Live Looping is almost impossible with out using your feet, so to control Ableton’s Looper device, I needed foot-powered midi. I own a Uno-chipped FCB1010 midi controller, which can be taught to do almost anything, but it’s hellish large in terms of carrying & finding room for, so I’ve looked at simpler midi pedals, those that send basic program change messages. Needless to say, it wasn’t straight-forward, since Ableton fails to respond to PC messages. Enter Midi-Ox – a fantastic free utility. It allows you to translate almost anything to anything!
So, you go to Options, Data mapping and set up on these lines;
This sends note on followed by note off when it receives a PC message. You need to clone so that both messages are send in rapid succession. (I tried this again recently and it only worked when value 2 min was 1!)
For Ableton to receive midi in this way, you need to set up a “loopback” system; Midi-ox output will show up as “midi yoke 1” (this works under XP, I use Loopmidi on Win 8 etc) you select “remote” and “track”, Ableton can then hear your midi pedal and you can assign whatever functions you want to control. I use it for the Looper device, controlling;
record / playback / clear / undo / half speed or double speed (both multiple octaves) / reverse
leaving 1 free pedal for ad-hoc use. On the next bank, I have less used features such as half or double loop length.
Of course, this is massively extended using the VST and native audio effects within Ableton, which are virtually unlimited. It’s a very flexible solution and has persuaded me to forsake my EDP rack for a laptop running XP. Touch wood, it’s worked fine so far!
The pedal I use is a Rolls Midibuddy, which is plugged into a BCR2000 with midi set as thru, so I’m only using 1 USB socket other than the audio interface. I bought this as a back-up for my Rolls MP80 and was delighted to discover when it arrived that it has two more pedals than the 128 – result!
However, the beauty of this setup is that you can use almost any old midi pedal from ebay, so you can shop for those with a really small footprint. In practice, it offers a budget solution to control almost anything, such as playing musical notes, chords, or perhaps controlling a lighting system.