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Ableton Live Quick Tip: Make a Step Sequencer Using Native Midi Effect Modules

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Even after many years using Ableton Live I still find myself digging through the manual occaisonally. Most recently in an effort to learn more about the often overlooked native MIDI effect modules, and I came across this tidbit:

Hint: Try using the Scale effect after Random to constrain the output values to a specific harmonic range. Using Random’s Alt mode with the Scale device allows you to create a simple step-sequencer.

I had to give it a go. Lo and behold, you can indeed make a fun little step sequencer. Set up a one bar MIDI loop with one note extending the duration of the bar and drop in the Arpeggiator, Random and Scale MIDI effect modules before a MIDI instrument as per below. The key is in the Random module – be sure to set the Mode to ALT, Sign to ADD, Scale to 1 and Choices to 12.

There is tons of room for experimentation here. In particular, playing with Scale on the Random module and  Rate on the Arpeggiator can generate some fun rhythmic patterns you probably wouldn’t ordinarily come up with.

You could experiment further and add a Chord module, and even another Scale module after that.

Experiment and enjoy.

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