Use the Stretch Notes command in Ableton Live.

Here’s a cool Midi feature you may have missed in Ableton Live. It’s called “Stretch Notes” and I’ve been using it lately. Double click a Midi Clip to show it’s contents in the Clip View (the bottom right panel of the Ableton Live interface). Select all or multiple notes and then either Right Click or Apple Click to open the Contextual Menu and choose “Stretch Notes”. Now two handles pop up which you can drag left or right. As you move the handles the notes shrink or lengthen. Cool and easy no?

When multiple notes are selected in the Note Editor, the Stretch Notes command becomes available from the context menu. Note Stretch markers will then appear in the Note Editor, allowing notes to be scaled proportionally in time. The markers are a pair of downward-pointing indicators that snap to the beginning of the first and last notes in the selection. – Ableton Live User Manual

Here’s an example how I used it in a song. In my song “You Are Disturbing” there is a melody that plays over and over as the chorus. At one point in the song after I say the lyrics “What are the things you like sexually” the same melody plays using TC Powercore’s Roland SH-101 emulator Powercore01 but at double speed. I did this using the Stretch Notes feature:

There is an interesting video by Andreas Wetterberg called “Phase music with Ableton Live” where he uses the Stretch Notes feature to create an entire song. Check it out: click here

I hope this tip inspired you. Oh yeah… try it on some drum loops!

5 Comments

  1. oh man, thanx for this tip. i completely over looked it in the ableton manual. I think this feature deserves more attention. even though it can’t be used in an actual live performance, as far as i understand, this feature is very useful. I almost sent a request email to ableton for a midi time stretch feature until i found it here on wire to the ear.
    I used to use Cubase, and midi time stretch was a feature i used quite often. Especially if your the type of producer who likes to write songs without a click track (metronome).
    if you load a drum kit or synth on a midi track, disable the metronome, hit record, and forget the fact that your even recording at all, you can freely bang out beats all day without feeling like imitating a robotic beat, and also never worry about recording too much data since MIDI takes up no less space on hard drives than text files. when you feel like you’ve played a few good bars, and they sound good to the ear, just select the down beat, and the first down beat after the last bar, then right-click and select stretch midi notes, the markers pop up, and with a lil adjustment, whalah! A perfect loop without using click tracks. One down side to recording this way is that you can’t set the tempo of the track to the tempo you had in your head when the sequence was originally recorded. But a quick tip is to tap the “tap tempo” button a couple times before you start, which gets the tempo close enough to the one in your head so there is barely a noticeable tempo change after the midi is stretched. Maybe I should send Ableton an email request to be able to lock the midi in place, and set the tempo to the midi. this would be another good shortcut they should add to their sequencer and i’m sure it wouldn’t be difficult for them to program. Maybe someone knows something i don’t about locking MIDI independent of the tempo so tempo adjustments dont affect the MIDI timing… And as far as using this for completely live performances is a-whole-nother work around.
    But thanx Wire to the ear, nice tip.

    Reply

  2. Hi NativeOps. Do you mean you want to Quantize the input as it’s recording or something else?

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  3. Is it somehow possible to stretch entire midi clips, not just notes? I really need that kind of function. I know you can do this in Logic 8, but I do not own logic, and I need to save that stretched thing.

    Reply

  4. Yes of course. In Session View double click the Clip to load it in the viewer below and change the Length parameter. Here’s an image showing you how: click here. In Arrangement View hover your mouse pointer on the right edge of a clip and it changes into a bracket. Simply then click and drag right. Screenshot here: click here. I hope that helps.

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  5. Thanks heaps! I’m learning Ableton bit by bit now. Very nice website, by the way.

    Reply

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