Going Deeper into... Groove Pool
Making music with computers is wonderful, in fact, it's perfect. This isn't always a great thing, though, and without some serious intervention, our projects can often come up flat when it comes to groove and feel. This is because by default anything we sequence into Ableton (or any DAW) is perfectly quantized or synced to Ableton's grid. There is something weird about music that is totally "straight" or quantized and it can often be hard to put your finger on until you stumble upon the wonders of placing notes of the grid and applying swing. So let's take a look at how we can add some funk into our projects and get people moving with our music.
What's in a groove?
When we're talking about groove in the context of Ableton, we are generally referring to the amount of swing applied to a clip or, how far the sequenced MIDI notes are being pushed off the grid (usually later in time).
The groove pool is Ableton's holding area for specialed files called grooves. These are essentially alternative timings that can be applied to a MIDI or Audio clip. Often, they will swing either the 8th notes, 16th notes, or 32nd notes of a clip — usually by pushing them back in time. You'll have to hear it to really get it, so...
- open up the groove pool by clicking the little waves Icon below the browser
- right-click inside it to show various groove folders in the browser
- select a groove such as 16-45 and drag it into the pool
- from here, drag the groove onto a clip and enjoy!
There are a number of different ways to apply grooves so experiment and decide for yourself what you like best. The end result will be the same — a groove will be applied to a clip.
Commit, commit, commit! Or don't...
By clicking commit, you are able to better see what exactly a groove is doing to a clip. This is a great way to visually learn what a more interesting version of your sequence may look like and should be taken as inspiration for future programming. After the visual connection with what's going on sonically is made, however, it is likely more useful to lead the vagabond life and never commit. This way, you can always add in a note or two and maintain the groove.
Try dialing back more aggressive swings by lowering the amount %. This applies to velocity as well. Maybe a groove you like is perfect timing wise but changes the velocity too much, simply adjust the % and you're good to go. You can also adjust these settings for multiple clips at a time as one groove can be applied to an unlimited number clips.
Interested in learning more about music production in Ableton Live? Check out our music production courses here.