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Digital Subscriptions > MusicTech > Ableton Live 10 > MIDI ROUTING AND RECORDING IN ABLETON LIVE


Recording MIDI is one of Ableton Live’s core activities. Martin Delaney takes an extended look at some fundamental – and some more sophisticated – MIDI recording and routing techniques



Whether you’re aware of it, or interested in it or not, MIDI is everywhere in Ableton Live – enabling hardware controllers to take over Live’s mixer, instrument and effect parameters, coordinating timing synchronisation with other hardware and software, sending notes to trigger instrument sounds or loops and providing transport and song-position information. From time to time, it’s good to recap on the ultra-basics of what MIDI is and how to use it inside Live and then to mention a few more interesting techniques, relating to different routing options inside Live’s MIDI tracks and instrument and drum racks. MIDI goes back to 1983 and a great resource if you want to learn more is the MIDI Association website at

Live is limited regarding MIDI in some areas, but these are more than compensated for the ease of use and by the excellent MIDI effect devices which are included in Live – so you don’t get the deep MIDI compositional programming controls of some other software, but you get a lot of creative and interactive input. In our walkthrough, we’re looking at the basics of recording MIDI notes into Live from drum pads and a keyboard, then moving on to a few more advanced routing tips. There are so many MIDI controllers on the market, some specialise in being either drum oriented, with pads, or keyboard oriented, with just a piano keyboard, but there are also controllers that provide a MIDI keyboard with a few drum pads on top. You can do it the old-school way, playing drum parts on your MIDI keys. You can also record beats via the computer keyboard, although you won’t get any velocity – but Live has the Velocity MIDI effect device to add velocity variations afterwards. Finally, there’s Ableton’s Push 2, which has beautiful pads, just as good for creating beats as they are for playing scales and chords.

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About MusicTech

70 Pro Tips - A huge array of tips and tricks for all stages of music production. Interview: Emre Ramazanoglu - The musician, engineer and songwriter who has worked with the stars. Workshops: Live 10: Beginner's Guide to Live - Create a song from scratch Live 10: Workflow Additions - Martin Delaney explores the improved Arrangement View in Live 10 and other workflow updates MIDI Routing And Recording - A look at some fundamental and sophisticated routing techniques