Tagged: foot switch

tutorial: live looping with ableton live and boss fc-50

Since I realize there’s a bunch of not-german-speaking people out there willing to learn something about using the Boss FC-50 with Ableton Live as a loop station, I decided to translate my ariticle into awful english. tomauger.com already did half of the work – thanks for this! But still there is a little difference in how we wanted things to work.

My aim was to use only one single footswitch for one single loop-track.

Most approaches (also tomauger’s) required to use at least two footswitches for one track: The first for recording, the second for playing back the loop. Maybe also a third one to delete the scene. (If you want to loop a midi track you have to use even a fourth one in order to aim the track for playing). One could also try to use two other footswitches in order to select next/last scene/track. But all that means:  You have to use a lot of footswitches everytime you want to loop a single track.  It gets complicated, and thats not only uncomfortable but also dangerous in a live situation!

With the 6 pedals of my Boss I’m now able to control 10 (!) tracks.

It will work this way:

  • Footswitch 1 (FS 1/6) first hit: Start recording Track 1
  • (FS 1/6) second hit: Stop recording on Track 1 and play recorded sound in loop
  • (FS 1/6) third hit: Delete the loop and start recording Track 1 again
  • (FS 1/6) fourth hit: Stop recording, play loop…
  • and so on…

Remember: Switch 6 on the FC-50 is not working as a real trigger but kind of as an CAPS-Lock – but only kind of. Tomager wrote about that:

The one stupid thing that it does though (for my purposes) is that this 6th switch will send whatever PC Message would be triggered by whichever of the 1-5 (or 6-10) switch was last pressed. Let me state this more clearly using an example:

  • If you press Footswitch 1 (FS 1/6) by default the FC-50 sends PC #1
  • If you then press FS 2/7 by default it sends PC #2. So far so good.
  • If you then press the Bank Switcher (A/B) to switch to the higher bank (6-10), it will send PC #7, because FS 2/7 was last pressed and now that we’re in Bank B, FS2/7 sends PC #7.
  • If you then press FS 1/6, it sends PC #6, as one would expect.

This is a pain in the arse.

Yes, it definitely is. But with my approach this doesn’t lead to show-stop because using the Bank Switcher will cause nothing more than aiming a specific track in Ableton: For example, if you press FS1/6, Track 1 will be aimed. If you then press the Bank Switcher, Track 6 will be aimed. And so on.

Here’s a little tutorial how to use my script:

Preconditions

  1. A Boss FC-50 (of course, this will also work with other pedals sending progam-change commands)
  2. Download Bome’s Midi Translator (the free “classic” version works fine enough)
  3. Ableton Live (It works with all versions)

How to do it

Download my srcipt and open it in Bome’s Midi-Translator. Then map the keyboard commands in Ableton as follows:

Important: Use capital letters! You can also use my Ableton file.

You don’t have to make more midi configuration in Ableton, but in Bome’s Midi Translator (if you didn’t do that before). In the menu, select the midi-in you hooked up your FC-50. Midi-Out is of none importance since we want to send keyboard commands to ableton.

Now things should work:  Switch to Ableton and trigger footswitch 1. Track 1 will be aimed for recording. If you trigger the same Footswitch again, it will start recording on track 1. Trigger one more time and recording will stop and play the recorded sound in loop.

In case it doesn’t work, try out this:

  • Your Boss might be connected badly. In Bome’s Midi-Translator a light is blinking down to the left if the program is recieving Midi data.
  • You pedal doesn’t support program-change commands or it’s sending other ones than the fc-50 does. Then you have to start editing my Midi-Translator script.
  • You didn’t use CAPITAL LETTERS in Ableton.
  • …or caps is activated on your keyboard.

So what’s the big deal about this script? How does it work?

The problem with Bome’s Midi-Translator is, that only one specific keyboard action (or string) can be assigned to one specific midi signal. The program doesn’t understand that a footswitch was already triggered before (e.g. for aiming a track) and that we now want him to execute another command if the switch will be triggered again (e.g. for recording the loop).

The solution can be found in Midi-Translator itself. With the software you’re not only able to execute keyboard commands, but also preset changes.

With this feature it is possible to assign to a footswitch BOTH a keyboard-command AND a Bome’s-internal preset switch (or change) . In this now activated preset, the footswitch is assigned to other commands than in the preset which was active before. The commands of the other footswitches will remain the same in this preset.  This you have to do for ALL the footswitches on EVERY step (aim, rec, play, del).

The script will get really confusing with increasing tracknumber, number of switches and numner of steps. So everyone who wants to f*** up his brain, feel free to take a look into the script and edit it ad libitum!

I look forward to see something of your approaches!