Metronomic imperfection: how to make scene transitions sound more organic

Discussion of music production, audio, equipment and any related topics, either with or without Ableton Live
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surefinewhatever
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Joined: Fri Feb 19, 2021 11:49 pm

Metronomic imperfection: how to make scene transitions sound more organic

Post by surefinewhatever » Sat Feb 20, 2021 12:38 am

Hello Ableton hive mind. Hoping you can help. I've recorded a few songs so far (using session view), by building different scenes (intro, verse, chorus, etc.), and then triggering them manually during playback in the right order. One of the songs is 105 BPM. My issue is that although each individual scene sounds good on its own, the transitions from scene to scene sound... off. I think this is because of the rigid, metronomic 'perfection' with which Ableton locks everything to the overall BPM. For context, the stuff I'm doing is more alt rock, guitar based, with acoustic drums (played with a midi keyboard), etc.

I mean, Ableton is great for ensuring that your overall song, and the various sections that make up the song, are matched to a consistent tempo, but this comes at the cost of losing the human feel of an actual band, where, say, there might be an ever so slight slow-down, or a slightly longer pause between parts, just to punctuate the move from intro to verse, bridge to chorus... or whatever.

When I play everything back, the song is definitely 100% perfectly locked into the overall 105 BPM setting, and the individual parts sound great and natural, but the transitions sound artificial, stiff, a touch too abrupt, etc.

Is there a way to exercise more artistic control (for lack of a better term) over the tempo when you're manually triggering scenes? Imagine you have a pause between parts that lasts a full bar: is there a way to tell Ableton to 'wait', say, for the duration of an extra eighth note in addition to that bar? Is this sort of fine tuning possible with Ableton? Is this something you would do in Arrangement view as opposed to session view? Thanks in advance for any advice!

yur2die4
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Re: Metronomic imperfection: how to make scene transitions sound more organic

Post by yur2die4 » Sat Feb 20, 2021 3:39 am

I don’t have a perfect solution for you but I might have a close compromise to offer.

If I recall, Live has some tempo nudge buttons, for slowing down or speeding up the set. The bar buttons between your tempo and the time signature. Holding one of those can speed up or slow down Live’s tempo. Tapping them occasionally can also kind of humanize the tempo a bit.

Some side effects of changing tempo might occurs depending on for instance, whether or not you have tempo-synced Delay effects etc.

Okay, so you can use these buttons, but how do you use them in Session View without touching them?

That’d require either using a Max for Live device that you’ve assigned to those tempo nudge buttons and doing automation in a clip, OR using midi loopback, and mapping notes to those buttons, creating midi clips on a channel explicitly meant to control Live’s transport functions.

It’s not a perfect answer. And it’s not quite the same as the hesitance of real humans... it’s more like the warping of a record. So yeah, a bit of a compromise.

chapelier fou
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Re: Metronomic imperfection: how to make scene transitions sound more organic

Post by chapelier fou » Sat Feb 20, 2021 7:35 am

You could put a short dummy scene in between And if you use L11 you could automatically switch to the next after a given time.
If not, use my “grand duc” m4l device or Clyphx
MacBook Pro 13" Retina i7 2.8 GHz OS 10.13, L10.0.1, M4L.
iMac 27" Retina i5 3,2 GHz OS 10.11.3 L10.0.1 M4L.

Greenapples2019
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Re: Metronomic imperfection: how to make scene transitions sound more organic

Post by Greenapples2019 » Sat Feb 20, 2021 10:52 am

You could, in arrangement view, automate the BPM on the Master track to slow down/speed up at the end of the section. You could also set the quantisation to "None" and then freestyle the transitions (you may need to reset the clock when you start of the next scene). You can use "groove" to add a bit of human feel, especially to the computer-generated instruments. And finally you could separate the transition section into a different scene, tweak it however you want, and use follow commands to automate going through verse/transition/chorus.

And if you're inclined you can use ClyphX Pro to control tempos precisely, build in BPM ramps (up and down), and a whole lot more.

We use Ableton with our live band and switch between freestyle sections and then sections locked into the Live tempo (when using backing tracks). Takes a bit of practice but as long as I don't tell the guitarist when it's happening everything works well!

Good luck experimenting.

Cheers
D

surefinewhatever
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Joined: Fri Feb 19, 2021 11:49 pm

Re: Metronomic imperfection: how to make scene transitions sound more organic

Post by surefinewhatever » Sun Feb 21, 2021 6:33 pm

Thanks so much to each of you for the suggestions! This is great. It sounds like Ableton does support the functionality I had in mind - it's just a matter of figuring out the best method. I am still pretty early on with the Ableton learning curve, so there will definitely be a lot of trial and error in trying to implement these different options. But that's how it goes; experiment and see what works. Thanks again :)

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