Map to Siblings
Ableton Live has some nifty features hidden away, which can be easily unlocked by creating an ‘Options.txt’ file which unlocks specific features in Live. Detailed instructions on how to do this can be found here Options.txt
There are currently around 12 additional features that can be unlocked and one of the most useful is ‘Map to Siblings’. To enable this feature create an Options.txt file as per the instructions above and place it in the correct location (This will mostly depend on your operating system). Once you have done that add the following text to the text file on a new line -EnableMapToSiblings=1. Once you have done this, save the file and start Ableton Live.
Now for a bit of background on what the 'Map to Siblings' functionality actually does. Basically it allows us to copy parameters and macro mappings to all of the simpler devices within a Drum Rack. This might seem trivial at first, but given a single drum rack can house up to 128 seperate samples, it can be extremely time consuming going through each sample to assign macro's and adjust parameters when creating a complex rack.
The Drum Rack shown above has four samples loaded into it. By default the filter is turned off on all of the simpler instruments which play back these samples. I would like to enable the filter on all of the instruments, then map the filter of all four Simplers to the first macro. I can achieve this in two simple steps. Firstly I enable the filter (Or any other parameter) on any of the simpler devices, I then right click (Control click on Mac if you don't have right click enabled) on the filter and select 'Copy Value to Siblings'. This will copy it to al the other Simpler devices housed within the rack (You can see in brackets that there are 3 other similar devices). Now I right click on the filter cutoff and select 'Map to Macro 1' and then choose 'Map to all Siblings'. This will map the filter cutoff of all of the Simpler devices to the first macro control.
This is an extremely useful feature, that can save you a lot of time when setting up custom Drum Racks.
Drum Rack Return Chains
Many Live users don't realise that drum racks have there own built in sends and return track chains. This allows us to setup a number of return tracks within our drum racks and send any sound within the rack to them. It is also possible to use the return chains to send out to the main return tracks in our session. This can be really useful for some mixing applications.
To start setting up return tracks within a drum rack, we first need to show the ‘Return Chains’. Then if we would like to send the signal out of the rack to our main return channels, we also need to show the I/Os. These can all be shown and hidden, using the icons in the bottom left hand corner of the drum rack device (Highlighted by the red rectangle below) (These won't be available unless you have selected 'Show Chains'). We then have two options; we can either drop audio effect devices onto the return chain section (Highlighted by the blue rectangle), or alternatively right click in this area and select the 'Create Return Chain' option. The latter option will create an empty return chain.
Once we have create an empty return chain, we can then use the I/O's to route it to our main return tracks in our Live session. This is shown below.
If you have a template session setup in Live, you could set this routing behaviour up as the default for all new Drum Rack's. Once we have setup our return chains in a Drum Rack, we can access the sends either in the rack or on our mixer in session view, by expanding the Drum Rack's chains. Both approaches are shown below.
Use the buttons in the red rectangle to display the send and return controls/sections. Drop effects into the section highlighted by the blue rectangle to add effects and create return chains.
Side-chain Compression in Ableton Live
When Ableton updated Live to version 9, they made some great changes to the standard Compressor device, which included altering the various compression algorithms. While this update device is mostly superior to the the previous Live 8 compressor, there are some situations where the old device excels. Most notably for clean side-chain compression. Thankfully we can easily access the Live 8 compressor in Live 9, and we still get the benefits of the new interface. In fact I have the Live 8 compressor saved as my default, knowing that I only need to click the 'Upgrade' button to change to the Live 9 one.
I find the FF1 model type, which stands for feed-forward, to be the best for side-chain compression tasks. It is very clean, even at extreme settings, while the Live 9 compression models click very easily.
I also find the FB model, which stands for feed-back, to be very useful on drums as an alternative to The Glue (Or even in conjunction with The Glue).
Live 8 Compressor Preset
You can open the Live 8 compressor in Live 9, by dragging the device preset file above into any session. To save the Live 8 compressor as your default, just right click on the Device Title Bar to access the context menu, and select 'Save as Default Preset'. Alternatively you can save it as a preset if you would prefer to leave the Live 9 compressor set as your default.
This is where I share my ideas on music making and creative process, along with tips for the getting the most out of Ableton Live . You will also find this space interspersed with off topic, but equally interesting posts about coffee, food and single malt whisky.