Ableton Live Tutorial – Rhythmic Stereo Beat Repeat Rack + Free Download w/ Josh Spoon

In this Ableton Live Tutorial, Dubspot Contributor and Ableton Live Certified Trainer Josh Spoon shows us how to make a unique, rhythmic beat repeat rack. Interested in Ableton Live Courses at Dubspot? Classes start 11/17, 12/1, 12/15 in NY, 12/5, 1/5 in LA, and Online. Enroll Now!

Beat Repeat Header

Beat Repeat is a very powerful Audio Effect. It can take stale drum beats and liven them up. Beat Repeat isn’t just for drums but can be used to on anything from vocals to strings; anything you’d like to add some stutter or shuffle to can be enhance a lot or a little with Beat Repeat. I came up with this rack when working to become an Ableton Certified Trainer. It’s a great Audio Effect to show off the power of Live’s built-in effects. Beat Repeat can be hard to wrap your head around at first, so I’ll explain the parameters as we build.

 


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Note: Beat Repeat is already stereo but processes both the left and right channel the same. This rack will allow you to use Beat Repeat on each channel independently.

The first thing you want to do is grab a loop of some kind, I’m going to grab the trusty “Amen Break“. Even if you don’t know what the “Amen Break” is, you have heard it everywhere, from cartoons to corporate ads.

Drop it into the first clip of an Audio Track. Let’s name that Audio Track “Amen”. Have a listen if you like before we start playing with it.

Beat-Repeat-Amen-Track-Start

Next we’ll open the Live 9 browser and navigate to Audio Effects and double-click or drag in a Beat Repeat to the Amen track.

Add-Beat-Repeat

Now lets press Play (spacebar to start and stop), depending on your default, you will hear the Beat Repeat already effecting your audio.

While playing we’ll want to change the Output to “Insert Mode” (labeled “Ins”). This will mute the original audio when a repeat is playing then do the opposite when the repeat is not playing, creating an on/off Beat Repeat effect.

beat-repeat-output

We’ll then make sure our Interval is set to “1 Bar” because we want the Beat Repeat to grab the loop of audio at the start of every bar. We also want the Offset at “0″, making sure the repeats begin on beat 1.

The Grid size should be “1/16″ with no Variation. This makes the chopped repeat the size of one 1/16th note. The Gate will be set to “8/16″ or 2 beats to repeat the 1/16th note chop 8 time over the course of 2 beats. If this seems confusing to you look at the UI display and you will see 8 yellow slices starting at 0 and ending at 2 to indicate what his happening to the break.

Lastly before we create our rack, we’ll mack sure the Pitch is set to “0″ but the Pitch Decay is set to “44%”. This will cause the pitch of the break to drop over the course of the 2 beat effect. Your settings should look and sound like this:

2 beat Pitch Decay Beat Repeat

Now that we have our template for the rack let’s rack it up! Right-Click (Control+click on Mac), navigate down and click “Group” and our Beat Repeat is now in a rack. Let’s open the Chains List and duplicate the chain that has the Beat Repeat in it. Right-Click (Control+click on Mac) and click “Duplicate”.

Chain Duplicate Beat Repeat

We now have two Chains…

2-chainz

Wait…not 2 Chainz, two Chains of audio, each with a Beat Repeat effecting the “Amen Break” drums.

2 Chains Beat Repeat

Now here is where the fun begins. We are going to use the two Chains to pass audio to the left and right audio channels to effect the channels with different Beat Repeat setting.

But first let’s rename the Rack (Right-Click then click on “Rename”) and the chains so we can keep this rack organized. We’ll name the Rack, “Stereo Rhythm Repeater”. Next we’ll name the top Chain, “L” for the left channel and the second Chain, “R” for the left channel. If you are O.C.D. about naming you can rename the left and right Beat Repeat to whatever you wish. The rack should look like this currently.

Rack Name Beat Repeat

Now we can start to separate the stereo image to be processed independently and then brought back together again after processing. To do this we will use the Utility Effect.

Let’s drop a Utility into the “L” and “R” Chain. In the Utility for “L” click “Stereo” and “Left” then change Panorama to “50L”. Then we’ll select the “R” Chain Utility and change “Stereo” to “Right” and then change Panorama to “50R”. We now have split the Left and Right Channel and each Beat Repeat will effect it’s respective channel only.

Channels Beat Repeat

Now let’s press play again if it’s not running already. Listening to this you will here that the beat still seems very mono and the Beat Repeat is repeating at the same time on both the channels.

In order to widen this break we’ll select the “R” chain and turn the Offset to “8/16″, causing on/off of the Beat Repeat of the Left and Right channels to alternate. You can hear the first kick on the 1 and the ride on the 3 in the middle and the push and pull of the repeats on either side of your head.

Alternating Beat Repeat

This maybe to wide or crazy for many situations so we may like some option and that can be achieved with Ableton Rack Macros. Let’s click on the button above the Show/Hide Chain List to show the macros. Set “L” Beat Repeat Offset to Macro 1 (Right-Click/Control+Click on (Mac)) Set “R” Beat Repeat Offset to Macro 5 (Right-Click/Control+Click on (Mac))

Macro Mapping Beat Repeat

To keep the left and right channels from overlapping  too much so we want to set boundaries on the offsets of one beat. Macro 1: 0 (beat 1) – 4/16 (beat 2) Macro 5: 8/16 (beat 3) – 12/16 (beat 4)

Map Offset Beat Repeat

Let’s rename Macro 1 as “L Offset” and Macro 5 as “R Offset” so we can get them apart easily. Next let’s set these macros to: L Offset: 4/16 R Offset: 9/16 Next we will map up the some other useful parameter from each Beat Repeat like we’ve done with the Offsets, but with no boundaries. If you like you set them you your own preferences. Map and rename: Macro 2: the left Gate to “L Gate” Macro 6: the right Gate to “R Gate” Macro 3: the left Grid to “L Grid” Macro 7: the right Grid to “R Grid” Macro 4:the left Pitch Delay to “L Pitch Delay” Macro 8:the right Pitch Delay to “L Pitch Delay” Lastly color code the left and right side (available upon right-click) for an easy visual aid.

final stereo Beat Repeat

This rack is at a good finishing stage but I will say you can play with this further. I also added a vocal example for you to hear as well.

If you don’t like some the low frequencies in your repeats you can turn on the filter or swap out one of the macro slots for the Interval. That will make for some cool re-triggering. Also if you want more mono signal then turn one or both outputs to back to “Mix”. Lastly, try to add other effect you your Left and Right signal and see what you can come up with. It’s all about playing around to create texture for your tracks.

Your imagination is the only thing stopping you from finding cool ways to have fun with this racks. Check out my series The Joy of Racks and previous article on racks for more fun with racks.

Please share your thoughts or offer feedback about the Beat Repeat Rack below in the comments! We look forward to hearing from you.

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