In the last Q&A video for the Ableton Cookbook email list, I discussed how to layer MIDI clips together so that you have multiple MIDI Clips playing the same MIDI Instrument Rack using MIDI routing. This is a really cool way to experiment making complex melodic patterns out of simpler parts. I presented this as an alternative to Extract Chain.
There were questions, though.
The most common question was: How do you apply this to Drum Racks?
So, I thought I’d take a moment and talk about layering MIDI Clips with Drum Racks.
What About Extract Chain?
First of all, for those of you who haven’t experienced Extract Chain…get yourself ready.
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Extract Chains is a command that is found by right (cntrl) -clicking a drum rack chain in the session view. If you don’t see the individual chains for each cell in the Drum Rack, you need to click the small arrow in the Drum Rack’s track title. Once you’ve selected the chain and selected Extract Chains, Ableton will create a new track with a new set of clips that includes only the notes played by your selected chain. So, if I select the “Kick” cell of my Drum Rack and choose Extract Chains, then I will end up with a new track with the clips of all the notes that the kick plays in all the clips on the original tracks.
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Extract chains is a great, GREAT tool to use when you are making a track one of whose main characteristics is the drum pattern. Since you make, say, the snare drum its own track, it makes it easier to lay it out on the Arrangement view. That way, you can get really exact with your automation, etc. A good example of this is Minimal, Kompakt-style tunes. How many DJ Koze tracks come down to changing the amount of delay on the snare? A lot. Since, in this music, little changes in the drum pattern are a big part of the composition, it is nice to be able to lay them out over multiple bars, as opposed to the short-sightedness of the Session View. MHO.
One thing to keep in mind, though, is that they are not kidding around when they use the term “Extract.” The extracted notes are no longer in the original clip and the actual Simpler which plays the Kick Drum (remember that each sound in a Drum Rack is actually a separate Simpler) is now absent from the original track.
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There’s a couple of reasons why this isn’t totally ideal. First, it is really best done after you’ve totally completed your Drum Rack programming. Why? Because now you won’t be able to see all of the percussion notes together, which can make it difficult to create cohesive patterns. Second, since the original Drum Rack is basically mutilated, you can no longer really effectively play the Drum Rack with your controller. This is a bummer even if you (like me) are no pro on the MPC Pads, because now you can’t solo sounds, etc. Basically, if you use Extract Chains, you are kind of sacrificing some of the cool stuff about Drum Racks.
This post is getting deep, so I’m going to split it into two parts. Tune in next time for my tips about how to overcome the shortcomings of Extract Chains and open some new horizons in your drum programming.
P.S. Are you on the Ableton Cookbook email list yet? If not, then GET FAMILIAR! And, by all means, leave me a comment if you have questions about Extract Chains.