Posts Tagged ‘ableton live’

Livid Alias 8 remote script for Ableton Live 9

I found myself in need of a basic mixer-type control surface. I’m quite fond of my Ohm64, so I picked up an Alias 8 from Livid.

Livid Alias 8

This is my Alias 8.

Oddly, they don’t seem to have an official Live 9 remote script. So naturally I wrote my own.

What does it do?

Each channel strip is set up like so:

  • Top knob is unassigned– MIDI map to whatever you like.
  • Bottom knob is pan.
  • Fader is level.
  • Top button is solo/cue.
  • Bottom button is arm.

The big fader is master volume. The encoder, when in CC mode, scrolls through the tracks.

That’s it! If you want to do straightforward record-and-mix type work, this is the map for you.

How does one get it?

It’s on github!

If github ain’t your thang, download here:

To install on Mac:

  • Unzip the file.
  • Find and open your Live app bundle. (Right-click and choose “Show Package Contents”)
  • Go to Contents -> App-Resources -> MIDI Remote Scripts.
  • Drop the “Alias8” directory there.

The script should also work on Windows, but I don’t know how to find your MIDI Remote Scripts directory.

NOTE: This script assumes the encoder above the master fader is in relative (infinite) mode. Out of the box, it’s configured in absolute mode, so you’ll need to change it. The easiest way to do so is with Livid’s web editor.


Ohm64 Live remote script for DJing

I got an Ohm64!  Dang it’s pretty.

There’s an Ableton Live remote script for the Ohm64 kicking around, and it’s pretty good.  But I wanted a slightly different setup, so I created an alternate script.  The basic idea is this: the left is like a DJ mixer.  The middle launches clips.  The right is for effects.


  • The faders and knobs on the left control the levels and EQ on the first four tracks.  I wanted dedicated EQ knobs for each track, like a DJ mixer, so I could do tricks like bass swapping.  If you drop an EQ3 on your track, the knobs will map to low/mid/high just like you’d expect.  If you drop in an EQ8, I think they’ll map to the first three EQs.
  • The buttons on the left cue the first four tracks, so you can easily cue any combination of tracks.  To enable cuing multiple tracks at once, you need to go to Preferences > Record Warp Launch, find “Exclusive,” and disable “Solo.”
  • The knobs and faders on the right control the current selected effect, except for
  • The last fader, which controls master volume.  I decided that I needed to adjust master volume more often than I needed all eight controls in a rack.
  • The buttons on the right select the active track from the first four tracks.  My reasoning for putting this on the right was so that the light would indicate which track’s effects you’re controlling.
  • The first two transport buttons control tempo. The F4 button decreases tempo by 1 BPM and F5 increases tempo.  I never hit start and stop during performance, but I often want to gradually change tempo.

Everything else is the same as the original remote script:

  • The grid launches clips.
  • The crossfader crossfades.
  • The remaining four transport buttons move the active rectangle.

Download the script here:

To install:

  • Unzip the file.
  • Find and open your Live app bundle.
  • Go to Contents -> App-Resources -> MIDI Remote Scripts.
  • Drop the “Ohm64DJ” directory there.

My alternate remote script shows up as “Ohm64DJ,” so you can keep both around and switch between them as needed.  (It’s actually really annoying to open up preferences in order to switch.)

Since this script controls only four tracks, there are 24 unmapped buttons in the grid, which seems sort of silly.  But I’m sure I’ll come up with something useful for them.

Finally, huge thanks to Michael at and Hanz at _Framework for publishing their scripts and findings.

Superlofi Live footswitch revisited

Did you know that rubber cement is the least useful adhesive known to man?  The only thing going for it is easy removal.  Really, far too easy removal.

So!  I made two improvements to my DIY Live footswitch.

First I pulled out the white springy parts on the surrounding keys so you don’t accidentally hit space when you’re trying to hit B.  (In case you’re not a Live user, space is the default key to stop all audio.)

Second I gave up on gluing the discs to the keys and elected to screw them on instead.  Drilling a hole in something as small as a computer key is a bit tricky, but it’s nothing a pair of vise grips can’t handle.

A better way to mount footswitches

Now the footswitches don’t slip off all the time.  Truly, this dismal hack is road worthy.

A Live footswitch for under ten bucks

I need a footswitch for Live so I can record and trigger clips while playing with both hands.  So I made one!  I wish I could claim credit for this ingeniously crappy foot controller, but I definitely heard the idea somewhere else earlier.  I can’t remember who or where, so whoever you are, props.

Here’s the basic, stolen idea: take a keyboard.  Rip out most of the keys.  Put something big on the remaining keys so you can mash them with your foot.  Map those keys in Ableton.

Here are my supplies:

  • An old keyboard.  The computer kind, not the MIDI kind.  I have tons of these kicking around; you can also find them easily at thrift stores.
  • A pack of those rubber discs that go under furniture to keep from scratching your floor.
  • Rubber cement.  The latter two cost a combined $7.10 at the hardware store.

Building a foot controller for Live

First I pulled all the keys off the bottom rows except for Z, V, M, and /.

After looking at the keyboard, then looking at my giant feet, I realized it would be impossible to hit just one of the middle buttons with shoes on.  So I gave up on a four-switch model and decided to go with three: Z, B, and period.

I forgot how huge my feet are

Next I used rubber cement to attach the keys to the rubber feet.  After a false start I found it necessary to use a giant blob of cement on the keys, enough to fill the whole indentation where your finger goes.

Mounting the footswitches

After letting it dry, I put the keys back on the keyboard.  I flipped them upside-down so the new footswitches would tilt down toward my feet, making them much easier to reach.

The finished footswitch

Finally, I plugged the keyboard into a spare USB port and mapped my footswitches to clip slots.  That’s it!  I have a super crappy but functional footswitch.  It cost less than ten bucks and took less than an hour of effort.

A quick update

1. Live 7 is good.

2. The Faderfox LC2 is really good.

3. A clean install of Windows only seems like a good idea before you do it.

3a. Damn serial numbers and activations.

3b. I am almost ready to kick Buzz to the curb.

3b(i). Emphasis on “almost.”

4. I am working on a new audio software project.

4a. I do not yet know how serious it is.

4b. Boost.Python is a godsend.

How to keep the microKorg arpeggiator in sync

Last week Aaron and I were raving it up– he with his Doepfer, I with my microKorg.  We were frustrated, however, by our difficulty getting the microKorg to stay synced up.  After much investigation, I unearthed the cause and solution to our problem.

When the microKorg’s clock is set to EXT, it accepts MIDI clock from the master.  MIDI clock is a series of ticks sent at regular intervals.  The synth can calculate the master tempo from the time between ticks.  But MIDI clock contains no information about bars and beats.  (Other MIDI protocols do, but the microKorg does not accept them as far as I can tell.)  So the synth matches its tempo to the master, but it has no knowledge of how to line up the first beat with the master.  The arpeggiator might start on the beat just by chance, but it’s just as likely to start halfway between beats.

After much investigation, I discovered that you can force the microKorg to jump back to the first beat in time with your host.  Details after the jump.


Why Johnny can’t mix

In one of my Beatport diatribes last week, I mentioned that I have a hard time DJing in Live. I’ve been puzzling over why. Ignore for the moment all the cool effects and re-arrangement possibilities that Live offers. Since Live keeps everything tempo-synced, once I’ve warped my tracks, I should be able to make the exact same mix I do on my decks with less effort. Right?

But it hasn’t worked out that way. My Live mixes come out sort of feeble.

I recently thought of a simple explanation: I don’t know my digital dance music nearly as well as I know my vinyl. While doing the actual beatmatching, I’m forced to listen fairly closely to both records. I also tend to let them play together for a while after the beats are aligned but before actually starting the transition. And beatmatching is something that you have to practice a bit, so I’m doing this over and over. In the process, I internalize the structure of the tracks and learn where transitions and breaks are. And that is the key to making two tracks flow together, not crossfaders or EQs.

If that’s the case, the solution is pretty simple: I just need to listen to all my digital dance tracks, all the way through, with an attentive ear. It may seem odd that I haven’t done this already, but it can be kind of weird to listen to house or techno songs straight through outside of a mix.

Dear Beatport: Please be slightly less terrible.

I am not a Luddite. Although I will always have a soft spot in my heart for actual vinyl, I am on board the digital bandwagon. Bring on the MP3s! (Ignore the fact that I am hopelessly inept at DJing in Live.) And I like a lot of things about Beatport: the broad selection of both big club hits and obscure niche tunes; the fast, high-bitrate downloads; the reasonable prices.

But their website is horrible.

Do not make a large, complicated web application in Flash! Just don’t do it! Yes, Beatport looks all high-tech and pretty. It’s also horribly difficult to use. Your browser’s back and foward buttons don’t work; if you use them, you have to start your Beatport session all over. The Beatport back and forward are in a weird place. Searching in the page doesn’t work. Bookmarks don’t work. Tabbed browsing doesn’t work. The fonts are too small, and you can’t resize them. And don’t forget the minor detail that the site was completely unusable in Linux for about a year.

The sad part is that creating an elaborate custom Flash app like this from scratch is incredibly expensive. They could have taken an open-source, web standards compliant shopping cart application and customized it for a third of the cost. (Beatport, please contact us first next time. Or hey, it’s not too late for us to fix your site…)

Eight years ago, usability expert Jakob Nielsen wrote a great summary of why Flash is “99% bad.” Sadly, Beatport must have missed the memo.

Pondular demo video

A couple years ago I made an experimental soft synth called Pondular for the KVR Audio Developer Challenge. The sound engine is a pretty generic VA, but it has a physics-based interface that is fun to watch and occasionally hypnotic. Here’s a short video demonstration:

Tech note: I would like to make more video demos, but I need easier screencasting software. Suggestions?

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