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I think I may be able to declare success in the singer/songwriter versus Ableton Live and the Behringer FCB1010 Midi pedal board. It took a lot of thinkin’. I can’t say this is the best way, but I’ve got it working and boy will it be boring for you to read about!

So here’s what I wanted:

  1. My songs divided up into scenes (verse, chorus, etc) and for Live to automatically advance through them with no input from me.
  2. A pedal that repeats the current scene (for those extended solos or when I screw stuff up).
  3. A pedal that plays the previous scene.
  4. A pedal that advances to the next scene.
  5. For Live to control my Boss GT-6 guitar effects throughout the arrangement.
  6. For Live to automatically apply effects to my voice throughout the arrangement.

Here’s the screenshot of my live Dirtbag set in Live for those who want to follow along at home:

Also used: Midi Yoke and two instances of Bome’s MIDI Translator.


First thing was to set up automatic scene progression as Live retardedly does not have this functionality. For this I simply selected all the clips in the scene, entered how many bars I wanted it to play for and selected the Next action.

The problem with this method is that if you have gaps in your arrangement (say a section where the bass doesn’t play), the missing clip will stop the progression dead in its tracks and nothing else will play on that track.

So you need to pad it out with dummy clips — all the black clips in the arrangement in the first screenshot. I used a file with a couple seconds of silence and filled all the gaps in with them. That way you can assign follow actions to those clips and it works fine — but is tedious to set up (and annoying when you’re trying to modify your arrangement).


So we’re progressing through the scenes automagically now, should be easy to just restart the current scene, right? NO.

Since we’re using the individual clip follow actions (as no scene actions exist), when the clips advance to the next scene, the master clip selection does not. Which means that from a remote triggering point of view, Ableton has no idea what scene you’re playing. So there’s no way to re-trigger what you’re currently doing. Awesome!

My hacky solution was to install Midi Yoke and a copy of Bome’s Midi Translator. I then made MIDI Track 9: “scene sync” and routed that out to MIDI Yoke’s 1st virtual output. I filled the trick with clips playing note C2 at 100 velocity at the very beginning of the clip.

I set up an instance of Bome’s Midi Translator to receive on MIDI Yoke’s first input and set it to hit the Down cursor key every time it receives note C2 at 100 velocity.

What this means is that if you launch the first scene in the set, the clip in the scene sync track fires a C2 into Bome’s Midi Translator which then simulates the user pressing the down cursor key, which moves the currently selected scene down one. So your scene selection will now advance with your song.


Now that Ableton has an idea of what scene we’re playing while we’re advancing automatically through the scenes, what we want is actually possible.

First I switched the Select Next Scene on Launch preference off. Then I mapped my Midi pedals on the FCB to another instance of Bome’s Midi Translator with the input set to my regular Midi port:

So these are set to the keypresses relative to where our follow scene puts our cursor (which is always one scene below the currently playing scene):

  • Repeat scene = Up + Enter
  • Next scene = Enter
  • Previous scene = Up + Up + Enter


This one’s easy enough. I created a “gt6” Midi track and set the output to my Midi controller going into my Boss GT-6. After that all you have to do is send program changes:

Look in the Notes section in the middle. Bank / Sub-Bank, Program. Program is set to 4, so this clip will jump my GT-6 to its fourth patch when it starts.


This isn’t so bad either. I made a vocals audio track, set the input to my microphone and switched Monitor – In on so that my vocals are always heard. Then I filled the channel with empty MIDI clips. I then can modify the clip automation where I want to add effect — turn insert effects on or off, modify variables, modify sends, etc.

For now I chose to map my FCB expression pedals to the sends so that I can mess with my vocal effects if I want to, adding delay whenever I feel like it, etc. I’ll think about this more during actual performances.


Well, it works. I can have the backing tracks going, play guitar and sing, have Ableton modify my guitar patches and vocal effects automatically and I can alter the arrangement on the fly as well as my vocal effects with my feet — but holy lord.

Ableton Live is nice and all, but that was hard and I still haven’t combined everything into one big set (because Live has no ability to switch between sets via Midi). I’ve made three sets for different songs of mine now and have tried to keep the track template the same so hopefully that will help.

I’m also not sure how I’ll be able to jump between songs as I’ve started to dislike doing pre-planned sets when I play live. Possibly I’ll wind up programming a bank on the FCB per song, so I can switch songs by switching banks.

I get the impression the folks at Ableton could use some more time around singer-songwriter types and full bands. They’ve got the DJs covered, time to see what the other lads need because while the features lacking are tremendously important, I can’t imagine it’s actually very much code-wise.

Adding scene follow actions would simplify this entire process a ton and seems easy. Also building in a MIDI->keyboard macro system like Bome’s Midi Translator also seems trivial and would add a ton of flexibility to the program.

Now I’m pretty sick of saying the word “clip”. That is all.

Posted on - January 30, 2007 [at] 11:15 pm by Brad
Tagged in - , ,

18 Comments on this post

craig on Solo Singer/Songwriter Ableton Live Setup
January 31, 2007 at 8:31 am

another thing you might want to do is use separate sound card outputs for your vocal chain and other instruments, so someone else can mix you.

at SongFight Live 2005, I was using Live live, with just one output, and it was a nightmare. And my set was way simpler than yours.

Brad on Solo Singer/Songwriter Ableton Live Setup
January 31, 2007 at 8:51 am

Good advice. That’s what I’m planning to do once I find a Firewire card with multiple outs that I like. I’m thinking about trying the M-Audio Firewire 410.

craig on Solo Singer/Songwriter Ableton Live Setup
January 31, 2007 at 2:16 pm

i’m a big fan of the motu traveler.. i bet that ultralight is pretty swank.

Matt Hite on Solo Singer/Songwriter Ableton Live Setup
January 31, 2007 at 5:38 pm

I’m impressed. Frankly, I would have given up.

Cheez on Solo Singer/Songwriter Ableton Live Setup
February 2, 2007 at 2:42 am

“I’m impressed. Frankly, I would have given up.”

No kidding. This looks like a beast to set up. Congrats on getting farther than I would.

Johan on Solo Singer/Songwriter Ableton Live Setup
February 9, 2007 at 6:17 pm

Nice overview. Thanks for it and keep up the work.

Sushalini on Solo Singer/Songwriter Ableton Live Setup
April 7, 2007 at 1:26 pm

It’s great to see other “one man bands” out there! I stumbled across your blog when trying to solve an ableton live set up puzzle, and will be borrowing some of your ideas for my live setup. Thank you!
One trick that I just found with ableton live is that it does have scene up / scene down / play scene buttons that appear beneath the “stop clips” button (in the master channel) when you are in midi mapping mode. You can then map these to 3 pedals on the fcb1010. I hope this may be of some help to you!
Again thanks, and good luck!

pike on Solo Singer/Songwriter Ableton Live Setup
May 30, 2007 at 8:00 pm

Exactly, live *does* have scene up / scene down / play scene midi mappings. 3 pedals should get you jumping throughout one song at will.

What you’re still stuck with, or rather, what i’m still stuck with, is the inability to switch between songs, or live sets. Seems quite impossible without miditranslator on windows or controllermate on the mac.

– anyway – not such a boring read after all – thanks


PeletonResist on Solo Singer/Songwriter Ableton Live Setup
June 25, 2007 at 9:02 pm

great tips people. helped me out a lot. one question though, can you assign one motion ie one press of a foot pedal and trigger more than one command on your program. for example i want to arm and record a loop whilst opening a an effects send.

Can this be done or am i bit over my head?


vega on Solo Singer/Songwriter Ableton Live Setup
July 27, 2007 at 8:00 pm

how do i assign mulitple functions ie: record & play to trigger @ the same time to 1 midi command in live 5? do i have to use the bome’s or is there a “stock” option within live?. i’m trying to build tracks with my turntables without touching the mouse . i have a bunch of midi controllers but it seems i can’t figure out how assign multipule triggers to 1 midi command.
thanks for you help

Graybob on Solo Singer/Songwriter Ableton Live Setup
September 4, 2007 at 5:36 am

Great stuff, thanks! I’ve just traded in my gt-6 for NI Guitar RIG 2. It is amazing plus it has a sound card in it.

man on Solo Singer/Songwriter Ableton Live Setup
January 1, 2009 at 7:36 am

This band has a setup for live that allows them to change songs in a gig – see

“One Live Set is used on each machine for the whole gig. Our Sets are about 110 tracks wide and about 250 Scenes deep. There is a trick of combining lots of songs accross the Session View left to right top to bottom. You just keep adding new tracks and new scenes so all your songs end up “diagonally” accross the page.”

bejomin on Solo Singer/Songwriter Ableton Live Setup
February 7, 2009 at 2:32 am

Thanks to your post I’ve managed to solve the same problem on my Mac – that of lack of scene progression. In this case, set up the sync track, enable the built-in IAC driver in the MIDI system setup and send the sync track to the driver on which Live listens for control commands.
Cheers for this article!

nosferato on Solo Singer/Songwriter Ableton Live Setup
February 14, 2009 at 2:26 pm

I’ve been looking for some programming tips for my controller when I came across this page. Thanks for the topic Brad, and reaaaally thanks to Sushalini for the solution.

xliontamer on Solo Singer/Songwriter Ableton Live Setup
June 12, 2009 at 10:34 am

Yep – having a one man band is tricky. I had all my scenes for 6 songs mapped to a trigger finger going from c-2 to c4! That’s an awful lot of button presses to remember…especially in the heat of the moment.

But now – thanks to you lot – i have realised there are ‘scene up and down buttons’ assignable to midi.

You have made my day!!!

k on Solo Singer/Songwriter Ableton Live Setup
November 1, 2009 at 8:52 pm

I agree; Ableton Live is for the DJ world; They should get their shit together for the one-man band types. It’s not designed for “Live” music – it’s for spinning records (clips) and playing with effects.

Patrick Randall on Solo Singer/Songwriter Ableton Live Setup
January 21, 2011 at 8:51 pm

When you are repeating a scene, do you have to hit the pedal in the last bar (or bars)?

Forgive the possibly silly question but I’m looking for a solution where I can decide at anytime in a scene that I want to repeat the current one, hit the button then and have Live play to the scene end then repeat from scene start?

Austin Richman on Solo Singer/Songwriter Ableton Live Setup
November 5, 2013 at 12:36 pm

I was wondering what you chose in abletons preferences for the gt-6 to communicate via MIDI? I am trying to get ableton to run my pod hd500 and can’t quite figure the thing out. Thanks!

Comments are closed on this post.