Using the Arpeggiator in Ableton Live

Using the Arpeggiator in Ableton Live

Find all there is to know about the Ableton Live arpeggio effect, the Arpeggiator.

The Arpeggiator lets you create inspiring tone sequences by taking the notes that you play and turning them into a rhythmic pattern. Here we'll go through all the features and settings of the Ableton Live Arpeggiator.

What is the Arpeggiator?

The Arpeggiator is a MIDI Effect that is available in all Ableton Live versions — Intro (previously called Lite, Standard and, finally, the Ableton Live Suite — which lets you trigger notes in various orders and rhythms, with adjustable settings such as groove, transposition and velocity.

Using the Arpeggiator

Adding the Arpeggiator to your track in Ableton Live is as simple as opening the MIDI Effects folder and dragging the Arpeggiator "folder" to your rack (the bottom part of your screen).

If you want to use any of the presets, you can expand the Arpeggiator folder and simply drag one of the presets instead.

Remember, the Arpeggiator MIDI Effect must be placed before the instrument it's supposed to control in your rack. This means that it should be to the left of the instrument in the rack.

Arpeggiator Settings

The Arpeggiator MIDI Effect in Ableton Live offers a variety of different settings, each one letting your setup your unique sequence sound and character. Let's go through each setting and explain how it affects your arpeggio output.

Style

The Style of the Arpeggiator is the setting that changes how it moves between the notes; Up, Down, Random, etc. The various Styles available in the Arpeggiator are the following:

  • Up (default)
  • Down
  • UpDown
  • DownUp
  • Up & Down
  • Down & Up
  • Converge
  • Diverge
  • Con & Diverge
  • Pinky Up
  • Pinky UpDown
  • Thumb Up
  • Thumb UpDown
  • Play Order
  • Chord Trigger
  • Random
  • Random Other
  • Random Once

Groove

The Groove setting of the Arpeggiator lets you adjust the strictness of the arpeggio; should it be played right on the beat or should it have a "swing" effect?

The available Arpeggiator Grooves are:

  • Straight (default)
  • Swing 8
  • Swing 16
  • Swing 32

The more swing you tell the Arpeggiator to play more "loosely" which can fit some music genres.

Sync

This setting selects whether or not the Arpeggiator should sync to Ableton's tempo or have it's own tempo, which you can then set if you disable the sync. This is an on/off toggle switch.

When the Sync option is activated you can change the Rate from 1/1 to 1/128 of Ableton's tempo, and when it's off you set the Arpeggiator tempo in milliseconds ranging from 10 ms to 1000 ms (one second).

Retrigger

The Retrigger options of the Arpeggiator are the following:

  • Off (default)
  • Beat
  • Note

Select Beat if you want the Arpeggiator to automatically retrigger your pressed notes on each beat, and select Note if you want the Arpeggiator to only retrigger if you press a new note. The Off selection is the default value of the Arpeggiator Retrigger feature.

Offset

The Offset setting of the Arpeggiator offsets your entire arpeggio pattern by the value you select. This setting can be set between -8 and +8, with a default value of 0.

Gate

The Gate setting of the Arpeggiator lets you choose how short or long the notes played in the effect should be. This is set in percentage of a note, ranging from 1 % — lowest value and shortest notes — to 200 % — meaning the notes will be played at double the note duration. The default value of the Gate setting is 50 %.

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