How to MIDI Map the Solo buttons in an Ableton Live chain

One of the missing features of Ableton Live is the ability to MIDI map the ‘Solo’ buttons in a device rack.

Screen-Shot-2013-08-13-at-9.59

Notice how the circled Solo buttons are laking the blue shading that indicates they can receive MIDI messages.

I scratched my head on this one for a while, as it was a feature I badly needed to make my APC80 template work properly. I have four buttons that select different cross faders, and without the ability to MIDI map the solo buttons I had this hacky ‘solution’ in the instructions:

Pressing one will turn it on, but not turn the old one off, so you need to press the button of the mode you want to go to, and the mode you’re currently on simultaneously to achieve a nice transition. If you have no sound, you may have turned off all cross fader modes, and pushing any button should bring it back on.

Not very elegant if I do say so myself. So what to do? The solution I came up with today I think is fairly elegant.

  1. Create a looping dummy clip in the track for each chain you want the ability to solo.
  2. Select all chains, right click, select ‘Distribute Ranges Equally’
  3. Make each dummy clip’s envelope set the chain selector to the center of the chain selector target area for the desired chain.
  4. MIDI map the clips to your buttons of choice.
  5. Since only one clip can play at a time and it will move the Chain selector to the desired rack, boom, ghetto chain soloing.

The audio track I have this chain on that I want to solo certain racks of, is a ‘pass-through’ track that gets it’s audio from another track, and passes it on through to the master, after applying some effects of course. This technique won’t work on a track that is actually producing the audio. So best used on pass-through or Return tracks.

It’s a very simple solution that took me a long time to figure out, but by the looks of the results I got searching around for this issue, I’m not the only one who has had trouble with this. Hopefully it saves you some time.

  • brontolo

    Yeah, the fact that you cannot automate the solo buttons is a major issue for me. The “distribute ranges equally” trick produces unwanted artifacts when you transit from one chain to another. It throws in artifacts of the original uneffected sounds. I tried with fades between chains. The only thing that seems to work is when I click the solo buttons with the mouse. I dont know why they couldnt make something so simple – to map the solo buttons – available. Stupid Ableton, what can I say… For me this is the second MAJOR stupid unautomatable, but bloody usable thing that you cannot map. The first is “Transient envelope” in the clip sample display, on the bottom under the “warp” button It is a damn useful fader box that says “100” most of the time. Why the heck cant you automate this and play with it live? As far as I know you cannot make it work neither with max for live. Is it forbidden Ableton? Are they afraid we will get creative, beyond the stupid play-stop-clip-switch-fx-on-off-like-stupid thing? Stupid Ableton. And I bought this software. Ahhh… Sadly I can get still more creative with Traktor, but dj software bores me. A lot. Hope the Ableton team is waiting for the 10. version to ad all the would-be-obvious stupid things they are keeping away from us. I smell midi-map-conspiracy here…
    Will probably try to make an entry on a wishlist on the Ableton forum for this, as soon s I figure where to put it.