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Performance Technique Warping tunes for DJ sets
forces the software to play back a certain part of audio at a designated point in time. Obviously, some stretching has to occur to make this happen. Live uses granular resynthesis techniques to stretch or compress the audio by repeating or skipping samples (or ‘grains’).
There are several modes to choose from In Live 7, each representing a different time-stretch algorithm or process. The fi rst of these is Beats, designed to preserve transients
There are several modes in live 7, each representing a different timestretch algorithm or process.
and dynamics. This mode is ideal for applying to drum loops, but it also works exceptionally well with electronic dance music, making it the go-to mode for club DJs.
Tones mode is perfect for material with a clear pitch signature and lends itself to sounds of a monophonic nature. Try this on lead vocals, solo synths and horns. You’ll notice that a Grain Size setting become available. Set this low when the sound has a defi nite pitch contour; when the pitch is not so clear you can raise it, but be prepared for audible artefacts at higher levels.
For sounds with a more ambiguous pitch signature (including polyphonic sounds such as string ensembles or groups of vocalists) use the Texture mode. This mode can
While other DAWs have been playing catch-up in the area of timestretching, Ableton has brought real meaning to the term ‘elastic audio’.
also be put to good creative use via the Fluctuation and aforementioned Grain Size controls, creating interesting granular effects.
RePitch is not so much a time-stretch mode as a form of pitch shifting, with the material being shifted up or down as necessary until it attains the desired speed. It’s similar to the pitch control found on DJ turntables, or key tracking in traditional samplers.
Complex mode is designed to handle signals that share characteristics covered by the other Warp modes. This may sound ideal – and in some situations it really is – but you should be aware that it uses a very CPUdemanding algorithm to perform its magic. Indeed, it
STEP-BY-STEP importing and warping sequenced material
Drag your chosen file or song from the Browser and place it in an empty slot in the Session view. For this particular example we’ve chosen a production that has a straightforward groove and clearly defined transients.
Live 7 will automatically analyse the file to detect its dynamic signature and create a timing grid. This is usually a good starting point for placing accurate warp markers. Live also creates its .asd reference file at this point.
On inspecting the grid we can see that Live’s analysis is not completely in-sync with the file’s transients. Still, as you can surmise, they are quite close and require only a small amount of correction to bring the elements into line.
As you look at the first transient in the file, it becomes obvious that Live has misplaced its first warp marker. This seemingly very minor error has the domino effect of causing the entire grid to fall out-ofsync by a small amount.
16 Ableton Live MusicTech FOCUS
As this material is accurately quantised and driven by a sequencer, not much work is needed. Zooming in close-up to the first transient and placing the initial warp marker correctly will bring the entire grid much closer into line.
To make the final adjustments, go to the very end of the file and move the markers in-line with the last transients in the song. This will give a good average across the whole piece and bring the entire grid into perfect time.