Global Groove and Swing parameters in Ableton Live.

Ableton Live - Groove Control

I just released a new EP on my label called Diagnosis Terminal with Miro Pajic. One of the songs “IO” has a heavy swing to it. It’s a very easy two step process to implement Swing in TTC-016 Front CoverAbleton Live. Swing is of course popular in Jazz and is one of the main stylistic points in modern “Minimal” techno.

To hear it work let’s create a test clip. I put and instance of Impulse with a Roland TR-808 kit on a track. I double clicked an empty Clip Slot to create an empty Clip. Then in the Midi Note Editor I laid down a 4/4 kick, Snare on the 2 and 4 and a 16th note closed Hi Hat.

On the top left side of the Ableton interface, to the left of the metronome “dots” you will see a number 0. That number represents the Global Groove Control parameter. Click and drag that number upwards to about 55.

Lastly, back down to the the Clip View and under the Groove drop down menu choose “Swing 16″ which matches the 16th closed Hi Hats you have placed in your clip. Now listen to the loop with the Groove Control parameter at 0 and then at 55:

If your working with a pattern that is mostly 8th notes set the Swing to “Swing 8″. This is the classic rock swing preset you hear on vintage drum machines.

Be sure to check out the swing parameters in plug-ins like D16’s Nepheton or Audiorealism‘s ADM as they both Swing in a awesome aggressive nature. For MPC timings and unique Groove Control patterns try out Propellerhead’s Reason 4 ReGroove Mixer.

Do you like to swing?

9 Comments

  1. Can you imagine tunes like “It’s time for the percolator” without any swing? Like anything else it has to be used in moderation, especially in HipHop where too much swing will make your beat sound like a Public Service Announcement for not smoking cigarettes.

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  2. Do you remember the cover version “I guess I’ll F___ you later” ?

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  3. Really good article. The sound clips bring it home. One thing Ive always done, working with either a hardware sequencer (MMT8 FOR LIFE!!), or in Ableton is to step sequence my hats or other percs in 32nd or even 64th notes to give them a groove or swing feel without affecting the over all beat.

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  4. Nope, but while I’m feeling retrospective you remember Armani’s “I gotta Big Dick” and “Game Form” remix? Or all that old IHR vinyl?

    Back on topic, alot of the Chicago style wouldn’t be what it is without swing.

    The RM1X got some crazy next level type swing settings, best swing I’ve ever felt at least. Too bad I sold mine otherwise I’d post sound examples.

    Off topic, you gotta check out Bomes MIDI translator if you havent yet, and yes I think it works with MAC also. It will make your MIDI controller so much more powerful with Live, I’m not gonna get in depth but what this guy does in this vid is awesome, dont let the basic intro fool you, he gets tricky, the intro is kinda beginner level though. Heres the link:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zZ_2npOAXXA

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  5. Good stuff. For those who’d like to be able to swing separate audio clips (eg. single drum hits) I just posted an article covering a workaround that allows you to do so here: http://www.basementhum.com/2008/02/faking-swing-for-audio-clips-in-ableton.html

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  6. Hi Mormo. Thats a terrific hack. Im going to try it today. I can see some interesting possibilities here. I wonder how extreme I can make things swing around. Thanks!

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  7. There is sort of a brute force method to implementing a “groove template” in Ableton Live if anyone’s interested.

    Take a loop of a track whose groove you would like to emulate, and do the following:

    1. Enable the clip to warp, and set your warp markers on each hit on the 16ths. If the track actually has a groove, you’ll notice that each hit is off a bit from the straight 16th grid when you initially import it, so make sure to move each warp marker to its respective hit (ie, un-groove the loop with your warp markers).

    2. Once you’re loop is warped, copy it into the arrange window.

    3. Once in the arrange window, you’ll notice that there is a new option that appears in the clip info pane. It’s a little button that says “slave”.

    4. Click on the slave button, and you’ll notice that it changes to “master”. Also note that once this clip is set to master tempo, your tempo value displayed in the box in the upper left portion of the arrange window is grayed out, and has an automation envelope associated with it. When you play this loop now, you’ll see your tempo going sort of haywire, but that’s just live adjusting the tempo so that your stuff plays to your new groove.

    5. Duplicate this “master tempo” loop along the duration of your track, and voila, you’ve basically just set up your groove template by automating master tempo changes to create your “groove”.

    6. Make sure to mute, or turn off this track so that the audio doesn’t play throughout the song – it’s just meant to hold the groove.

    Now, when you bring in audio clips, they should be warped to straight 16ths (and if they’re not, then you’ll have to warp them). Once they’re warped, go ahead, and A/B your stuff with the tempo loop on and off, and see if they match.

    Hope this helps (and makes sense).

    B

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  8. @Oliver, you’re welcome :)

    @ffanatic: I write an article about doing that exact thing here http://www.basementhum.com/2008/01/ableton-live-poor-mans-groove-quantize.html

    But i found out recently that Live only ‘notices’ the song tempo automation value at the start of every 16th, so there’s a limit to the resolution of the extracted groove (doublespeeding your song will help you get a more accurate capture of the groove).

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