In this post I’ll share a video of an experiment I did to combine VCV 2 Rack Pro with granular FX with Live 11 instrument rack variations. I also trigger automated morphing between variations using a Max for Live Device.
First up, here is a 44 second video illustrating this patch using some audio from a 1950’s new broadcast. It’s an audio clip that runs in live, is routed to VCV rack, and the audio is routed back out. MIDI is also sent to VCV rack to control pitch of effect.
Next up I’ll offer details on the VCV Rack patch along with information on how I configured this all in Live.
This entire exploration was inspired after watching some Arturia PolyBrute vidoes a few days back. As long-time Nord Lead 4 player, I’m a huge fan of morphing so I’m definitelly drawn to the PolyBrute’s morphing architecture. But at it’s flagship price it’s a big leap so I tabled that idea – for now 😉.
A few days later, and in the spirit of “use what you have”, I started thinking about ways I could design morph in Ableton Live that was even more complex than something I could achieve either the Nord or the PolyBrute.
From there I recalled that I’d seen a video on the fantastic Sonic Bloom YouTube channel that discussed a Max for Live device that could morph between Live 11’s new instrument rack variation states which led me to this video.
Here is a link to the Max for Live Smooth Automator device mentioned in the video https://kblivesolutions.gumroad.com/l/lGDVv. It’s free with name your price options. I downloaded it and added it to my user library which is where I store my Max for Live devices.
Then the creative juices started to flow as I thought about what I might use this devic.
When working with virtual of physical modular I often start with a specific intention in mind. I find this is especially helpful to break through option paralysis when learning a new platform, instrument, or module.
As you probably saw in my recent post First Experiment with VCV Rack 2 VST & Ableton Live 11 Macro Variations and Snapshots, VCV Rack 2 Pro comes with two devices, an instrument and an FX version. In that post, I was using the instrument version. So in this adventure I decided to give VCV Rack 2 FX a try.
My intention with this experiment was to figure out how to process an Ableton Audio clip with a granular effects processor running in the rack. I also wanted to control the granular effect through MIDI with some automation, as well as try using Ableton’s transport to clock an LFO.
Detailed Step-By-Step Patch and Ableton Configuration Notes
- I start off by using two tracks in Ableton session view. The first track is an audio track and contains an audio clip from a 1950s newsreel. The second track is a MIDI track which I can use to route MIDI to the VCV Rack so I can play the granular effect live or via a MIDI clip.
- In the diagram above, the red arrow illustrates that the audio is coming from that clip and going into the audio module within VCV Rack.
- Let’s break down the VCV Rack 2 FX patch a bit. The heart of the patch is Texture Synthesizer which is a granular audio effect based on Mutable Instruments Clouds. I’m also using Core modules MIDI > CV, Audio to get audio, MIDI and Clock from live. In addition to this I’m using WT LFO to modulate a parameter in the effect module
- Because VCV Rack 2 FX is an audio effect and sits in an audio track, you need that seperate MIDI track in Live for MIDI. I route MIDI from Track 2 to Track 1 in the Output Channel drop-down.
- Clock from Ableton and it’s transport clock the LFO.
- I group the VCV Rack 2 FX (CTRL-G on Windows, CMD-G on Mac) to create an Ableton Effects Rack. I then use Configure within the device to expose some parameters to Ableton, then use Live 11’s new Macro variations features and create snapshots of different knob settings for the patch. See First Experiment with VCV Rack 2 VST & Ableton Live 11 Macro Variations and Snapshots where I go over this technique in more detail.
- Finally, it’s time for some morphing action!!! I add the Smooth Automator to the left of Effects Rack. I hit play in Ableton to start the clock, then run the scene with the Audio and Midi clip and start clicking on various controls within
Let’s Watch This Again
Whoa, for a simple patch, it’s a lot when wrapped with Live and Max for Live. Let’s watch that one more time.
But Wait, There’s More!
It’s so amazing having VCV Rack 2 inside of Ableton Live. For me this means I can use a VERY familiar workflow to amplify the awesomeness of Eurorack plus get access to some favorite effects like Clouds.
It also means you get a lot of capabilities for “free” as a bi-product of being in Live. For example, all those morph moves I triggered (or manual knob movements) can be recorded as clip automation into Session View or Arrangement view for viewing and editing.
Well, that was a fun journey!
I hope this post inspires you to explore integrating VCV Rack Pro into your Live workflow. Don’t forget to subscribe so you don’t miss future Modulate This! posts.
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Cheers and here is to your next synth exploration,
Synthesist, Electronic Musician, Live Visualist and Multimedia Artist