Performing with Push: Stock Options, Part 2 – Racking It Up

Hi and welcome to part 2 of performing with Push using only built-in scripting and behaviours with Push and Ableton Live.
In our Performing with Push – Part 1 we looked at the technique of creating the entire song in a single drum rack, within a single clip by using the drum rack note mode.
This tutorial shows you some benefits of using this performance setup (make sure to click on the pictures to enlarge them and check the video below, after reading the article).

To reiterate, using this technique is great because without jumping menus or layouts, all of the following is available ALL the time and can be controlled simultaneously.

  1. 8 encoders to control ALL of the sounds and effects in the song
  2. Finger drumming on the Drum Pad section allows for real-time improvisation (16 pads)
  3. Per-pad sequencing is accessible using 32 pads, and at many beat divisions (1/32t -1/4)
  4. 16 possible patterns can be selected allowing for a wide choice of arrangement options. playback is quantized, so the new beat section starts immediately after the previous section ends. (I prefer 8 patterns)

Drum racks can do nearly everything that a full Ableton Project can do. Drum racks even have Send/Return channels within the rack. A common implementation of this feature is inserting a reverb effect on the Return channel, then ‘sending’ signal from the drums to it. The amount sent is adjustable per drum and each drum is sent to the reverb effect without effecting the overall, or ‘dry’ volume of that drum. The result is that the entire drum set receives a psychoacoustic cohesion effect (all the drums sound like they are produced in the same room), without having, say, the tom drums being too boomy as a result of too much gain on tom reverb. In drum racks, these return tracks can be sent from any drum chain on the same hierarchal level. The send returns are default routed to the rack output.

This feature of Drum Racks is consistent for all Nested Drum Racks. So, any enclosing drum racks that are placed inside a drum rack can also have Return channels. Ableton has granted extra flexibility for the routing of these –2nd level and below– Return Racks to either the Rack Output or any of the Send channels above the current hierarchy. You’ll notice that the Nested Racks on the lower levels also have this increased routing flexibility, like routing send channels on lower levels to send channels on higher levels. This opens up the possibility of performing tasks like:

1.Bussing reverbs from all sound sources into 1 channel
1.1 Since SonginnaClip might have a different reverb effect on Bass, drums, synths, pads, it might be beneficial to buss all these sends to the same Send so that overall reverb could easily controlled.

2. Importing a song that contains its own send channels.
2.1 This cannot be done with Live Project files as the Send channels are inherited from the currently open Live Set.

3. Multi-outs
3.1 Perceived Multi-outs to the same track

Besides a submix’s own send/return channel, the returns within a nested drum rack can also just be a ‘through,’ back towards an outer-nested racked Return channel.

Let’s look at some examples…

Tutorial 1: Overall effect control.
Group the kick, snare, hi-hat together in the drum rack to make a new, nested drum rack. On the rack, open the send and return views by clicking (S) and (R). In the return section, insert a reverb device with a short decay time. Turn up the send amounts for the snare and hi-hat until the reverb effect is audible and pleasant. Repeat this same procedure for a submix of the ‘chords’ and ‘lead’ but use a hall-type reverb



We’re going to make a path for these returns to travel to by creating an empty return channel on the outer drum rack level by clicking on the (R) on the top-level rack and then right-clicking in the return chain list, then selecting “Create Return Chain.” Map the volume of this chain to a macro.


Now go back to the drum submix and click on the IO of that nest rack. You’ll see that on the far right of the chain list there is a column “Audio to.” Click on the dropdown menu for the return channel and select the empty return channel that was created in the previous step. Repeat for the instrument rack.


Now there is a single channel that controls the overall volume of the reverb for the rack, even though the drums and instruments have different reverb types. This setup is perfectly fine as-is, but if you are interested in sculpting this reverb bus further, the ‘Overall Reverb Control’ channel could probably benefit from HP filtering or sidechain compression (or SC comp. emulation). Hold on to this setup, we’ll use it in the next tutorial.

Which brings up a good opportunity to talk about saving this song and how easy it is to import it into any set. Drag the midi clip for this track and drag it into an appropriate location in the browser. (Music Library/Live Sets/Songinnaclips). Choose a descriptive filename with the key and bpm of the track. When you want to access this song in a new set, just drag that .alc file into open space (not onto an existing track), and the instruments, fx, mappings, and midi data will be imported. Ready to rock.



Tutorial 2: Multi-Outs of the drum rack
All of the chains on the top level drum rack: select them and group them to make a new nested drum rack.


The current hierarchy becomes (Song(New Rack(Submix))). This breaks the routings we had earlier between Submix and Song!!


This is a teachable moment because it shows where problems exist. However, you’ll notice that any macro mappings that were present were remapped from Submix to Song with New Rack in the middle!!! Fix the routing problem by creating another ‘Through’ channel in the New Rack return section.


Consider (Song(New Rack(Submix))*), where * will be the location of an HP filter that will affect the out’s of all instruments, kinda like a DJ filter.


EXCEPT, that there will be an unaffected stream of reverbs coming out of the top level ‘Overall Reverb’ return channel. Add some delays to give it some flavour.


Now when that frequency of the HP filter gets turned up, it’ll provide that DJ filter effect except with add textures and sounds from the reverbed delays which can sound really cool, especially when it focuses on the off-beat percussive sounds of hi-hats and toms and percs.

Cool, that was fun. Check out the video that accompanies this post for further investigation of this topic.