not everybody likes to stutter. but in a lot of modern production it can be a cool effect to add to a vocal or synth. a fast stutter can give a sound the energy it needs to stand out; a stutter is also capable of hiding a part behind your percussion if you need it to be transparent. one of the most basic and versatile effects, here are three ways to achieve it in ableton -- watch how the different methods affect the waveform and sound of the pink noise I used to demonstrate.
method 1: beats warp mode
the beats warp mode is one of my favorite features of ableton. it is my primary creative driver and favorite mixing tool. generally, one would set the preserve to transients but you can set it to follow note divisions. in this example, I set it to 1/16th notes and pulled down the shape until I heard what I wanted.
this method is very fast, effectively a few clicks away from every clip in your set. the downside is that it can't be automated (so you have to record out any changes - or split clips in sections that need a different shape/division) and it doesn't do triplet divisions.
method 2: auto pan
this is another very fast one that can be very versatile. the key is setting the phase to 0˚ so that the cycles align on either channel and work together. from there, adjust the controls to taste. syncing the rate is usually a good idea, I like the amount very high but it functions as a handy dry/wet control if you're looking for subtlety. the shape mode is interesting - it makes the cuts "harder", closer to a square wave. the sine wave can be interesting, and so can letting a little phase back in to make your sound needs some bouncy width. the downside to using auto pan for this job is you can't really get a tight staccato from the fixed shapes.
method 3: sidechain gate
this might be the hardest to set up but it gives you the most options. add a gate to the sound you want stuttered and activate the sidechain mode. feed it a muted track of a very short sound hitting the pattern you want. I used an arpeggiator to get a consistent 16th note rhythm set to an operator with almost no decay. then I used the release of the gate to control how extreme I wanted the effect.
what I love about this is method is you can make the gate only a tiny fraction of your sound at each division. I love how staccato this can become; staccatissimo, if you will. another nice feature is you can very easily vary the release to make your stutter less machinist -- an evolving gate sounds much more organic and can open compositional possibilities. the best part of all is it is all fully automatable and and you can feed in any rhythm you want - even a dynamic one that isn't simply hitting every 16th or 8th note.
those are three ways you can stutter sounds in ableton live! I encourage you to experiment with these methods as the results can be inspiring.
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