Ableton Live 10 Hidden Gems: Shaper & Note Echo

Sometimes overlooked in the slew of bigger new features, devices like Shaper and Note Echo in Live 10 can bring whole new dimensions to your productions. Here's how.  

Along with Ableton’s revamped LFO, loop-able ADSR and clever Envelope Follower, Shaper is a powerful new modulation device included in Live 10 – along with a proper Note Echo. Both are located in the Max for Live section of Live 10’s browser.

Sonic Geometry

Bearing a similar look to the Live 10 LFO, Shaper is a freelance modulator packaged as an audio effect. Featuring up to eight modulation destinations, each can have its own range of modulation, constrained or even inverted as needed. These can be accessed by the three lines in a box icon just above right of the shape draw zone.

Shaper’s draw area essentially allows you to draw your own fully customized LFO shapes via breakpoint. The X button at far left resets to a blank shape, while ramp down, ramp up, and four additional default shapes are available to help you get started. Simply click anywhere in the draw area to add a breakpoint, then drag it or add another to start shaping. A horizontal center line provides a half-point guideline for bi-polar modulation.

The Grid can be set from 1 to 12 vertical lines, helping provide a reference for intricate rhythmic modulations in coordination with synchronized rates. Snap mode ensures rhythmic precision on the grid, but can be easily disabled for more freeform results. For example, if you set the synchronized rate to 3/8, and the grid division to 3, each grid segment will correspond to 1/8 of the cycle.  Consistent with Live’s automation, hold down the Alt/Option key and drag a line segment to impose positive or negative Bezier curves for swooping transitions.

Global Jitter introduces everything from humanized unsteadiness to extreme  twitches, while smoothing helps reduce jagged edges. Rate can be set in musical intervals or Hz, while Depth adjusts the amount of all modulation destinations simultaneously. Phase slides the shape forward or backward in time, while Offset pushes all output values higher or lower accordingly.

If standard LFO shapes no longer do the trick or you just want to get more creative and intricate than normal LFOs allow, Shaper is a powerful tool that all Live users should find useful at some point.

Musical Echoes

Everyone loves delay effects. But what if you could create delay patterns in the MIDI domain rather than audio? The new Note Echo Max for Live MIDI effect answers that question with a familiar utility that bears more than a passing resemblance to Live’s Simple Delay, bearing the same Delay Time, Sync option, and Offset percentage controls.

Feed Delay determines how much of the incoming note velocity is sent to the delay, while Feedback yields the result you would expect, adding more repetitions for a longer period – though at high values it can result in stuck notes, so be prepared to toggle device activation to reset it.

Input can be played Thru in the default mode, or toggled to Mute, resulting in a “wet only” signal that removes the original note(s), generating new patterns more or less instantly. The semitone of each subsequent delayed note can be changed using the Pitch control, resulting in climbing or descending note patterns. These won’t stay in scale by default, so if you like to keep things diatonic, you should place a corresponding Scale device after your Note Echo.

Echoing notes

Echoing notes

PRO-TIP: Assign a Shaper to modulate the Pitch and/or Delay Time of a Note Echo for instant melodic riffs.

Last Word

More or less unheralded in the main release headlines, devices like Shaper and Note Echo add real value to Live 10 for creative users. If you haven’t already, try them out as soon as you can.

Noah Pred is a Canadian techno and house producer, DJ and Certified Ableton Trainer living in Berlin, Germany - where he runs his label, Thoughtless Music. His Juno-nominated full-length album Third Culture, is out now: http://www.thoughtlessmusic.com/releases/tlm086-noah-pred-third-culture/ - and you can check out his new project with... Read More

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