This article was originally written in 2014 (or earlier) as a Max for Live guide for Liquid Rhythm 1.4.5 (or earlier). In Liquid Music, the Max for Live plugin operates by alternating between using Liquid Rhythm for drum rack tracks (similar to as described below), and displays the harmony / melody tools from Liquid Music on harmonic tracks (though this can be overridden to use Liquid Rhythm on tracks which have been classified by Ableton as harmonic / melodic tracks, similar to as described below but with a different process to enable Liquid Rhythm tools on these tracks). For more information about Max for Live with Liquid Music read this article.
Liquid Rhythm is optimized to work best with Ableton Live’s Drum Racks.
Notice that when you load a Drum Rack into Live and select a MIDI clip in that track, Liquid Rhythm’s tracks display the instrument names from the Drum Rack.
Note: Even though Liquid Rhythm can be used with any sampler or softsynth, the instrument names are only synchronized with Drum Racks.
Using Liquid Rhythm with Other MIDI Samplers and Instruments
Liquid Rhythm Max patch can be used to edit any MIDI clip in Live. However, by default, Liquid Rhythm prevents editing a MIDI clip that does not have a Drum Rack in its track. Selecting a MIDI clip that doesn’t have a Drum Rack will disable Liquid Rhythm’s window, and the following message will be displayed:
“By default, Liquid Rhythm reads MIDI from Drum Rack clips only. To edit any MIDI clip, open the Settings panel in Liquid Rhythm by pressing Cmd+[comma] / Ctrl+[comma], select the “Clip Mode” tab, and check off “Enable Liquid Rhythm for clips without Drum Racks”.”
This is because Liquid Rhythm is currently optimized to work with Drum Rack.
To use Liquid Rhythm with other MIDI plugins, such as Simpler, Operator, Battery, BFD, and Kontakt:
1) Select the Liquid Rhythm window and open the Preferences/Settings window (to bring it up when the window is disabled, press Ctrl-comma for PC / Command-comma for Mac).
2) Click the “Clip Mode” tab
3) Click the checkbox titled “Enable Liquid Rhythm for clips without Drum Racks.”
“Enable Liquid Rhythm for clips without Drum Racks”
Hiding and Showing the Liquid Rhythm Window
To show or hide the Liquid Rhythm window, minimize it or move it around. Alternatively, switch between it and Live using Cmd/Alt+Tab.
Liquid Rhythm can be resized. An example of a convenient setup would be to resize Live on one side, and Liquid Rhythm on the other:
It’s highly recommended to not press the close button on the Liquid Rhythm window, because opening it back up takes some time. To open the window after it’s been closed, click the logo in the Max patch in Ableton Live.
Click the logo in the Max patch to bring back the Liquid Rhythm window.
As discussed higher up in this page, there can only be one instance of the Liquid Rhythm Max for Live device loaded in an Ableton Live project at a time, and because only one Liquid Rhythm window is needed to edit any MIDI clip on any track.
The recommended workflow involves loading Liquid Rhythm into its own MIDI track and creating MIDI clips in other tracks.
The reason for this is as follows: Liquid Rhythm constantly monitors MIDI flowing through the patch. If you MIDI-map any parameter in Liquid Rhythm (for use with a hardware MIDI controller, for example), the MIDI note data flowing through the patch may cause MIDI-mapped parameters to be triggered (if the incoming MIDI note numbers correspond to the MIDI note numbers of the MIDI-mapped parameters in Liquid Rhythm). This will cause very unexpected results, and may result in a MIDI feedback loop. (Note: A few users have found an interesting benefit to this, though – for example, MIDI-mapping the Randomizer to incoming MIDI note numbers can have interesting, dynamically changing patterns to be generated)
It’s fine for Liquid Rhythm to not exist on the same track as a MIDI clip because Liquid Rhythm constantly “watches” the session view – any time a MIDI clip is selected in Live, Liquid Rhythm updates itself to display the contents of that clip. This works on clips on every MIDI track, not just the track Liquid Rhythm is loaded into.
Example setup – Liquid Rhythm Max patch on track 1, Drum Racks on tracks 2 and 3, and fourth track with Ableton’s Operator synth:
In Ableton Live…
1) Load Liquid Rhythm into a MIDI track. For example, track 1. Remember to not create and edit MIDI clips in this track!
2) Create three MIDI tracks (tracks 2, 3, and 4). Load Drum Racks into tracks 2 and 3. Load an Operator into track 4.
3) Create and edit MIDI clips in tracks 2, 3, and 4.
4) (Optional) Press the “Arm Session Record” button on track 1 to send MIDI control to Liquid Rhythm (for more info, see below (“Using a MIDI Controller”)).
Using a MIDI Controller
The majority of Liquid Rhythm’s parameters and features can be controlled with a MIDI controller:
1) In Ableton Live: track Mixer section: Press the “Arm Session Record” button on the track that contains the Liquid Rhythm Max patch track. Ableton Live will now pass MIDI into Liquid Rhythm.
2) In Ableton Live: track In/Out section: Choose “MIDI from” input source. (For example, “All Ins”)
3) In Ableton Live: Select a MIDI clip to activate the Liquid Rhythm window
4) In Liquid Rhythm: Activate MIDI Map Mode (Ctrl-M for PC / Command-M for Mac) to begin mapping MIDI controls to the controller
5) In Liquid Rhythm: Select a button, controller, or mappable command, and press a button on the MIDI controller to map it.
6) When finished mapping, deactivate MIDI Map Mode.
How to transfer MIDI notes between Liquid Rhythm and MIDI clips in Ableton Live
Liquid Rhythm to Ableton Live:
Note edits in Liquid Rhythm are automatically updated in the MIDI clip in Ableton Live.
Ableton Live to Liquid Rhythm:
Note edits in Ableton Live are not automatically updated in Liquid Rhythm. Liquid Rhythm requires a manual refresh. To do so, click on the Liquid Rhythm window to give it focus, causing Liquid Rhythm to refresh. (The reason it works this way is because if transferring notes from Liquid Rhythm to Ableton Live was automatic – and transferring notes from Ableton Live to Liquid Rhythm was automatic – there would be an infinite feedback loop!)
Tips & Tricks
Using Liquid Rhythm to Create Melody Patterns
Liquid Rhythm is designed to create, generate, and edit rhythm patterns for drum tracks. However, you’re not limited to creating drum tracks with it – it can also be used for melodic composition as well.
Note: Ensure Liquid Rhythm can edit MIDI clips in tracks that contain instruments other than Drum Racks. (see Using Liquid Rhythm with Other MIDI Samplers and Instruments< above)
In Ableton Live…
1) Open the Browser and load an instrument. For example: load Analogue Bass.
2) Select the MIDI Effects category in the Browser and find the Scale plugin. Click the triangle to expand its list of presets, and load one into the same track as the instrument in the previous step. For example, C Minor is a good starting point.
3) Create a new MIDI clip in that same track, and switch over to Liquid Rhythm.
In Liquid Rhythm…
4) Scroll down until the track headers indicate you’re looking at an appropriate octave (lower octaves, such as zero or one, would be appropriate for bass.)
5) Select a few bars and create MIDI patterns. For example: Select the first bar of the note B0 and drag upwards to G0, such that the first bar of all the notes in between are selected. In the Molecule Tools panel below, press Surprise Me! in the Randomizer to randomly generate a pattern.
In summary, Liquid Rhythm sends MIDI notes to the MIDI clip in track with the Analogue Bass instrument. The Scale MIDI plugin transposes the incoming MIDI notes so that they are all on the correct key of C Minor. The C Minor key-adjusted notes enter the Analogue Bass instrument.
Folding Tracks in Liquid Rhythm
Collapse Tracks in Liquid Rhythm
To collapse tracks in Liquid Rhythm, right-click on the track header and choose “Collapse Track” or “Collapse All Tracks.” Right-click and choose “Expand” to revert. (A quick shortcut is to click on the very strip of color at the right side of the track’s header.)