Ableton Live 9! Convert Harmony To MIDI + PUSH: Ableton’s First Controller / Electronic Instrument!

The last update of Ableton Live was released in April 2009 and users have been speculating about what would be in the next version ever since… As one of the very first Ableton Certified Training Centers in the world, Dubspot is proud to give you an inside look at some of the new features in Live 9 and tell you what we are most excited about.

Ableton Live 8 was released in April 2009, and 3½ years seems like a lifetime in a world of fast-paced software updates. In the meantime there has been a lot of speculation about Ableton’s future development plans and what would be included in the next Live update. At this point it is safe to say that Live 9 is one of the most eagerly-awaited music software updates around. But as of today, we don’t have to wait any longer, as Ableton has just made Live 9 official in a press announcement:

Ableton CEO Gerhard Behles gave an overview of the new features at a pre-release event in Berlin earlier this week. Dubspot was in attendance at the event in Berlin and we have the latest info from Ableton about the new update, here are the highlights of what you can expect to find in Live 9.


One of the most important changes in the update will be better integration with Max for Live. Rather than being an expensive extra, Max will now be included with Live 9 Suite, giving users access to the whole universe of Max devices and plug-ins available. There are also additional features that make it easier to find and use Max devices in Live 9, and there are many powerful new Max-based plug-ins that will also be included, such as a convolution reverb.


One of the most exciting new features announced in Live 9 is called Convert Audio to MIDI. This will allow users to extract MIDI note data from an audio file and place those notes in a new MIDI clip. This function really opens up some mind-boggling compositional possibilities, allowing you to ‘borrow’ a musical part from one source and transform it into something entirely different, or use your voice to input original MIDI parts instead of a keyboard or other controller.

“I have been fortunate enough to use the Live 9 beta for a while now and my favorite feature by far is the Convert Harmony to MIDI function.  As an artist whose compositions use a lot of sample based material, this opens up so many doors in terms of isolating specific chords or melodies in a song, getting just the midi note data, and then manipulating those melodies and chords to your liking, all while leaving the audio sample behind.  I think a lot of people will start revisiting their old samples and find lots of new ways to use what is there.”Thavius Beck, Electronic musician, Ableton Certified Trainer, and Dubspot Instructor

There are three options available here for different types of musical material:

  • Convert Melody to MIDI is for monophonic material like vocals or basses.
  • Convert Harmony to MIDI is for polyphonic material including even full tracks. In this mode you can take a complete track as input and extract the chords and harmonies in the song to MIDI to use and edit however you want.
  • Convert Drums to MIDI is a third mode that seems to be optimized to look for high- and low-pitched sounds in incoming audio and convert these frequency zones into just a few MIDI notes, making it ideal for triggering drum sounds. By using this mode it becomes possible to record MIDI drum patterns by beatboxing with your voice!


There have also been major improvements to a number of Live’s built-in plug-ins, making them more powerful as well as easier to use. Three of the main workhorse plug-ins in Live, EQ Eight, Compressor, and Gate, have each been extensively revamped, with major interface updates and sound quality improvements as well.

EQ Eight has been completely reworked for this release and had all filters rebuilt for smoother performance with less artifacts, allowing for smoother filter sweeps for example. It also now features a visual display of its output spectrum which can be popped out into a larger window, making it a lot easier to see what kind of effect you’re having when you’re tweaking the controls.

Live’s Compressor has also been reworked, gaining several new alternate displays that offer users much more precision and control. The gain reduction display shows changes to the signal level over time, really handy for fine-tuning your compression settings. One other notable change is an expand button which reverses the function of the compressor and turns it into an expander instead, expanding the dynamic range of a part.

The updated version of the Gate plug-in also contains an output spectrum meter showing gain reduction over time similar to the new Compressor, making it easier to see what you’re doing and adjust the gate. There is a also a new Return knob that sets the difference between the levels that open and close the gate; this enables you to avoid distortion or artifacts when the input signal level is right around the threshold and the gate opens and closes very quickly.

Ableton has also produced a new effect with partners Cytomic called the Glue Compressor, based on the bus compressor of a classic UK mixing console and recommended for ‘gluing’ together the elements of a drum part or an entire track.


There have been improvements in how automation is implemented in Live’s Session View, allowing for the ability to draw MIDI automation curves into Session View clips for example.


Many of the changes in Live 9 are small improvements that aim to streamline workflow, like single-clicking to make breakpoints in automation lanes instead of double-clicking and switching to Draw mode by just pressing B and not Command+B. These types of minor tweaks really add up in the new release, making it easier and quicker for users to create and shape their music and not get bogged down in the details. A revamped and updated browser also makes it easier to find what the sounds, instruments and effects you’re looking for.


Native support for 64-bit OSes was already implemented in the last round of Live 8 beta testing, so it is no surprise to find this in Live 9. 64-bit support allows Live and its plug-ins to access more RAM, meaning that sessions with many audio tracks or instruments using huge sampled instruments will run faster and more efficiently.


Along with the software updates Ableton is introducing a new hardware controller called Push that has been developed in partnership with Akai. Push has 64 buttons in an 8×8 grid along with a ribbon controller and eight knobs and Ableton claims that it seamlessly integrates with Live and some of the new Max devices. The idea is the Push will take advantage of the new Max devices to give more freedom to compose from scratch, and possibly a great way for Ableton to offer a port that will allow producers and programmers to develop their own devices for Live.

Start Dates and Times for Music Production w/ Ableton Live

October 29th in NYC – Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, 3:15-6pm
December 2nd – ONLINE

From the studio to the stage, Ableton Live is used to create, record, produce, and even perform music. Learn about linear and improvisational styles of producing electronic music as we help you master the software’s innovative interface.

Our curriculum guides you through the artistic journey of discovering your sound and developing it into a unique body of work. Learn valuable techniques as you complete this program with a multi-track EP.

After completing this program, you will leave with 4 completed tracks, a remix entered in an active contest, a scored commercial to widen your scope, and the Dubspot Producer’s Certificate in Ableton Live.

What’s Included:

  • Ableton Live Level 1: Shake Hands with Live
  • Ableton Live Level 2: Completing Your First Track
  • Ableton Live Level 3: Production Essentials
  • Ableton Live Level 4: Sound Design & Instrumentation
  • Ableton Live Level 5: Advanced Composition & Production
  • Ableton Live Level 6: Taking Your EP Global
  • “So far the experience through Dubspot is incredible, and I can’t wait to go through the next levels. It’s just getting better each week, and I can not wait to start putting an EP together, not just being able to put a successful track together!” - Dan Carter, United Kingdom

Start dates and information about payment plans can be found here.

Or if you have questions, please call 877.DUBSPOT or send us a message.

  • Ableton Live 9 Tutorial: How To Convert Audio To MIDI w/ Matt Cellitti | Dubspot Blog
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[...] and course designer Matt Cellitti offers a glimpse one of the most exciting new features in Ableton Live 9, the option to convert audio to MIDI. In a straightforward step-by-step process, Cellitti explains [...]

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