Performing in Ableton Live can seem daunting and tricky at times but worry not, we’ve collated this guide to help you get the best out of an Ableton Live performance. Here are our top ten Ableton Live Performance Tips.
Remove Stop Buttons (Cmd+E)
This little trick is great for allowing a clip to continue to play even though you’re moving down a row when performing in clip view.
By right clicking on a clip you can easily remove the stop button or press the key command CMD+E. (See Image Below)
Create Your Own Bespoke Metronome
When performing, especially with live musicians who need a click it’s sometimes easy to get lost in your arrangement. A neat idea is to create your own click track using the drum rack. In the example below we’ve added the sound of the click into the rack but we’ve also included audio recordings of someone saying 1,2,3,4.
This gives us two advantages:
1 – We can edit the click into whatever Sub division we like. Maybe a tricky session would be better played if the click was double time etc
2 – We can use the 1,2,3,4 to signify when something important is about to happen.
Remember to send the output of this channel to a separate out away from the speakers – we don’t want the crowd hearing it after all.
Reduced Latency When Monitoring
From performing with live instruments sometimes you aren’t able to have super low buffer sizes. This is where the ‘Reduced Latency When Monitoring’ button comes in. You’ll find it in the options section and does wonders to compensate for large latencies from high buffer settings. (See Image Below)
Keeping your session tidy is crucial, especially when you have multiple tracks and instruments on the go. With this in mind sometimes you need your keyboard to control different sounds throughout the set but changing the sounds is tedious and can go wrong.
By adding multiple instruments to an audio FX rack and automating the volume, on and off buttons and anything else you fancy means you’ll always have the right sound at the right time. Benefits:
1 – Your MIDI keyboard can be assigned to that track alone meaning less cross talk and chance of strange things happening when you play it.
2 – You can automate synths to turn on and off saving precious CPU.
3 – You can concentrate on the important bit – performing live.
Sometimes the simplicity of just having a stereo out from your Soundcard is nice but quite often a sound tech would like a little more control. After all, he knows the room you’re performing in so your bass might need controlling a little or the tops come across to bright, especially when playing with a live drummer.
Tip: Try having two identical Ableton sessions – One labelled ‘Stereo’ and one labelled ‘multi-Out’ – That way you can choose which one you’ll need depending on the location.
If your Soundcard has enough outputs you could then group your tracks to offer something like this:
1 – Kick
2 – Snare
3-4 – Perc
5 – Bass
6 -7 – Music Elements and FX
8 – Vocals
Keep It Simple
Complexity, especially in a live environment can be the killer of any great set. Stress, complications, getting lost in a tracks arrangement etc can all happen live so always remember, what comes out the speakers is the most important thing.
Swallow your pride and accept you can’t always play everything.
Tip: If a section sounds worst when you are playing it programme that bit and concentrate on something else – The output is key.
Stages Shake – Be aware!
As the title suggests, stages are shaky and loud places. Be aware that your cables could shake, a lot and become unplugged – it happens. Tape everything in place!
Clip View Vs Arrange
The ongoing battle between the two areas. As we mentioned earlier, what comes out of the speakers is key. From personal experience I found that exporting everything to clip view actually led to a worst performance and made the transition between tracks more complex.
Obviously this is different for everyone but you really need to ask yourself, are you just using clip view out of pride? If you’re just lunching clips every few minutes could your time be better spent than waiting to launch a row. Sometimes using Ableton in session view as a backing track can free you up to do more crowd pleasing actions I.e hitting drum pads, playing synth lines etc.
Trust your Mix
Now this is going to be a tough one but never, under any circumstances start changing your mix because it sounds a bit weird out of the floor monitors. This isn’t a true reflection of the sound hitting the crowd so work with the sound engineer, provide him with multiple outs and have faith.
Colour Code Your Synths
This is a top tip and has saved me on many occasions. By using coloured stickers you can label your things and give you pointers on where to put the dials for certain songs.
The image below shows this in full effect. On the Moog we need to change the filter, both envelopes and the tuning hence the markers show me where to turn things. Super useful in a dark, loud booth or stage.
Found this useful? Let us know!
The Touch Loops team.