Triggering Loops With a MIDI Controller

Published by Loop Community on

In my last post we talked about how you can trigger a loop in Ableton with just the keys on your keyboard and gave some examples of how you can navigate and setup you computer keyboard to control Ableton.  In this post I want to talk about MIDI controllers.  MIDI controllers are a very effective tool for worship leaders and bands.  We want to help equip you as a leader to know how you could use a MIDI controller or MIDI keyboard (that you might already have at your church) to trigger your loops in Ableton live.  Lets focus on MIDI Keyboards and we will take a look at foot controllers in a different post.

How about some history ?

First things first, lets start by explaining what MIDI is and how it works.  MIDI stands for Musical Instrument Digital Interface.  MIDI is a standard protocol for the interchange of musical information between musical instruments and computers.  It was developed to allow the keyboard of one synthesizer to play notes generated by another. It defines codes for musical notes as well as button, dial and pedal adjustments. (,2542,t=MIDI&i=47014,00.asp)  The first MIDI keyboard was made by sequential circuits in 1982 and was called the prophet 600.  Please check out this video by Chris from OHDrat that explains a ton about MIDI. This will really help you understand what technology you are using (  We have come a long way in MIDI devices / keyboards. There are many different varieties and functionalities today, but the MIDI information they use are the same.

Configuring Your MIDI Device

Now that you have a little bit of background on MIDI, lets talk about how you can trigger your worship loops using a MIDI keyboard / controller. Most MIDI keyboards now days allow you to connect to your USB port.  When you plug your keyboard into your keyboard, Ableton live should recognize it automatically (If not, make sure all the drivers are installed properly).  Every keyboard is different, but here is a tutorial video on how you can configure your MIDI keyboard to be “heard” by Ableton Live.

MIDI Mapping Your Device

After you have your MIDI controller connected and configured, the next step is to assign different keys to trigger your loops in Ableton. This is done using MIDI Mapping.  Please check out this short video clip I took of myself using Ableton’s “Map Mode”. I’m using my M-Audio Axiom 25 to launch some of my  loops in Ableton.

I hope this helps you guys out. We love hearing some feedback of what you guys are doing or having troubles with.  Please leave a question or comment at the bottom of the post to keep the conversation going.

Oh and if you would like to expand your mind on a similar subject, go check the rockumentary on the moog on Netflix.