Acquiring and Working with Launcher Clips

Before manipulating clips in familiar ways, we must first get clips into the Launcher. We will start by recapping inserting and recording clips, and then look at moving clips between the Arranger and Launcher. Finally, we will see how length and looping adjustments are handled in the Clip Launcher Panel with the help of the Inspector Panel.

In the Clip Launcher Panel, we will recap inserting clips from the Browser Panel, look at moving clips between the Launcher and the Arranger, and see the options available for Launcher clips in the Inspector Panel.

Getting Clips from the Browser Panel

Getting clips from the Browser Panel onto a track is almost identical for the Clip Launcher Panel and the Arranger Timeline (see Inserting Clips). The only difference is where you drop the clip off.

And if the clip is dragged between two tracks, a new track will be created automatically as well.

Additionally, an empty Launcher clip slot has a + icon appear when the slot is hovered over. As in most other situations, clicking + opens the Pop-up Browser, in this case with a special configuration that offer clips and samples within your preset library, as well as any defined music locations.

[Note]Note

For more information on working with the Pop-up Browser, see The Pop-up Browser.

Copying Clips Between the Arranger and Launcher

Copying a clip from one sequencer to the other follows the same pattern as all other movements that we have made.

To copy an Arranger clip to the Launcher: click and drag the clip from the Arranger Timeline to the desired slot on the appropriate track.

If multiple Arranger clips are selected, the clips will be copied into successive slots.

To copy a Launcher clip to the Arranger: click and drag the clip from the Launcher to the desired timeline position on the appropriate track.

If multiple Launcher clips are selected, the clips will be placed into the Arranger consecutively.

Scenes can also be copied from the Launcher to the Arranger Timeline. And conversely, any combination of Arranger clips can be copied to a scene by dragging them over.

All of these copy functions can also be done into new tracks.

Sliding Launcher Clip Content

The content of one or multiple clips can also be shifted left and right from the Clip Launcher Panel. Sliding content in this fashion preserves the length of each clip, simply sliding the contained note or audio events (including any associated expressions) earlier or later in time.

To slide the content of a clip: mouse over the top half of the waveform. Then ALT-click ( CMD+ALT -click on Mac) and drag horizontally.

You can optionally add the SHIFT key while dragging to toggle the snapping behavior.

Sub Scenes and Group Tracks in the Launcher

When working with group tracks in the Arranger, we encountered the idea of meta clips (see Meta Clips and Group Tracks in the Arranger). In the Launcher, a similar idea exists in the form of sub scenes.

Each group track has its own row of sub scenes. Each sub scene uses color blocks to identify which contained tracks have clips that fall within that sub scene. Just as a scene allows you to trigger a set of Launcher clips across your project, a sub scene allows you to trigger Launcher clips contained by that group track's component tracks. And while clips within a sub scene are playing back, miniature clip playheads are shown within the sub scene to indicate the current playback position of each of its clips.

Also similar to meta clips in the Arranger, sub scenes act as aliases for the clips they contain. Sub scenes can be moved by dragging and dropping, they can be cut or copied or pasted in the normal ways, they can be deleted, and they can even be sources or destinations for dragging clips between the Launcher and Arranger.

[Note]Note

Like regular scenes, sub scenes can also have colors assigned to them. These color stripes will be shown on screen when you navigate into that group track (see Meta Clips and Group Tracks in the Arranger).

Launcher Clip Parameters

The Arranger Timeline had a convenient graphical view for visualizing the length and loop settings of a clip. While the Clip Launcher Panel does not have its own graphical editor, we will always have the Inspector Panel.

Launcher clip parameters are generally similar to Arranger clip parameters with a few important differences. In order to see how the Inspector Panel represents Launcher clip information, let's revisit the Arranger clip looping example from the last chapter.

In this case, I have copied the example Arranger clip into a Launcher slot. The resultant Launcher clip gives us these settings in the Inspector Panel.

We can see that the Signature, Loop, Mute, Shuffle, and Seed sections are identical to their Arranger clip counterparts, and that we have also seen all the functions available here already (see The Inspector Panel on Arranger Clips).

We can also see that the initial Start/Stop section differs from the Arranger clip's Time (Position) model, and that the Launch and Next Action sections are completely new.

Start/Stop Section

Arranger clips had the Time (Position) section because they are always triggered at the exact position where they reside. Since Launcher clips do not share this sense of predestination, their parameters simply describe what portion of the clip should be played when triggered.

This section contains the following controls:

  • Start sets the location within the clip that should be played first. This is very similar to adjusting the Offset of an Arranger clip, changing only which part of the Launcher clip should play back first.

  • Stop sets the end of the clip contents that should be played. This setting is available only when Loop is disabled.

Launch Section

The Launch section is a small but essential collection of parameters that control how and when Launcher clips are triggered, including whether clips play from the top or pick up where the previous clip on the track left off. And then there is quantization, a crucial concept that keeps clips in time around the Global Playhead.

Clips are usually triggered with a performance gesture, such as a click of the mouse or the push of a button. Since musicians are not robots, these gestures are almost always imprecise, landing somewhere other than the exact beat we meant to hit.

Launch quantization forces the clips we trigger to align appropriately with the beat grid. Since things that have already started cannot be shifted backwards in time, we must trigger the clips ahead of time so they can match the next defined beat exactly. (You can think of launch quantization as a performance-based version of absolute grid snapping.)

This section contains the following controls:

  • Play Mode determines where this clip will begin playback from, and when.

    from Start will always trigger this clip from its defined clip start, waiting for the next available interval (as set by Launch Q).

    Continue triggers this clip immediately from the currently playing clip's position. So if the clip already playing was exactly on bar 1 beat 3, triggering this clip will start immediately from bar 1 beat 3. (If no clip was already playing, the initial trigger is handled with from Start logic.)

    Continue Quantized works similarly to Continue, except instead of triggering immediately, the next Launch Q interval is used.

  • Launch Q sets the interval at which this particular clip will be triggered.

    A beat-level setting (for example, 1/2, 1/4, 1/8, or 1/16) will play all newly triggered clips when the Global Playhead reaches the next grid line of that interval.

    A bar-level setting (for example, 1 bar, 2 bars, 4 bars, or 8 bars) will play all newly triggered clips when the Global Playhead reaches the next bar of this interval. For example, a setting of 1 bar would wait for beat 1 of the next bar to play, while a setting of 4 bars would wait for the next fourth bar (e.g., bar 1, bar 5, bar 9, etc.) to be reached.

    Off disables clip quantization, meaning the clip will begin playback the moment it is triggered.

    Default follows the Default Launch Quantization setting, which is defined in the Play menu under the Settings section. This global parameter is selected from the same values listed here.

  • Q to Loop toggles clip quantization to be based on the loop start point instead of the clip start. This allows you to trigger a clip with a lead-in that plays once, like musical pick-up notes.

Next Action Section

Next Action is the option to determine what should happen after this clip has played for a set amount of time. The two parameters used to achieve this are Do and after, as in, "please Do <this function> after <this amount of musical time has passed>."

If after is set to no time (0.0.0.00), the Next Action function is disabled for this clip. When after is set to some amount of time, the clip will be played for this amount of time before the Do function is triggered.

Do sets the task to be executed. The list of available actions is divided in two.

Local and Global Next Actions

The following Do actions are listed at the top of the action list. They relate either to the clip itself or any clip on the same track:

  • Stop simply stops the clip.

  • Return to Arrangement resumes playback of the Arrangement Timeline for this track.

  • Return to Last Clip resumes playback of the Launcher clip that was playing immediately before the current clip. If no clip was playing when this one was triggered, the clip is stopped.

  • Play Next triggers the next available Launcher clip. If the current clip is the last clip on the track, the clip is stopped.

  • Play Previous triggers the previous available Launcher clip. If the current clip is the first on the track, the clip is stopped.

  • Play First triggers the first Launcher clip on the track.

  • Play Last triggers the last Launcher clip on the track.

  • Play Random triggers a Launcher clip from the track at random, which could potentially retrigger this clip.

  • Play Other triggers a different Launcher clip from the track at random. The current clip will not be retriggered.

  • Round-robin triggers the next available Launcher clip. If this is the last clip on the track, the first Launcher clip on the track is triggered.

Using Clip Blocks with Next Actions

The second half of the Do actions list makes use of clip blocks, which are groups of clips that sit side by side with blank slots around them.

In the image above, the Drums track has three clip blocks (which I have manually colored), each containing two clips. The number of clips in a block is completely up to you, and each block needn't contain the same number of clips.

These functions include:

  • Play First in Current Block triggers the first Launcher clip in the current clip block.

  • Play Last in Current Block triggers the last Launcher clip in the current clip block.

  • Play Random in Current Block triggers a Launcher clip from the current clip block at random, which could potentially retrigger this clip.

  • Play Other in Current Block triggers a Launcher clip from the current clip block at random. This clip will not be retriggered.

  • Round-robin in Current Block triggers the next available Launcher clip in the current clip block. If the current clip is the last in the block, the first Launcher clip of the clip block is triggered.

  • Play First in Previous Block triggers the first Launcher clip in the previous clip block. If the current clip is within the first clip block, this block's first clip will be triggered.

  • Play Random in Previous Block triggers a Launcher clip from the previous clip block at random. If the current clip block is the first block, a clip will randomly be triggered from this block.

  • Play First in Next Block triggers the first Launcher clip in the next clip block. If the current clip is within the last clip block, this will act like the Stop function.

  • Play Random in Next Block triggers a Launcher clip from the next clip block at random. If the current clip is within the last clip block, this will act like the Stop function.

  • Play First in Other Block triggers the first Launcher clip from a different clip block.

  • Play Random in Other Block triggers a Launcher clip at random from a different clip block.

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