I have a large collection of mini tricks I use when producing music. When looking for a way to create some variation in arrangements most of the time I consider things like changing notes, drum patterns or adding effects in and out at certain parts. I also like to play with the speed of a individual clips. This technique can add tension to a chorus or showcase a serious lyric.
Ableton Live has a nice feature that allows you to half or double a Clips tempo. As with most things in Live this is really easy to do. This will work on either Midi or audio Clips. You have to have Warp on for the feature to work on an audio Clip. First, double click on a Clip to open it in the Clip View which runs along the bottom area of Ableton Live. Next, find the :2 and *2 buttons. These are found under the Clip’s tempo number. To make a clip play at half speed click :2 and for double speed hit *2. Of course you can keep clicking either button to take things into extremes. Lastly, you will want to adjust the Clip’s loop markers to only encompass the new note length.
While this is a ridiculously obvious feature of Live, I do think it worth a blog post to get it into one’s radar. We all get used to working in a certain way and our eyes pass over the unfamiliar. I use this technique in a song off my album Attack Decay called You Are Disturbing. Listen to the following audio sample. There is a clear repeating main melody. After I say “Tell me the things you like to do sexually.” which is 50 seconds in on the audio clip, the same exact melody plays back at 2x the tempo. I used a different synth, a TC Powercore01 for the double speed clip. I think it makes a nice statement:
Do you ever mess around with tempos within your own songs?
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I love Ableton Live and use it as my main DAW. I simply can’t work on a sequencer without something like Ableton’s “session view” to spark ideas and get the basic concepts for the song sorted out. Did you know that in session view if you name a scene with a number followed by “bpm” that scene will launch at the speed specified?
Sometimes I use this trick to launch into half speed mode for a breakdown. Another idea is to make the first scene launch at something like 40bpm and use the rolling slow sounds as an intro to the song. Give it a try!