New MPE MIDI tools in Ableton Live 12.1

12.1 is now in beta and they’ve begun to harness the MIDI Tools system introduced in 12 to do some MPE stuff. I havent tried it yet but I will do soon.

(thats from the release notes at Live 12 Beta Release Notes | Ableton )

Their new Auto Shift pitch tracking and correction device has an MPE mode too, but I didnt really figure out what the MPE mode of this device does yet.

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I just started playing with the LFO one and I love it already. Couldnt be bothered to create MPE data in a DAW before now, but this device removes enough tedium that I will probably bother from now on.

I will now probably get lost in a world of chord drones with per note modulation.


I have now tried the Auto Shift device with MPE and it does indeed let me play polyphonically a retuned audio input, with MPE pitch bending and the ability to assign other MPE dimensions of expression to the formant and volume controls.

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The glissando effect is contextually useful, but I think on the whole, I’d rather just use the mouse as before.

yeah, not something Id likely use…

but I do like the fact Ableton are still focusing on MPE (a bit).
I feared, they might just have ‘ticked the MPE box’ and moved on :wink:

also its interesting, they seem to want to make MPE (or rather per note expression) useful to those without mpe controllers. thats good as it broadens the use-cases, so again hopefully gets a bit more attention.

Q. what’s the change for release velocity?
they mention a dedicated lane on midi editor…
but in 12.0 it already has this (mpe tab), does them mean its moved from mpe to note tab?

anyway, my main hope is 12.1 cleans up the UI around ‘midi tools’.
I think, many, found it confusing about when things like generate would apply changes and to what, and if you could combine effects across the tools.
it does look like they are working on this, given the talk of auto-apply and chains.
hopefully, once 12.1 is out the door, these tools as well as powerful, will become a bit easier / more predictable to use.

In current betas they’ve copied it rather than moved it, so you can opt to see it in the note tab or the mpe tab or both or neither.

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This is good and bad news, I suppose.

I rather enjoyed having release velocity available to max for live, as a secret means to embed arbitrary per note messages in a midi clip.

If people are going to learn about release velocity, let alone use it for it’s intended purpose, I’ll have to abandon that approach. :wink:

I guess you could use Poly Pressure?
afaik, theres no support for poly pressure in the Live UI

perhaps one day, Ableton will start properly supporting midi :wink:
Poly Pressure and also per channel CC

whilst technically not ‘correct’ as channel != note (*) , they could rename MPE to ‘per note’ and add poly pressure and arbitrary CC there.

I know, I know, mpe allows for multiple notes per voice channel, but Im all for simplifying this.
esp. since midi 2.0 will ditch this limitation when we get proper per note expression.

my guess… probably Ableton are leaning this way, they know midi 2.0 is coming, so they’d be kind of foolish to tie thier note expression too closely to mpe.

hopefully this is just ‘branding’ … and as soon as we get midi 2.0 per note expression, MPE will ‘disappear’ , replaced with note expression.

keeping mpe as a “poor man’s” midi 1.0 implementation of (limited) per note expression.

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I dont know what enables that guess? I dont think this release velocity change does, if anything thats more of a recognition that actually release velocity isnt part of MPE, its part of MIDI 1.0 more broadly. It just happened that ROLI used ‘5 dimensions of touch’ in their marketing, reminding some devs that release velocity already existed, but that also caused some to assume that its specifically part of MPE when it isnt, ie it doesnt need multiple channels to operate on a per note basis.

As for MIDI 2.0 and DAWs, I find the likely pathway very hard to predict indeed. Theres so much in MIDI 2.0, and I dont know which bits DAWs will implement first, nor the extent of how much internal data structure and pipe refactoring will be required. And I dont know how they will try to keep their UIs somewhat elegant in the face of so many options.

And the MIDI spec people are hedging their bets a bit in terms of adoption pace, for example causing them to develop the MPE Profile for MIDI 2.0 rather than assuming everyone will leap straight to the new forms of per note expression instead.

Plus if the past is any guide, there are issues with another vital part of the full note expression picture - the interface between the DAW and the plugins in regards note expression data. Mostly a sad state of affairs where VST3 note expression stuff has poor adoption beyond Steinberg, and where CLAP has its own version of this too which seems to be better loved by devs but sadly subject to the limited adoption of CLAP within DAWs overall.

I actually had cause to look again at per note expression on the plugin side of things recently, when considering whether the current on sale price of HALion was worth it as a non-cubase owner who wants per note expression in that plugin. But the same picture as ever was revealed, the same thing some users have complained about for years - Steinberg have a flexible but tedious approach to this stuff in Cubase, necessitating config that may confuse users. Bitwig has the opposite problem, trying to keep their VST3 note expression support largely invisible to users and limited to the same dimensions as their MPE support offers. And this falls down with HALion in particular because Steinberg didnt bake the other couple of MPE-like dimensions into HALions note expression mod sources list, it creates new ones that probably only surface in Cubase, leaving the likes of Bitwig with just the per-note pitch bend working in HALion. If MIDI 2.0 per note expression stuff is to gain traction, both the DAWs and plugin devs will have to do so much better in these areas, and implementation complexity issues may make it attractive for them to stick to an ‘MPE is good enough’ approach for longer than we’d like.

Given this past, I do struggle to make confident predictions about how quickly either DAWs or plugin makers will manage to adopt MIDI 2.0 per note expression stuff, adding to an already messy chicken-and-egg feel to MIDI 2.0 adoption.

You have to remember, Ableton has no respect for channel numbers.

As before, anything that isn’t MPE gets routed to channel 1, and anything that is gets reassigned to new channels, round-robin style.

So, “per note” is more in like with Ableton’s worldview than “per channel”.

Oh, that’s a whole other level of eccentricity.

Ableton views polyAT and per-note channel aftertouch as equivalent, and uses the same space on the piano roll (in the MPE tab) for both.

If one or more devices in the chain support MPE, the MIDI clip outputs per-note channel aftertouch.

If not, that same data is output as PolyAT.

They are treated as equivalent.

…which is a little awkward, since PolyAT has 128 voice polyphony (per channel), where channel per note caps out at 15 voices.

I am hopeful that MIDI 2.0 can wrangle in some of that nonsense.

In 12.1 beta 5 we now have the ability to tell it whether to apply its tuning system to a particular MPE-capable device or not:

" It is now possible to apply tuning to MPE-capable plug-ins and Max for Live devices via a context menu in the plug-in/device header."

(I dont think the option shows up in the menu unless you already have a tuning system selected)

Does applying that tuning still disable per-note bend?

(I’ll be a lot more excited about this feature when it overlays atop expressive control, rather than replace it.)