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How To Warp And Save Loops In Ableton Live 8

Warping could be argued as Ableton Live’s bread and butter. Live treats the audio almost as if it’s a rubber band, shifting and pulling to conform to whatever tempo you have set. Warping Audio in Ableton Live 8 is much easier when seen in action, so lets begin.


Engaging Warp

In this tutorial we are going to be warping a 4/4 drum break.

Download the drum loop we’ll be using for this exercise here.

Step 1.) Locate the drum break in your file browser, and drag it onto a new audio track in session view.

Step 2.) Double click the clip slot where the newly loaded drum break is.

Step 3.) Once you’ve double clicked the clip, the clip waveform should show up at the bottom of the screen.

Step 4.) In Live’s Sample Display (shown below) uncheck the box labeled “warp”. This will remove any warp markers Ableton has automatically added to the drum break.

Step 5.) Now that the track has been unwarped, click the play button on the clip slot.

Step 6.) Our goal is to get a 2 bar loop from this drum break. Here is where the loop will start and end.

Step 7.) Drag the start marker over to the first kick hit at the beginning of our loop start. (Zoom in to get it at the beginning of the transient).

Locating Live’s Start Marker

Lining it up with the first kick of our loop.

Zooming in to better see the start of the kick transient.

Step 8.) Right click on the start marker and select “Warp From Here (Straight)”

Step 9.) Live has guessed that our loop is 80.85 BPM. We will change this in a couple of steps, in order to change the BPM later we will add another warp marker to the end of the loop.

Find the “3” on the beat ruler, and double click the top half of the wave form to add a warp marker there.

Step 10.) Take a minute to engage the metronome (located top left of Ableton Live) and play back the loop so far. Notice we still have a little ways to go, as the metronome isn’t quite synching up, yet.

Step 11.) Engage Ableton’s Loop Button to the left of the waveform.

Step 12.) Set the loop points as follows: Under position type 1, 1, 1 in the three boxes. Under Length type 2, 0, 0.

Step 13.) Again, play back the loop with the metronome on. The loop is working, but there is excess at the end. Let’s fix this now.

Step 14.) Find the Seg. BPM section under the warp options.

Step 15.) Click and drag up to raise the number in Seg BPM. Notice how it shifts the waveform to the right.

Our goal is to get where the loop should end lined up exactly with the “3” on the beat ruler.

If you’ve done it right, your Seg BPM should be in the range of 90 – 92 BPM. If there is a decimal at the end, round up or down. Change Live’s global tempo to that as well.

Your loop should look something like this:

Step 16.) Zoom all the way out of the waveform (hold the mouse on the beat ruler and drag your mouse up). Remove the extra warp marker after the loop by double clicking on it.

Step 17.) Add a warp marker under “3” of our beat ruler again.

Step 18.) Play back the loop with the metronome on. You can hear the click now staying in time with the drum break.

Tighten The Timing And Saving The Loop

So we have a drum loop that has conformed to timing metronome and repeats almost flawlessly. Before we crop the loop and save it, lets tighten the timing a bit more.

Step 19.) Lets start by locating all of our major snare hits in this loop.

Step 20.) If you zoom in on the first snare hit, you will notice it doesn’t exactly line up with the 1.2 on the bear ruler.

Step 21.) To line the first snare hit to the 1.2 on the beat ruler, double click to add a warp marker right on the 1.2.

Step 22.) Hold your mouse over the warp marker and while holding the Shift key, drag the snare hit, until the first transient lines up with the warp marker on 1.2.

Repeat for snare the snare hits on 1.4, 2.2, and 2.4.

Step 23.) Right click on the top half of the wave form and click “Crop Sample”.

Step 24.) Drag the loop from the clip slot in Session View back into Live’s file browser. This will save your newly cropped loop into a ready to use Ableton Live clip.

More Than One Way To Warp A Loop

Armed with this knowledge, and a bit of insight into counting when loops begin and end, you can potentially amass an archive of loops sampled from practically anything. Keep in mind, some loops are much harder to work with that others.

Warping in Ableton Live can be done many different ways, this is just my preferred method. If you have your own ways of doing it, please share them below!