Ableton as a QC timeline editor

itsthejayj's picture

Hi guys i've recently been trying use Abletons's arrangement view to trigger events in a QC compositions, like film scoring its very useful to see the audio clip in a beat timeline and setting up MIDI notes/cc to trigger/control events.

This is very simply done using MIDI sent from ableton to a composition using the IAC driver, however this is all in realtime and not useful for offline rendering.

So i've been looking into converting an Midi file (exported from Ableton) to XML. This handy website does that (

Before i go through the nightmare of creating a timeline patch that formats this XML into a understandable format, has anyone done anything like this? Any one fancy collaborating on this? Any better ideas?



cybero's picture
Re: Ableton as a QC timeline editor

That's a sweet link :-).

Previously posted about doing similar stuff, but not with the aid of Ableton.

Happy to share transferable relevancies though.

itsthejayj's picture
Re: Ableton as a QC timeline editor

Its our age old idea really but just using tools (ableton) that are already out there.

I also did notice has got some frameworks that convert midi to xml, a qc plugin may be? However when i've got some free time i'm going to try and make something using stock patches as sadly plugin's aren't my expertise...

gtoledo3's picture
Re: Ableton as a QC timeline editor

You can record the sequences with value historian, and the replay later. I think that's probably more reasonable than parsing an xml file created in the route you contemplate with that link.

I have parsed xml string into usable QC data for some really complex similar ideas, and it's a big pain in the ass (some of the pita level depends on exactly what the resulting structure looks like). I would probably even do the parsing of data in something else, and then send it to QC as a suitable structure.

It would be pretty sweet if we could record structures with VH. That would be a real time saver when applying this kind of idea of using other software/hardware to sequence events in QC.

I totally agree that the work method of using some kind of software or hardware that sends midi/artnet/osc to QC, where you sequence queues, can yield mind numbingly intricate and complex sequences that are a complete hassle to program in QC right now. I don't think "timelines" is necessarily the answer in and of itself. I think a sequencer front end designed specifically for QC, that writes reads files, and has timeline/loop based editing is what is needed.

I would like for cwright to chime in on something if possible. I remember discussing a kind of transparent value historian where stuff didn't even have to be hooked up - QC would just remember events and write them to a file without noodling, which would allow trackball events to be recorded, and other things that there isn't really a way to "noodle". Is that something that was ever committed (or am I even remembering wrongly about it being done?).

I would really like to see that fleshed out, and be able to see resulting data in a timeline editor that resembled a midi/loop editor (I've said this way too many times, I'm sure it's annoying). The key though, is for resulting timeline sequences to be able to be triggered via normal QC patches, life lfo's, keyboard, etc. It can't just be locked in a kind of time-line exclusive mode when your playing back timeline based stuff, because that would be very limiting.

There is this feature in Logic where you can play midi stuff, and if you played something you liked, you can go back and "grab it", edit the events and sequence. So, in essence, everything is always recording user events.

If we could have something like this implemented, there wouldn't be a need for really crazy parsing of data, or wiring VH to a million things and editing start stop/patch time stuff (that gets clunky) just to preserve intricate sequences for when we don't have an actual software/hardware sequencer driving QC.'s picture
Re: Ableton as a QC timeline editor

I've written something I'm calling PATCHbANK in QC which is not so much the sequencer side of what you want as it is a "state recorder" of the QC comp. The idea is simple enough, when you have a great composition you often go through dozens of input setting changes resulting in very different looks.

Then you want to go back to one and you can quite find the right combination of input settings. Add to that the lame fact that, in QC3 at least, undo doesn't undo input setting changes only noodle, note and patch level changes. So this is to save a snapshot of the settings to a recallable patch and the whole bank of patches gets saved to a file.

You have to place the appropriate patch channels in the composition to send and receive the data, just as with Value Historian, but seeing as the channels are pass-through Virtual Patches, recalling patches and changing values is seamless — the touch of a button updates all the channels in that recorded Patch right across the composition where ever there is a PATCHbANK channel.

ATM I'm making a GUI, to make the UX more fun, which I guess I'l bundle into an App Builder project (never been there b4 so hope that's a painless curve).

I've already considered adding a midi-trigger to advance the PATCHbANK up/down one patch which in effect becomes a sequencer. Have limited it to 88 patches per Band (8 Banks of 9 patches each like a synth) so that may be a limitation that needs addressing (each PATCHbANK comp/app can broadcast on it's own band [1-18] and each receiving comp channel can receive on which ever Band [1-18] it wants. So combinations of PATCHbANKS are possible in one comp or separating one active comp from another active comp using separate Broadcasting Bands with separate PATCHbANKS for each, if that isn't too abstract for you!).

Also thought of making the patch call up midi-assignable so black keys assign bank and white keys assign patch, so you can call up a new patch of the 88 possible patches with the press of just one or two keys of a MIDI keyboard.

If you'd like to alpha test PM me and I send you the basics. Maybe you can help with ideas for including the MIDI stuff, which I'm not that excited about doing myself. A T g m a i l D O T c o m's picture
Re: Ableton as a QC timeline editor

I don't find using XML bad at all, except for the parsing which I agree can be a pitn. You may not require any parsing at all (?). I didn't have a MIDI file to use that conversion page. Post one and I'm happy to look at the XML and advise on how to use it.

The thing I like about XML is you get a parent/child structure in QC with a readable and editable text file as-well, all good.

dust's picture
Re: Ableton as a QC timeline editor

gt was mentioning saving event states the other day. so i was intrigued and made a core data model of a qc plugin and it seems most things can be graphed into an XML or SQL data bank where you can then call up the latest events via a dictionary sort. it sees all apples official stuff can be graphed like qc render, context etc... notmsure about the editor but more than likely all of qc graph can be graphed possibly un officiall or at least some basic classes and data types should be able to be pulled back. I only checkout the model and there was a ton of stuff so it's all theory and me talking from my bum at the moment but mint be a different approach via core data.

cybero's picture
Re: Ableton as a QC timeline editor

This sounds like the sort of thing whereby having the facility to build a suite of composition specific presets would be a total boon. Like snapshot this state, that's your desired preset.