One of my favorite features introduced in Live 8 has been the revamped warp engine, and the introduction of Transients mode for warping Beats. This mode has some great creative potential, so it’s well worth taking some time to understand and explore it.
Live used to always use a straight division of the beat to adjust the tempo of a sample when in Beats mode. For example, it would look at a beat as a series of 1/16 note chunks and then speed up or slow down the rate at which it played those chunks to match the master tempo. This sort of time warping is still available if you select one of the time values (1/8, 1/16, 1/32, etc.) in the menu seen above.
Transients mode is far more dynamic. It uses Live’s analysis of a loop’s transients to determine how to play it back at a different tempo. If you’ve ever used ReCycle, this mode is conceptually similar. Transients are displayed as small grey marks above the waveform display:
The fun really begins when you play with the Transient Envelope value, which works in conjunction with the Transient Loop Mode. To use Transient Envelope for gating effects, first switch the loop mode to Loop Forward Off, as seen below.
Now, with the loop playing back start reducing the Transient Envelope downwards from 100.
As you do so, you’ll hear the transients get choppier and choppier as Live fades out each transient chunk faster and faster. This technique works wonders for simplifying overproduced loops that sound a bit too wet, reshaping sounds you’ve recorded from a drum machine, or adding some strange rhythmic texture to a vocal sample.