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Mr. Bill: Beat Mashing + Scratching With Ableton, Midi Fighters

Today, we’re releasing an Ableton performance workflow walk through with finger drummer and producer Mr. Bill. He’s got a bunch of unique techniques in his Live sessions that any live performer will find inspiring. In this video, he shares three specific techniques: slicing up clips for finger drumming on the fly, scratching samples, and a few unique ways of applying rapid-fire effects.

You can watch the full video walk through above – or keep reading for a quick description of each. Mr. Bill is also making his full Live template available for purchase on his site:

Check Out Mr Bill’s “MIDI Masher” DJ Template here Download Woulg’s Scratchy + Chain Selecta devices

Slicing Up Drops

The first technique that Mr. Bill focuses on in the video is all about being able to quickly slice up his tracks on a Midi Fighter. This allows him to do a quick on-the-fly remix, similar to how the Slicer effect works in Serato DJ.

It takes a bit of legwork – but basic idea behind process he uses in this Ableton set is:

  • Divide up each track into a number of individual clips with different start points (effectively cue points)
  • Put a Simpler on each clip with 16 slices for each quarter note in Slice mode (Ableton’s 9.7 update last year means Simpler can easily divide up a track)
  • Make a new MIDI channel with 16 MIDI notes that correspond to the Simpler’s slices, set Follow Actions on each clip to go to the next one so that it will keep playing once a slice is triggered
  • Use Chain Selector (a custom Live device) to allow the MIDI channel to follow whatever track is being played in the session already.

Mr. Bill mentions this being inspired by Daedelus’ Monome triggering technique – watch the classic video from 2010 here:

Scratchy

This is another custom Live device that effectively allows easy mapping of turntablism style parameters to any MIDI device. The device was designed by Woulg, and Bill has it mapped to the Midi Fighter 3D and the Twister for optimal control. You can control the clip position, select clips, and quickly mute/unmute the track to gate it like a turntable.

Effects Techniques

Bill shows off two special FX techniques in his Ableton set:

  • a bank on the Midi Fighter 3D that has a bunch of preset FX, one per each button. This allows him easily play FX in time with the track, quantized
  • a plug-in called Manipulator is mapped on the Midi Fighter Twister to allow applying effects on top of clip slicing

Gear Used

Have questions about Mr. Bill’s techniques featured in this video? Pop into the comments and he’ll reply to you there.
  • Mike

    Awesome to get that sort of selfless insight into how he took inspiration from some of the top pioneers in DJ’ing (imo) and meshed those techniques into his own uniquely styled set. Thanks Mr Bill/DJTT

  • Aaron

    F’N Awesome!

  • ixemul

    Great video, very descriptive. I was wondering – how do you do your tempo changes between songs?

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