Today I’m working on a couple of remixes so I’m dealing with a bunch of stems (individual parts from another song). Since these files are each the full length of the song, getting them ready to work with in Live requires a different approach then starting off with loops – namely, starting off in the Arrangement view.
To get started, I first drop the four stems from my hard drive into the Arrangement while holding down Command (Ctrl on the PC). This places the four audio files into four audio tracks, instead of next to each other in a single track. Live doesn’t perform any warping on the files because I have the “Auto Warp Long Files” preference turned OFF in the Record/Warp/Launch tab of the Preferences window.
The Arrangement now looks like this:
Next, I’m gonna zoom in to look and listen to the beginning of the drum track to find the first downbeat. Once I’ve done this I’ll trim the left edge of all the stems to line up with the first downbeat. Hold down Shift to multi-select the tracks, then trim them all at the same time.
Remember that unless you already know the tempo of the song, you can’t trust Live’s grid to help you with the trimming. Even when you know the tempo of the song there might be some extra space at the beginning that throws everything off anyway. Use Cmd(Mac)/Ctrl(PC)+4 to turn off the grid.
Next, I’ll drag all of the stems so the downbeat lands at the beginning of bar 3 in the timeline. Make sure the grid is turned on for this step, so you get it right on.
Now that all of the tracks are in the right place, all that’s left to do is figure out the tempo. If possible, I’ll just ask the person who sent me the stems to send the BPM as well so I don’t have to mess with it. Otherwise, I’ll tap a few beats to get in the ballpark and then adjust the tempo while listening to the song with the metronome to get it right.
Once I’ve got the right BMP in Live’s master tempo, its just a matter of opening the Clip View and turning on the Warp switch. If all of the clips are still selected in the timeline, you can turn on the Warp switch for all of them in one click. If you check the Seg. Bpm box for the clips, you’ll see that it has been filled in with Live’s current tempo and you’re ready to go.