Not having upgraded to Ableton 9, I find it constantly annoying that I cannot write clip automation in realtime. Even recording automation in arrangement view gets lost when taking the clip into Session view. Dang! There has to be a workaround, right? To get my tunes ready to perform I want to end up with audio clip “stems” anyways, so I might as well do it earlier.
The way I am starting to work is to render all my midi tracks to audio tracks before the final mix, so creating an audio track with the input set to “re-sampling” facilitates bouncing any automated clip to audio. Before I re-sample an element I name the “Re-sample” track to whatever it will become, such as “Kick”. Then I resample the performance. Now the “re-sampled” audio track can lay parallel to the original, allowing me to decide if I want to keep it that way or add variation. By adding variation, I mean pitch shifting, reversing, stretching, granular shifting or any of the other cool things you can do with audio clips in Ableton. For me this happens a lot with bass and drums, so I have both the original midi track plus an audio track dedicated to each instrument of the drums and one to the bass in my production template.
For beginners, the basic procedure to resample is as follows:
1. Create a new audio track
2. Name the track
3. Set the audio input to “Re-sample”
4. Solo the track you want to record
5. Play the track/clip you want to resample
6. Click record on the “Resample” track
It is important to think about where the sound comes from when you are re-sampling. When it is set to “Re-sampling” it is capturing everything that is coming from the Master Bus, meaning the mix after effects, etc. Keep in mind that since the “re-sampling” track is listening to the post effects signal from your original track, you shouldn’t need to add effects to the “re-sample” track to get it to sound like the original. This is a good way to include any sounds coming from the aux tracks as well, such as big reverb tails on a snare. It will join them together. You can also send a track to the “Re-sample” track directly by selecting the original track as your input (instead of the more general “resampling”) on the “Re-sampling” track, but be aware that it will only record the audio from that one track rather than the Master Bus, so Aux effects won’t be blended with the signal. Either way, this is a great way to free up CPU resources. In essence it is also a great way towards properly archiving your track for the future. It is nice to have both an original track (unaffected) and a “re-sampled” track which has all the effects and automation applied to the actual audio.
Another important task is “Consolidate”. This is like “re-sampling” for audio clips, but it merges the disparate snippets into one small chunk pre-effects. I find that it is often necessary when doing extreme sample manipulation to consolidate the clip so that the new clip can be further stretched or pitch shifted. This is because Ableton will often only let you stretch so far, or transpose a clip so much, and sometimes it just has issues with fades or transposition, so having the “effected” clip is preferable. Consolidating can also be a tremendous help when you are just working on just a portion of a larger audio file. Consolidating just the portion means you won’t have numerous versions of the large audio file on disk. You can get the one small section and consolidate it. Then working with warping that smaller clip is easier and less disk intensive.
Consolidating is only a way of turning the clip that is within the start and end point (defined in the clip region) into its own file. It does not capture any effects, but it does render “fades” done in the arrangement screen as well as any “clip” based envelopes which fall under the “clip” menu, such as volume, transposition, grain size, flux, and sample offset. Again, this can be a great way to solidify a pitch drop or grain size sweep, so that the audio file can then be used elsewhere.
This by no way exhausts the possibilities of resampling and consolidating, but hopefully it helps.