Optimizing Loops With Ableton Live 8: Take advantage of Live 8’s new warping engine and editing tools

OBJECTIVE: Optimize loops in Ableton Live so they stretch over the widest possible range, with the best possible fidelity. BACKGROUND: Although Live was always good at parsing files to create loops, you couldn’t edit the loop transient markers to improve the stretching beyond Live’s built-in algorithms—but now you can. We’ll take a guitar riff recorded into Live with slightly shaky timing where Live didn’t detect the transients perfectly, and turn it into a rock-solid rhythm part.
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OBJECTIVE: Optimize loops in Ableton Live so they stretch over the widest possible range, with the best possible fidelity.
BACKGROUND: Although Live was always good at parsing files to create loops, you couldn’t edit the loop transient markers to improve the stretching beyond Live’s built-in algorithms—but now you can. We’ll take a guitar riff recorded into Live with slightly shaky timing where Live didn’t detect the transients perfectly, and turn it into a rock-solid rhythm part.

STEPS

1. In a Clip’s Sample Editor, enable Warp and Loop (because this is a fairly percussive part, the Beats algorithm is selected).

0.1-warpandloop

2. If a gray transient marker isn’t right at the start of a transient, shift-click on the marker (transient markers are outlined in blue in the screen shot) and drag left or right to line it up with the transient start. When dragging, the marker turns into a square (outlined in red).

0.2-move-markers

3. If there are transient markers during sustained parts where there is no beat, the loop will probably stretch better without them. Right-click on the marker(s) and select “Delete Transient(s).”

0.3-delete-markers

4. Ctrl-drag a transient marker left or right; it turns yellow and becomes a Warp marker. The adjacent left and right transient markers “anchor” the audio at those points, so warping affects only the audio between the two anchors. The screen shot shows all markers adjusted for the desired timing.

0.4-edit-warp-markers

5. To export the edited loop, go File > Export Audio/Video, choose your desired options, then click on “OK.” Navigate to where you want to save the file, name it, and save it.

0.5-export

TIPS

-In Step 3, drag across multiple transients in the clip overview to select and then delete them.
-In Step 4, dragging to a beat other than the expected beat can produce cool results. For example, add a transient marker in a note’s decay and shift it left, toward the attack, to “tighten” the sound by reducing the decay length.
-Also in Step 4, if you drag instead of Ctrl-drag, other marker locations will move proportionately instead of “anchor” the waveform.