Prologue and Ableton Live

The Prologue is an amazing Flagship polyphonic synthesizer that Korg released in early 2018.

The synth comes in an 8- or 16-Voice model, each containing analog oscillators, with the extra addition of a digital oscillator. In this article, I am going to explain how to incorporate the Korg Prologue into an Ableton Live production or performance set.

We live in an amazing time for music production.

One of the major benefits of using a modern analog synth in conjunction with a DAW is that you have the benefits of phat analog oscillators as well as the ability to easily record midi and automation. If you set up your project in a certain way, you can preserve your initial patches and ideas as well as retain the option to make edits after recording. The examples I provide use Ableton Live with the Korg Prologue, but you can apply these techniques to other DAW and hardware combinations that have similar tools.

To get started, you will want to set up your Midi channels in Ableton Live’s midi preferences.

Open preferences in Ableton Live. 
Select the Link/Midi tab on the right side of the preference window.
You will see a list of all your Midi Ports.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Make sure that Input Prologue (KBD/KNOB)
is set to “on” for Track and “Off” for the rest

 

 

Scroll down and Set the Output Prologue (Sound) to On for Track,
On for Sync, and Remote off.

This will allow you to send and receive midi information from the Korg as well as send clock sync to the Korg to sync arpeggiators and LFO’s. You will also notice (midi out/in) ports for the Prologue.
These ports will send information over the 5 pin din ports on the back of the Prologue.
The physical midi ports may come in handy if you have older midi gear that does not have a USB.
If you need them, you can set them on as needed. Otherwise set the midi in and out ports to off.

 

Make sure that the Korg Prologue’s audio out is connected to the inputs of your Audio interface and that your needed inputs are enabled in Ableton Live’s Audio Preferences.

It is best to only enable the audio inputs and outputs that you need to preserve CPU power.

You do have a few options when you set up your track layout for the Korg Prologue in your Ableton Live set. You could of course just set up an audio track and record just like you would any other instrument.

Doing it so is quick and easy but your editing will be somewhat limited.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For more options use a midi track with an External Instrument device loaded.

Ableton’s External Instrument device can be located under the Instrument tab in Live’s browser.

 

 

 

 

 

Click the drop-down menu for the “Midi To” and select “Prologue (SOUND)”. Then set the “Audio From” to the Audio channels associated with how the Prologue is connected to your audio interface. I recommend connecting the Prologue using inputs stereo if you can.

 

 

 

 

Now the Prologue will work a lot like any other Ableton midi Device or VST. You can record midi and CC automation into the clips live or program it by hand.

 

But it is a good idea to make some adjustments on the Prologue.

If you are using the Prologue’s Keyboard as the midi input, you will cause a double midi event. When a note is played it will play the synth directly. Then within a few milliseconds, the note will run through Ableton and sent back and play the Prologue again. We can deal with this in one of two ways.

 

One way is In Ableton, you can simply set the Monitor to “Off”.

This method will not allow the live midi notes played on the keyboard to pass through to the Prologue. You will still be able to record the midi into a clip. Any clip that is recorded or programmed will play through to the Prologue.

 

 

Another way is to turn “local off” on the Prologue.

Korg Prologue Local Off

Enter Edit Mode on the Prologue. Then use the “Program / Value” Knob to select “Global Edit. Next, locate the “Program Sort / Edit Page” buttons to the right of the “Edit Mode” button.  Push the 3rd button from the right to select “Global 3”. Then Turn the “Program / Value” Knob to select “Off”. Lastly, make sure to exit edit mode by pushing the “Exit” button.

When you set “Local Off” the keyboard will no longer directly play the Prologue. Instead, you will need to route the midi via the DAW. You will then need to set the track monitor state to “Auto” in Ableton Live. The Advantage to this is you will be able to use the “driver error compensation” if needed and you will be able to seamlessly move from keys, to Push, to whatever input device you want to use. The disadvantage is you need to remember that “Local is off” if you play the Prologue without Ableton Live.

 

Syncing the Prologue’s LFO’s and ARPS to Ableton Live.

Enter Edit Mode on the Prologue. Then use the “Program / Value” Knob to select “Global Edit. Next, locate the “Program Sort / Edit Page” buttons to the right of the “Edit Mode” button.  Push the 5th button from the right to select “Global 5”. Then Press the same button three times to select “Clock Source” Turn the “Program / Value” Knob to select “Auto (USB)”. Lastly, make sure to exit edit mode by pushing the “Exit” button.

Now the Prologue will auto sync to Live if you set up Ableton Live’s midi preferences to send “Sync” out to the Prologue like I mentioned above. The cool thing is when you are not connected to the DAW the Clock will Automatically be internal. So you do not need to mess with this parameter ever again.

 

Now back in Ableton Live, to record midi notes just arm the track and trigger a clip in session view.

 

 

 

 

 

You can also record the midi CC automation of most controls on the Prologue. All you need to do is manipulate the parameters on the Prologue either while doing the initial recording or by enabling the “Session Record Button” on the top middle of Ableton Live.
This really allows for a level of creative flexibility on par with using a VST but instead with an analog hardware synthesizer. Welcome to the future! who really needs flying cars when you can automate an analog synth.
Another awesome feature is the ability to manually set the patch number with the clip under “Pgm Change” this way when you trigger the clip it will trigger the patch on the Prologue.
Everything will function pretty much the same way in Ableton Live’s Arrangement view except you will be on a linear timeline like in other DAW’s.

I would like to add another very important tip.

Set up an Audio track next to the track that the Prologue is on.

open your input/output preferences by clicking I-O on the bottom right side of Ableton Live.
Select the midi track that the Prologue external instrument is on and then select post mixer.
Set the monitor state to “off”

Now you can quickly bounce your clips to audio and save the midi. With the midi saved you can go back to edit the clips later if you need to. Always bounce your clips to audio. Someday you may sell or not have accesses to your synth. This tip applies to softsynths as well, where at some point in the future you may not have the same version, or you may experience other incompatibilities. Printing to audio future-proofs your sessions. By recording the audio you will also be able to quickly create more audio tracks to add more layers of sound using the same synth. Make sure to store the Program Change info with the midi clip. This will allow you to quickly load the patch and edit any part. Don’t forget to save any pre-editing you did on the Prologue too.

Personally, my general workflow is to record the idea. Then do any patch editing and save the patch. Then record any automation into the midi clip. Finally bouncing the idea to an audio clip in Ableton Live. Doing so frees up the synth for other parts as well as gives me the flexibility to go back and tweak apart if I need to.

 

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Korg Prologue 49 key 8 Voice

Korg Prologue 61 key 16 Voice

 

 

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Ableton Template DJing with Ableton


How to Build an Ableton Template for DJing

In my last blog post, I talked about the general concept of building an Ableton template for live performance. There are many different ways you could use Ableton Live on stage. Everyone will have a different approach and a different Ableton template. The problem is with so many options many people have a hard time figuring out the best place to start. In this blog post, I am going to focus on DJing with Ableton Live and building an Ableton template for DJing.

DJing with Ableton Live – A DJ basically plays fully produced tracks to create a mood or vibe. You could be playing other people tracks, your own tracks, or a combination. DJ’s can somewhat ignore my first rule of performing live. Which is, “Never touch your laptop.” Mainly because you will probably have to be dragging songs from Live’s browser into your live set.

Ableton Template Scarlett 2i4Generally, you will be in a DJ booth and have limited space for gear. So you will want to think compact and simple. Get a small audio interface with at least 4 outs. Something like the Scarlett 2i4 is pretty awesome. If you get something with at least 4 outs you have two main options. Option 1, using a DJ Mixer and routing a left deck and right deck into two channels on the mixer. This method allows you to bring minimal gear and just use the house mixer to mix. The basic setup is two audio tracks in Ableton drop your songs onto those tracks and play. You could also easily expand this into a “stem mixing” set up which I will talk about in next week’s blog post. Option 2, get a midi controller so you can do your mixing mix in Ableton. Run one stereo pair to the house system and use the other for headphone cue so you can pre-listen to your tracks. Finding just the right controller is tricky. Standard DJ layout is 3 band EQ, Filter, Effects, Volume Fader, and maybe a Crossfader. Even on a regular DJ rig, I only use my Crossfader to scratch or cut. For mixing, I use the EQ’s and Ableton Template Traktor Zvolume faders. So a Crossfader may not be that important. Check out the Traktor Z1Allen & Heath Xone: K1, Novation Launch Control XL, Livid DS1, APC 40 MK II, Akai AMX and potentially a fully midi mappable DJ mixer. I’m not officially endorsing any of these products so make sure to do your research to find what is best for you. Your midi controller will have the most impact on how you build your Ableton Template for DJing. You will need to warp all your music. Warping songs

You will need to warp all your music in order to DJ in Ableton. Warping keeps everything in time while maintaining the pitch. Warping songs in Ableton Live relatively easy. I made a video about warping tracks in Ableton Live. Warping most electronic music takes just a few seconds. A difficult track can take about 5 minutes. Just spend some time mastering the art of warping.

Organization is also very important. You will want to organize all your songs. Ableton is not DJ Ableton Template DJ_Cratessoftware so you will need to do it on your own. Some people use iTunes and drag from iTunes into Ableton. I recommend just building a DJ Crate style file structure and drag from Live’s browser. If you use Ableton Live’s browser you will not have to jump between two programs while DJing. Learn about “Harmonic Mixing” and check out Mixed in Key. Harmonic Mixing is method of making sure that the songs your mix together are in the same key or relative key. Most people will notice the blend as sounding bad or good. Mixed in Key will help you to organize music based on harmonic quality. Yes, it takes a bit of time to organize your files, but that is part of being a DJ. DJ’s have to organize whatever medium they use, be it vinyl, CD’s, or digital. Staying organized enables you to create fluid on the fly DJ sets. You will be able to react to the crowd much faster to shape the vibe.

One major area that Ableton lacks is cue points. You can use a method of breaking a song into multiple clips. Then saving each song as an Ableton Live sets. So you can drag the clips as “cue points” into your Ableton template while your DJing. I feel this method is very time-consuming and not very elegant but it can work. If you are going to go down the road of DJing in Ableton Live I highly recommend the Isotonik DJ Collection. You will need Ableton Live Suit to use these Max for Live patches. They cost a little money but Ableton Template isotonik_DJ_Cuesconsidering the hours you save it is pennies on the hour. The Isotonik DJ collection comes with DJ Hotcues so you can have cue points in Ableton Live. The Cue points save with the clip. plus DJ Slicer and DJ Looper. The main benefit of DJing in Ableton is you can just use the same software you use to produce, and you can expand your set to other styles of live performance and still have a core DJ template.Ableton Template

Check this out on my downloads page I have a Basic DJ Template you can check out for free. It is a basically A DJ template with some needed effects and tools. I also included a few original Rentak jungle tracks for my junglists out there.

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Free Ableton Webinar

 

Monday Nov 16th at 8:00pm CST (GMT -6)
Free Ableton Webinar focusing on the Push 2 and Live 9.5 new features

Ableton Certified Trainer Jimmy Allison will be hosting a free Ableton Webinar and getting deep into the new features of Push 2 and Ableton Live 9.5.

Austin Ableton Tutor offers 1 on 1 online Training Ableton Live, Max For Live,Traktor, Maschine, Resolume, Music Theory, Music Composition, and Various VST’s. with an Online live instructor. Also check back often for Webinars and online Classes.

To get the free Ableton Webinar Enter code PUSH2FREE 

To get the free Ableton Webinar Enter code PUSH2FREE 

Ableton-Push-2-AngleCheck out Ableton Push 2 and Live 9.5 on Ableton.com
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Time Signature and Beat Basics

Today we’ll be covering one of the prime aspects of creating music.  Before one considers song structure, harmony, or melody, one must start with the fundamental element, the beat.  This is what lays the foundation, and the layers of the song come from there.  To properly understand what makes a beat, it is important to know the correct terminology and concepts.  Music is a language, and when one knows the terms, ideas can be communicated to other musicians.  We will cover time signature, measures, phrases, beat counts, and also what they look like on the music page.  Knowing this will help line up different drums to match the rhythm, for example.

A note is the time measure of a sound in how it relates to the music.  To make a rhythm, one puts notes together into beats.  A beat is made up of one or more notes.  Try counting 1-2-3-4, while tapping your toe along with it.  Each one of these numbers is considered a beat.  In a four count like this, when the note and the beat are the same length, the note is called a 1/4 (quarter) note.  It is also called this because this note/beat is 1/4 of a measure, typically.  A measure is made up of beats, in our current example there are 4 beats in a measure.

Now lets look at some other note lengths.  If we kept the beat the same, 1-2-3-4 (one measure), but doubled the amount of notes (making there be 8), having two notes per beat, these notes would be called 1/8th (eighth) notes.  One note is 1/8th of the measure long.

We could double the notes again, still keeping four beats per measure.  This would make us have four notes per beat, 16 in total.  These notes are called 16th (sixteenth) notes, also because there are 16 of them per measure.

This is the basically how the count works, however measures are not limited to 4 beats.  How does one know what a measure is worth in a song?  This is dictated by what is called the time signature.  The time signature controls the overall count of a song, saying how many beats are in a measure and what notes to use to make up the beats.

Let’s break down what it means when someone says a song is in 4/4 time.  The bottom 4 means each beat is worth a 1/4 note, and the top 4 means there are 4 of these 1/4 notes in a measure.  If we change it to 3/4 for example, there are 3 beats in a measure.  You get the idea.

It gets tricky when we change the bottom number to say an 8.  Let’s look at the 6/8 time signature.  The 8 on the bottom shows that the beat is using 1/8th notes, and the 6 says there are six in a measure.  We will delve further into other time signatures in future blogs.  4/4 is the typical time signature is most music.

The final term to know is what is called a phrase.  A phrase is a group of measures.  Usually a phrase will be four, eight or sixteen measures long.  Phrasing is what is used to make a verse, chorus, and other aspects to constructing a song.  When one has the time signature, puts the beats into measures, groups the measures into phrases, a song is born!  Hopefully this was helpful in understanding the fundamental concepts for creating music.  With this understanding, you can work with other musicians and also better construct your music.

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Using and Recoding Automation in Ableton Live 9

Using and Recording Automation in Ableton Live 9

This Ableton Instruction video by Ableton Live Certified Trainer Jimmy Allison is about using and recording automation in Ableton Live 9. Automation is a very handy tool that can be utilized for both production and performance. New to Ableton Live 9 is the ability to record Automation directly into Live’s session view clips. You can also move clips between session view and arrangement view while maintaining the automation . This video also contains a tips for over dubbing Automation with the Ableton Push and a workflow tip involving using automation on the Ableton utility effect.

 

Over Dubbing Automation in Arrangement view with Ableton Push

This is video is just a quick video to show you how to overdub Automation in Ableton Live using Ableton Push. It can be a bit tricky but basically you need to set the input to non on the track so that the Ableton Push does not arm the track when you select. If the track is armed and you try to record Automation int0 Live’s arrangement view you will also overdub the midi clip. This is a just a quick video demonstrating how to set up Ableton Live’s Arrangement View for overdubbing automation with the Ableton Push.

Jimmy Allison is an Ableton Live Certified training offering private and group lesson online and in the Austin, TX area. Taking private lessons is one of the most cost effective ways of attaining your goals. The lessons will be focused on you and your needs which will greatly reduce your learning curve. Learn at your pace and on your own time. Highly specialized training from an instructor with over 7 years of experience teaching and countless years producing and performing music. Feel free to send a message and receive more info about Ableton Training

Ableton Live Automation

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Side Chain Compression in Ableton Live

What is Side Chain Compression

 

Side Chain Compression enables you to have the compressor react from a separate signal then the one that is being compressed. In essence one signal will be ducking under the other. There are a few different uses of side chain compression. One of the classic uses is when A radio DJ and some Club DJ’s talks over a song that is playing. Wen the DJ talks there is a ducking effect on the music. This effect is automatic so the DJ does not have touch the volume fader when talking. Another classic use is the pumping effect that is common in a lot of EDM music. Every time the kick drum hits the side chain compressor reacts and creates A pumping effect on the other elements of the song. Most commonly the Bass but EDM producers usually pump the synths and pads to. There is also a way to use the side chain compressor so that sculpts the destination audio just a little but so that the source audio can stand out in a subtle way. A great example if this to keep the kick drum and bass form competing for the same space. you can side chain the bass to the kick drum, set a fast attack, fast release, and a lower ratio then you would for the pump effect. In the mix you wont notice the bass ducking but you will notice the kick having a little more punch. I tend to side chain each individual element of my mix to my kick drum, including my sends. I do this with fineness so that you do not hear any pumping in the mix you just hear a phat punchy kick drum. This technique can be used with any thing that you want to slightly stand above your mix. Some other examples are vocals as the source to compress a guitar or synth, in Jazz music you can set the side chain compressor on the lead instruments so it will stand above the others, when you want a lead guitar or synth to have more presence during the solo without having to turn it up, and much much more.

 

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Dropping Samples on Ableton Drum Rack

 

I was having a conversation the other day with my producer friend Levi Witt aka DRRTYWULVZ. He was talking about how annoying it was when dropping samples onto a drum rack and then having to adjust the release value of every simpler. Levi likes to have the release value short so he can control the length of the sample with the note length in Ableton Live’s midi clip view. I then mentioned A really awesome feature in Ableton Live 9 often over looked, User defined defaults. In previous version of Live you could right click/CMD click on the title bar of any Ableton Live device and save the current device as default. You can of course still do that in Live 9 and more.

First grab a default Simpler from the Ableton Live Instruments under Categories in you Live 9 browser. You can get a default simpler by dragging the folder called Simpler into a midi track. All built in Ableton Live Devices provide a default patch in this manor.

Loading Ableton Default Simpler

 

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Intro to Ableton Live Looper

Intro to Ableton Live Looper using the KMI Softstep foot controller

This Ableton Live video is an Intro to Ableton Live Looper and some bonus content about using the Keith Mcmillen Instruments Softstep foot controller. Live looping is a lot of fun and a great way to perform or enhance a performance. With the technology available today you can be a one man band and carry way less gear. This Intro to Ableton Live Looper video will help get you started and teach you the basic fundamentals of live looping with Ableton Live. There are a lot of different workflows and techniques to live looping. I personally am a Live Looper and I have trained many people how to use Ableton Live for live looping. Some of my students started from scratch while others came from a hardware looping back ground. Learning how to live loop can seem like a dark art only mastered by wizards of a the sacred order but it is not that difficult after you master the fundamentals that this Intro to Ableton Live Looper video will cover. The next stage is to learn and decide on how you want to perform. My biggest advice is to think about what you want to do and how you want to do it. Write it down, then make it happen. I’m an Ableton Live Certified Trainer and Live Looping is actually one of my many specialties. feel free to contact me or leave a comment below.
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Ableton Live Tutorial Video warping a Track

Ableton Live tutorial video warping a track

 

In this Ableton Live tutorial video, Certified training Jimmy Allison shares his technique on how to warp a track quickly in Ableton Live. The basic concept of the video is to let Ableton Live do as much of the work for you as possible. After watching this Ableton Live tutorial video and practicing the procedure till it sinks in, you will be able to quickly warp most tracks in a matter of seconds. Even if the track is an organically performed live recording. Feel free to leave any comments below with your questions or any Ableton Live tutorial video topic requests.
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Drum Programing with Ableton Live

Drum Programming With Ableton Live

This tutorial is a introduction to midi drum programing using Ableton Live and Drum Racks. To start off we will be making a basic 1 bar drum loop, and then quickly expand the basic drum loop to dynamic 32 bar drum pattern.

The first thing we need to do is open Ableton Live and load a drumrack into a midi track.

To load a drum rack Open the live browser, select the live devices, open the instrument folder, open the drum racks folder, open the kit folder, and select a drum kit.

basic_drum_programing_tutorial_1

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