How to Automate Song Slides with Ableton Live

Automating Song Slides with Ableton live and MIDI Input

 

Proclaim can execute a number of actions based on received MIDI signals, including advancing the slides. DAWs like Ableton Live can create and play back MIDI tracks.

 

We can use Ableton Live to create a MIDI track that will advance our song lyrics right in time with the song.

To do this, we’ll get our song finalized in Proclaim, then set Proclaim up to receive a particular MIDI signal. We’ll then move over to Ableton and tell it to fire that signal to Proclaim when we want our slides to change. Finally, running Ableton and Proclaim side-by-side in our service, we’ll go On Air and play our song in Ableton, which will then advance the slides in our presentation.



Configuring Proclaim

The only thing we will need in Proclaim is our Song service item and ensuring we have a command set up to advance the slides.

 

I have added my song, and configured it to have a title slide. This way I can land on the title slide, before hitting play in Ableton. Also, it’s important to make sure the song is laid out the way you want, before going through the work to add the MIDI notes at the right time.

 

To do that I will go to Settings > MIDI Input, hit the Add Command button and choose Next Slide from the dropdown. I left it at note on and selected 48 (C2) as the note I will play. I also left the channel set to 1.

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Adding the Audio

To get started, I created new live set in Ableton. By default, I was given two MIDI tracks and two audio tracks. Because I only want one of each, I deleted the two extra.

 

Then I found the mp3 of my song on my computer and dragged it to the first block of my audio track. I clicked on my audio track and then disabled Warp. This would have caused my song's tempo to be warped to match my selected global tempo.

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Then I configured the output to go to my headphones so that I could hear my track when I click play.

Clicking the play button on the track allows me to hear it play.

 

Setting up the MIDI

I then right clicked on the first block of the MIDI track and added a new MIDI track. Clicking on the track shows me a timeline to display my notes.

 

If you have a USB MIDI device you can plug it in and play the notes using the MIDI Keyboard. I’m going to use my computer’s keyboard by ensuring the keyboard option is checked in the upper right which looks like a small musical keyboard.

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I will be clicking on C2 on my keyboard as thats the note I picked earlier for Proclaim. This should be the A key on your computer’s keyboard. When I click it I can see C2 light up in the timeline. If C2 is not lighting up, you need to change your octave, which you can do my hitting Z or X on your keyboard.

 

In order to let Proclaim hear the MIDI, I will need Ableton to output the MIDI notes somewhere. For that we configure the IAC driver. This article from Ableton explains how to do that natively on Mac and gives third party options for Windows. https://help.ableton.com/hc/en-us/articles/209774225-Using-virtual-MIDI-buses

 

After that is setup, I can select it from the dropdown.

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Proclaim will automatically listen to MIDI being fired and should pick up anything sent to the IAC driver.

 

To test this I can actually just hit A on my keyboard and watch as Proclaim advances slides.

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Now, I’m going to put Proclaim back to the title slide.

 

Before we start recording our MIDI, we need to first enable recording for the MIDI track by clicking the button that looks like a clock, towards the bottom of our MIDI track.

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Recording the MIDI Track

We should be ready to record the MIDI track. Proclaim should be ready at the start of the song, the audio track has been added to Ableton, and we have made sure our keyboard is setup to fire the MIDI.

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Now hit the record button on the second box of the MIDI track.

Immediately, the audio should play and I can start progressing through the song by hitting the A key on my keyboard. As we go, I should be able to watch Proclaim progress as I hit the keys. If you get your timing off slightly, don’t fret, it is very easy to manually move the MIDI note after, so that it is in a more correct place.

 

Using it in Service

 

Now when you reach that song and you are ready to play, hit the play button in Ableton. Ableton will fire the MIDI, progressing your song slides.



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