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CLIP ENVELOPES IN ABLETON LIVE

Envelopes add a new dimension to Live’s audio and MIDI clips, from straightforward fades to complex automated sound-design evolutions. Martin Delaney enters Draw Mode…

ABLETON LIVE TUTORIAL

Clip envelopes are Live’s take on automation, particularly in Session View, while in Arrangement they merge into track automation as well, but fundamentally, there’s not much difference. Clip envelopes can be little useful messages that tell a track to fade or pan, for example, but they can be powerful creative tools in themselves… if you want busy, evolving sounds, they are your friends! There are so many things we can do with clip envelopes, but it’s the more sound-designery ones I’m drawn to. It’s a good exercise to take just one clip and use envelopes to push it and exploit it as far as possible. When combining envelopes in a project, it’s important to practice with different-length clips playing together, and to use different-length envelopes within those clips – they don’t have to be in units of bar-length, either.

SCORE DRAW

You can create envelopes by drawing in breakpoints along the horizontal lines, and when you need something more precise – like for clear on/off functions, or for rhythmic effects, tap ‘B’ on the computer keyboard to go into Draw Mode. Now you can draw in ‘blocky’ values that conform to the current grid, which of course you can change at any time. There’s no reason you can’t mix-and-match approaches in the same envelope – once you exit Draw Mode, you’ll see breakpoints at the corners of your horizontal and vertical steps, so if necessary you can edit those and revert back to a semi-rigid arrangement. It’s a single click to add or remove breakpoints, and you can move the lines between them by selecting and dragging.

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About MusicTech

Making music is an expensive pursuit. From monitors to microphones, DAWs and plug-ins: before you know it, just getting your creative space in order has made a serious dent in your bank account. But it really doesn’t have to be this way. In Andy Jones’ in-depth cover feature this month, he dives head-first into this ocean of free software, highlighting the best of the best and detailing how to use it effectively to build a track – for free! Elsewhere this issue, we’ve got the first in a new A-Z series, detailing some of the oft-used, key terms that you’ll likely hear and need to understand in the music-making world. Alongside all this, we’ve got our usual range of reviews, tutorials, tips and a complete guide to the vast high-tech world of controllers. We’ve also, very excitingly, teamed up with the best studio in the world with this issue’s free Abbey Road calendar. We hope you enjoy the issue.