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Digital Subscriptions > MusicTech > Oct-16 > Follow Actions and what they can do for you

Follow Actions and what they can do for you

It’s so easy to let software lock everything down nice and tight and be predictable. And yet, says Martin Delaney, it doesn’t have to be like that…

Ableton Live Live In Depth – Part 8

Follow Actions are settings we can make in Ableton Live’s Session View clips that determine how and when one playing clip will automatically move on to another, and what will happen when it gets there. We can use Follow Actions for creative purposes, such as in evolving sound-art installations, or to create unpredictable sequences of instrument parts: but we can also use them as purely practical tools, for example creating timed intervals in a live performance – they’re very flexible. Follow Actions can be thought of as Ableton’s take on generative music – music which composes or arranges itself in a semi-automatic way. Brian Eno fans will know what I’m talking about. Go back to his Discreet Music album from 1975, which would’ve been made with hardware devices and tape in those days, to the Generative Music 1 album from 1996, which he made using SSEYO’s Koan software. If you want to get some of that old-school Eno action, Koan evolved into Noatikl 3, and it’s still available from

Follow Actions only work in Session View, and only vertically with adjoining clips in the same track. If or when the Follow Action clips arrive at an empty clip slot, they stop, so that’s worth remembering when you’re trying to prevent Follow Actions from running on into the ‘wrong’ areas of your set.

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