How to set up follow actions in Ableton Live

Follow actions let you decide what “action” is taken after each clip is played. At a very basic level, looping a clip is a follow action, the action being “play the loop again”. With the follow actions options in the Launch menu, you can get much more creative. When performing live, jamming or recording they allow you to inject randomness and controlled variations to your sets.

Setting up a basic follow action

For a quick test, create and instrument track and 2 clips with different notes in each:

Now double click the first clip to bring up the clip detail view. In the detail view of a clip, click on the L in the clip view menu:

This will bring up the Launch Menu. Click the Follow Action A drop down and select Next. Now load up the second clip’s detail view and to the same, this time selecting Previous. That’s it, you’ve set up your first follow action!

Set the first clip playing and see what happens. When the fist clip ends, it triggers the second, the second then triggers the first. You now have a loop of 2 separate clips. It’s a very basic example, but it shows you how intuitive this feature is.

Randomising clips

Now you’re up to speed with the basics, you can start having some fun. The other options in Follow Action A and Follow Action B are fairly self explanatory, the Any setting for example will randomly choose the next clip to play. Have lots of clips over multiple tracks with this setting, and you have yourself an entirely “random” performance.

You may not want each clip to play it’s full length, or start at beat 1. To change this behaviour use the Follow action time setting to enter the time at which a follow action occurs. In our loop example, if you set this to 0 2 0, then the Next clip will be triggered half way through the first bar of the first.

Tip: Select multiple clips and change Follow Actions in bulk!

Follow action A or B

You may have noticed that there are 2 follow actions (A and B), but B doesn’t seem to be triggering. This chance of A or B triggering is set using the 1:0 option bellow the action dropdowns. Setting it to 1:1 gives an equal probability of choosing either A or B, of either being chosen, 0:1 means only follow action B will be chosen. Setting something in-between means you can have A trigger twice as often as B, and so on.

As you can see, there are endless possibilities with follow actions. Think about triggering melodies in different clips at random, or letting a drum beat play for 3 bars, and then a random fill. It’s going to make your live sets far more interesting, providing a more human and playful element.

Using this feature is made so much easier with the Novation Launchpad, not only for this but pretty much every aspect of Ableton. It’s something we use all the time on our projects. It’s available now New and Second Hand from Amazon:

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