Ableton Live 4

Configuring live to work with multitimbral soft synths
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By John Krogh
Objective: Set up Live so you can access separate MIDI parts within a multitimbral software synth or sampler.

Background: Our October '04 review of Live version 4 touched on the new MIDI instrument support, which includes the ability to route multiple tracks of MIDI data on separate channels/tracks to a single multitimbral software synth such as MOTU's MachFive or Native Instruments' Kontakt.

1. Starting with a new Live session, add several MIDI tracks, if these aren't already preloaded by default.

2. Instantiate a multitimbral software instrument on the first MIDI track. To do this, simply drag and drop the plug-in from the browser window on top of the track from either Session or Arrange view. (I've selected NI's Kontakt for this example.) Live's "generic" plug-in interface should appear in the lower left-hand corner.

3. Access the plug-in's user interface by clicking the small "wrench" icon, then load several patches, making sure to assign each patch a unique MIDI channel.

4. Return to Live's Session view, select the first MIDI track, and then configure the track's MIDI input to accept data from your controller (either by specifying a port or the USB instrument profile).

5. When you record-enable this track and play your MIDI keyboard, you should hear the patch assigned to channel 1. Now choose the first MIDI track from the next MIDI track's MIDI To menu. This will route MIDI data from the second track back into the software instrument; however, you can set the second track to output to a specific channel. When you record-enable the second track, you'll trigger only the instrument assigned to the channel selected beneath the MIDI To menu.

6. Configure the remaining MIDI tracks similarly.

7. Optional: If your soft synth or sampler supports multiple audio outs, try routing individual sounds to their own audio tracks for further processing.