In working towards this new set up where we want to integrate live electronics better with live music we have a learnt a few things that you may find useful.  This Blog will be updated as we go with more snippets of information about tricks and tips in using ableton live live. (version 8).

The Semitt falls set up lets us:

A)  Play to a click, including automated tempo and time signature changes within a song
B)  Produces individual mixes for each musician
C)  Wireless control of Mixing of main audio and monitor channels via wireless apple and android devices ipad, iphone etc.

D)  All audio processed within ableton allowing for realtime control of effects, eg, stutter effect, glitch, cdelay, distortion, etc, over whole band, or individual channels, eg vocals / beats…

E)  Seemless transition between songs, on the fly set creation, like a dj set mixing between songs, cue in points within songs to produce segways, organic rather than playing along to a backing track we have much more control over the system, flexability = creativity.
F) 5 simultaneous audio tracks via clips in ableton, Beats wubs, synth sfx and lead parts, can all be controlled and messed with
G) Live looping of instruments via looper plugin


Novation Launch pad – this controls the set,
korg pad comtrol – this control real time effects and samples
Focusrite pro40 – this is the sound card we use, multiple ins and outs to take all the inputs and produce the different mixes
Macbook (2007 model) old but still going, just about


Ableton live 8
Novation Launch control
Touchosc editor
IAC midi driver active, for internal midi routing.

To do this it required a number of tricks and workarounds to get ableton live to play ball.  Ableton live is a great tool, but some of its features were clearly not directed towards its use in this fashion

1)  Playing with a click, tempo changes, time signature changes

1.1 The Click/metronome Track in ableton can only be routed not mixed

bear this in mind when setting up a click to route to the musicians, I found that using return channels as the main outputs works well, then the only way of mixing the click into individual monitor mixes is outside of ableton, either at the mixing desk or within the sound card software.

1.2  Automated control of ableton, stepping through a song with tempo changes.

The only way to change tempo changes in ableton is to write something like

Song name;BPM 170; 4/4

in the master scene.  This will only be changed if the master scene is triggered via midi, mouse or key.  Therefore to automate this ableton must send midi to itself, this is not something it can usually do so either midi must be sent out then back into ableton, via a wire(!) or you can use a midi driver which can route internally such as midi yoke or the IAC midi drive on Mac.

First activate the driver then in ableton preferences set the IAC midi driver input remote to on and the IAC output track to on.  Then create a new midi track, with some dummy scenes, the idea is to place a note at the point just before you want to go to a new scene, this note will then trigger the next scene, playing the correct clips but also changing the tempo.  First open up a clip, draw a midi note at the point just before you want the change, then play through that clip, activate midi map mode, select the master scene of the next clip you want to play and and an wait for the midi not to be activated. This should now map that note to the play button of that master scene.  Then play it to see if it works!

1.3 Global quantize vs clip quantize, metronome is always global.

the quantize function in abelton is it’s key feature, you press a button and the action is quantizea grid which is related to the tempo of the song.  You can alter the  grid size, to bars or beats.  When working with time signitiure changes I realized that there is some nuances that require understanding.  The clip quantizes either globally or locally to the clip, but THE METRONOME QUANTIZE IS ALWAYS GLOBAL.  This means that if you have it set to 2 bars quantise, and you are changing the time signiture, if the number of bars of a section does not match with the global quantize he clip can be triggered at the correct point but the metronome will not change at the correct moment.  To get round this the global quantise must be changed.  This can be automated, using the IAC midi driver, I used midi CC 20 and adjusted the envelope of a dummy clip, mapped the midi signal to the global quantize button then adjust the value of the envelope until it was the global quantize  wanted.  I use either 2 bar quantize or quarter note if there are tempo of time sig changes (assuming x/4 timing).

2)  Using the novation launchpad

2.1 Launch pad custom layouts

The Launch pad is cool as it will function with ableton right out of the box, and most people will be happy with the way it works right out of the box.  It has four modes, session which functions like the ableton live session view, fx, which enabels control of the return channels etc, and user 1 and 2 modes which can be used to trigger stuff.  It is worth pointed out that there are two set of midi drivers associated with the luanch pad, the launch pad itself, which is ALWAYS MIDI CHANNEL 1. and automap.  Automap is where the power lies for this device, this is where midi channels, and notes and ccs can be assigned for each button, the launch pad will always output the same thing for each button, but you can change it by setting up a custom layout in automap.  
Launch pad has two modes, native ableton mode, where everything functions as out of the box, this mode is active when ableton’s midi settings the launch pad remote function is on.  Automap will say no devices are connected.  You can turn this off by, either turning remote off, or pressing user1 -user 2 then down arrorw.  This then activates automap mode on the launch pad.  Now you can use the launch pad as a normal midi controller to do whatever you want.
See here for more info:

3)  Remote control of ableton live via iphone and ipad

So now that everything is being sent into ableton, the mixing will be done internally rather than a mixing desk.  This requires a way of remote controling ableton live.  Lukily OSC, which stands for open sound control enables just this kind of thing.  OSC is simply a message format for transmitting information about audio.  It has a similar message structure to the web protocol, which enables it to be inherently flexible and therefore, unlike midi, the transmission medium, I.e. the wire is unimportant.  It has a number of advantages over midi, including resolution of control parameters, and improved accuracy.  However….. Ableton live does not support OSC directly, therefore and OSC message must be parsed, into midi!  That said, OSC has a provision for wrapping midi singles within its data structure.  Therefore OSC signals can be simply converted to midi, the easiest way to do this is to use the touchOSC midi bridge:
TouchOSc is an app designed for apple devices (the android version does not have complete functionality).  An app is designed with a series of touch controllers on a wireless device, the device transmits OSC messages over wifi and then midibridge can be run on a computer connected to the same network which will receive these signals.  The interface can be either a pre-existing template or you can write your own, here is version one of the semitt falls template.
Within ableton live, are series of channels for each of the different signals is created, and the send levels are mapped to midi to the sliders on the wireless device.  Each output channel has a limiter and for the main output I am experimenting with using a multi-band compressor +Rob Dick will then control the levels from the front of house, using only a two channel stereo feed from the sound card.

3)  Streamlining ableton live

So I have a mac from 2007, its pretty slow compared with the new ones, so I had to optimize everything.  Here are a few tips to streamline ableton live, when playing audio through the computer it is important to have as low a latency as possible, that means below around 10ms is imperceptible.
1)  Crop all imported audio files, this reduces the memory requirements
2)  Turn off the audio inputs to all channels that dont need them, eg, channels playing clips don’t need an input. 
3)  Minimize the number of audio channels being used.
4)  Use send channels for effect where possible
5)  Turn off ALL other programs, including ones that may be running in the task bar at the top.
6)  Dont use any instrument plugins, always render to audio.
7)  For the effects, use the built in ableton ones, and keep them to a minimum.
8)  Be aware some plugins introduce a delay (eg wave L3 ultramximiser), this is un-avoidable for those plugins and therefore prevents their use ina live situation  
9) adjust the latency to somewhere between 128 and 256 samples, and adjust the compensation so that the delay is 0