Friday, September 2, 2011

Beat juggling with follow actions in Ableton Live

Inspired by a question I answered on the Ableton forum, this entry will show you how to create a template for beat juggling in Ableton Live, which comes handy if you use a controller like Novation's Launchpad or the APC 20/40 from Akai.

First you load a loop into an audio track in Live. Ideally one bar, because for this template only the first bar will be used.

Next do a right-click on this loop and select "Slice to New Midi Track" from the context menu. In the dialogue that opens next you should select "1/8 Note" and a slice preset of your choice. I use "Built-in" most of the time, but if you want to have some effects preassigned choose another one. Hit "OK".


Now a midi track is created which contains the selected loop as a drum rack and a clip. If you play the clip, it sounds exactly like the original loop (plus effects, if you decided to use a dedicated slice preset).

Doubleclick the clip so it appears in the clip view window at the bottom of the screen. Make sure the launch tab is visible (click the little L down left if it isn't). In said launch tab set quantization to 1/8, the follow action time to 0/0/2 (means two sixteenth notes; makes one eighth note) and set the first (A) follow action to "Next". Leave the corresponding "Chance" at 1.

 Grab the loop brace to the right and drag it to the left until the first slice (first 1/8 bar) is embraced.

Back to the track view window. Select the clip and hit ctrl+D seven times until you have eight clips.
In the clip view window you have now to treat each clip from the second one on in a similar fashion: Drag the loop to the next slice (according to the track position from top to bottom; first clip first slice, second clip second slice, etc.) Select the last/eighth clip and set its follow action to "First".

You should now be able to play that track. If you play a clip, every 1/8 bar the next one is triggered and the whole loop is played through. If you trigger one of the clips while playing, the loop is played from there. Try this on your Launchpad or APC.

But you don't want to go through this whole process everytime you slice a loop for beat juggling. Just save the folllow action group as a template!

First double click on the track title and delete the drum rack. Next select the eight clips (click the first one, hold down shift an click the last one). Drag and drop these clips to the Library on the left (you might want to choose a convenient place first). Give the created file a name you can recognize.

Now the next time you want to use a loop for beat juggling, just use this template. First "Slice to New Midi Track" as usual. Then delete the created clip on the new midi track. Next go to the location in your library where you saved the template and drag it on the midi track wíth the sliced loop. Have fun!

Get the template here


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. OOOOPS!

    Sorry, messed up the first comment......DOH!

    EXCELLENT Blog. These are some really cool tips and tricks.

    I will give the fellow Ableton Heads I know the link.

    I know how much time it takes doing this stuff so I am REALLY THANKFUL! :)

  3. Thanks for the nice comment, mate!

  4. Say man, this is Phonographiq. I'm the the dude who brought this up in that Ableton thread a while back. I recently switched to a new machine and didn't back up yr follow action template. Could you re-up it? Or ycould throw it my way- phonographiq [at] gmail.

    Thanks again, this template really helped me speed along these last few months.

  5. Hi Phonographiq. Link is updated.