Thursday, August 02, 2007

Ableton Live: super looper

There are no shortage of looper pedals and programs on the market. Just don't let them see what Live can do. They might get jealous.

Let's get started...

I've started with five audio tracks. All are routed to the same input( a guitar in this case) and all tracks are armed for recording. Set the loop length up top. I usually set it for 1 bar at least, so its easy to hit the loop point.

Hold down shift and select all the clip slots on screen. ctrl+click deletes the clip buttons and then put a few buttons back in using the same method. This cascading style in the example allows a loop to continuously play while only recording on the next track in line. Its also a very visual representation of the various layers of a loop.

For hands free use i use a Behringer FCB1010 foot controller. For this example I'm using all 10 of its buttons. 1-5 trigger the scenes and 6-10 control the track stop buttons.

By having the track monitor set to "auto" this will allow you to toggle rec/play with same button. For example, button 1 will trigger scene 1. without a clip present it will start recording one when activated. hitting button 1 again will switch the mode to play and loop the clip just recorded.

I've set up the other buttons to kill tracks. This is similar to the undo function on many looper pedals, but in this case you can choose what layer of looping to kill...not just the most recent. Also you can retrigger these loops at any time.

What's next?

Using Live as a simple looper is cool and all, but why limit yourself to that when you can be a looping band? This is where Live leaves most hardware loopers in the dust with its flexible routing and effects. You're only limited by the number of audio channels your soundcard has and to how many midi channels you can transmit to.

In the example we start with an Impulse kit being triggered by a Trigger Finger. Midi's a bit easier to loop than audio because you can "cheat." Double click the first slot to set up a dummy clip. Set the loop length to the desired beat count. Now its ready to loop. Make sure Overdub is on and you can continuously add to the clip as it loops. This is useful for drums where you can program a hi-hat loop the first round and then add a kick/snare to it later.

The rest is simple. I have a guitar routed to the first input of my soundcard, and a mic in the other input. Another Impulse kit being triggered by another midi channel.

The sky's the limit. Enjoy.