Overview

Vitamin L is a system of over 100 shortcuts and tools developed for speeding up the workflow and improving the accessibility of Ableton Live.  It combines accelerated access to most frequently used editing tasks with many functionality enhancements.  Efficient workflow is achieved through a set of ergonomically placed “smart” single-key shortcuts, context-sensitive mouse wheel assignment, quick modes for adjusting clip properties (volume, pitch, BPM), keyboard access to most frequently used clip envelopes and parameters, power-zoom (including vertical zoom and presets), shortcuts for timeline navigation and precision editing functions.  In addition,  Vitamin L provides a quick and simple solution to recording and combining multiple audio takes, helps edit automation and implements a sample-to-midi-track keyboard shortcut.

 

View the shortcut list:   html    pdf (printable)

 

Vitamin L is free, but if you feel find it useful, please consider giving a donation that will go towards further development and support of this and similar tools.

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Installation and compatibility. 

Vitamin L is a small executable that runs concurrently with Live.  You will need Live 6 or later, and some of the functions are only available in Live 7.  Currently, the only operating system supported is Windows XP.  Unzip the content of the downloaded archive into a directory of your choice and run vitaminL.exe.  A black-and-white icon will appear in the taskbar tray, indicating the status of the program.  If you want to temporarily disable all Vitamin L shortcuts, simply double-click on the tray icon and a red diagonal line will appear indicating the “off” state.  To re-enable Vitamin L, double-click the icon again (you can also right-click on the icon to disable, restart, or exit the program)

 

Support for Vista

Vitamin L will run under Windows Vista, but most of the functionality will probably be broken.  I may support Vista in the future if there is sufficient demand for it; right now I have had far less satisfactory results trying to run Live under Vista than I did under XP.  Vista may become a viable alternative some time down the road, but at the moment I would encourage people to discard Vista in favor of XP for any serious audio production work.

 

Convenience shortcuts

Vitamin L provides dozens of keyboard shortcuts for frequently used tasks to avoid extra mouse clicks or going through menus.  See the shortcut list for details.

 

Quick keys

In order to accelerate workflow, Vitamin L attempts to maximize the use of single key shortcuts.  Since these keys may also be used by Live (for typing, keyboard MIDI playing and assignable Live shortcuts), a concept of quick keys is employed.  Any shortcut consisting of an alpha-numeric key, either by itself or together with Shift is considered a quick key.  When these shortcuts are enabled, they override whatever assignments have been made for these keys in Live projects.  Vitamin L will try to automatically disable these in situations when you need to type into Live, e.g. searching in the browser or renaming a track (N.B.: always use Ctrl+R  or F2  to rename).  You can also manually turn quick keys on and off by hitting Shift+Caps Lock, essentially switching between two sets of shortcuts (when quick keys are off, the small horizontal bar above ‘L’ in the tray icon will disappear to remind you of the current state of the program).

 

Mouse wheel and power zoom

With Vitamin L you can take full advantage of the mouse wheel.  Depending on where the focus is in the Live window, moving the mouse wheel will zoom in/out, scroll through files in the browser, tracks in the session view or plugins in the track view.   Shift+Mouse Wheel now allows you to vertically zoom in the arrange view, and other modifiers will give you vertical and horizontal scroll.  Another way to zoom vertically is to activate the vertical zoom mode (Z for all tracks or Shift+Z for the track under mouse cursor) and move the mouse wheel or simply move the mouse up and down.  Use Z or ESC to exit this mode.  In addition, the mouse wheel can be handy when editing clip properties in the quick properties modes (see below).  Besides mouse wheel zoom, you also get accelerated and instantaneous zoom using +/- [numpad or regular] together with Ctrl or Shift (try it!). [backquote stuff]  As an additional convenience, Vitamin L swaps + and = on your keyboard, to make zooming from the keyboard handier, particularly on laptops.

 

Keyboard navigation on the timeline

Vitamin L allows you to navigate the timeline by using left/right arrow keys (move cursor/playhead by 16th note) and [Shift+]PageUp/PageDown (move cursor/playhead by 1 or 4 bars).  You can press and hold any of these keys to shuttle back and forth.  The arrow keys are only enabled in the arrange view, while PageUp/PageDown work in both arrange and session view.   You can also use shortcuts B and Y (or their equivalents Alt+Space and Winkey+Space) in the arrange view to start playback from a particular position on the timeline without moving the cursor.

 

Adjusting sample properties and quick modes

Vitamin L gives you instantaneous access to many clip parameters without the need for extra mouse clicks.  Whether you are working inside the clip view or on the timeline/session view, you can always activate various clip properties and envelopes via keyboard shortcuts.  In order to facilitate quick adjustments to audio clips’ most frequently used properties (gain, transpose, and BPM), three corresponding shortcuts are provided (V, C, X).  Once you hit any of those keys, you enter a quick mode for adjusting one of those three properties.  In this mode, you can use Up/Down keys or Mouse Wheel to change the value in small increments and Page Up/Page Down or Shift+Mouse Wheel to use large increments, or simply drag the mouse up and down.  You can switch between modes by clicking the other quick mode shortcut keys.  To exit, hit the same shortcut key, ESC, Enter, or click the mouse.  When you exit a quick mode, the mouse cursor will return to its original position.  You can even work with the bottom browser closed to save the screen space (use the \ shortcut) – quick mode and other clip-related shortcuts will automatically open the bottom browser and then close it once the adjustments have been made (exception to this are the shorcuts for clip envelopes, which will keep the bottom browser open, so that the envelopes can be edited).

 

Precision arrangement editing

There are times when you need to adjust the position of a clip by a very small amount and using the mouse can be tedious.  Vitamin L has several shortcuts for nudging clips left and right by different amounts as well as moving/copying them to adjacent tracks.  Use the numeric keypad keys (with NumLock on) to move clips on the timeline.  You can also drag clips by small amounts using the same keys in the sticky-click mode.  You may find it useful to employ play from mouse position (B or Alt+Space) and play from last mouse position shortcuts (Y or Winkey+Space) during micro-editing.

 

Sticky click and arrangement sections

When editing on the timeline, pressing Q activates a sticky-click mode.  If the mouse cursor is positioned over a clip, activating this mode will attempt to “grab” this clip (or selection), otherwise it will simply click and hold the left mouse button.  You can exit this mode by hitting Q again, clicking the left mouse button or hitting ESC.  This can be very useful if you want to move or copy a section of the arrangement.  Here’s a typical scenario:

 

  1. make a selection on the timeline
  2. hit W to turn it into a section
  3. position the mouse cursor over one of the clips in the selection and hit Q

 

You have now “grabbed” the selected section of your arrangement.  You can move the mouse, turn the grid on/off, zoom in/out, etc while positioning the section.  Once you figured out where to place it, click the left mouse button (or press Q again) to move it to the new location, CTRL+left mouse button to copy or ESC to abort.  N.B.: caution must be exercised when “grabbing” a clip.  If the mouse cursor is too close to the right or left edge of a clip, Live will think that you are trying to adjust the clip’s boundaries.

 

Working with automation, precision sticky click and tempo editing

Several shortcuts will be useful for working with automation, particularly in Live 7, where you can use Vitamin L to quickly add/remove/fold/unfold automation lanes and delete a particular automation envelope by using Alt+Right Click on a control or anywhere on the timeline in the arrange view.   You may find that a precision version of sticky click (invoked by Shift+Q) is particularly useful for carefully adjusting automation points. 

 

Editing master tempo envelope has been a cumbersome experience in Live for a while.  Vitamin L attempts to make it easier by calibrating mouse wheel in the precision sticky click to make meaningful adjustments to the tempo automation points.  Here are general guidelines for editing tempo automation.

 

  1. select Song Tempo envelope in the master track. 
  2. choose the minimum and maximum tempo boundaries to be 100bpm apart (e.g. 75 and 175 bpm)
  3. maximize the master track
  4. place the cursor over an automation point and enter the precision sticky click mode (Shift+Q)

 

Now moving the mouse wheel up and down will adjust the tempo point by 0.01 bpm, while Shift+mouse wheel will adjust it by approximately 1 bpm.  Unfortunately, you may still “skip” the needed value on occasion; if that happens, slightly adjust the tempo boundaries and try again.

 

Multiple takes

Vitamin L provides a robust and elegant solution for editing and comping multiple audio takes in Live’s arrange view.  In order to work with multiple takes, follow these steps:

 

  1. Make sure the timeline grid is on
  2. Select the loop area over which you want to record multiple takes, press Ctrl+L
  3. Record your takes.  Make sure that you record the last take to the very end of the loop area and once the cursor rolls over, stop recording.  This is because Vitamin L will ignore the last partial take.
  4. Now you will likely have a clip break inside your loop.  Drag the left edge of a clip to the right of the break to the beginning of the loop area.

 

That’s it.  You can now switch between your takes using simple shortcuts (N for previous take, M for next take).  Moreover, you can disable grid, split and move clips, adjust their volume and pitch and still retain the multiple take functionality (i.e. combining parts of different takes).  However, if you consolidate or disable warp/loop in the properties, you will lose the ability to switch takes, so make sure you consolidate after you’ve chosen the best parts of your performance.  N.B.: right after recording, you always start with the last take, therefore at first only the shortcut for selecting previous take is available. N.B.2: you can use a similar procedure to work with multiple takes inside the session view.

 

Additional single key shortcuts (assignable from Live) and remappings.

Vitamin L remaps the Application key alone and in combination with Ctrl and Alt which makes it available for native assignment in Live.  In addition, Ctrl+Left and Ctrl+Right are mapped to , and ..  Several single keys have been left unassigned so that you can use them for native shortcuts.  A couple of suggested mappings are given in the shortcut list.

 

Sample-to-midi-track

This simple but useful function has been implemented to enhance your creative flow in Live.  If you select an audio clip or a portion thereof and hit Alt+S, Vitamin L will created a MIDI track next to your audio track, load simpler into it, and load your selection into the simpler.   You can now play your clip as a new MIDI instrument.

 

Troubleshooting

I have tried to make Vitamin L as robust as possible, but since it’s a utility that runs on top of Live, it’s always possible that it may get confused by Live’s behavior and not work properly.  Here are some basic guidelines:

 

  1. Vitamin L relies on visual feedback from Live.  Make sure that the entire Live window is fully visible.  In particular, the bottom of the window should not be obscured by the Windows taskbar.  If you have any plugin windows open, make sure that they are not covering any part of Live.

 

  1. Check that quick keys are enabled (Shift+Caps Lock) – you can see that by the presence of a horizontal bar above ‘L’ in the tray icon.

 

  1. You can reset Vitamin L’s internal state by pressing Ctrl+F9.  This is essentially equivalent to quitting and starting the program anew.

 

  1. If you detect a consistent bug, please post to the appropriate threads on Ableton forums or contact the author.

 

 

LICENSING

COPYRIGHT NOTICE

Vitamin L is designed and written by Ilia Bis (Tonearm).

 

DISCLAIMER

This program is distributed in the hope that it will be useful,  but WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY OR LIABILITY, either expressed or implied; without even the implied warranty of MERCHANTABILITY or FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE. The author of this program can not be made responsible for any, direct or  indirect, damage caused by the program. 

 

LICENSE AND COSTS

Permission is granted to anyone to use this software free of charge, provided that the following conditions are met:

 

1. All redistributions in binary form must retain all occurrences of the above copyright notice and web site addresses, as well as the licensing terms, that are currently in place.

 

2. The origin of this software must not be misrepresented

 

3. If you want to include Vitamin L on any distribution media or any Internet site, please contact me first.

 

4. Distribution of the Program is prohibited if any payment is made in connection with such distribution. (You may not sell the software)

 

Downloading and using this software constitutes an agreement to abide by the licensing terms outlined in this section.

 

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