Chopping Tracks To Clips For Mixing Purposes

clips.pngOk, I started to chop the ten tracks for the compilation mix into small clip sections in Ableton Live. Even after a couple of minutes it made sense. This mix, when ready, will be better than a mix with tracks lined up from beginning to end — as I could mix and match clips, even from more than two tracks, to make something new.

It just has to be one of those live takes, or I will do multiple ones, and select the most interesting out.

Basically, what I’m doing is to load in the original 16-bit WAV file, make sure the warping is fine, then hit command-D to duplicate the track and make various loop parts for individual clips, starting from the beginning. When that part is done, I just hit duplicate again, and move the loop point to the next interesting section. This all is saved into a self-contained project, but if I want to I could also export the individual clips per track into separate projects. I might do that later, for Live DJ purposes.

I have my own cryptic way to label the clips, I usually means intro, Part one and Part two is various main parts, and they have sub-labels. The empty parts are marked as a starting E, ends with End. I make sub-labels with more info, such as I – drums only. This way I know that this section has drums only, so it could be used with other clips from other tracks that don’t have drums, for instant mixing purposes.

I also noticed that by using certain sections I could make instance minimalism! Or then using specific other sections it would sound like progressive electro. Nice, less work.

I’m not too strict on the labeling format, as long as the labels make sense.

OK, two done, eight more to go tonight.


  1. Great post, thanks! I will try this out, as I look to expand on my dj mixing. Do you trigger one piece of a track to the next manually or set up some kind of command action?

  2. I personally like to trigger things by hand, so I have more control. But yes, you could even set a default command action sequence so it plays each clip from beginning to end, so it would actually sound exactly like someone would play the whole track without any clips.

  3. Your posts on breaking into clips have really grown on me- I think I’m going to give it a try. Although I have to figure out a better system of mouseless triggering.

  4. Yes, Ableton Live 6.0 is close, but not perfect about mouseless handling. Especially the file browsing is not doable without external solutions to map MIDI to mouse movements…

  5. Great- I started breaking into clips tonight and it is working great for me. Seems like a lot more potential, and just remove the loop point and you can play the whole song normally. I am a little slow thanks for the help. Is there a way to trigger next clip or do I need a 3rd party program? Also can I turn off a loop without selecting the track of the loop I want to turn off? Anyway I am excited now, just ordered one of those Cherry keyboards they are discussing at ALDJ and now can utilize it. Thanks for the blog.

  6. You could always trigger the next clip with the follow actions system (see manual for more info). But when you do your own selections — it’s like playing this big electronic loop accordion…

    You could change the launch mode for each clip, to Toggle, so then when you trigger it, it will start and stop. I tend to keep it in trigger mode so it always starts when triggering, and use the stop button mapped to a key to stop any audio track clips (the small box inside the grey row just above the volume sliders).

    Yes, I also read and posted in the Cherry keyboard thread — — but my problem is lack of drivers for these kinds of POT USB keyboards and MacOSX. That’s why I experimented with a plain keyboard and posted this today:

    Anyway, thanks for the kind words.

  7. Guys have either of you considered the monome as a clip triggering solution?

    I have been looking at this very closely, and hopefully by the time they are releasing the new version, think it is called the 100h, ( I am hoping i will have found a solution to trigger clips through keyboard and kenton killamix, and not need it, or, it will be the answer.

    look forward to hearing your feedback


  8. I looked at Monome, it’s a good solution, but somehow having a lot of buttons might make it hard to remember what track corresponds to what clip — watching the screen makes it much easier to trigger clips as you could see from the text what clip is being triggered.

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