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Quick Tip: Enhance your Ableton Live Experience with MIDI Remote Scripting

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Difficulty:IntermediateLength:ShortLanguages:
This post is part of a series called Manipulating MIDI: Setup, Sequencing and Secrets.
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In this quick tip, I am going to show you a great MIDI remote script which I found that can greatly enhance your Ableton Live experience both during production and live performance. MIDI Scripts are compiled Python scripts that provide custom support for various MIDI controllers by allowing you to map MIDI note, Control Change and channel messages to common parameters in Live.

The script I am going to show you is a configurable MIDI remote script for Live 8.1.3 or later that allows you to define default settings to use for inserted Tracks. Unlike other remote scripts, this one actually doesn't work with a particular MIDI controller. Instead, it changes default behaviors in Live that apply when you're using any MIDI controller, a QWERTY or a mouse.


Setting Up

First of all we need to download the script called TrackDefs from the nativeKONTROL website. Make sure Live is not loaded. Extract the TrackDefs folder and place it in Live's MIDI Remote Script directory. On Windows, this directory is located in: Program Files\Ableton\Live 8.x.x\Resources.

On OS X, to get to this directory:

  1. Go to Applications, find Live.app, right-click and select Show Package Contents.
  2. The directory is located in: Contents\App-Resources.

NOTE: If you have multiple versions of Live installed, you will need to place the TrackDefs folder in the MIDI Remote Script directory of each version of Live you'd like to use TrackDefs with.

The following settings will be found in Preferences on the MIDI/Sync tab.

  1. Select TrackDefs as a Control Surface.
  2. Leave the Input and Output set to None.

NOTE: It is recommended that you do not use multiple instances of TrackDefs. It should only be selected in one of the six Control Surface slots.


Default Track Settings

TrackDefs allows you define default settings for Audio, MIDI and Instrument Tracks. It currently supports mixer-related settings only (Volume, Pan, Sends, Monitor, In/Out, Crossfader Assign, Mute, Solo and Arm).

You can define your default Track settings by loading up the included TrackDefs Config Set included in the zip file you downloaded in the first step. This set contains 4 Tracks; an Audio Track, MIDI Track, Instrument Track and a Control Track. You should NOT add any Devices or Clips or Tracks to this set. You should also NOT rename, move, remove or Group any of Tracks in the set. You can, however, add additional Return Tracks if you wish.

You simply need to apply the settings you want to each Track type and then toggle the Control Track's Activator switch (turn it off and then on again) to store your settings. The Control Track's header will indicate whether or not the settings were stored successfully. If you receive a Permissions error message, see Windows Permissions section described in the manual.

Let's see an example. Let's open up the TrackDefs Config Set. Set the volume of the first audio track to -10db. Set the first two Send knobs to a value of your choice.

Now, set the default MIDI track's monitoring to In and record enable the track.

Click the Track Activator Switch for the Track Activator(the last track) to switch it off, then switch it on again. You will momentarily see the "SETTINGS STORED!" text appearing on the track title's once you switch the track back on.

Now, create a new set and add a new audio track. Notice how the new audio track has its volume set to -10dB with its Send parameters set as we programmed them to be in the default Set! Insert a new MIDI track and notice its monitor and record enable settings. Now, each time you insert an audio or MIDI track those settings will be available as default.

To overwrite your stored settings, reload TrackDefs Config Set, apply new settings and store. To remove your stored settings, delete the file named TrackDefsUserTrackSettings.txt, which you'll find in the TrackDefs folder.

The default settings you define will only apply to blank Tracks (inserted by their associated shortcut or menu option), not to Tracks dragged in from the browser. The Instrument Track settings will only apply to Tracks created by dragging an instrument onto the Clip/Device Drop Area.


Extra Preferences

TrackDefs also includes some additional preference options that you can configure if you like. To do that, you'll need to modify the file named TrackDefsUserConfig.py, which you'll find in the TrackDefs folder. You can modify this file with any text editor (like Notepad or TextEdit). The file itself includes instructions on how to modify the file along with descriptions of all the included options.

Let's open up TrackDefsUserConfig.py. Notice the line NAVIGATION_HIGHLIGHT = 0. Replace 0 with 1. While you are at it, find the line EXCLUSIVE_ARM_ON_SELECT = 0 and replace 0 with 1, also. The first line's value of 1 will display a highlight around the selected Clip. The second line's value of 1 will record arm any track that is being selected and disarm all other tracks. Restart Live and click on any empty audio or MIDI slots. Notice the red border around each selected clip! The scene name corresponding to a certain clip, also gets highlighted.

Create a couple of MIDI clips. Try selecting any of the MIDI tracks and notice how the arm record for the selected track gets activated while it gets deactivated on unselected ones, a functionality that was not previously possible.

I suggest you experiment with the other settings found both on the TrackDefs Config Set and the TrackDefsUserConfig.py file and create a template which is right for you. Thank you for your time!

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