Get Into The Groove

   By Lisa F   Categories: Audio SoftwareGeneral

In a musical sense, a groove is the rhythmic feel of a song or beat, but more than that, it is a real-world phenomenon that occurs when a human performs a piece of music live (onstage) or in a recording session. It is the breath of life that makes music come alive, breathing with the beat. Each performer or band generates their own groove when they play and perform, in turn stamping their own music or style with a signature. Their respected fans and admirers often seek after this “signature sound”. In an effort to recreate this experience in the Digital Audio Workstation (DAW), Live has its own groove technology called Groove. The goal of groove technology is to breathe life into clips when they lack the authentic feel of a real performance or to conform two different clips so they have the same feel—in other words, to either liven up a vanilla beat that doesn’t groove and is lacking soul, or to reshape the beat to emphasize a different feel than originally performed. For this reason, Live includes a number of grooves as part of the Core Library. Applying one of these grooves to your audio or MIDI clips changes its timing and feel, conforming it to the new imposed groove. But how, you ask? This is achieved by altering where the beats fall in time and applying emphasis (accents) to the beat by altering the intensity or velocity of specific beats. A prime example of this is the recreation of a swing feel (shuffle). A real swing feel is not something you can mathematically quantize in the digital realm. It is truly a human experience that doesn’t have an exact formula. With Live’s groove technology, you can take that real inexplicable human feel and apply it to a straight beat. Even better, extract it from a real-world recorded performance or studio recording. Who needs the mathematical equations when you can get the groove direct from the source! This is all managed at the Clip Groove chooser menu available from the Clip View Clip Box . That’s already been discussed, so let’s take a close look at how Grooves and the Groove Pool work.


Grooves are located in the Live 9 Core Library and are accessed from the Live Browser under Places in the Packs section. You’ll notice right off the bat that some of the more popular swing and groove styles, such as the MPC (Music Production Center) and Logic grooves, are included as presets located in the Core Library> Swing and Groove folder. There are a few different ways to load and work with these grooves. One way to apply a groove to a clip is to double click one or drag it directly from the Browser onto a clip. It will instantly alter the clip’s feel in real-time. Once you’ve placed the groove on the clip, you can then preview other grooves for that clip by using the Hot- Swap Groove button in the Clip Box. Hot-Swap Groove is used to quickly select, change, or audition grooves on the fly. Click the Hot-Swap Groove button in the Clip Box, then try out other groove presets located in any groove folder. This is one way to quickly load and audition the various groove presets.

Figure 12.1 Core Library Groove presets.

Figure 12.2 Drag a groove preset onto a clip.

Groove Pool

After a groove has been dropped onto a clip, it will be stored in the Groove Pool located below the Live Browser. You can also drag grooves directly into the Groove Pool from the Library. To show the Groove Pool, click the Groove Pool Selector just above Info View or choose “Open Groove Pool . . . “ from the Clip Groove Chooser in the Clip Box. This is where all grooves being used or previewed in your Set will appear. It is also where you will view and edit those grooves. Keep in mind that these grooves are not audio files. They are files containing performance information (timing and emphasis) that has been extracted from an audio or MIDI clip. More on extracting grooves in Clip.

Figure 12.3 Groove Pool.

Figure 12.4 Grooves in the Groove Pool are accessible in the Clip Groove chooser.


Figure 12.5 Save and Hot- Swap grooves to the User Library.

Once grooves have been added to the Groove Pool, they can then be accessed via the Clip Groove Chooser. From the Chooser menu you can select and apply any of the grooves that are stored in the Groove Pool to a selected clip. This integrated list of grooves is always available and even accessible while working and performing in real-time. This gives you an incredible amount of flexibility by having the unique feel and timing of various grooves available at your fingertips. Grooves in the Groove Pool can be Hot-Swapped with other groove presets in the Core Library or saved as presets to the User Library>Grooves folder. There are many options; you have the ability to Hot-Swap clip grooves with groove presets stored in the Groove Pool, Core Library, or User Library. Each groove in the pool has its own Hot-Swap button and Save button located next to its name.

Groove Pool Parameters

Within the Groove Pool Menu are built-in groove parameters for tailoring a groove’s effect on its assigned clips. There are five parameters for each available groove in the pool: Base (Resolution Base), Quantize, Timing, Random, and Velocity. Additionally, the Groove Pool itself has a Global Groove Amount slider that controls the overall effect amount that grooves will have over all clips with a groove assigned. Each clip groove parameter in the Groove Pool determines how a groove affects its assigned clips. When clips are assigned to a groove, the groove’s parameters will become active. Here is a description of each parameter:

Base: sets the subdivision of the beat that the groove and assigned clips are measured against. This is related to the smallest beat value expressed in the groove and clip, such as the lowest common denominator.

Quantize: the amount of quantization Live applies to assigned clips before they are re-quantized by the groove’s feel. This is standard quantization to the nearest division of the beat as determined by the base.

Figure 12.6 Groove Pool parameters.

Timing: how strong of an effect the groove will have on all its assigned clips.

Random: the level of fluctuations (randomness or humanization) applied to the timing of assigned clips.

Velocity: how much affect the groove’s beat accents will have over the velocities or beats in the clip. This can be applied with an inverse effect based on positive or negative values.

Global Groove Amount: controls the overall percentage of strength of Timing, Random, and Velocity that will be applied for all grooves. This can be automated in the Arrangement. Interesting . . . huh?

Excerpt from Ableton Live 9: Create, Produce, Perform by Keith Robinson © 2013 Taylor & Francis Group. All Rights Reserved.


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