Flexible MIDI mappings and controls in Ableton Live with Max for Live

Get the “Note to MAP” Max for Live devices HERE!

MIDI map mode in Ableton Live

Ableton Lives MIDI mappings are a no brainer – I was so surprised when I started out using Ableton Live how easy it is to set up some MIDI control via external MIDI controller – and especially in my case with electronic drum gear. Just activate the MIDI MAP mode – everything which lights up blue now is ‘map-able’ – select the parameter you want to map – press your midi controller button (or dial) or hit your electronic drum pad – DONE!

This was like magic come true to me, a very basic, straight forward and very accessable concept here!

How to MIDI map in Ableton Live

BUT accessibility comes with limitations here!

I often have clients who are surpised that once having pads / buttons from a MIDI controller mapped like just described – this pad / button is not available anymore for triggering sounds. This concept makes sense for most use cases: a pad/note triggering some MIDI remote control e.g. switching to the next scene or song shouldn’t trigger a sample at the same time (again in most cases).

But this means as well no flexibilty in changing a MIDI mapping: e.G. if you want a pad to trigger some sample and later in your set you want the same pad to switch on/off an audio effect – NOT POSSIBLE via Ableton Live native MIDI mapping. (Yes of course there are ways like having a MIDI / e drum controller which can switch the ‘internal’ MIDI note ‘tuning’ /settings but it depends if your hardware is able to do this.)

One solution for automating MIDI mappings in Ableton Live:

Wouldn’t it be great to automate this? Well there are a few ways of doing that: ClyphX MIDI bindings, remote scripts, dummy clip routed via IAC/virtual MIDI connections with automation on their + (un)muting tracks and of course: MAX FOR LIVE.

I think Max for Live route is the most user friendly way, well I designed a few devices for that which makes it very easy to set this up. You just drag and drop those devices and set up your mappings.

Map control flexible via Max for Live

But lets go through this step by step.

Set it up:

You just place one of the Note to MAP devices on a MIDI Track. Select or ‘sync’ your dedicated MIDI note pitch from your external MIDI controller or electronic drum, Then MAP the parameter you want to control. First step is done.

Set up a MIDI note to contol Ableton Live

Automate and change the control

ONLY when the Max for Live device is swiched to ON, this mapping is active. If you want a different mapping for a certain MIDI note, just use a second Max for Live device for that. Switching between the two devices On+Off can be automated easily by MIDI clips envelopes on that track or via automations in Arrangement View.

using dummy clips to switch devices on and off

Getting some more deeper control

I started to create a lot of those devices. The first edition covers “Note to MAP” functions. You sometime want some more control then only triggering between two value changes? So far I created 5 devices:

“Two Values” – switching between two values

– “Random” – triggering random values

-“Up+Down – One Direction” – going up (or down) a certain range

-“Up+Down – Two Directions” -triggering one value up with one note and one down with another note

-“Steps” – triggering up to 64 steps of editable values

This should give you some more and flexible control for controling Ableton Lives parameters via MIDI notes.

You can get all those devices as a bundle HERE!