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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.
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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.
www.musictechmag.co.uk can, in some cases, take up to as much as ten times more CPU power to process than the other modes. It’s advisable, therefore, to freeze or re-record tracks that are using this mode to avoid CPU spikes and overloads.
Rex mode is not a mode that can be selected in the Clip Properties area, but one that is automatically engaged when a REX-format sound fi le is loaded into Live. All of the tempo and slice data embedded within the REX fi le will be visible in the Clip Properties, but options associated with other modes will be unavailable.
To keep things simple, the Beats mode has been used throughout the featured examples. If you feel that the material you are using for your sets requires another mode, try experimenting with different settings.
The warping process is performed in real time and is completely non-destructive – any edits you make to your audio can be changed on-the-fl y and saved for referring back to later. As with any other clip-based editing, edits will be saved within your Live sets, but if you want your changes to be associated with the fi le itself, ensure that you save it in the Sample View area.
When warping complex or challenging pieces, it is
When warping complex or challenging pieces, it is useful to have a reference to guide you. Instead of using a drum loop or kick drum, try using Live’s built-in metronome. You will find that this interferes much less with the program material and can be clearly heard in most situations. To achieve exactly the tempo you want, try using the tap tempo facility, which is located in the same area of the Live 7 environment.
live 7 makes in-depth editing of the warp markers a pretty straightforward affair .
Point to point Warp markers are at the heart of warping in Ableton Live. Once you have mastered editing them, you will fi nd it far easier to process your fi les. If you are lucky, the fi le you have chosen to warp will need only a little work – the warp markers may even fall into place immediately. Sometimes, however, a little more work is required. Luckily, though, when you do encounter a challenging track, Live 7 makes in-depth editing of the warp markers a fairly straightforward affair.
You’ll notice that any markers initially created by Live are not accessible for editing. If you fi nd that you need to move a marker, simply double-click on one of the numbered grid markers and drag the marker to another location. To delete a marker you can simply double-click again or hit the Delete key on your keyboard.
It’s also easy to copy warp marker information in Live – perhaps you have two different versions of a song that share the same structure and timing, but you don’t have the desire or time to set them up from scratch. You can copy the warp information from one fi le to another to save you time. Grab the required warp markers by holding down [Shift] as you select them, then simply copy and paste them to another clip. MTF
STEP-BY-STEP importing and warping non-sequenced material
After importing some material with more of an uneven groove, Live has placed its initial marker in the same position. The same alterations that you made in the previous example will bring this first marker nicely into line.
Navigate to the end of the file and you will see that the markers are, once again, out-of-sync and need some minor correction. Again, as in the first example, this is all you need to do to make sure that the entire file is warped correctly.
Checking the grid earlier on in the file reveals that the previous adjustment did not fully correct things (as was previously achieved). This could be due to a shuffle or groove throughout the piece as well as inaccurate editing.
Double-clicking warp markers at key positions in the song (after breakdowns, for example) and correcting their position will start to remedy the problem. These markers will act as anchors and will not move when other points are edited.
Going through the file placing these anchors at regular intervals will ensure that the markers are constantly corrected. The placement of these markers is not an exact science and their frequency will vary depending on the timing of the track.
Looking at the track as a whole, you can clearly identify how many markers it took to ensure that the track sync’ed correctly across its entire length. Some tracks will require a lot of markers, especially if they are played live.
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