I've been reading plenty in the forums about how dummy clips are necessary to record Automation. I am confused on this topic cuz I have my controller mapped to variety of things in Ableton and it records on the clip I'm working with. I read that this is Ableton recording MIDI CC, not Automation. Ok, I suppose I understand that; the controller is sending MIDI control changes.
So what exactly is AUTOMATION that? I've had this false impression that they are one and the same
can someone be kind to explain....
I'll try to answer this from what I know. MIDI control changes are general purpose numbers that allow you to control things in instruments that use MIDI. Some CCs are the same on many devices (Modulation is CC#1, Volume is CC#7). However, many are general purpose. So MIDI CC# 15 or 62, or 83 (whichever you like) can be assigned to whatever parameter you want to change. So say you want to change the volume of your synth. In Ableton, you click on the MIDI button, move your slider/knob/button on your controller, press the MIDI button again and voila, you can now control volume with your controller. If you record and move your knob/slider, Live will save your changes as an automation (meaning it will do that every time at the point at which you recorded).
Automation is when you tell your sequencer, "Okay, sequencer, I want to the volume to start changing at the chorus of my song," for example. Another way to do this in Live's Arrangement View, besides recording, is by right clicking your volume knob and choosing "Show Automation." Then you can use the pencil tool to draw how you want the volume to change in your chorus. You don't need to assign a MIDI CC in this manner because you're not getting your controller to make the changes- it's handled by the Live MIDI track which uses whatever default CC is already assigned to volume.
Now, with respect to clips, there's a neat feature in Live called Envelopes. Envelopes allow you to make this change by triggering a clip. In the Session View, double click a clip. In the bottom left hand corner, there's a little dark circle with the letter "E." E is for Envelopes Box. If you want hints by the way, press ? on your keyboard and the info box will explain more about each button. In this view, there's a Drop down menu under Envelopes called the Device Chooser. If you choose "MIDI Ctrl" and whichever MIDI CC you wish to affect (the dropdown beneath the Device Chooser), you'll be able to draw that same curve you did in the automation lane and now the volume knob (for example again) will modulate with your loop.
So in the simplest terms, automation is telling a MIDI instrument to do something a certain way either with MIDI or with automation curves without you having to do it yourself each time. A CC is just a particular number in the MIDI language that makes sense to both your controller, VSTs, Live, etc.. An automation uses this number to change/automate something whatever you want to change. If this doesn't make sense, please let me know and I'll try again.