6. Context menus
A lot of useful features are hidden in the context menus of Live. Try right clicking the title bar of a Device and see what you can find. A few notable features:
- Save as Default Preset (re: tip #1)
- Simpler -> Sampler: convert an instance of Simpler to Sampler
- Group: convert the selected device(s) to an Instrument Rack or Audio Effect Rack (Live will decide automatically based on your selections)
- Repitch/Fade/Jump (for delay Devices): how the delay responds to pitch changes.
7. Drag & drop
You can drag & drop anything in Live. A few things to keep in mind:
- You can drag devices between tracks. Hold CTRL while dragging to create a copy.
- You can drag presets onto an existing device instance. For example, if you want to A/B reverbs, try dragging presets from the browser onto the existing Reverb device while the track is playing.
- (in Live 9) dragging an audio clip to a MIDI track will bring up the Audio to MIDI tool (note: you need to have a MIDI Device/Instrument loaded in the track for this to work, otherwise Live simply converts the MIDI track to an audio track)
8. Use Locators
An extremely useful but somewhat hidden feature of the arrangement view is the ability to add "locators" to your track. For example, you can add locators for the various parts of your track and easily and precisely jump to them. (As a bonus, the locators are even MIDI-mappable, and the global quantization value will be applied when triggering them--quite handy for live performance!)
Try it out: right-click the the area just below the Beat Time Rule, click "Add Locator" and give it a name. Right click the new locator and "Set Song Start Time Here". Now whenever you start the track it will start from the position of the locator. (from within the context menu you can also "Loop to Next Locator" and "Select to Next Locator".)
9. Don't automate the Track Volume
Automating the track volume (that is, the level of an individual track) is problematic as it will impede your ability to make overall level adjustments. Why? Because automation works with absolute values: a fade from -inf to 0db will always be a fade from -inf to 0db. If you lower the level of all other elements in your track the automated track will then be too loud in the mix and you'll need to go back and adjust the automation accordingly. If you have many level automations this can very quickly become a headache.
Luckily there are many alternatives to automating track volume directly:
- Use clip envelopes: clip envelopes work on a relative basis so a fade from 50% to 100% will scale according to the track's level
- Use fades (for audio clips): this is really only useful if you're going from 0 to 100%, mind you
- Automate device volume or Instrument Rack "Chain Volume" (assuming you only have only one chain in your rack)
- Add a "Utility" device and automate the '"Gain"
10. Info View
Last but not least, if you're just getting started with Live the "Info view" (bottom left) is a great way to get help. Pretty much everything in Live has info text, just move your mouse pointer over something and see what the Info View has to say about it. If it's getting in the way, just press "?" on your keyboard to toggle it.
Adam McLellan, AKA Snug, is a DJ and producer based in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. Since a young age he's been fascinated by the intersection of art and technology. When he's not producing or performing he's sharing his knowledge and ideas through teaching, writing for his personal blog (snugsound.com)