How to fix sustain in Ableton Live

MIDI Sustain in Ableton Live can be recorded and edited into a MIDI clip. You can as well use an external MIDI controller to send a MIDI Sustain Message into a MIDI track in Ableton Live. Unfortunately Ableton Live handles MIDI Sustain messages in a way which can lead to MIDI notes sustaining indefinitely. I made a Max for Live device which will turn off and fix MIDI notes that stuck in Ableton Live. You can get it with the “Sustain Notes Pack” which consists of 5 Max for Live devices:

  • “Sustain Buttons” via click or MIDI/KEY MAP via 2 buttons, one for ‘Sustain-On’ and one for ‘Sustain-Off’
  • “Sustain Toggle” which triggers ‘Sustain On’ + ‘Sustain Off’ via one toggle button.
  • “Block Sustain / CC#64” will block all sustain infos from MIDI clips or live MIDI note input.
  • “Fix Sustain and Stuck hanging notes” – Sustain Pedal Off” Message is being send as soon you stop Ableton Live’s transport
  • “Translate Sustain to Note On + Off” 
Fix Sustain in ableton Live

What is MIDI Sustain and how to master sustain in Ableton Live?

MIDI sustain is a feature of MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface). MIDI notes or chord will continue to sound after a key or keys on a keyboard have been released. This effect is similar to the sustain pedal on a piano. It lifts the dampers off the strings and allows them to vibrate freely. This way the sound is sustaining even after the player’s hands are lifted from the keys.

How to sustain MIDI notes in Ableton Live?

You can activate the sustain effect through the use of MIDI continuous control messages (MIDI CC #64). When a sustain pedal is pressed down on a MIDI keyboard or other controller, a sustain message is sent to the connected device, telling it to sustain any notes that are currently being played. You can lift the pedal to generate a sustain off message. If you don’t own a MIDI controller with a sustain pedal input you can use my “Sustain Buttons” or “Sustain Toggle” Max for Live devices.

How to create MIDI sustain without a sustain pedal in Ableton Live?

Just place the “Sustain Buttons” /or “Sustain Toggle” Max for Live device on a MIDI Track. Place it in front of the Ableton Instruments. You can MIDI map the buttons to any MIDI controller buttons and pedals. When you activate the “Sustain” via the Max for Live devices you will block Note Off messages until you trigger the “Sustain” again. This is a different technique than the common MIDI Sustain. The notes triggered and recorded into a MIDI clip will get the length until you trigger “Sustain Off” in the Max for Live devices.

What is the midi controller number for sustain?

The MIDI control change number for sustain is 64. You will activate sustain when you send a “MIDI Control Change” message #64 with a value of 127. Similarly, releasing the sustain pedal sends a “MIDI Control Change” message with a value of 0 to controller number 64. This will turn the the sustain effect off,

How to edit sustain pedal and hold pedal MIDI (CC 64) in Ableton Live?

Once recorded you can edit MIDI sustain messages inside MIDI clips in Ableton Live. You will need to select the Envelope View for MIDI Clips. Select “MIDI Ctrl” and “64: Sustain Pedal” to view the recorded changes for the MIDI Sustain messages. The value “127” will activate the sustain (“Pedal Down”) and “0” will de-activate the sustain (‘Pedal Up’). +

stop hanging notes and fix sustain in Ableton Live

How can I disable the MIDI sustain pedal (CC64) in Ableton Live?

You can drag and drop the “Block Sustain” Max for Live plug in to disable all sustain MIDI messages passing through. This will work for live MIDI notes and as well for MIDI notes from a MIDI clip.

How to stop MIDI notes and fix sustain in Ableton Live? 

As mentioned earlier MIDI notes can be stuck and hang in Ableton Live. This will happen if the last MIDI CC 64 message sent the value 127. Ableton Live would need a “Pedal Off” MIDI message to de-activate all hanging notes. You can use the “Fix Sustain and Stuck hanging notes” Max for Live device to take care of this. When you stop Ableton Live’s transport the CC 64 message will the value “0” will be send and will de-activate and fix sustain in Ableton Live.

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