Work Faster In The Studio With These 5 Ableton Hacks
Thanks to its many capabilities, Ableton Live has become an invaluable tool for artists and the production of their music. With so many things the software can do though, it is easy for one to get lost amidst a myriad of features, which can ultimately hinder the progress of music production
Fortunately, there are a few “hacks” out there that can enable any artist or producer to navigate Ableton Live more easily and with better results. We are happy to share some of them here today:
Hack #1 – Dragging an old project file into a new project file
Ableton Live allows users to insert an existing project file into a project that is being working on. This is helpful if you have two separate unfinished projects that you want to combine, or if you designed a sound in different project and want to preserve it while bringing it into your current project.
To do this, you just need to follow the steps below:
Open up the project file you want to be your base (“new”) project (the project you’ll drag another project into)
Find the .als file for the project you want to drag in
Simply drag the .als file into your open Ableton project
Also, to keep things tidy, drag the .als to the bottom of the new project file.
Hack #2 – Lock automation
Did you know you can actually lock certain parts of the software to prevent unnecessary editing? This lock button is located at the top right of the software. When activated (the lock is orange), envelopes stay where they are, even if a clip is dragged to a different section of the arrangement. When the lock is not activated, automation stays with the clip it is assigned to.
This lock/unlock function is useful when organizing or rearranging elements of a track. If you want to move an audio clip to a different section of the track, but would like to keep the automation in place, you can simply lock the automation and drag the audio file. This alone would help save tons of frustration and time.
Hack #3 – MIDI Routing
If you have multiple instruments playing the same notes, it can be a nuisance to copy every change over to all the other instruments/MIDI clips. Fortunately, you can route MIDI inside Ableton so that multiple MIDI channels/instruments can all play off one MIDI clip. So instead of editing 2+ MIDI clips, you just have to make the change to one clip.
Here’s how to accomplish this:
Choose one MIDI channel to be your MIDI “source.” We’ll call this the “main” instrument.
Change the I/O section of the secondary MIDI instrument (we’ll call this the “slave” instrument). To do this, change the input type on your slave instrument to be from the main instrument, and select “In” in the monitoring section.
When you’re done, anything that the Main channel plays, the Slave channel plays as well.
Hack #4 – Default resampling track
If resampling is a core part of your workflow—you use it a lot—consider setting up a default resampling track in your template. This will help reduce the time it takes for you to set up the routing every time you want to use resampling. To accomplish this, you need to do the following:
Create a new audio track. This will be our “resampling” track which will take input from our master channel.
Set the input to “Resampling”, and the Monitoring to “In”.
Now, anything that is played while recording is enabled on this track will be recorded.
From there, you can simply copy audio clips from this default resampling track and place them where needed.
Hack #5 – Alternate versions + forcing commitment
As we’ve discussed earlier, Ableton Live provides a lot of functionality, thus offering different options in which one can easily get lost in. And while choice is good, this can also paralyze you and halt the creative process.
So how can one not fall into this trap. Here are a couple of strategies we would suggest:
A) Alternate Versions – When you’re about to make a significant decision in a project, like using a completely different melody or bassline, save an alternate version of the project just in case it doesn’t work out. This will help you be more bold creatively, knowing that it doesn’t really matter whether your new idea/decision works out or not.
B) Consolidation/Flattening – Freeze and flatten audio, as often as you can. So as soon as you find a sound you like, or write something you like, commit it to audio immediately. This will help you move on and work on the rest of the project, as you won’t be tempted to endlessly tweak the sound/sequence.
We hope these tips will be helpful in your work using Ableton Live. We are sure there are more things you get to discover along the way as you use the software but as long as you continue learning the software and commit to improving your workflow, you will be able produce some great sounding tracks.