Trifonic: Rhythmic Gating in Ableton Live

14 Jan

In this video, Brian demonstrates how to use “dummy clips” in Ableton Live to create automated gated patterns and add interesting, complex rhythms to your pads or lead sounds.


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  • blueoxygen

    I had no idea how to use dummies in Live until now, and especially not like this, so this is by far the most unnecessarily awesome trick I've ever seen. Thank you very much!

  • nylarch

    Very cool. Do you guys ever produce start to finish in Live or do you end up in Logic? Just curious.

  • Bryan

    A quick check for learning –

    I gather the point of using the dummy clip routing is to create the flexibility to gate any track in your arrangement to the desired amount. Seing that you can't draw automation envelopes for sends you bounce the signals back to the dummy tracks where the envelopes are.

    I decided to try the rhythmic gating on a track I'm working on, but after a minute realized I had forgotten the dummy clip aspect and had just started to draw automation into a single arrangement clip . Is the difference here that you are creating an envelope that plays cyclically, whereas I was just editing in a single instance of the gate shape? In which case its almost like you're creating a more detailed LFO waveshape across a few measures?

  • briantrifon

    Exactly… the envelops play cyclically and more or less do act like a detailed LFO waveshape across a few measures. I was only showing it for volume automation but you can copy and paste the envelop shapes to any parameter (e.g filter cutoff etc) Lots of cool possibilities with it.

  • briantrifon

    So far no. Live is awesome and we use it for lots of things, but Logic is the heart of the studio. That being said their are plenty of great producers that produce their tracks from start to finish in live. We have built a really big sound library in EXS24 and other Logic instruments so things always end up in Logic at some point.

  • briantrifon

    awesome! Glad you enjoy it :)

  • dimitri_moshkoff

    Brian, I just wanted to thank you for all these great tutorials and secrets of production and sound design. I wish I can just sit and watch you guys creating the magic ;)

    Your music on the site is truly multi-angled, deep and interesting.

    In the past there were some videos with BT and his plans to make some cool software with his company “sonic architects”.

    Were you guys involved in that as well?

  • briantrifon

    thanks dimitri! We'll keep posting more blogs/tutorials :)

    A few years back I used to work with BT, but I was never involved “sonic architects” and currently not involved with any of his projects.

  • dimitri_moshkoff

    Great, Brian, and Thanks Again.

    I just recalled some glimpses of effects that you were showing;
    a few years back it was cutting edge.. still is amazing stuff for electronic and dance music.

    Brian, do you think in the future you might come up with some tutorial dvds or some monthly subscriptions to what you guys are doing so well.

    Maybe in a longer, more detailed approach, and perhaps even full songs production/remixing/ exs24 ideas and tricks, and so on?

    I think there is a need out there.. Certainly, you can setup a poll and see.

  • nylarch

    Thanks – I kind of feel the same way. Live is amazing for some things but Logic's overall package kind of keeps me coming back to that environment.

    A good example – at some point someone released a free set of freaked out slice to midi presets for Live (like reversing every slice with dub delays) and that's a good example of something that makes it totally worthwhile to dump something into Live and see what comes out. Also that grain delay rocks.

  • nick

    again, love it. very easy to understand. it's so interesting to see all the different ways to use live's routing to create different effects.

  • Tonebreaker // DJ^3

    This is just sick. To this point, I've done similar gating effects either by physically slicing out sections of the waveform from the clip in the arrange window or taking tiny slices and doubling those up to create little percussive runs, etc. Again, the process is tedious but this is worlds better because you can actually save the gate for later use! I can't wait to try this out.

    Quick Question about Live. I use this as my primary DAW and I was wondering if ya'll have ever felt that the Master Level Meter seems to be hypersensative to clipping? That is to say I will render a track that had a few occasional peak clips but the average RMS is well below 0db. When I open the render in Soundforge it's meters show the render -way- below 0db and I have tons of room to gain right up under -2db. Doing so brings the track to a more professional audio level.

    Question for a Video – About how many project files to do you have for a given track? I find that I end up having to break my tracks into a couple of projects so that I'm not working with a single project with 10 Audio Tracks, 10 Midi Tracks and is a nightmare to navigate. Then again, I have a big problem not rendering BUS's as often as I should because it seems so final and I'm always plagued with “Well what if I want to change that little part! I can't if it's mixed and rendered.”

    As always, fantastic work. So glad ya'll are doing this.

  • orket

    sick man, loving these. so insightful to your process.

  • james

    great stuff brian, thnx
    I'm amazed by the way, by your use of effects in general, your mixes sound very open, 3D, i've always wanted to get more involved with electronica stuff ambient etc.
    a specific tutorial on your use of reverb etc. would be really interesting i think, not just for me
    really great that you're posting these tutorials

  • Milan

    Thank you for this great tutorial..Can you tell us how do you use Live with Logic? With ReWire or just standalone do some parts in Live, then bounce to Logic or ..?

    Thank you ..

  • Luciano

    Just started to check your blog today. IT'S AMAZING!
    Hope you keep up the good work.

  • emeidos

    Thanks Brian for these great tips! I've used dummy clip automation before – a long time ago – but not at all in this way, so this is great to see someone else's take on it – and might just get me back into using Live more. I think what's so interesting about these video blogs is how – whether you're using Logic, Live or anything else – you're showing very practically how any tool or program can be used creatively to suit the ideas of the artist. You're dictating your 'workflow', not the program, and we see similar creative processes in the way you've cut up beats in Logic and how you're gating in Live. This just goes to show that with an idea in mind, you'll always find a way to make it happen :)

    Thanks again, not only for the awesome tech tips but also for sharing your creative ideas.

  • briantrifon

    Cool! There are lots of ways to do gating effects, but like you said, the advantage to this method is that you can always reuse your custom gate for later or even reuse it for a different parameter… the sky is the limit. I haven't noticed any weirdness about Live's master level meter, but I don't really mix in Live etc.

    re: number of project files for a given song – Lots! On more complicated tracks we end up with over a hundred versions. I like to make bounces along the way and make sure that as I continue tweaking a track that I'm not making it worse. 'Save As' is my best friend. That being said, wherever possible it is good to make decisions and stick with them and not look back.

  • briantrifon

    thanks! That is a good idea for a tutorial. I don't have an objective opinion about our music, but I think our ambient sounds and textures are possibly our greatest strength and I definitely will do some tutorials about ambient sounds/pads/reverbs/delays etc.

  • briantrifon

    Hey Milan, I don't rewire Logic and Live. ReWire is a great solution, but on an old G5 mac it uses a bit too much CPU to have both programs running. Sometimes I'll start ideas in Live and export all the cool bits as stems and then go to town in Logic, bring back to Live later and then end up in Logic again!

  • briantrifon

    thank you, I really appreciate the comment! I firmly believe that if you or I gave our favorite artists/producers the crappiest set of tools…..they would come up with something incredible. Ideas and the patience to execute them properly is much more important than any particular piece of gear or DAW or plugin.

  • Milan

    Thank you for answer Brian..You guys are truly inspiring us.. Keep up great work..

    btw. Trifonic is the best thing I discovered recently..

    greetz :)

  • Andrea

    Great tutorial, thanks! You seem to heavily rely on volume automations, so I thought this article may perhaps be of interest for you:…. Keep up the good work!

  • Bryan

    I thought of that too, but I don't think it applies here because

    1) The relative volume of the input to be gated will be controlled in the track the source audio comes from rather than in the dummy clip and

    2) With the utility plug-in only cable of -35 db it's not capable of fully gating the audio.

  • Morphido

    A setup example for Logic & Ableton use could be a main DAW with Logic and a laptop with Live!… I'm still trying to practice with this setup, but in my opinion Live could work better than Logic in a Laptop.
    Ableton Live brings a lot of simple creative features, perfect for include them to Logic projects :)

    Congrats! trifon bros!

  • Daryl

    Hi Brian,

    As a musical hobbyist, I'd like to thank you for producing these tutorials. I have found every tutorial helpful, insightful and inspirational. I often watch these videos at my day-job and then yearn for quitting-time so I can run home and play with this stuff.

    Keep up the great work!


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