Useful Tips for DJing with Push, Part 2

Continuing with his tips on DJing using Ableton Push, Tadhg Leonard look at how to get looping and implement DJ FX in the second part of this mini-series.  

Part 1 of this series can be found here.

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DJ FX and Looping

Using FX while DJing is where Push stands above other DJ controllers. The reason for this is mainly due to its LCD screen, which enables users to tweak any parameter of any effect without glancing at you computer, something that is impossible with other controllers. You can also use the screen to easily scroll through any FX device you have placed on a particular track. Let's take a look a how best to set up these FX for DJing with Push.

As DJs typically don't need access to every parameter on a plug-in, it's common practice when DJing with Ableton to create FX racks with the essential parameters mapped to different macros. This works especially well on Push as you get to load the devices on the tracks directly from the controller. You also have the advantage of seeing the correct feedback for the relevant parameter when you are controlling a macro. For example, if you are tweaking a filter effect, the LCD screen will display the filters current value in hertz.

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To load an FX rack, select the track you would like to place the rack on by pressing the Track button on Push. Add the rack by pressing Browse and use the Selection Control buttons to navigate through the Audio Effect Rack section until you find the one you are looking for. Once added, you can use the Device button to access the macros. Should you wish to access other parameters that you haven't mapped to a macro, then you can select the particular device within the rack with the Selection Control buttons and use the In and Out buttons to find the relevant parameter within the device.

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Looping sections of songs and adjusting the loop length to various beat divisions is also an extremely important part of modern DJing, and once more, Push stands on its own in this regard. Using Push, you can create loops and adjust lengths on the fly, again without needing to look at Live on your computer. 

While a track is playing, create duplicate copies of the clip by pressing the Duplicate button on Push. The most recently created clip will automatically start to play but will continue where the last one left off so playback won't be affected. The clips above can now be used to set loop start points and lengths.

You can select a clip in Push's Session mode without activating it by holding down the 'Select' button and pressing the relevant clip slot. Next, turn the clips loop switch on by twisting the encoder above 'Loop' on the LCD screen. Set the loop length and its start point to preference using the relevant encoders on Push. I like to set 8-bar loops every 32 bars as this usually represents a change in a track. To make sure, you could preview the track beforehand and rename the track with bar numbers that the loops should start at. This way you can see the preferred loop start points directly on Push. Once completed you can play the loops by launching the particular clip. 

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A common DJ trick is to decrease the size of the loop to give a drum fill effect. On Push this can be easily achieved by gradually turning the knob above 'Length' on the screen. In order for the loop to decrease in beat divisions as opposed to bars, you need to hold down the Shift button on Push while twisting the encoder. 

Although Push isn't thought of as a typical DJ controller, it does offer many advantages over controllers that are, namely the ability to loop tracks and tweak FX without the need for constantly staring at your laptop.

I have been an audio enthusiast and DJ hobbyist since I was a young lad. I currently work as a researcher on The Gadget Show on Channel 5 in the UK where I specialize in all the audio and music tech related content on the show. Before that I have worked in the sound department on a number of feature films doing everything from locati... Read More


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