Randomized Remixing With Simpler in Ableton Live

Looking for instant inspiration in Ableton Live? A few rapid Simpler tricks can spice up old loops " or instantly reconfigure remix stems into wild new combinations.  

If you haven’t already used Simpler’s Slicing mode, new since version 9.5, now’s a good time to start. Simply drag and drop any sample where a default instance of Simpler invites you to do so, then click the bottom-most Slice option from the three mode tabs at the far left of the device. If you’re working with rhythmic samples, you may want to make sure it’s Warped and looping correctly as an Audio Clip before dropping it into Simpler. 

Default Transient slice mode.

Default Transient slice mode.

The default option is to slice by Transient: assigning each detected transient onset in the audio file to a corresponding MIDI note, allowing for real time re-sequencing. In this mode, the number of slices can be adjusted using the Sensitivity slider, with lower numbers corresponding to less slices.

AUDIO 1: Original percussion loop:

Selecting Slice By Beat.

Selecting Slice By Beat.

For this technique, I’m going to use the Slice By Beat option available in the Slice By drop-down menu. Once there, I can select a Beat Division to work with. I’ll start with ¼ notes. Having selected a note division, I’ll now write a MIDI Clip with the same note interval quantization on C1, the default MIDI note where Simpler begins populating slices.

¼ note beat slice clip.

¼ note beat slice clip.

AUDIO 2: Quarter note slice clip – kind of repetitive:

 

Now of course just repeating the first ¼ note slice of our sample isn’t going to be very exciting, so I’ll now add the MIDI Effect called Random from the MIDI Effects browser category. Placed before the Simpler, it’s going to add variation to that very basic MIDI clip by randomizing the pitch of our incoming MIDI pattern.

First, I’ll need to select how many random Choices to allow; with the ¼ note Beat slices, I count seven additional slices after the first Slice, so I set Choices to 7. And I only need to Add higher notes than the default pitch, since Simpler contains no Slices below the C1 being triggered (if notes below C1 were triggered, this would effectively insert silence). I’ll leave the mode on Rnd, and set the Chance of randomization to 100% – but this can be adjusted to taste, if the actual seed note written into your MIDI Clip should be triggered more often.

Random slice configuration.

Random slice configuration.

AUDIO 3: Randomized ¼ note slice percussion:

If you want more stuttered variations, you can set the Simpler Slice Division to 1/8 or 1/16 notes – and create corresponding MIDI clips triggering those shorter note durations. Doing so may require adding more Choices and increasing the Scale value of the Random MIDI Effect to take advantage of the additional slices programmed in. Writing different rhythmic MIDI note patterns into the MIDI clip can create uniquely juggled recombinations.

1/8 note slicing with additional Random choices.

1/8 note slicing with additional Random choices.

Finally, let’s capture the results so we can find the best bits and just use those. First, I can create a MIDI Capture track, set it to receive MIDI From my Beat Slicer track, then arm it to record. The resulting MIDI Clips can then be edited and placed back on the same Beat Slicer track – so long as the Random device is either deleted or deactivated so the recorded clip plays back correctly.

Randomized slicing capture configurations.

Randomized slicing capture configurations.

Alternatively, I can record the output to an Audio track set to receive Audio From the same Beat Slicer track. After recording a sufficient duration, I can simply loop my favorite segments within.

This technique can be used on any type of source material – vocals, keyboard licks, or even ambient soundscapes – to rapidly generate new patterns.

AUDIO 4: Selected 1-bar loop captured from randomized 1/8 note slices:

Resulting captured and looped audio.

Resulting captured and looped audio.

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Learn more Ableotn Live tips, tricks and techniques: https://ask.audio/academy?nleloc=category/audio/application/ableton

 

 

Noah Pred is a Canadian record producer, sound designer, technologist, DJ, and Ableton Certified Trainer living in Berlin, Germany. Releasing dozens of records and touring extensively since the '90s, he currently teaches a wide variety of techniques for stage and studio at the BIMM Institute. For more information, please visit: http://... Read More

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