The Ultimate Guide to Ableton Live MIDI Effects

MIDI effects allow you to alter MIDI data before it reaches its destination. A MIDI effect can be used by itself on a MIDI track whose output is some external MIDI sound device or before a virtual instrument in the Device View.

MIDI data passes through the MIDI effect, which then passes the altered MIDI on. Note that MIDI effects do not change the sound that comes out of an instrument the way audio effects do. Instead, the MIDI effects change the notes coming in to those instruments.

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Chapter 1 - Arpeggiator

Arpeggiators came into existence in the early days of monophonic synthesizes. Monophonic means "only able to play one note at a time." When synthesizer technology was in its infancy, that's all you could hope to get out of a synth - just one note at a time. This isn't much of a problem if you're playing a lead or melody part. The trouble arises when you try to play a chord, which a monophonic synth is incapable of. The solution devised was an Arpeggiator that would quickly play all the notes you held on the keyboard in series or other repetitive patterns. As a result, even though the notes don't play simultaneously, you can "hear" the chord being played because the notes are played in such quick succession.


Chapter 2 - Chord

The Chord device will generate new MIDI notes at pitch intervals relative to an incoming MIDI note. This will allow one MIDI note to trigger a chord on the receiving instrument.

Chapter 3 - Note Length

The Note Length MIDI effect can be used to change the duration of the incoming MIDI note messages. This can be used to make a MIDI part sound more rhythmically consistent or automate note durations creatively. It can also be used to trigger your MIDI instruments with Note Off messages instead of Note On messages.


The Ultimate Guide to Ableton Live MIDI Effects

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Chapter 4 - Pitch

The Pitch device transpose the MIDI notes sent to an instrument, resulting in a higher or lower part. This can be very handy in a variety of situations, such as finding the best key for a singer. Let's say you have a MIDI track playing a piano track. Just drop in a Pitch effect onto the track and dial in the new key.


Chapter 5 - Random

As the name suggests, the Random device will randomize the incoming MIDI notes. We can determine how liberal Live is with its randomization using the controls shown.


Chapter 6 - Scale

Scale allows an incoming MIDI note to be mapped to another one. You can tell the devices that you want every incoming D# transposed up to E. You can also tell it that you want incoming Es to be taken down to Cs.

Remapping pitches like this could be a great practical joke on a keyboard player, but also has some very practical uses as well.

Chapter 7 - Velocity

The previous four MIDI effects in Live and concerned with controlling MIDI pitch information. Velocity, on the other hand, deals with (can you guess?) velocity data. It's very much like a Compressor or Scale plug-in for velocities. The grid display is like the display used in the Scale device. The grid display is like the display used in the Scale device. Input velocities are mapped across the X-axis (the bottom of the grid), while output velocities are on the Y-axis (the right edge of the grid).

The Ultimate Guide to Ableton Live MIDI Effects

Enroll Today for a One-Time Fee of $10.00