Using Elektron Digitakt Pattern Changes to Launch Scenes in Ableton Live:

I am considering buying the DT to use alongside Live. I currently love using Live’s session view to make music. I have searched these forums and seen that people have problems triggering a pattern change on the DT using clips in Live, as the MIDI message is sent when the clip launches so the pattern change is delayed.

I have been thinking about this issue because I would really like to know that I can integrate the DT into the session view of Live before buying it. My idea is - instead of using Live to trigger pattern changes on the DT - to use the DT to trigger scenes in Live (like the Novation Launchpad or similar devices).

Scenes can be triggered by regular MIDI controllers such as a MIDI keyboard. Using a slider/knob you can use CC to select which scene you want to trigger, and a MIDI note can be used to launch the scene when that MIDI note triggers. This just has to be mapped in Live (I have tested this and got it to work fine).

This is where I need help because I do not own a DT and don’t know if this will work. I have read the manuals thoroughly but you never know 100% until you try:

  1. Using a spare MIDI channel on the DT, put one note on the first step of each pattern and set its trig condition to be “1st” so it only triggers the first time. This note will be mapped to the scene launch button so that when a pattern change occurs on the DT the note triggers and a scene is launched in Live.
  2. Using the same MIDI channel on the DT, any CC value is set in each pattern. This will be mapped to the scene selection value so that when a pattern change occurs on the DT the CC value selects the correct scene in Live (pattern 1 selects scene 1, pattern 2 selects scene 2, 3 selects 3 etc.).
  3. In live, set the global quantisation to “None” so that launches happen immediately and there is no delay (or a tiny delay?) after the pattern change.

If this is correct, it would hopefully allow pattern changes on the DT to act like a Launchpad and control the scenes in Live, so when pattern 1 plays scene 1 plays, whilst still allowing the DT to act as a drum machine/sample player. Ideally I want to multitrack the 8 audio tracks on the DT into Live using Overbridge, so I can use the DT as a drum machine and I can use Live to play other instruments and to perform effects processing which I cannot currently do with hardware.

Do people think this will work? I would massively appreciate it if somebody could test it for me and give a definite answer, but I understand that people are busy. There may be a simpler way of doing this, and if there is then hopefully this post will spark that idea in somebody else and they can share it. Thanks!

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The digitakt can change perfectly with ableton clips in session view,
you just have to set the clip quantise to none so when you change clip or scene it gets the message instantly… the problem is more in arrangement view… but there are work arounds.
I haven’t tried launch ableton scenes from elektron gear but think it would be much easier just changing patterns from ableton, you probably would have problems trying to have it send program changes on the first trig to ableton …

You could possibly map the PC that is automatically sent when Changing patterns to scenes but have not tried so not sure…

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Thanks for your reply.

Interesting, I have been reading these forums and most people seem to agree that changing patterns on DT using Live clips does not work as they would like because the pattern change on the DT is delayed. Here is an example of the type of discussion I am talking about. My understanding of the problem was this:

When you launch a new scene on Live, the MIDI message to the DT to change patterns is only sent once the new clips launch, at which point the old pattern has already started playing on the DT, so the new pattern won’t start playing until after the old pattern has completed another loop. This wouldn’t be solved by turning global quantisation to zero on Live. Can you set pattern quantisation on the DT to none so that it triggers immediately and not at the end of a pattern? Maybe there has been an update to the DT and it is solved but I can’t find any info about that.

I struggle to understand these types of questions mainly because you already enjoy working in Live. Supplementing with a DT isn’t really gaining you anything and it sounds like you just need a launch pad. $1000 for a controller is a bit much.

The DT is a hardware sampler (8 monophonic tracks) and 8 4 note midi tracks. Ableton Live has unlimited of both.

If you want a drum machine use Live’s drum rack.

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Thanks for your input.

I understand your point, however perhaps I wasn’t clear so let me explain. I do enjoy most aspects of Live, particularly working in the session view to build musical ideas. However, I also own an Arturia Microbrute, and what I have found from using that is playing the keys to record a melody and turning the knobs to create a sound is more fun than using a computer keyboard and a mouse. I could purchase something like Ableton Push to control Live’s software instruments and achieve something similar to this feeling (and I am considering it as an alternative option), however I do intend to also use the DT as a sampler and to sync to my MB, I just didn’t include this information in my question as it was already quite long and I didn’t think it was necessary to say.

So I am not planning on buying the DT solely as a MIDI controller for Live, I understand that would be a huge waste. However, my planned setup would be optimised if the DT and Live are synchronised in the way I described above so the correct clips in Live play when I want them to play so my melodies and harmonies from software instruments match the beats from the DT.

I hope that makes more sense. Perhaps I will come to the decision that something like a Launchpad or Push is best for me in the end. We shall see.

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Sorry for late reply, had to sleep and stuff
you don’t turn off the global quantisation, you turn off the clip quantisation that is triggering the DT… trust me it works fine I have 5 Elektron boxes I use with ableton and overbridge all perfectly in sync that change in time
When you change scenes with ableton and no quantisation on the clip the PC is sent as soon as you press the button…

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That sounds great, thanks!

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I think that this idea is really interesting irrespective of whether it was ideal for solving the original problem (or indeed if there was a better alternative as has been discussed in the thread). Combining a variety of conditional trigs in the DT midi tracks along with ‘follow-on’ actions in Live for clips has so much potential for controlled generative music. Essentially the clips in Live are phrases and the DT is acting like a phrase sequencer.

One example might be to have 4 variations of a melody/chord progression on clips, then the DT is triggering the first variation at the start of the pattern and then you can have conditional trigs to trigger the other variations at pre-defined and musically sensible points. So, you have a melody that is never repeating but is instead evolving in unique ways as the pattern continues to play.

I’m just finalising the mix for an album that was very heavy on the editing of stuff on Live’s timeline and was hoping to do something looser and more jam/live sounding for the next chunk of music and I’d been intending to use my DT anyway… I’ll defo be doing this.

Cheers for the inspiration!!

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Yes I was originally just thinking of a method to synchronise the devices but it could be much more than that. No problem I hope you have fun with the idea!

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