One of the biggest complaints from people wanting to use loops is that they feel like they lose all freedom when they use loops. They have to do two choruses, and a verse and have to end at a certain spot otherwise the loop is off. One of the most critical and exceptionally awkward times of playing to a loop is the very beginning. We all have experienced the worship service when the band kicks off a song with a loop and the worship leader begins to talk and do his best to connect with the audience and then suddenly they cutoff their speech and jump into singing, making sure to be in by the 3rd measure of the song. The overall feeling is that everything has to be done to the computers specifications. In this series we are going to be taking a look at how to create smooth transitions between songs and within songs and “How to not become a Worship Robot”.
Lets look at a solution for the beginning of the song so that the Worship Leader doesn’t feel restricted by the loop. They can talk as long as they want to, or pray, or read some scripture with the loop running behind them, and then when they are ready they start the rest of the song.
1) Create an Intro Section
We are assuming that you are working in Session view in Ableton Live and have a loop already created to use for this. This should be a loop that has been mapped out to follow the song exactly as it is on the cd (what we call “Fully Programmed Sequences”). We need to essentially create two loops out of this one loop. We need a intro section (that will continually loop) and a Song loop (that will stop when its done). Drag your Song file into Ableton in Session view. We are working with a Rendered version of “Oh Praise Him”. We need to separate our intro section from the section when the band comes in. To do that we need to zoom in on the beginning of the song in “Clip View” (At the bottom of the screen).
In this song the first 4 measures are just loop intro and the vocals come in on beat 5. So we want to seperate measures 1-4 from the rest of the song. To do that we will create a duplicate loop in live (Just copy the original loop and paste below it). And now we need to crop both of the loops. In the first loop (intro loop) we will make sure only measures 1-4 are selected. Then right click and select “Crop Sample”
Make sure that you have properly “trimmed” the loop to only be the first 4 measures. Before we work on creating our next section make sure that “loop” is turned on in the settings for the loop. (If not it will play through once and then stop, we want it to loop until we tell it to stop) Once that is done play it a few times to make sure everything is functioning properly and then rename the sample so that you know its the intro for your song.
2) Create a Song Section
Now that we have an intro section we need to go into the copy of the original loop that we made and trim it to start where the rest of the loop picks up. For us this is in measure 5, so we will drag our brackets to start at measure 5 and end at the end of the song. And then we will right click again and select “Crop Sample”. Now we will have a section that starts right when the vocal starts. We will name this one “song” so we know its the full song, and then we will make sure “loop” is off (we want it to play once and stop).
3) Setup both clips so you can trigger them
Now that we have both clips “trimmed” to the correct length, and named accordingly, and made sure intro has loop on and the song clip has loop off, we are good to start practicing triggering them. Put the song clip under the Intro clip and make sure your song is set at the correct tempo (If you are using other songs within the same set then make sure you have the proper tempo assigned to the scenes those clips are in for help doing that click here).
Assign a key on the board to the intro and to the Scene ( we will use 1 and 2). Click the “Key Assign” button in the right hand side of the screen to turn key assign mode on. Now click the scene the first clip is in (click in the master track) and press “1″ on your keyboard. Now click the second clip in the scene it is in and press “2″ on your keyboard. Now when you press 1 it will fire the intro and when you press 2 it will fire the full song.
By Default Live is set to fire clips on the next downbeat of “1″. Which means no matter when you press “2″ it won’t fire that clip until the next downbeat of “1″. Try this out. Press “2″ on beat 2 of a measure, beat 4 of a measure, and even the “and of 4″ and notice how it won’t fire until the next measure. Now if for some reason when you press the keys they are coming in at the wrong time you can change that setting at the top of live by selecting the “Global Quantization”. To keep it to come in on “1″ keep it on “1 Bar”.
4) Put it into Practice
In order to do this effectively you’ll have to practice some with your worship leader and the band. As long as your worship leader makes it clear when they will start singing you’ll be able to trigger the clip at the correct time. It may take some time working with the Worship leaders but it will be worth developing good on-stage communication skills between the worship leader and band. It can be as simple as the worship leader saying, “lets sing this out..” in the measure before they start singing and your fine.
Another important thing to remember is that you MUST know where “1″ is at all times. If the worship leader starts singing while the loop is half-way through the measure then it won’t work. So make sure you vocalists have click in their ears. If not, then make sure your drummer keeps time on the hat. Knowing where “1″ is at all times in an invaluable skill to have.
Make sure to practice this technique a few times in rehearsal before you try it live. It will take some time but if the Worship Leader can learn to relax and just share from their heart while not worrying about time, and then give proper vocal cues or hand cues to the person triggering the loop then this will be a huge tool! Next week we will look at a few other steps and tricks to help us NOT become Worship Robots!