let's see if we can find it. I see a little blip of something there, let's solo the drums out and listen to this. [NOISE] [MUSIC] This is little quick thing so same as before clip gain, and put two on either side so that we can just draw it down. Now let's listen to that. [NOISE] [MUSIC] Nice and clean, cool. [MUSIC] Really quick [MUSIC] tip, but this can be really useful for fixing little things that slipped through the cracks. 19. Midi Mapping: [MUSIC] Next, I want to go over some midi mapping functionality. You can midi map using any midi controller that you would like. My favorite to use is honestly something that I guarantee you have lying around your house and it's your computer keyboard. The reason I like this is it's really thin. You can put it pretty much anywhere on stage. It's really easy to hide and it's literally the same fuctionality as a lot of midi controllers. If you're just looking for buttons, if you just want a bunch of buttons to map to whatever, a keyboard is great. In order to midimap using your computer's keyboard, all you have to do is click on this button that says "Key". Everything will turn orange. Everything that's orange is what you can apply to the keyboard wherever you want. I'm going to click on our first scene here, which is the full song top to bottom. I'm just going to press "One' on our intro. I'm going to press "Two". I'm just going to go down the line. [NOISE] Now I have the first five numbers corresponding to the first five scenes in our project. I can launch into the full song. [MUSIC] I can go into magic touch, [MUSIC] and the song, [MUSIC] go into the intro for figure and then send us into the verse. [MUSIC]. Verse 2, 3, 4. Intro is going. Let's go to the verse here in 1,2,3. I love using keyboards for this, it's great. One thing to keep in mind, by default, the way Ableton has launching scene setup is it will quantize it to the next downbeat that comes up. If I hit anywhere between this 1, 2, 3, 4, count, anywhere inside of there, it will launch on the next available downbeat. I can change that. If I want it to just have no quantization and just, hey, whatever the time is when I hit this button, just go there immediately. You can do that by changing the quantize up in the upper left where it says one bar right here, I can switch it to none. Then it'll just trigger immediately. I don't recommend using none unless you are, for a specific reason, playing an instrument or something. I think the quantize function is really, really helpful. It just might take a little bit of getting used to and don't try and launch it right on the beat. You can lead it quite a bit and it will do it on the next available downbeat. [MUSIC] Hopefully that makes sense, the quantization is really, really useful. It always goes to the next available downbeat. 20. Next Steps: Well done. [MUSIC] If you've made it this far, you've gone through everything, you've built a session, you've automated stuff, and I think you have enough knowledge in order to create your own live set to play live. Hopefully, this gives you an overview and an understanding of my approach to live music and live tracks and trying to utilize the strength of that to bring out your performance. Instead of something to hide behind, it's something that prompts you up. If you enjoyed watching this class, if you learned something, would you please consider following me on Skillshare, Instagram, YouTube, however, it is that you're making music, I feel like I can probably help you make it a little bit better and make it more unique to you. I'll link all that stuff in my profile where you can check it out if you want to. If you have a video or audio recording of you performing with any of these tips or tools, I would love to check it out. You can hit me up on Instagram or here on Skillshare whenever I would love to see it. Thank you so much for our time together, it's been a true joy for me to be able to share some of the stuff with you, and hopefully, you enjoyed it as well. I'll see you next time. [MUSIC]