Check out our latest free DJ lesson on DJ Courses Online, the leading online DJ school. In this lesson we review follow actions and legato mode in Ableton Live.
For those who are audio impaired, here’s a full text transcript of the lesson:
Hey so today we’re going to go for Follow Actions and Legato Mode in Ableton Live, so brief review on a follow action, a Follow Action basically is an instruction that you want a clip to do after it finishes playing for a predetermined amount of time. For instance if I want this first clip up here to go into the second clip after two bars, I can select it and go down to my clip inspector and I make sure the launch settings are up, you can show them using this button right here and I want it to happen after two bars, so enter two for when the Follow Action engages and the Follow Action I want is next meaning it that will play the next clip in the series. The probability that will happen is down here, so let’s set it to one, if it’s set at zero it mean that it won’t happen at all and a positive number in this case will mean that it will happen a 100% of the time, so let’s take a listen to that, you’ll notice after two bars it’s goings switch to the next clip.
So that’s a basic follow action. Now an advance mode in Follow Action is called Legato and what Legato does is if you noticed in this first example when it switched to the next clip, it started the next clip from the very beginning of the clip at bar one. Legato Mode what it does which is different is that instead of starting the next clip at the very beginning it will start it where the last one left off. So this first clip we played for two bars instead of starting the next clip at bar one, it would start the next clip at bar three, let’s take a look at it again with Legato Mode engaged, so let me just select the clips and make sure that’s turned on and if you keep an eye on the wave forms and the curser on the wave forms in the sample editor window you’ll see where the cursor picks up when it switches over, so let’s take a listen.
As you can see the second clip picked up from bar three and that’s what happens when you’re in Legato Mode. Now using Legato Mode you can create all kind of interesting musical combinations and arrangements that are automatic and let’s do that for all of these clips in this series, but before I do that, let’s make sure that these are all in the same key, this loop pack I have, I luckily names the key in the file name so it’s, these first five are on the key of F, this second to last one is in the key of G, so if you know your music, you know that the G is two semitones higher than F, so if I select the clip go down to my clip inspector and go to transpose, move it down two semitones, that means it will put it in the key of F, do the same thing for this one which according to the file name is in the key of E and we know that the key of E is one semitone lower than the key of F, so let’s select it and move it up one semitone to get it to the key of F.
So now let’s apply our Follow Action to all of these, I’m going to select all of them, hold down shit and click on the first one and then the last one and it should select all of them for you, go down and make sure Legato Mode is engaged, we want our Follow Action to happen, for this first example let’s just do it after one bar and let’s just do next for now just to keep it simple on the probability of 100% happening. Now let’s take a listen to that. So are you see it cycled through all of those, every bar, but instead of starting each clip from the top it started them from where the last one left off. Let’s do that again but this time lets change it from happening every one bar to every half bar just to see how much crazier it can get. Make sure select all of them and let’s listen to this. And let’s even go quicker than that, let’s do it every quarter note, so you can see a really fast switch between the clips.
So that’s cool, we got all these clips playing in order every quarter note, what if we were to randomize it though, instead of it playing predictably one after the other, we could randomize it to give us an even crazier musical combination, you can do that and follow actions by selecting all of them and changing the Follow Action from next to other, other means that it will play any other clip after the Follow Action is engaged and the difference between other and any mode down here is that, any mode could conceivably also play the current clip again, meaning retrigger it and we don’t want that, we want it to go to a different clip every time the Follow Action is engaged. So let’s set that to other and then let’s do it every three quarter notes and let’s take a listen to that. Let’s add some drums to that.
And just for fun I got three drum loops here, I’m going to add a simple Follow Action, not Legato but just one so I want these drums to cycle through each other under these different drum loops. Select them all, let’s do it after every two bars and I just want a simple one, so I want it to be next and then a 100% probability of happening and let’s take a listen to that. So that sounds pretty cool, what we can do next is actually record what’s randomly being triggered by these Follow Actions and hopefully maybe we can capture something that we actually want to use over and over again, so the way you do that is, basically just hit record here in your transport and let’s take a listen. So as you can see here in the arrangement window we have recorded our Follow Actions and it is a random pattern all throughout, it’s a cool way in case something actually caught your ear as something that you actually really liked as far as an arrangement and a loop, you can always go and extract it, and build a song off of it. So that’s Legato Mode in Ableton Live, it’s a very powerful feature and I hope you guys all use it to your creative advantage.