Use Warp Modes and Grain sizes in Ableton Live.

Ableton Live - Warp Mode

One of the greatest things about working in modern DAWs is the ability to stretch or shrink audio with ease. Warp markers and the variables that go along with them are incredibly useful tools which should be looked at carefully. Here is an example how I used these features to perfect the timing of an analog synth I recorded.

Sometimes to make my first vocal in a song stand out I make an intro that pulls the ear away from center. Then when the first verse begins I bring the notes and sounds into a center space. I know this sounds a little abstract so listen to the audio sample below to know exactly what I mean:

The bright bell like synthesizer melody that plays before the vocals begin is my Electrocomp-101. What you don’t realize is that the last note before the vocal begins is actually only half as long. I used Ableton Live’s Warp Markers to stretch the that last note. This is something wonderfully easy to do. Inside the Clip View click the Warp button on. Once it’s lit yellow you can now double click on various places over the wave form to create Warp Makers. All you have to do now is drag the markers around to change the length of the individual areas. Use you ears to get the timing you like.

But most people stop there and that’s not using the full potential of this feature set. You can improve and tailor the sound of the Warping engine on a given clip by adjusting the Warp Mode. The following audio sample is the Electrocomp-101 melody Warped to fit my song but with the default Warp Mode “Beats” selected:

Do you hear that last note? Not smooth or natural sounding is it? Ableton can do better. To get there I clicked the Warp Mode drop down menu and selected Texture Mode. I also now experimented with the Grain Size and Flux setting until the last note sounded like it came from the Electrocomp directly at that length. Keep in mind that the last note was really only half as long. Take a listen now:

Most other sequencers now offer similar features. Of course you can get wild and mangle your audio on purpose. The next time you wish you held a note longer or screamed “GO!” for just a few more seconds select a Warp Marker!

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Oliver Chesler

"Hello my name is Oliver and I'm going to tell you a story." I have been recording music since 1989 under the name The Horrorist. I have released over 60 singles and 4 full length albums. To hear my music please go to:

2 thoughts on “Use Warp Modes and Grain sizes in Ableton Live.”

  1. That’s a good reason to get a studio space outside your house! Certain people who I won’t mention by name have a bad habit of “zoning” out and listening to one sound for 20 minutes. I no longer work with those people!

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