Ableton Live II: MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) | Brian Jackson | Skillshare

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Ableton Live II: MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface)

teacher avatar Brian Jackson, Ableton Certified Trainer

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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

    • 1.



    • 2.

      What is MIDI?


    • 3.

      Setting Up Your MIDI Controllers


    • 4.

      Computer MIDI Keyboard


    • 5.

      Key and MIDI Mapping


    • 6.

      MIDI Clips 101 - The Piano Roll


    • 7.

      Finding Drum Sounds


    • 8.

      Pencil a Drum Beat


    • 9.

      Editing MIDI 101


    • 10.

      Getting Ready to Record MIDI


    • 11.

      Recording MIDI drums


    • 12.

      Recording MIDI Keys


    • 13.

      Quantize 101


    • 14.

      Quantizing MIDI Performances


    • 15.

      Groove 101


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About This Class

Create a short MIDI sequence using audio clips and a drum beat, then use a technique called quantizing to automatically align all the elements to the same time and tempo.

Ableton Live 9 is uniquely powerful audio software, equally strong in helping you create, produce, and perform music. In this second, 68-minute class from audio engineer, musician, and producer Brian Jackson, you’ll learn the ins and outs of MIDI, the industry standard for connecting a wide range of musical instruments, devices, and computers. You’ll create melodies with a built-in or external keyboard, draw in drum beats, record MIDI sounds, and practice a technique called quantizing, which aligns a track's timing so it sounds steady and professional. No need for special musical knowledge: it’s a perfect class for producers, musicians, sound designers, and anyone interested in working with audio.

Ready to learn more? Check out all 4 classes in Brian's series:

Ableton Live I: The First Steps of Digital Music Production

Ableton Live II: MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface)

Ableton Live III: Shape Your Own Audio & Beats

Ableton Live IV: Finishing a Track

Meet Your Teacher

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Brian Jackson

Ableton Certified Trainer


Brian Jackson is an internationally released electronic musician, composer, and audio engineer. He is one of the first Ableton Certified Trainers, is the author of both The Music Producer's Survival Guide (2018) and The Music Producer's Survival Stories (2014), and specializes in one-on-one training in audio engineering and music production for beginners and Grammy winners alike.


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1. Trailer: Ableton Live is uniquely powerful audio software because it's equally strong in three areas, helping you to create, produce, and also perform music. Though other software is useful for one or two of these, nothing comes close to being as good at all three. This class, part of my Ableton series here on Skillshare, is perfect for getting started and learning the fundamentals of Ableton Live 9. Whether you're a producer, a musician, sound designer, DJ, or just interested in working with audio or MIDI on a computer, in this second class, I'm going to briefly explain MIDI, which stands for Musical Instrument Digital Interface, and then we'll look at fun ways to use this powerful music-making technology for creating drum beats and recording other musical parts. I'm going to show you how to set up your MIDI keyboard and even what to do if you only have your computer keyboard. Finally, we're going to look at how to edit MIDI parts manually and with live quantizing features to help you make your part sounds great in no time at all. My name is Brian Jackson, and I'm an electronic musician, audio engineer, author, and educator based here in Brooklyn, New York. I've been around music my whole life and had been making music with computers since the mid-'90s. I was one of the very first Ableton-certified trainers and I'm the author of the music producers survival guide 'Chaos Creativity and Career in Independent and Electronic Music' and its companion book full of interviews, 'The Music Producer's Survival Stories'. For well over a decade, I've taught every level of student from true beginners to Grammy winners. Music and music production is my passion, and I love teaching people how to do what I do for a living. Let's get started. 2. What is MIDI?: Okay. So let's talk about MIDI. So, MIDI stands for, Musical Instrument Digital Interface, you can see here on, if you want to know way more than we'll have time to get into, you can check out a lot of information including all the really low level technical stuff and the historical elements, but we're going to focus on the practical aspects of it in Live right now. So, if I go back into Live, let's talk about how MIDI and audio are different than each other. So, on this track here called MIDI Only, you can see this clip, it's playing the notes from C3 to C4 and we're not hearing anything and we should not be hearing anything because MIDI is just data. It's just controller information. It's only meant to tell something what to do. As opposed to audio, which is a recording of something, whether through a microphone, like my voice right now or plugged in directly from a guitar or a synthesizer. An audio file is digitized sound something like this. So, we can also think about MIDI in terms of say playing back samples and in this case I have this MIDI clip triggering this device called simpler, which we'll talk about in a few topics and it's playing back that audio file but via the notes that I've programmed. So let's look at this. Those exact same notes can trigger other devices or other virtual instruments. So, this is another one of Ableton's built-in instruments but this is a synthesizer which means it does not store sounds, it creates them from scratch. So, let's go ahead and listen to that same melody and notice it's the exact same notes which points out how flexible MIDI is. You're not stuck with a sound, you can always go back later and decide to swap the sound out, so this would be another example here is one of the core drum machines the 606. Again, we're going to talk about drum racks later in this class. This is the exact same rhythm now but played with their 707 kit. So, you can see it's the same rhythm, same pattern, but it sounds different. So let's check out this scene and now the exact same MIDI notes triggering these different devices on these different tracks. In this case, the sample based instrument playing back our audio file and a different drum kit and now just the audio file as a clip. So, that last melody part was coming from a sampler playing back this file and we're going to get into all this in a little bit. So, one of the key points to pay attention to with MIDI, is that, it is just data, it's just telling somebody what to do but where for some people it can get a little confusing is that some of the virtual instruments actually load up audio files but they don't do anything unless you trigger them with MIDI. So, in the coming topics and throughout the rest of this class we'll be coming back to all of these devices and talk about how you can start making music with MIDI in Live. 3. Setting Up Your MIDI Controllers: Let's talk about setting up your MIDI controllers and MIDI keyboards. So, first thing we want to do is go into our "Preferences", and if you're on Windows you'd find that from your "Options" menu. Then, we want to go to the "MIDI Sync" tab here, and you'll see we have a couple of different options to consider. First of all, before I dig into any of this, just be aware that you can go through the built-in lessons found in the "Help View," and if you scroll down a little bit, you'll see a section here called "MIDI Controllers." If this is not open, of course, you can just go to the "Help" menu and choose to see the "Help View". Let's go back into the "MIDI Sync" tab here and look at our options for Control Surface. Control Surface means that you have a supported device, something that's in this list. What it means is that not only will you be allowed to do different things like playing notes, but you can just learn how to use it. It's going to be preprogrammed to do certain things. So, you don't have to program it. To set this up, "Live" should auto detect anything that's in this list, but sometimes it doesn't and you have to give it a little bit of help. Also, if you notice, it's not detecting them after you've used it in the past. Maybe just set them all to "none" and see if it'll redetect them. For more information on setting these up, definitely check out the MIDI controllers tutorials in the built-in lessons. Let's check out an example of what a Control Surface does and then we'll come back to this section here where it says "Track", "Sync" and "Remote". I'll explain all those in a second. First of all, you will notice on the master track here I have this autofilter device and there's a blue hand here. So, this blue hand shows up whenever and only you have control surfaces setup in the preferences. If I right-click, you'll see I have the option of locking it to any of the relevant ones such as the "launchkey mini" which has knobs on it. I haven't done anything other than tell "Live" that I have the launchkey mini. You'll see here, in the background, I'm turning a knob and it's moving this filter around for me. Now, let's say I want to launch some clips. The launchpad is automatically programmed to launch scenes and clips. So, I'm going to press a button on the launch pad and notice it launched that clip for me in the background, also this melody one here. Let's go back over to the master and you'll see that I'm able to control this autofilter without having to program anything. I'm going to launch a "Scene 2" here without clicking on it just by pressing something on the launch pad and that's going to launch all my stuff buttons for me. These are just a few of the controllers that are available. Now, this is just for the Control Surface part of it, not for other midi-control possibilities. So, let me go back into the Preferences here and let's now talk a little bit about what's going on here under MIDI ports. So, If you do not see your device in here, that means that your computer is not seeing it and you need to do some troubleshooting or perhaps just make sure that you have the proper drivers installed. If you're on Windows, you may need to restart. Also, sometimes you have to make sure that you have the USB port connected to the same port and when you first set it up. But different versions of Windows are different in that regard. Let's talk about the track option here. So, track means that if we go in the IO, the option that's selected in the preface will show up in here. If you turn off track, it means you cannot play in notes. So, in this case here, I'm just going in and playing some basic. No parts here. Nothing too fancy and that's because the launch committee is set up for track. Sync means that you want Live's tempo to sync to or be the master of another device. It could be another piece of software, but it could be something external like a Groove Box or drum machine or some sort of strength that it has tempo syncable effects or sequences in it. We're not going to get into that at all in here. Now, the "Remote" column here has to do with MIDI mapping. This is related to this MIDI key in the upper right. We're actually going to talk about all three of these buttons up here, the computer MIDI keyboard, key mapping and MIDI mapping, in the next two topics. So, we're going to come back to those. But basically, you can think of whatever is enabled for "Remote" is able to be programmed how you want it to work in Live's interface, as opposed to the pre-programmed functionality that you have over here. So, one last little thing about this "blue hand" before we move on. Let's say that I always want the launch key to be able to control this autofilter, even if I'm not looking at it. So, I want to be able to lock that down. So, let me launch these parts here. Notice that I'm able to turn the filter up or down here. Normally, if I had not locked it, if I switched views, the blue hand would have moved onto this device over here. So, here, I'm able to do the filtering in the background even though I'm not looking at it. So, usually what will happen is this blue hand is going to jump to whichever device you have selected. Notice if I turn this off and go back over here, the blue hand should have followed me there. Let me try that one more time, I want to unlock it. Let's open this up. There we go. So, the blue hand here is going to jump right to this parameter. If I were to go over to another device, you would see the blue hand has jumped over here. We're going to talk about ways of dealing with the fact that you don't necessarily know which parameters it's going to jump to. That's something we'll come back to in later lessons. But if you want to lock it to a certain device, just select that and then you do not have to be looking at it to be able to control those parameters. So, in the next two topics, we're going to talk about key MIDI mapping and the computer MIDI keyboard in case you don't have any controllers or you want to see how you can set up some custom options. Last thing, before we move on, I just wanted to show you a couple of the different things out there on the market. I am currently using the launchpad, the original launch pad, this is the new one, they're very similar, and a Launchkey Mini. Novation has a bunch of other great options. If you want something a little bit more advanced, a little more full size, I do recommend checking out the SL series, the MkIIs which are pretty amazing though they are a bit pricier, but the Impulse and the Launchkey series are also really nice. Korg and Akai are also known for their various products having to do with buttons and pads, especially for drums. But you see they also have keyboards and lots of these little mini controllers which are really cool. So, Akai, of course, known for the MPC, you'll see they have a lot of these ones as well, but they're also known for the APC40 and of course now, the mkII. The original APC40 was the first controller for Live, designed just for Ableton. Then, M-Audio is known for high quality but affordable MIDI controllers as well. So definitely check out some of those options. If you have an iPad, there are a couple of companies that make controllers specifically for Live for iPad. So, LIVKONTROL is a nice one. A company called Liine, they make a couple of different products including this one called Lemur and that comes with a couple of different things including a patch just for controlling Live called LiveControl2, not to be confused with this LIVKONTROL. Then also, one called touchAble, which is also a really good one just for Live. If you want to check out this site, just make sure to put that dash in there between touch and able. If you do not, you cannot unsee certain things. I do not recommend going to touchable without the dash. So, anyways, any of these companies, you'll be happy with any of their products. The prices range from 50 bucks to 6/700 dollars depending on what you're going for. Any one of them would be better than having nothing other than your mouse. 4. Computer MIDI Keyboard: What if you do not have some external keyboard, but you still want to be able to play some MIDI notes? So, if you go to your MIDI From and you don't see any options either because you don't have them plugged in, or you don't have anything other than your computer keyboard, you can use your computer keyboard to play MIDI notes. So, in the upper right here as long as this switch is enabled, you literally can type in musical sounds. The way this works is you'll see I have a little legend here set up for you. The white keys on the piano keyboard would be represented as the row A, S, D, F, G, so on and so forth. It's a full octave plus one more note and then the black keys would be right above them and those would be W, E, T, Y, U, and then an extra O. So, we have an octave plus. Now, if I'm playing this drum rack here and I noticed that for some reason what if I wasn't hearing anything? Well, you can move the keyboard up and down, so you can see this little yellow dot and again we're going to come back to drum racks a little bit more later. But, I could notice I'm not hearing anything because it's triggering too high and if you look here in the key, you can use the keys, Z and X, to move your octaves up or down. So, I will just press Z until I'm playing in the correct octave. In this case, I'd be in C1 and just be aware that the computer MIDI keyboard does default to C3. So, to play something like a drum rack, you would want to press Z twice to move it down. Also, what if I want to make it seem as though I'm hitting it harder or softer? So, I can use C to move the velocity down which will make it seem quieter. You'll notice it's telling me at the bottom here or if I press V, you'll notice it's jumping in increments of 20. So, let's turn V up. I'm all the way at maximum velocity here and let's go way down here. It's gotten a lot quieter. You can go back up. Now, if I was playing synths, they're pretty much going to trigger on all notes, but some sample instruments as we looked at early on in the what is MIDI will actually be playing back audio files, and sometimes are only mapped to certain keys. So, you may have to find which notes will actually trigger those sounds. So, if for whatever reason you do not have a MIDI controller hooked up or you don't own anything other than your keyboard with you at that moment in time, just enabled the computer MIDI keyboard and play away. 5. Key and MIDI Mapping: Okay. So let's say that for whatever reason you don't actually have any MIDI controller at all or maybe you don't have one that has any knobs. So, we do have a way of controlling some of the interface elements with just your computer keyboard. We looked at using the computer MIDI keyboard for playing in notes, but what if we want to do things like launch clips or scenes or turn devices on or off? Let's launch this scene and then let's say I wanted to be able to turn off that send or maybe I wanted to be able to turn off these devices over here. So, all I have to do is click on the key mapping switch here to go into key mapping mode. You'll see that I've already mapped a few things over here in the key mapping browser. N1 means numeric keypad one as opposed to the number one across the top of the alphabet keys, but let's do some other ones. So, let's say I want to launch this clip, I'll just use the number one. Maybe for this, I want the number two. For these devices on or off I'll use number three. I'll hit command key to get out of there and you'll see a compressed one to launch that, two to launch that and three to turn this off altogether. Let's go ahead and press three again, re-enable that. I've already also mapped the number numeric keypad one, turn beat repeat on. Number two to turn on my send. So, you'll see here, if I open up the key mapping browser, key one turns this clip on or off depending on the launch mode, same for two and also you'll see three is going to turn those devices on or off. You also notice that I've mapped T to the tap tempo. So, if you have a key mapped that is part of the computer MIDI keyboard, notice the tap tempo is not working and these are telling me something's going on. What that means is if I have the computer MIDI keyboard on the tap tempo will not work because I've mapped t to control this parameter. So, now, see what happens if I press the tap tempo. So, I can actually launch everything based on the tempo that I've tapped. But if I have the computer MIDI keyboard on, I can't use keys that it's trying to play on a note. So, let's say even if I do have some controllers, I might want to use the key mapping but at the same time it would be nice if I had some knobs that I wanted to map. So, we did talk last time about how you can use your MIDI controllers to automatically control certain parameters. So, I have the launch key mini with some knobs, mapping here with the blue hand automatically. But what if I wanted to say go into one of these other devices and map some controls in a way that it's not seem random. So, right now as I'm turning the knobs I have to figure out what they do. So, instead of relying on their default mappings, I'm going to overwrite or override couple the knobs which means they will no longer work for their control surface mappings but they'll do exactly what I want them to do all the time. You'll see I already have a couple of things mapped in here. The way I did that was I just clicked on one of the knob s and turned it and it mapped. If for some reason that's not working, this remember to go in your preferences and have the remote column enabled. So, this means, if I design here, I can do the MIDI map and that's different than your control surface which is the pre-programmed controls. Now, the out option here is just alive can give feedback to your controllers. So, there's a button that has a light in it, that'll turn on or off as live changes things. So, it's for feedback to your controller from the software. Lets go ahead and check out some of my mappings in here even if I have the blue hand locked somewhere else. So, let me lock this blue hand to the auto filter in here. Then, that way, when I go back onto the beat repeat, you can tell that it's not because of the control surface. So, let's go ahead and launch these, you can see am having some fun here. Just by turning these knobs around now, I'm controlling this device. I'm going to press the number two now with my key map, so you can see why it might be valuable to do both of those with key mapping and MIDI mapping even if you have the option of both. Now, one last thing, if you look in the upper right here, we have some indicators between Key and MIDI. So, if I'm pressing a keyboard key, you'll see it's lighting up here on the right which is letting me know that's a note. If I go over here and turn a knob, you'll see that the controller turned on over here on the left. This is really useful whenever you're troubleshooting because you can map keyboard keys to launch clips. So, let me go ahead and say I want to map a key to launch this scene right here. Now, I can no longer use that knob to play a device. I'm using it to launch this scene now. You'll notice that it's indicators are lighting up here as opposed to all the way over on the right. If I press another key, that would be looking to play MIDI knob, now this MIDI knob is launching the scene. So, if you ever want to change anything, I'll go into "Command M", and then I can look here and say, "Uh, C4, I don't want that to launch this scene". Then, one last thing, you'll notice you can set minimum and maximum values. So maybe for this Beat Repeat volume, this parameter here, I don't want it to go all the way to minus infinity, I don't want it to go all the way up. For whatever reason, I can also invert it so I could have turning the knob up turn something down or downturn something up. That's really useful if you map and up to multiple parameters which you are allowed to do. So, that serves as a good introduction to Key and MIDI mapping. Just remember, you can do the key mapping even if you have no MIDI controllers connected whatsoever. But even if you do, it's often very useful. 6. MIDI Clips 101 - The Piano Roll: Okay, so as you can, tell I am editing a MIDI clip, and that is our current subject. The piano roll here on the left is the standard method of editing MIDI in most modern applications. Now, the reason it's called a piano roll is it's more or less a metaphor for the old player pianos. If you look here, I have all of the keys that you would have in a grand piano, going from the octave C minus two all the way up to C8. To zoom in or out, you'll notice I'm just clicking with the magnifying glass and dragging left or right or up or down. So, that's also look across the top here and to zoom in or out in a MIDI clip, you just go up to where you see the magnifying glass there and drag up or down or left or right. If I zoom in here a little bit, you will notice I can see the names of the notes and then in the bottom right, you can see the grid value and that is showing me that every one of these lines represents a 16th note, and our current clip is one bar long. More or less, you'll see I have a little bit extra here and we talked about manipulating the loop race in an earlier class. Let's say I only wanted to see the notes that I was using. If I hit this fold button, it'll get rid of any of the keys that are not currently being used. In Ableton's drum racks and some of their other devices, fold will also show you the names of the drum. When you're just working with normal melodic parts, fold is just going to show you the note names that are being used. Now to find your way around in here as well, for editing purposes, we can turn draw mode on or off and the shortcut for that is just B, not Control B, not Command B, as in previous versions, just B. So with draw mode off, I can do things like drag notes around and change their lengths and I can double-click to create and delete. But with draw mode on, I can single-click to create and delete and do things like drag across, and I don't know what that's going to sound like but that's check it out. Then you'll also notice along the bottom here, we have what's known as the velocity editor and MIDI Velocity often has to do with things like volume. So I can go ahead and just turn the volumes down or up or I could just hold Command, drag up or down, turn them up or down here. Now, how did I create this clip to begin with? Well, we could record or you can just double-click in any empty slot on a MIDI track to create a new empty clip and that will default to one bar, but I can just type in here two bars. Now I have a two-bar clip, and I'm just gonna go ahead and randomly pencil some stuff in and then turn draw mode off maybe and drag a few things around. We're going to come back to all of this in much more detail in our future topics. 7. Finding Drum Sounds: You may have guessed that this topic is about drum sounds. What we're going to do here is, look at ways that you can find different instruments and samples for putting together drum kits, or finding drum kits that are already put together for you. So, in the next few topics, we're going to get more into how to program drums and recording drums and keys, and things along those lines. In the next class, we're actually going to get into looking more in depth at these devices. There's a couple different places that you can look for drum sounds in Live. Course over in the browser on the left. You see we have the Drums category here. These are going to primarily be full presets of either Drum Racks or of their other drum-based instrument known as Impulse. You can also find individual drum hits such as bells, ride, cymbal, shakers over here. Now, the thing to keep in mind is that you're not always looking at the same type of file. So, let's actually make sure that we can see what type of file we're looking at. So, you noticed I right-clicked at the top of the browser there. It's telling you that these are AIF files, which are basically the same as WAVE, WAVE AIF, or the same thing more or less. But here, we have one called Clap 707.adg. Now, if I'm looking at something like Impulse here, where I have these empty squares, notice I've already put in some sounds: a kick, snare, some hi-hats. If I drop AIF for WAVE, I can just load up that sound. But if I wanted this clap sound, it's not going to let me put that there because that's actually a device, that's a preset. Impulse only lets you drop in samples. Now, we can use something like a Drum Rack and drop that into here. Now, I can play this clap sound. Drum Racks are pretty deep. You can pull up their presets and just start playing. But if you want to figure out what they're doing little bit more, just hang in there until the next class, because we're going to explain this a bit more. The key point here is that when you're looking for drum sounds, you have to be clear on whether you're looking for an audio file or one of their full presets. So, let's say, I did want a Drum Rack that was already ready to go. I would not want to be looking under Drum Hits. I could look under any of these ones here that say Rack Preset, and more or less, that means they're going to be a Drum Rack preset. Then, there are some of you that may have installed a bunch of the extra kits. You may find some Impulse presets here. But for the most part, you'd more likely find those under Instruments, under Impulse. Let's see, for example, what one of these might be. So, let's try Blue Thunder. So, that's pretty cool-sounding kit, and notice basically what they did was, took an Impulse, and they mapped a bunch of controls. So, if you were to hide it down, your blue hand, as we talked about in previous topics, will automatically control common parameters. So, last thing we'll look at here before we move on to actually making some beats is, if I did want to find some samples, of course, I could type in, say, kick. But in this case, I just want to make sure I go to Samples. Now, I can just use my arrow keys to find some kicks, and, let's say, I wanted to swap out the one I have here already. I could just drop this on top here. There are other ways to do this, and we'll get into some of those in future lessons. 8. Pencil a Drum Beat: For the first time, we're going to have an explicit look at some of the projects steps that you'll be doing. This particular topic is about drawing in drum beats, or penciling in drumbeats. We're going to start out using their core 606 kit. You're welcome to use any of the other kits as we've talked about how to find those in the previous topic. Since this is a drum rack, I have my keyboard set up to trigger based on see one, see over here on the left, I would just moving octaves up or down. So my keyboard was actually triggering. Now, like I said, we're going to be penciling in drums, but it's useful to be able to trigger them to hear the sounds that you want to draw in. You can use your computer mini-keyboard, if you only have that. I have my launch key mini setup here. Now, since we're not actually recording, I'm going to double-click to create a new Empty Clip, and then the advantage of having record enabled, is I can see where I'm at just by pressing the keys on my keyboard, and seeing the names of the drums. Part of the advantage of working with lives drum kits, whether through impulse or a drum rack, is that a fold is enabled that actually shows us the name of the drums in the kit. So, first thing we did was found a sound, double-clicked to create an empty clip and then found a couple of the sounds that we wanted to actually draw in. Now, I'm going to go ahead and press B to turn on drum mode, and you can use the preview here if you don't want to use your keyboard. Notice I can just click on these, they find the sounds that way, but a lot of times I find it's easier if you actually play the ones you want and then you can draw them in. So, I'm going go ahead and launch my clip from the volume down here a little bit, and you don't have to turn the metronome on now. You can start out by maybe, drawing in a really simple beat. I'm just putting a four on the floor here. So, my grid is set to sixteenth notes. You can see I have it set to sixteenth. You can see that at the bottom right. This is one bar in length, so that means every 11 12 13 14 will be a quarter note, and that's your standard four on the floor. Let say I want to draw in some snares on the two and the four, now notice I'm hearing it every time I draw it in, so maybe I want to turn the preview off. Then if you want to do your disco Hihats, I will go ahead, I'll use the closed Hihat and that will be on the second eighth note, or the third sixteenth note. So, for those of you that want to do any sort of dance music at all that is your standard disco beat right there. Let's say I wanted to try another variation on this. So, I'm going go ahead and double-click, create a new empty clip. Launch that, and then maybe I want to do something that's not so straightforward. So, maybe I'll play around a couple of different options. They'll have the snares in a couple of different spots, and remember with draw mode on, I can also just drag it across. So one of the ways, if I wanted to do a quick little eighth note pattern, is I'll right-click, set my grid, the eighth note, and now when I drag across, it's going to be an eighth note pattern. I can also turn draw mode off by pressing B, and maybe I want to move this to the upper Hihat there by using the arrow keys. So, I'm going to go ahead and use my arrow keys, and by holding down Command on Mac, I can also change my velocities here. So, go ahead and just create a couple empty clips, draw them in using draw mode. You can move them around with draw mode off, and play around with the velocities as well, and just have fun with it and keep it simple for right now. It takes a while to get good at doing drums if you're not coming from being a drummer or a percussionist, but keep it simple, and you'll notice that the different rhythms are more about different combinations of a few different parts than filling up the grid with as many different notes as possible. In the next topic, we're going to talk about editing a little bit more, and in the following unit we're going to get into recording your drums as well as keys. 9. Editing MIDI 101: So, maybe you can tell that what we're doing here is editing MIDI performances. The goal of this topic, is to go a little bit more in depth through the features that I've shown you in some of the other videos. So in the past, we have looked at the grid settings, which you can get to by the right-click here, and the fixed grade is something we spent a little bit of time on. Now, you can see this is set to 116th and of course I could just set this to say something like eighth or 30 second, I wanted some more resolution. But, we've not yet talked about the adaptive grid. The adaptive grid is useful when you want the grid setting to change based on your zoom level. So, let me set this to medium and nothing's changed yet, because I have not yet changed my zoom level. Notice as I zoom in here now, I'm at a 32nd note grid, and if I turn my drumload on, I can now draw in more detail. Let's go ahead and turn those velocities up. Let's say I want to go back to a little bit bigger of a grid, if I zoom back out now, you'll see I'm at quarter note. So, the adaptive grid is really useful especially when you're working with longer pieces. Since this is a one-bar clip, the change in the grid to adaptive may not be as helpful as say if you're working with eight bars, or as we'll look at later when you're in the Arrangement view. Now, something else that's also really helpful is, turning the Preview on or off, if you're looking for particular sounds on want to pencil something in here, or if I just wanted to move a note by clicking on it with draw mode off, kind of hear words going, but that can get pretty annoying, so you may may to turn that off. Also, what if I wanted to move all of these? So, let's say I click here on what's this, high hat, notice it's selected all of the notes and then I'm going to use my arrow keys and move these up to high hat open. Now, the reason we didn't hear every single sound as I moved past, is this was off, so you see I could have left that on. Now, let's hear that. Let's see, I like that, so let's go back to this one here. Remember to double-click if you want to get rid of something. Let's go look at this baseline a little bit. So, editing drums is a little different than editing melodic and key parts, because oftentimes the note length doesn't really effect drums too much especially if they're little short samples, whereas in here, you'll notice the length is going to affect it to a certain point. Now, if I wanted to effect it more, we might want to go back into the instrument itself and do some edits on it. So, now when I go ahead and shorten these, if I hit command A to select all and now shorten all of them. A little too short on some of those other ones, right? So, maybe I want to deselect and shorten this one down. Now, what if I wanted to move something up or down an octave, now you can see I have A1 as the note where this particular key is, so I'm going to Command D to duplicate and then shift up arrow, to make an octave up. I'm going to move it over, double click to delete. Maybe I want this note to be longer, and by changing the velocities, that's going to allow me to control the volumes of the different notes, and again that would have a lot to do with how your particular synth or stampler is programmed. So, I do have the filter velocity turned up on this Jun-O 106 base sound. If you don't notice the velocity during the lot, it's probably because of how your synth is programmed and that stuff we're not going have time to get into right now. But notice what happens if I were to say 'Select All,' and turn all of the velocities up, I'm holding command and just dragging up right on top of the note. So, I have all of them cranked. Maybe I want to turn this one back down, and I'll draw a box around these, and turn these down a bit. Of course, you can use the velocity editor down here at the bottom, you turn drum low down, you can draw a little line right across it, and I'm going to de-select first because you'll notice it was only affecting the ones ahead selected. So, let's look at another technique I find very useful, I'm willing to Command D to duplicate and launch this particular drum loop here, and what I want to do is create a variation on the second half, so I'm going choose duplicate loop, and notice it just doubled everything for me, and now say at the end, I want to do something a little different, so I'm going delete all of those and maybe find the open hats here and make like a little fill. So, I had the same part for the first and first half of the second second bar and I was able to make a variation on it, and I could do the same thing with my Juno loop here. So I'm going to duplicate this, launch it, then maybe I want to duplicate the loop. I have that track needed, unless I duplicated it, and maybe for the first half, I want the velocities way lower, if you even want delete it, no doubt. So, it's just a way to start making a little bit less repetitive, I could go back to my first scene, then to my second scene. So, you will be dealing something along these lines for your project steps, if you've been doing this for a while, by all means have at it and go a little crazy with it, but if you're new, just keep it simple and just have fun with it. 10. Getting Ready to Record MIDI: Let's make sure that we have everything set up correctly for recording. Now, some of the stuff we're going to look at is relevant for both audio and MIDI, but we're going to focus on the MIDI aspects of it since that is the focus of this class. So, there's a couple of things when you're working just in session view, we are not going to be using the record up top here and the control bar. This is only for the Arrangement view and you'll notice that I have this particular track record armed and we have these record buttons in each of the clip slots. If I were to go ahead and play, you'll notice it is now triggering this kit. If I wanted to record say on this track, I also get the record buttons here. So, just keep in mind that the record button in the control bar is only for Arrangement view. Now, before we talk about the buttons and switches that are relevant for Session view, let's first talk about things like the global tempo. Now, one of the advantages of MIDI is that you can always change your tempo later. So you're not really stuck with something, and even with audio with warping, you can't change that a bit later, but it's always a good idea to set your tempo to what you want to work at. Now, to hear if the tempo does what you want, we want to turn on our metronome and that is going to click along with our current tempo. One of the other key elements to recording is having some sort of a Count-In. So, if you click on the little dropdown here next to the metronome, you can see I have it set the count-in for one bar, and you can change this to whatever makes sense, and then the next topic we are going to look in detail at actually doing some recording. We're actually going to look at recording some drums and then the following ones with keys. Now, the other key setting is the quantization. Now, this is not as important when you're working with drums, where you already have a clip created, but when you're just going to hit the record button here is we're going to do in a few topics. The quantization does have a lot to do with the length of the clip that you'll end up with. So, you'll notice over here on this track checklist A, I have a couple different things for you to keep in mind. Do you have your tempo set? Is the cont-in turned on? Do you want the metronome on? Is the track armed that you want to record into? Then, also we want to make sure that our I/O is set up, so that we do have the input from the device that we want. In this case I have it set to All In, so it doesn't really matter, and you see I can pick from a bunch of different options here. If you're only using your computer MIDI keyboard that would work as well and then one last thing, let's say I already have an existing clip, let me go ahead and turn off the metronome for a second. If I want to record into here, notice it's not actually recording right now. Once you have an existing MIDI clip, if you want to add notes to it, you need to turn on the session record button. If you'd use Live eight or earlier, there used to be a button up here labeled OVR and this replaces the OVR button. It does a few other things as well, but for our purposes we just want to make sure that if we already have a clip that you want to turn this on if you want to record into it. So, in the next topic we're going to look at recording drums and then the following one we're going to get into doing some keys and bass lines. 11. Recording MIDI drums: One of your projects steps is to record your own MIDI drums and I'm going to show you a way that I find to be most effective and though there are other ways of approaching this, this is the one that I use and I think that mostly you will most appreciate. So, we looked a little bit at some of the checklist items in this list is a little shorter than the one in the last topic but these are the central ones for what we're about to do. So, before we even get into that I want to go over to my MIDI mapping, and you'll see that I've already mapped the few different interface elements, the Start and Stop button, the Session Record, which is over here on the right and the Tap Tempo. I just use some of the bottom row on my launchpad that I'm not going to be using for launching clips. So. I'm gonna hit command down to get out of there and you'll see when I hit the bottom right key it turns on this Session Record. I also have the play and the stop, and the Tap Tempo, I have mapped to the very bottom left pad on my launchpad. So, you could just type in the tempo that you think you want to work with but in this case I actually want it to happen what I'm feeling right now. So, I'm going to turn my metronome so I can hear the results, and on the fourth tab you're going to notice it actually starts playback. So, if you don't want it to start playback, you can just hit it three times or while it's playing already you can just tap it. But I'm gonna go ahead and tap in the tempo I think I'm going to play it. So, right around 80 BPM and what I'll do is I'm just going to type in here and just round it off to 81 and then the next thing I want to do is double-click to create my new clip. Since, we're going to be doing a loop recording and I want to find the sounds I'm going to use and then layer them in one on top of each other, so my kick, my snare and there's my high hats. Since, I already have a clip going, I need to be able to turn on the session record to make sure that it's actually going to add the notes in. So, while it's playing I want to turn on my metronome and practice along and then whenever I'm ready I'll just hit the session record and remember I have this mapped to a path on my launchpad. Then, maybe that's a little slow, so I can tap it a little bit to speed it up. Till it actually is what I want to do, so that's actually a bit closer. 12. Recording MIDI Keys: In the last topic, we created this drumbeat. So, now I don't have to use my metronome because I already have a drumbeat. That's one of the nice things about doing your drums even if you just do a quick pencilling before you start doing your keys and baselines and things along those lines. So, one of the key differences between doing drums in any of the other part is that, we're not going to double-click to create the clip first. I am just going to click on the Record button here, and if I have Playback stopped, I will get my counting. If it's already going, playback is already going, then it's going to come in, or start recording based on the quantization setting here. So, for what we're doing now, this setting is way more important than what we were doing with just doing the drums. So, I'm going to go ahead, and leave this at one bar. When I click here, it's going to count off, and then I can start playing my baseline. Of course it helps if I have my drums going. So, let's do that one more time. What if I actually wanted my drums to start with my recording? So, I'm going to right click on my scene here, and make sure that this trigger recording on launch is selected. So, now it will actually bring my drums in, and start my recording. So, what just happened where I didn't have my drums launch, that won't happen to me. Now, if I launch it, noticed it rounded it off to three bars? That's because I had this set to a one-bar quantize. So, it's going to round off based on the closest bar. Now, if I go ahead and click on this, it's going to start recording on the next one because I have this set to one bar. So I'm going to go ahead wait for it to go around one more time. Let's launch that. I could keep using my scene to start launching different recordings, but I'm going to go ahead and remove this Stop buttons. So, I don't stop this drums from playing. Let's go ahead and do that now. Now to launch that. Now, let's say I wanted to do some keys. Now, if I wasn't paying attention to what notes I was playing, I'm going to go ahead, and hit the "Fold" button here and go, "Okay, yeah." I was playing some F-sharp, scale, and I can go ahead, and find my notes over here now. I'll go ahead and launch my scene here, or I could just click on here and let's set this to a two-bar quantize now, and you'll see how that rounds off even if I do a really short recording rounded off to two bars. Notice, It rounded it off to two bars, even though I launched it right after I started. In the next lessons, we are going to look at the quantizing features in detail. Just so you know, I had cheated a little bit. Well, not cheated, but I had 16th note quantization turned on for the purpose of making this particular lesson for you. You may not want to do this, and as we get to quantizing, in a little bit more detail in the next unit, you'll understand why you may not want to have this on all the time. So, get ready to do something like this for your project. I do recommend having your drums from the previous topic ready to go, so you can record some baselines, or some other parts on top of the drums you already did. But by all means, feel free to do them as separate projects because you can never get enough practice when you're new at this. 13. Quantize 101: So in the last unit, we looked at recording, drums and other types of performances and also drawing and penciling in beats. Now we're going to go back into some of the topics that I briefly introduced related to quantizing. So let's listen to this and you can see it's named terrible beat. It's even misspelled because it's such a bad beat and I apologize in advance for just give this a listen for a second. Yes, that's absolutely terrible. So, this is the perfect example of where you might want to quantize something. So there's three basic ways. One of them we looked at during recording. Record quantization would have automatically put these notes onto a grid as I recorded. But we need to fix up something after it's been played and hopefully we never have to actually deal with something this bad but it happens. So what I'm going to do is right click and pull up the quantize settings. This dialogue box lets you pick the degree to which your notes get moved to a grid and that's more or less what defines quantizing. Is it's moving notes to a specified grid. You can see this is set to 16th notes and you have a bunch of other options here. Adjust note means start of the note which would be at the beginning of course and then the note off would be the end here and the percentage and we're going to talk about techniques specifically for drums or other performances in the next topic. So right now we're just looking at the fundamentals. I'm just going to go ahead and hit OK. You can see it put everything on the beat. I'm going to hit undo and want to give you a guideline. So we're going to open up our quantize settings and you generally speaking one to start with the smallest value that you think is in your performance, because if you go too big, this is what happens. Now everything's in time but that's not even close to what I originally played. So let's hit undo and pull up our quantized settings one more time and then I'll go ahead and set this may be to eighth note and by the way the T here means triplet, so it means if there was triplets in the performance it would manage that on the grid. Once I've set this to eighth note, then I don't have to keep pulling up the settings. Whatever you last set at at that is what the quantize parameter will do. So if I had another part, I could just go right to quantize command U and it would go to eighth there, whatever I had last set. So we talked about now two of the methods and then the third one is going to be related to the groove pool which we are going to come back to in detail but another way to quantize this I hit undo and then I could pick my quantize option from here and it does it in real time and not actually seeing the notes moved around and that's another really neat way to deal with quantizing. see now I'm doing eighth note. We're going to come back to both of these methods in detail in the next two topics. 14. Quantizing MIDI Performances: Now, we're going to look at some examples on specifically how to approach drums and key parts. Whereas in the last topic we looked more generically at where to find quantizing and how to get to the settings. So, first let's launch this scene called Help and then let's hear what it might sound like after it was actually done. Turn down the drums a little bit. Let's go back to our one that need some help. So, let's have a look at this drumbeat. As you may recall from the last topic, we did look at how to pull up the quantized settings from the context menu. Let's check what my settings are and last time we just hit okay after setting the one we wanted. So, if I were to do that, you see it moved everything exactly to the 16th note, the closest 16th note and it lined up the ends and the starts. So, let's pull that back up again and this time let's have it not change the end and maybe I only want to do 50 percent. You'll notice it moved everything a little closer. But, remember I was saying is once you've done the settings then you could just keep hitting Command-U, and by setting it to 50 percent, I just keep hitting Command-U, and notice it tightens it up a little bit more each time. So, if I kept hitting Command-U eventually, everything would be exactly on the grid, but the reason I might want to do that is to maintain a little bit of the field that I had, but still tightening it up from the bad timing of the performance. That would be one way to approach drums. I could also maybe select all of my kicks and let's pull up the settings here and maybe just on the kicks I want those to be 100 percent, and then maybe on the eighth note. So, maybe I want to kick drums exactly on the beat and then maybe just for these high hats, I want some different settings. So, I select them and I can pull up my settings, double-check, yeah okay, eighth note, hit okay and then those would be 100 percent on the eighth notes. So, let's hear how this sounds now. So, there's a little bit of a drag to it still, a little bit on top of it with the snares, but that might be what I want. So, let's now look at this bass part because we probably want to approach this a little differently. For one, the note ends are more important now, the actual length of the note. Let's give this a listen and let's set the K and the release shorter, so you can tell how the note length does affect what we're hearing. So, when I do decide to quantize this, I maybe do want it to affect the end. So, let's pull up our settings, set the end on here and then by looking at my current grid, I can see that these are pretty close to the 16th note. So, I'm just going to go ahead and choose 16th and I do want it to tighten the ends up. That was just for the one ahead selected. So, if I have nothing selected, then it would do all of them. If you have specific one selected it will do only those. It knows everything is exactly on the 16th note including the ends. So, it actually is quantizing the ends of the notes too, tiered together now, and let's go over to our marimba part here. This'll happen sometimes if you come in a little early, the note on message is actually to the left of the one. So, we're not even going to hear that. Let's select all of these and maybe I want to go to eighth note, not 16th note, I want to make sure I go to eighth note. This one is still off to the left even though I quantized it, I quantized it to the left. So, let's drag this over and sometimes you may want to do that, just manually do it yourself. So, notice that you can approach the notes one at a time, you can go 100 percent, 50 percent and then keep hitting it, or you can also do a combination of editing and then also selecting. So, let's go ahead and hear everything now. So, that's just an introduction to straight ahead quantizing. If you're wondering about swaying or shuffle or groove that is going to be the subject of our next topic. 15. Groove 101: If the last topic was about quantizing which is a way of talking about moving notes to a specified grid, we're now going to talk about groove. Groove is the opposite in the sense that it's about moving notes off of a grid but in a musically useful way. So, I started out by playing for you a variation on our terrible beat from a few topics back. You'll notice, though, that I was messing around with something here that said quantize, and really what I was doing was using the groove feature which is a way of adding a feel to specific clips and using it for quantizing. So, let's talk a little bit about where these grooves came from and I'm just going to turn this off. This is where I started. You'll see over in the packs under the core library, there is a folder called Swing and Groove. Now, these files in here that.agr able to in groove files, and the way you add those to a clip is by somehow adding them to the groove pool. There's a couple of ways to do that. You can just drag and drop right in the browser onto a clip, you can also right-click and choose Browse Groove Library to add them into here, and then either way once they're in the groove pool, you can pick them from the groove option. So, in this case, I just happened to pick the quantize groove which allows you to do quantizing in real time. The advantage of that is that you can play around with different feels without actually having to do an edit. So, you see here, I don't have the notes moving around like I did with the normal quantize. So, I can see if I like the different feels, I can even do a percentage, and it's just got to scroll down here a little bit, and then I can hit commit if I like it and then you'll see what it actually did. It actually added the groove to the clip. So, I'm going to hit undo, and let's now try this out on some other parts. So, I have this drumbeat here, and I'm going to go ahead and set the global groove amount to zero. This affects all of the grooves in your set. So, I started out with a really simple beat on purpose. With this straight ahead 16th note hi-hat pattern because I want you to hear what happens as I start adding some of the groove back in. In this case, I've picked one of the SP1200 grooves which they got from one of the classic drum machines. Let's also try maybe an MPC, and notice if I set this to zero, it's back to where I started. The default is 100 percent. You can also go to 130 if you want exaggerate it even more. Let's bring in this baseline. They don't have the same groove now, which is part of the reason that they don't really hit together. Now, not all groove sound good on all clips, but if you have parts that work well together to begin with, the same group is recommended. So, notice that I selected both of these clips and a little asterisk, they're just telling me these have different settings. So, let's see what happens if I go to New York Cut. What if I hit commit? Those didn't do too much to my bass part. Let me undo that, and let's go in here and see what it's actually doing to the drums if I hit commit. So, you can see what it did here. That's straight ahead 16th note hi-hat pattern definitely got moved around. Then, let's say instead of selecting from over here, I could also drag and drop. So, I'm going to select both of these so l could drop them onto the same one, and let's see what happens if I choose Hip Hop 4. Actually, I should have dropped it down here to affect both of them at the same time. Let's go maybe a little bit less. I'll go ahead and commit that on this one here, too. So, this didn't do nearly as much as some of the other ones. So, the basic idea here with groove is not only can you play around with the feel of different parts in real time, but you can use it to quantize parts before it applies the groove to it, and then you can also control the overall amount of all of the clips in your set. Now, obviously, do you see there's some other parameters over here and there is a lot more to the groove feature, but this is a good place to start. Before we wrap up, just let me say that it's important to realize that not all grooves will sound good or even be audible on all parts. So, as you will be doing in your project after you create some different clips, record them in, edit them, quantize them, then you can definitely play around with some of the different grooves and see if you like the feel of them. If not, you can always just set them to none. Or if you like it, you can commit them and see what they did to your parts. Have fun with MIDI in live. In the next class, we'll be getting into audio more in-depth and sampling.