How can I transpose MIDI notes being recorded, not playback?

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Philasonic
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Joined: Sun Jun 10, 2018 4:14 am

How can I transpose MIDI notes being recorded, not playback?

Post by Philasonic » Sun Jun 10, 2018 4:42 am

I am a guitar player and I can easily figure out my chord progressions using the standard white key black key layout on my keyboard. I am using session view with 8 tracks. I record clips for looping, and I use scenes to group them together. I'm recording three to four hours of live music performance, into loops using this method. Its a lot of clips.

I have an Ableton set with a bunch of songs in various keys. Certain keys are very hard for me to adapt to on keyboard, so I just want to transpose while I record, rather than transpose the clip after I record. I want to hear the transposed key, but not affect other clips on the same instrument track. I don't want to have to transpose every time I switch between songs. I want to capture the correct notes at input in real time, and hear/monitor the correct notes too.

For example, I might lay down a bass and guitar progression of E minor to G major, but I want to perform on my keyboard as A minor to C major, but I want to hear my midi instrument in E minor to G major, and those are the midi notes I want to record, without affecting other clips on the same track. Basically I want to hear the midi instrument sound in the same key of my guitar and bass while I record the clips, and to record the notes I'm hearing, not the ones I'm playing.

I could transpose in the instrument, but then all other clips on that instrument will now be changed to a different key, and I don't want that. And I don't want to worry about changing transpose settings for each song, even if I can automate it, because that is just extra processing I don't need to consume.

Every help article about transpose is about changing stuff after I record it, or changing the instrument plug in. I don't want either of those. My old midi controller let me change right on the keyboard controller hardware. I could shift up or down + or - 12 half steps. It made input very easy.

I'm sure Ableton has some way to do this, but I can't seem to find it. But I have discovered some pretty cool things while trying to find it. Lol

TLDR: how to I play A minor on my keyboard controller, while in Ableton I can monitor/hear and record E minor (or any other key), without changing the transpose settings on my midi instrument plug in? I need it to work just like a transpose function on a keyboard does. Not make adjustments after I record clips.

Please help. Thanks
Last edited by Philasonic on Wed Jun 13, 2018 6:32 am, edited 1 time in total.

jwing
Posts: 21
Joined: Sun Jun 10, 2018 9:39 pm

Re: How can I transpose MIDI notes being recorded, not playback?

Post by jwing » Sun Jun 10, 2018 11:41 pm

Add MIDI Effects > Pitch to your track. Each semitone up or down will transpose the midi up or down by a key. The midi recorded, however, will still be the original notes played on the keyboard (so if you play a C and transpose +4, you'll hear an E in monitor & playback, but the actual midi information in the clip will still be a C.

So then for example, if you wanted to play A minor but hear E minor, you'd do -5 or +7, depending on whether you'd want to transpose up or down.

Then, if as you say you don't want it to affect other clips, you would just open the automation envelope for Pitch > Device On, and automate it off/on for your desired clip(s). Hope that helps.

Stromkraft
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Joined: Wed Jun 25, 2014 11:34 am

Re: How can I transpose MIDI notes being recorded, not playback?

Post by Stromkraft » Mon Jun 11, 2018 6:27 am

IF you want to record the pitch shifted MIDI you can record into a second MIDI track, by setting its MIDI source to the first track.
Make some music!

Philasonic
Posts: 7
Joined: Sun Jun 10, 2018 4:14 am

Re: How can I transpose MIDI notes being recorded, not playback?

Post by Philasonic » Tue Jun 12, 2018 3:43 am

Thanks jwing. But I am looking for something more like changing the key on my keyboard controller. I don't want to capture the original key or automate the changing of keys, and I did specifically say that. It seems that there there has to be some way to do this at the input layer before capturing the midi data for recording, just like if the keyboard hardware had a transpose function and sent the midi output transposed.

My old controller had this feature and it is super handy. I'm using a small Akai MPK mini right now and it is pretty bare bones.

Philasonic
Posts: 7
Joined: Sun Jun 10, 2018 4:14 am

Re: How can I transpose MIDI notes being recorded, not playback?

Post by Philasonic » Tue Jun 12, 2018 3:47 am

Thanks Stromkraft. I'm not familiar with that feature. Its an extra step for each track/instrument and clip in each scene. Not the best for my work flow, but I suppose as a work around it might have to suffice, until I can figure out a way to do it in one take.

Can you elaborate on what you mean and how to do it? Lets assume that I have recorded and transposed using the instrument, or using the midi pitch effect that jwing described, and I'm able to hear my midi recording in the key I want it to be in. Then what? I've never done this.

Does this mean I need two tracks for piano, two tracks for organ, two tracks for each other instrument I want to do this for? Because I think the processing power to run double of all my instrument plug ins might kill my laptop. lol

Philasonic
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Joined: Sun Jun 10, 2018 4:14 am

Re: How can I transpose MIDI notes being recorded, not playback?

Post by Philasonic » Tue Jun 12, 2018 4:51 am

The editor for my Akai MPK mini MKII lets me program the transpose, but I can only save four programs. So I can have four different transpose settings that I can recall, or traditional Cmaj mapping and three others. I can save these into settings files on my laptop, so I can more easily recall them later.

So with multiple files I can transpose to all keys.

The issue is that I have to load the editor by itself, with no other DAW or midi software running. This is not great for workflow, as Ableton Live takes a while to load, and then my set in Ableton also takes a while to load.

But until I have some other way, this is probably going to have to do. I'll keep checking back to see if anyone knows how to do this in Ableton Live, as that would be ideal, as far as workflow.

Thanks again for your input!!

Stromkraft
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Joined: Wed Jun 25, 2014 11:34 am

Re: How can I transpose MIDI notes being recorded, not playback?

Post by Stromkraft » Tue Jun 12, 2018 6:44 am

Most of us, you know, record the notes we play. The "extra step" I suggest is one thing you can do to accommodate your preferences if, and only if, you want to have the notes recorded in the clips in the key you didn't play. Using the MIDI "Scale" effect you can always play back the notes in another scale than the recorded one residing in the clip.

Of course, transposing to another key of the same kind, like from one major scale, like B, to another major scale, like D#, is something you can do directly on a clip by clip basis right in the editor.

The scale MIDI effect tool is usable when you want all clips to play at another scale than the recorded one or when you want to go from, a Minor key say, to a Dorian key or something.

When I re-record a MIDI track, like for instance recording an arpeggiator phrase as new MIDI notes, I just make an empty MIDI track for which I set the input source to my original track, record all clips I need and then replace the originals in the source track where I remove the effect I've used (Scale tool,m Arp). Then I delete the empty MIDI track. It's really no big deal and, no, I don't keep double MIDI tracks around, but if I did I probably would group the pairs.
Make some music!

Philasonic
Posts: 7
Joined: Sun Jun 10, 2018 4:14 am

Re: How can I transpose MIDI notes being recorded, not playback?

Post by Philasonic » Wed Jun 13, 2018 6:28 am

No need to say if and only if. I specifically stated it in my question that I want to record and hear in a transposed key, not change it at playback. And in the topic description too.

I have been using DAWs for over a decade and I understand how to do it after I have recorded, in more than one way. I tried to be clear in my question what I am asking about. Playing it back isn't the issue.

Playing my keyboard in C while my guitar and bass are in some other key, is not a good way to make music. The notes from the midi instrument will clash and sound terrible while I'm tracking. I need to sync with the timing and flow and cadence as well as the key.

I have a large and growing Ableton set with a whole bunch of songs, and I keep adding more, and they are all in different keys. I record a bass part and guitar part in the key of the song, and I need to play along with that when I record my keyboard parts. I am trying to stick to only 8 tracks per scene in session view. I'm working with session view and scenes, not arrangement view.

Piano, organ, rhodes, clavinet, and synth pad swell. One extra step, is five extra steps per scene. Some songs use more than four scenes. That stuff kills workflow. I want to make music. I want to sit down and record a drum beat, then bass, then guitar, then piano, the organ, etc. Not stop and do editing or copying or non musical work in between. That stuff kills the vibe and workflow.

I'm using an Akai APC40 and my tracks in session view are matching the control surface that I use for arming and recording. Adding more tracks pushes my existing tracks off screen and out of range for the APC40, then I can't arm and record without going to my computer to take my focus off music. It won't help my workflow.

When I use transpose on the keyboard controller, I record and hear the notes I play, and they are in the right key. But my controller can only save four different configurations. So I need to load the editor to be able to use more. Also a workflow killer. It requires me to exit Ableton and launch the editor with no other MIDI software running.

I just thought Ableton Live could do it at the input layer, not just the playback layer. I still think it can actually. I just need to figure out how.

If I was just doing a few clips it wouldn't be a big deal to use your work-arounds maybe. But I'm working with hundreds of clips in session view, as I record the music that I play in four sets of a live performance, into Ableton Live. Its going to be over 40 songs with at least 8 tracks each and multiple scenes for each song. Work flow is important.

Stromkraft
Posts: 7033
Joined: Wed Jun 25, 2014 11:34 am

Re: How can I transpose MIDI notes being recorded, not playback?

Post by Stromkraft » Wed Jun 13, 2018 8:20 am

Unfortunately I don't think Live can change that the MIDI signal goes to the recording clip first and then the MIDI effects.

The only way I know of to get close to what you want is to record via an empty MIDI track directed to the track where you record the clips. This way the result of the MIDI scale tool or any other MIDI effect can be recorded.

That's one extra track always connected to your controller and you need to change the "MIDI to" setting to the track where you want to record your transposed clips.

If you want to hide this "incoming" track you could investigate grouping with one of the others or see if there' some other way to lock your controller to this track, yet not show it. That's likely controller specific.
Make some music!

jwing
Posts: 21
Joined: Sun Jun 10, 2018 9:39 pm

Re: How can I transpose MIDI notes being recorded, not playback?

Post by jwing » Wed Jun 13, 2018 11:07 pm

Philasonic wrote:Thanks jwing. But I am looking for something more like changing the key on my keyboard controller. I don't want to capture the original key or automate the changing of keys, and I did specifically say that. It seems that there there has to be some way to do this at the input layer before capturing the midi data for recording, just like if the keyboard hardware had a transpose function and sent the midi output transposed.

My old controller had this feature and it is super handy. I'm using a small Akai MPK mini right now and it is pretty bare bones.
Yeah I understood the original question, I just don't know of any other way than to workaround it in a hack type fashion. I mean probably what I would do is use the pitch effect to monitor as suggested, then if you want to remove the pitch effect and not automate it, you could then simply select the clip's midi and move it up or down however many semitones to get it into the right key for playback. Without the special kind of hardware controller you mentioned that lets you do it, that's the only workaround method I can think about in Ableton. Perhaps other people have a better idea of how to do this. In any case, good luck!

Stromkraft
Posts: 7033
Joined: Wed Jun 25, 2014 11:34 am

Re: How can I transpose MIDI notes being recorded, not playback?

Post by Stromkraft » Thu Jun 14, 2018 6:21 am

Stromkraft wrote:
That's one extra track always connected to your controller and you need to change the "MIDI to" setting to the track where you want to record your transposed clips.
Alternatively you might want to set the MIDI input of the recording clips to this input track instead. Then allow the current manual arming of that track to record to it. You may need to uncheck "arm" as exclusive.
Make some music!

Philasonic
Posts: 7
Joined: Sun Jun 10, 2018 4:14 am

Re: How can I transpose MIDI notes being recorded, not playback?

Post by Philasonic » Tue Jul 03, 2018 6:58 am

It seems that this functionality is not part of Ableton Live unfortunately.

I just setup 12 different saved programs for my midi controller. One for each key. It lets me save four programs on the controller, but each file I save is just one of the programs. So I can save four of my most common keys.

This makes me have to exit Ableton in order to change keys if they aren't already saved to one of the four program banks on the controller, but none of the other ways work for me. I'm working with a few dozen songs for live performance and I don't want to be changing midi keys on five tracks on each song, even if I automate it. Its a waste of processing power and something else to glitch out on me that I don't need to deal with.

Re-recording the track after I have made them is tedious and wastes precious time interrupting my workflow.

Thanks for all the input and suggestions.

Dr Chops
Posts: 1
Joined: Sun Aug 30, 2020 5:17 pm

Re: How can I transpose MIDI notes being recorded, not playback?

Post by Dr Chops » Sun Aug 30, 2020 5:20 pm

how do i delete this i said something wrong

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