The PerforModule Key Map Template for Ableton Live 11: mapping computer keyboard keys to as many potentially helpful functions as practical.
There are three parts to the template:
•a Live Set pre-loaded with the recommended key mappings,
•a Diagram showing color-coded key functions, and
•a Spreadsheet listing custom-mapped and built-in key mappings, also explaining some quirks.
Mosey on over to this dropbox folder to download the Key Map Template Live Set, Key Map Plan Diagram, and Spreadsheet Guide. Read on for nauseatingly meticulous details below.
Key Map Live Set
Note! Before anything else, please save a backup copy of your existing Default Set. It’s also recommended to save any effect chains on return tracks or the 2buss (aka master channel) as Audio Effect Racks into your User Library in case you need to rebuild them later.
“Start with Template” Method: Might be a good choice if you have a mostly bare Default Set.
Open the PerforModule KeyMap Template, then edit it to suit your functional and aesthetic preferences. Rebuild tracks as you desire, using your backup and saved racks to hasten to process. Remap MIDI Controller assignments. When finished, select “Save as Default Set”.
“Input Keymappings” Method: If you already have a personalized Default Set with complex mappings and routings you don’t want to have to rebuild, this might be a preferable method.
Start with your existing Default Set, then manually input the key mappings you desire from the Mapped Keys list below (press CTRL k / CMD k to engage Key Map Mode) before “Saving as Default Set”.
Key Map Plan
Key Map Diagram Misc. Notes:
•Shifted keys are shown above dotted lines.
•Mode-dependent dual-function keys are shown with a slash and a color fade. The momentary function of these keys may change based on Live’s current state — or what is selected.
•G for Groove has its min/max set to hop between 0 and 100%.
•The melodic keyboard keys are black and white.
•Keys involving launching playback are green.
•Keys involving recording are red.
•Mode activators of various sorts are light blue.
•Keys to do with clips are lavender.
•Navigation keys, dark teal.
•Dark grey keys are the unmappable ones.
Key Map Guide
There are six types of keys: Mapped Keys, Soft-Wired Keys, Computer MIDI Keyboard Keys, Hard-Wired Keys, Unmapped Keys, and Nonfunctional Keys.
•Mapped Keys are the ones assigned according to the PerforModule Key Map Plan.
•Soft-Wired Keys have built-in functions, but can be overwritten by mappings (on accident or on purpose).
•Computer MIDI Keyboard Keys can be mapped. Some are also soft-wired with built-in functions. When MIDI Keyboard Mode is enabled, the note, octave, and velocity keys take precedence over their soft-wired or mapped functions.
•Hard-Wired Keys: these have ever-present built-in functions you cannot change or map over.
•Non-Functional Keys are basically worthless and unhelpful.
|~||Stop All Clips|
|p||Loop Selected Clip(s)|
|[||Crossfader Left Position|
|]||Crossfader Center Position|
|\||Crossfader Right Position|
|F||Enable Follow Actions Globally|
|G||Groove (0 ~ 100%)|
|L||Set / Delete Locator|
|;||Set Selected Clip Loop Start|
|‘||Set Selected Clip Loop End|
|:||Set Selected Clip Start|
|“||Set Selected Clip End|
|N||Prepare New Recording Scene|
|,||Tempo Nudge Slower|
|.||Tempo Nudge Faster|
|/||Follow (Display Scroll)|
|N7||Cancel Cued Scene Launch|
|N4||Selected Clip(s) Quantize‡|
|N1||Nudge Clip (Rewind)‡|
|N3||Nudge Clip (Fast-Forward)‡|
|N .||MIDI Arrangement Overdub|
(remappable built-in functions — mapping overwrites).
|0||Activate / Reset†|
|w||Optimize Arrangement Width†|
|t||Audition Take Lane†|
|u||Unfold Selected Track(s)†|
|s||Solo Selected Track(s)†|
|d||Drum Rack <-> last-selected Pad†|
|h||Optimize Arrangement Height†|
|c||Arm Selected Track(s)†|
|m||Computer MIDI Keyboard†|
|N0||Activate / Reset|
Computer MIDI Keyboard Mode Keys
(mapping does not overwrite — works with either lower or upper case)
|A||Low C Note|
|W||Low C#/D♭ Note|
|S||Low D Note|
|K||High C Note|
|O||High C#/D♭ Note|
|L||High D Note|
(non-remappable, built-in functions)
|Esc||Close / Exit|
|F10||Back to Arrangement|
|F12||Clip ↔ Device View|
|–||Zoom Out / Fold|
|+||Zoom In / Unfold|
|Shift Tab||Clip↔Device View|
|Shift Enter||Selection Preview, Enable Follow Action|
|Shift||Modifier for many functions|
|CMD/CTRL||Modifier for many functions|
|Alt||Modifier for many functions|
|Space||Play / Stop|
|Shift Space||Continue / Stop|
|Home||Move Insert Marker to Beginning|
|End||Move Insert Marker to End|
|Page Up||Scroll Vertically Up|
|Page Down||Scroll Vertically Down|
(free to map as you wish without affecting the template)
|w or W†|
|t or T†|
|u or U†|
|a or A†|
|s or S†|
|d or D†|
|h or H†|
|z or Z†|
|x or X†|
|c or C†|
|v or V†|
|b or B†|
|m or M†|
(aren’t helpful for Ableton Live)
|Number Lock (keep this locked ON please)|
Key Map Guide Notes
‡Global Quantize (Q) and Clip Quantize (Num4) both cycle through respective options with each press of the key.
Global Quantize Cycle (fourteen steps): …None→8 Bars→4 Bars→2 Bars→1 Bar→½→½T→¼→¼T→⅛→⅛T→⅟16→⅟16T→⅟32→None…
Clip Quantize Cycle (fifteen steps): …Global→None→8 Bars→4 Bars→2 Bars→1 Bar→½→½T→¼→¼T→⅛→⅛T→⅟16→⅟16T→⅟32→Global…
Nudge Clip (both Rewind and Fast-Forward) will move playheads in selected clips by the Global Quantize amount (not the Clip Quantize amount as one might reasonably presume). This means that when using Clip Nudge on multiple selected clips, they are all moved by the same amount.
†For certain soft-wired letter keys, assigned built-in functions will operate whether Caps Lock is on or not, unless both case versions are mapped. If you map both lower and upper case versions of one of these keys, you’ll lose access to its built-in key function.
(Example: with a and A both unmapped, tapping the a key would toggle Automation Mode on or off, whether or not Caps Lock is on. Tapping Shift a would do nothing, whether or not Caps Lock is on. If one were to map a to something but left A unmapped, a would no longer toggle Automation Mode on a normal press, but still would on a Caps-Locked press. On the other hand, were one to map A to something and leave a unmapped, lowercase a would still toggle Automation Mode but a Shifted or Caps-Locked version would do the mapped function instead. Confused yet?)
0 ) for Activate/Reset has the interesting quirk of still working when shift is pressed, as long as the closed parenthesis character isn’t mapped to anything. Whether or not ) is mapped, 0 always works when Caps Lock is on. Odd!
The built-in functions disabled during Computer MIDI Keyboard Mode include Automation Mode, Solo, Drum<->Pad, Momentary Fade, Optimize Width, Optimize Height, Audition Take Lane, and Unfold (although Unfold is redundantly supplied by the + keys as well).
The template-mapped functions that are disabled while in Computer MIDI Keyboard Mode are F for Enable Follow Actions Globally, G for Groove, K for Capture, and L for Set Locator. If you need to enact any of these actions at the same time as using the Computer MIDI Keyboard, you could map them to one of the unmapped keys instead.
Though not shown on the diagram due to space considerations, the comma and period keys can be used to tab between fields when inputting number values into a “Bar.beat.16th” style field.
A bug? The Key mapped to Session Record, underscore in our template, seems to always instantly launch recording in the selected scene in all armed tracks when it is pressed, despite whether or not “Start Playback with Record” is checked in the settings menu. To enable Session Record without also launching, click the button with the good ol’ mouse instead.
Even More Key Commands
There are a LOT more hard-wired keyboard shortcuts available, but they require more than a single key press and so are not that simple to show on a key map diagram. They will not be listed here since Ableton’s manual covers that quite adequately. Some personal favorites:
•CTRL/CMD Shift Alt e: Enable/Disable the audio engine. When working with high-CPU sets, during idle times or to reduce load for other tasks, it can be nice to instantly cut the audio engine off without having to fiddle about in menus… and back on when you’re ready to get to work.
•Shift Arrow Up & Down Keys: After selecting a parameter you want to adjust the value of, hold shift while tapping up and down on the arrow keys for ⅟10th the resolution incrementing (just like you can with Shift Mouse Dragging).
•CTRL/CMD Arrow Keys: Use to jump to key points in an arrangement: locators, clip edges, and grid points.
•CTRL/CMD D and CTRL/CMD Shift D: Duplicate and Duplicate Time. The first duplicates a copy of whatever you have selected and appends it to itself, without adjusting the existing timeline in any way. Duplicate Time does the same, but inserts the duplication slice into the timeline, shifting everything past that moment the same distance further.
•ALT Drag: Hold ALT while dragging a clip, locator, or breakpoint to have it snap to the grid or to clip edges — or to ignore the grid, if quantization is enabled.
•CTRL/CMD Drag: “Dragicate”. Grabs a thing and and places a copy of it wherever you drag it to, leaving the original in place. Where two copies may overlap, the new one goes on top. This method is often way faster than traditional copy-pasting.
•ALT Fold/Unfold Tracks. Hold ALT while clicking the little triangle (or group track symbol) to fold or unfold all the tracks on the same grouping hierarchy.
•CTRL/CMD K and CTRL/CMD M: for key and MIDI mapping, of course!
•CTRL/CMD ALT Drag: “The grabby hand”. Press CTRL ALT and the cursor transforms into a hand that can be used to pan around the screen in any of the various views. In Device View, it’s a great way to instantaneously navigate around FX chains that are longer than the width of the screen.
•CTRL/CMD Shift Home: First, create a Locator called “End”. Navigate to it, then press CTRL Shift Home to quickly select the entire time range for the piece. Helpful for looping or rendering or checking length.
•CTRL/CMD L: Create/disable Loop. But wait! The template already has } mapped to enable/disable Loop. What’s the difference? The key mapping will turn on or off the existing Loop without ever changing its location. CTRL/CMD L, on the other hand, will actually establish a new Loop Region if it is pressed while a time range is selected. If no time range is selected, it will simply toggle the status of the current Loop just like }.
•CTRL/CMD Space: Play the selected area of time, automatically stopping at the end.
•Select Time Region and Double Click in the Beat-Time Ruler: This sets the current view to nicely encompass the selected time range. Sweet!
•Shift Drag Clip Edge: Use this to stretch the audio inside a warped clip directly from Arrangement View.
Bonus Free DJ Tricks!
Not only are these glitchy DJ tricks rad because they are fun, but they also use virtually no CPU and require zero plugins, since they just use the computer keyboard!
DJ Trick: The “P-Stutter”.
Hit Shift P repeatedly for rapid-relaunch “stutter start” effects. Warning! This will reset all currently-playing clips to their start positions.
The rhythm will be based solely on your human timing, so you could say it’s a very organic technique. Just make sure the final launch lands on the “one”.
DJ Trick: The “X-Sutter”.
Hold down one of the xfade buttons with a finger, mapped in the template to [ ] and \.
While held, rhythmically press and release one or both of the other xfade buttons for doubly-fast stuttering back and forth. Be sure to assign playing audio tracks to crossfader A or B for audible results.
•Hold ] then, while keeping it held down, rapidly press and release [ and \ to stutter between “both channels active” vs “just A or B”.
•Hold [ then, while keeping it held down, rapidly press and release \ to stutter between the extremes of “only A” to “only B”.