Follow Actions are an often overlooked feature of Ableton Live but they can be a source of great inspiration and add an element of unpredictability to your Live sets.
You can hear the fill being randomly selected after every three bars of the main drum pattern.
Fun eh? Let’s look at another example...
Create a group of MIDI clips that make up a single octave of any scale you like. Each MIDI clip should contain a single note from the scale. Start with the root note and go up to an octave above.
In the first track, we see the C Aolean scale with each MIDI clip containing one note of the scale. The Follow Actions will play the scale.
Now select all the clips. They’re all going to have the same Follow Action settings so we can do them all at once. Set them all as follows:
Follow Action properties for our generative melodies.
Each clip is set to trigger at 16th note intervals. We could simply set Follow Action A to play a random clip, but let’s use the Chance parameters to inject a little structure into the randomness. Set A to “Play Other” and B to “Play First”. Then set Chance A to 2 and Chance B to 1.
The result of this is that there is a 2:1 chance that a random other clip will be triggered next, but there is also a 1:2 chance that the first clip will be triggered next. Because the first clip is the root note of the scale, this gives the resulting melodies some pseudo structure. Here is an example of what this might sound like:
Our Generative melody made with Follow Actions:
As you can see, Follow Actions can be highly creative and a lot of fun. They are perfect for injecting some unpredictability into your compositions and are yet another way to come up with structures, drum patterns and melodies that you would never dream of yourself.
Join me for part 2 soon when I’ll be going through yet more examples.
Rory Dow is a musician, sound designer and writer. He spent 15 years as a freelance musician writing for television before side-stepping into music software production. The majority of his work is taken up as a trainer and sound designer for London-based software company FXpansion but he also likes to write music and articles and is a self-confessed synth geek.