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practical and actionable schools for music production homework package

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practical and actionable schools for music production homework package

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Update 2020-02-17 16:08:57
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Ableton Live Piano Roll: 19 Killer Tips for Workflow & Creativity

The piano roll is where all the magic happens in Ableton Live.

Melodies are crafted, chords are forged and basslines are written.

But there’s a lot about the piano roll that’s left in the dark. Like this entire section here:

So here are some of my favourite tips to helping you become a piano roll master in Live.

Most of these you can do in all versions of Ableton Live 10, but some require at least Standard or Suite. A number of them will also work in Live 9.

Make sure to grab the PDF version of this list so you can get 6 extra tips + reference it whenever you’re in the studio.

Download Free PDF

Note: you can watch the video tutorial, read the full article, or both completely up to you!

Ableton Piano Roll: 19 Unique Tips To Help You Become A Master
Video can’t be loaded because JavaScript is disabled: Ableton Piano Roll: 19 Unique Tips To Help You Become A Master (

Tip 1: Use Draw Mode

Drawing notes offers a much faster workflow than having to double-click to insert them.

Press ‘B’ on your keyboard to activate this (making sure that your computer MIDI keyboard is disabled) to sketch notes out faster, draw velocity hits faster and customize automation faster.

Tip 2: Piano Roll MIDI Editor Preview

Sometimes you want to listen to notes as you write them, sometimes you don’t.

By default, this feature is turned off but click on the blue headphones icon in the top-left of the MIDI Editor.

Now whenever you select, draw or move a note, you will hear its pitch being played, allowing you to make better-sounding decisions.

Tip 3: Move Notes Up/Down an Octave

When a chord progression or melody needs to change octaves, pressing down or up 12 times can seem laborious.

Hold Shift + Up/Down while selecting the notes to move them an entire octave at once.

A great time-saver.

Tip 4: Duplicate Notes

Pressing Cmd+D (Ctrl+D) allows you to duplicate notes in time. Make sure that you double-check the selection area to see exactly how much you are duplicating.

Tip 5: Force Legato

With the relevant notes selected, pressing the Legato button on the Notes panel in the piano roll allows you to make all the notes legato.

In other words, it fills in all the gaps between notes, which can be a big time saver if you’re wanting to extend them all.

Tip 6: Duplicate Loop

If you’re wanting to add subtle variations to a loop of sorts, ‘Duplicate Loop’ is a great way to work.

Simply press the ‘Dupl. Loop’ button and watch the MIDI clip double in size. Now you can edit the second version to add differences to that part of the MIDI, instead of just looping the same thing.

Tip 7: MIDI Stretch Marker

The MIDI stretch marker is an underrated tool in Live and allows you to ‘scale’ the timing of the notes.

This may mess up any quantized timing but can add the human feel of someone slowly going out of time with the beat, or you can use it to double/half the length of the phrase.

Think of it like slowing up or down the MIDI, like you would with audio.

Definitely play around with it, especially in conjunction with other instruments you can get some fun rhythms.

Tip 8: Half Tempo/Double Tempo

Speaking of doubling and halving, there is a quicker way to do this using the ‘*2’ and2’ buttons above the same area.

This allows you to use the same melodic idea or chord progression, but with a different feel.

Sometimes it just needs to be slower or faster.

Tip 9: Crop Clip

This tip works particularly well if you’ve recorded a bunch of MIDI and only want to use part of it.

Simply select the notes you want to keep, right-click and select ‘Crop Clip’ from the menu.

Then it will cut out the unselected or blank part of a MIDI clip.

Tip 10: Reverse and Invert Notes

Another underrated MIDI tool is the Reverse tool and the Invert tool.

Both are found in the same area is the2’ and ‘*2’ controls, as pictured below.

Both are fairly self-explanatory reverse simply reverses the order of the played notes, keeping the timing of each note intact.

  • Original
  • Reverse

Invert swaps the pitch of each note for the relative opposite pitch, based on what’s selected. The timing of each of those notes is still maintained, but it may change the scale of the notes

  • Original
  • Invert

Both of these can yield surprising results and can help to flip an otherwise stale idea into something fresh.

Tip 11: Quantize Settings

Many people know you can press Cmd+U or Ctrl+U to quantize your notes to the grid, which i

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