Live with Octatrack with finished tracks in Ableton

Hello guys,

Not so long ago I’ve got the Octatrack with the sole purpose of putting together a live-act from the pre-existing finished tracks in Ableton. I choose the Elektron way since I have an A4 and I love it so I though that an Octatrack will be ideal and stable instead of the classic Ableton / laptop / controller setup.

I came to some brick walls though and although I’ve tried to find a solution by myself, but mainly on this forum reading for hours and hours trying to find a solution since there are a lot of people that have way more experience.

No luck in finding the solution for my tracks so I though to explain you the situation and ask directly.

So, let me describe as short as possible what I want to achieve.

  • I have my songs done in Ableton. I’ve already grouped instruments to be able to add them on 5 of the Octatrack’s tracks:

    • T1 - Kick
    • T2 - Bass
    • T3 - Hi-hats, percussion and Fx
    • T4 - Melodic elements
    • T5 - Focus elements (vocals, leads… etc)
    • T6 - Internal re-sampling
    • T7 - External synth input
    • T8 - Master
  • My big problem is with the patterns (variations, evolution) of each track since my songs are constantly evolving and usually almost all the tracks (groups) have 6 to 10 variations throughout the length of the song.
    I know I could take advantage of the 4 parts of Octatrack, but no mater what I do, I can’t reduce the variations of each track (group) to 4, the songs can’t make sense.

So, I export from Ableton each track (group) in 8 to 10 parts (patterns) of usually 16 bars.

As example, I load “ID_Kick_Part1” to Octatrack’s track 1, pattern 1 and do the same with the other rendered parts from Ableton (ID_Bass_Part1 - track 2, ID_Perc_Part1 - track 3… etc).

When I want to load the Part 2 samples on pattern 2, the only way I found is to load them as trig condition (I hope I am explaining this right). I hold the trig while choosing the Part2 sample from the browser and so on.

Since I cannot load more than 1 sample to each track without using parts, this is the only way I found.
I don’t think this is viable because I have no control over the trig condition samples loaded (slice, edit…etc) and also to me it seems a bit risky for a live-act situation, kind of volatile.

How do you see this situation?
What I am doing wrong?
There are other ways that I’ve failed to discover for songs played live with more than 4 variation per track?

After 2 months of constant struggling to find a solution and countless sleepless nights thinking about it, I’m starting to think that I made the wrong decision trying to take Octatrack for live-act, for my current song style, of course.

Although I love Elektron and also Octatrack (love to play and make music with it - powerful gear), with my specific way of making songs (evolving and constantly changing patterns) I should of gone for the classic setup for live with Ableton / laptop / controller.

Your input regrading this is greatly appreciated, and I would be thrilled to find out a solution to be able to make it work, there’s nothing more I want that to take the Octatrack for live-act, instead of a laptop.

If I can help with any other relevant information, I will be more than happy to provide it, just ask.

Thank you!


I agree, if you want your tracks to sound like they do in Ableton, than using Ableton is gonna be aces. I think if you want to create a new version of your songs- the OT has got you covered!


I do this with sample chains. Instead of using parts to handle two or more different samples assigned to the same track, I use one long chain. Then, the pattern with a trig lock set to the slice plays the correct part of the chain. So, four variations of an 8 bar kick pattern would be 32 bars long in Ableton, then I will slice that into 4 even slices on the OT. From there, 4 different patterns would start with their own trig lock set to the slice I want for that pattern.

My best advice for this is to make equal lengths of variations so you can use the preset slicing grid in the OT without futzing about with slice points manually. Example, one kick variation is 4 bars, while another is 8. I would make that 4 bar 8bars long so that I have two equal lengths for easy slicing.


Thank you very much for your input mr_bernard, I never though of this.

Amazing! I will give this a try!

Thanks again.


You bet. Let me know if you need further clarification. Seems like you get the idea.


just to add on to @mr_bernard’s advice, this freeware is really useful for creating sample chains with ease:

Trigger conditions are also really handy for playing back stems that are longer than what a 1/8x speed 64 step sequence can provide.


AH. Yes. This would save you on the equal spacing thing, and just put the slice points in the desired spots without relying on equal slicing via the OT’s interface. Why have I not used this!? THANKS!


@mr_bernard I got the idea and I am extremely grateful for opening my eyes regarding this! Thank you again!

@Jacknoid Right when I was thinking that it would be quite an adventure to set the slices and all, you come with this tool. I have no words… thank you!

I have the feeling that you both just saved my beloved Octatrack for being sold and get replaced with a laptop / Ableton setup. This post was my last resort.


Generally speaking I’d also use sample chains where possible.
You could also use sample locks to change samples within a part.
If you want to trigger a long sample, instead of one shot trigs that have to be armed by hand, you can use 1st trig condition.
It will trigger the sample only once, good for long samples like field recordings, pads, atmospheric stuff etc.

Also consider using plays free tracks to get out of the rigid grid.


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Like you, I’m also in the process of rebuilding tracks in OT for a live set. I only have the OT for a month or 2 so I’m no veteran but maybe what I’ve learned helps you.

I use a bank per track/song. So I can have 16 tracks in a live set without switching projects. Works fine for me, as I’ll rarely play over 8 tracks in a set. If you use a bank per song, patterns can then contain various song parts and variations. I’ll switch patterns manually, have my Digitone slaved for bass and synth lines and play / loop some guitar on top. OT acts as a looper for the guitar as well. From CUE out into my pedalboard into my amps. The cool thing (to me at least) is that switching patterns manually allows me to really build my tracks on the spot. If I want to have a longer intro or climax, I can.

If I need different sounds on the same track, either between or within patterns, I’ll typically use sample locks. This allows me to for instance use different kicks in the intro and the rest of a track, or both open, closed and foot hi-hats on a single track. You could also use samples chains and slices to do this, but for short samples I prefer sample locks.
For longer samples I’ll use slices and looppoints. Like a synth that gets grittier and grittier while a track builds up. I’ll use a long sample and set different start- and endpoints for different patterns and place the looppoint so that I can have the pattern run longer than planned if I want to.
Trig conditions are ace too. The 1st trig condition @Schnork mentions works really well with the sliced and looped longer samples I just mentioned. Not 1st is cool for building intros. Also the Fill trig conditions can help create small breaks. Like if you use them to have certain trigs across different tracks mute for a bar when you push the fill buttons. I feel my beats are much more interesting with a few chance trig conditions thrown in there on some snares and clicks too.

I’m definitely following this thread for awesome tricks :slight_smile:


…lower the scale resolution to a quarter of ur actual barlength on ur ot tracks…
so the can run in expected length within each pattern…so each pattern can reproduce one of ur pre-estimated track/song/composition parts…

create chains…work with slicegrids…no need for further ot parts at this point…
ur bass line got a lot of different variations during ur song/track/composition…?
fine…stem out this bass line as one thing, slice it, and adress those single slices via one shot trigs…there u go…each pattern plays another part of ur bass line…

do the same with the kik and the snare…and the hats…and once with ALL the rest…

now u can flip through ur original arrangements by just jumping through patterns…all u gotta do for this, is arming the one shot trigs again, whenever ur going to change the pattern…
no need for ot parts…still…

get used to the thought of one song per bank…if u can squeeze two in per bank…u’ll need a ot part nr. 2…

and we’re talking static machines only here…

get used to fixed workflows…

it’s nice to drop ur computer made tracks live like this without any computer…but never forget the power of flex engines…

i have a fixed track layout like this…

t1…is kik…plus
t2…is snare…plus
t3…is hihats…plus
t4…is bass only
t5…is all the rest…but sometimes it needs…
t6 for further more rest or one dedicated lead sound i can grab on…if not needes…it becames also a flex engine…
t7…is at least always a free radical flex machine loaded with something to fool around with…
t8…is for external sources and realtime sampling whatsoever…

summing goes through an analog heat…replaces the master compression needs pretty fine…

same with secenes…handle A scenes like snapshots…and B scenes as realtime fx progressions…scene 1 always empty…and so is scene 9…for blank sonic parking…

keep in mind that most of ur tracks/songs/compositions won’t need much variation space when it comes to basic stuff like kiks and snares and hats anyways…so one single kik for exsample played by a flex engine might already do all the trick…
advantage here is, more static slots stay free and u can twiddle way more with different tempi, since fixed kik stems start gnarling at some point further away from original tempi…

all in all, this let ur live perfomance always reflect ur original track, but u can expand and change them also on the fly…


This sounds exactly like myself… I’m in the continuous process of switching through multiple workflows, routings and gear involved to find THE configuration that will finally suit my style of play, and I’ve found many useful information in this thread to try out. Thanks guys!

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Wouldn’t 1st condition trigs be a better option?


This is the question I ultimately wondered about.

…well…ot planet…many ways to rome here…i, for example, literally never used a 1st condition trig for anything i wanted to achieve in this machine…even forgot that there is such a thing…

Before we got trig conditions for the OT, I tried using one shot trigs for synth pads I rendered from the DAW (was practising for live gigs) and I found it kinda complicated and slightly annoying. Each time after a one shot trig fired, I had to make sure before I switched to the next pattern to arm one shots again. Head -> smoke.
I bought a poly hardware synth instead and played the pads myself…

Then came trig conditions. (aaaaahhhhhAAAAAAAHHHHHH :rainbow: :sun_with_face: :innocent: )

1st TRC solved that problems and brought so much more.

I’d always use 1st TRC for this. Nothing to worry about, just switch the pattern or use plays free tracks. That’s it.


Amen. One shot trigs are a headache. Even when setting down rec trigs I’d rather lay one down at the beginning of the bar, then get rid of it when it starts sampling rather than use a one shot trig. Accidentally rearm all? Oops, there goes your sound.


I like me some one-shot recorder trigs… :grin:
To ward that off I check the “disable yes/no arm” and “dis. stop-stop arm” in the preferences… That way you have to press function+yes to arm all…


…neverending story…learned something new…again…for my two ot’s, i got since ages…

Out of curiosity what do you use the one shot trigs for that can’t be done with 1st trc? You play pattern 1, then 2, and when you come back to 1 you don’t want that one sound to play?