BLOCKS Dashboard allows easy integration between BLOCKS and Ableton Live. With BLOCKS Dashboard you can customize the Lightpad Block’s touch-responsive surface to control Ableton Live in a wide variety of ways. This article will show you how to use the Lightpad Block as a drum pad controller in Ableton. You can also control Ableton Live clips and instruments with the Lightpad Block, and use Lightpad and Seaboard Blocks as melodic instruments in Ableton Live.
Ableton’s MIDI Preferences
Go to Preferences → Link MIDI → MIDI Ports
Ensure that Track and Remote are turned On next to Input: Lightpad Block
Using the Lightpad Block as a Drum Pad
Step 1: BLOCKS Dashboard Settings
With your Lightpad connected to your computer, launch BLOCKS Dashboard and select your Lightpad in BLOCKS Dashboard’s visualizer. Select the “Drum Block” app to load it onto your Lightpad.
Under “Mode,” select “4×4 Single Channel.” This will create a 4×4 drum pad using a single channel of MIDI. This will automatically select the following settings:
- MIDI Mode: Single Channel
- Note Channel First, Note Channel Last: 1
- Base Note: C1 (ideal, as most Drum Racks are mapped from C1)
- Grid Size: 4
If you’d like each note you play to have the same velocity, select “Fixed Strike.”
Step 2: Create a MIDI track
- Open a new Ableton set and load a Drum Rack instrument of your choice onto a MIDI track
- Record-arm the MIDI track
You should now be able to trigger these drums from your Lightpad Block.
Step 3: Set up the dimensions of touch
The Lightpad Block’s dimensions of touch can provide intuitive control over your drum sounds.
Strike will be automatically mapped to the velocity of each drum sound.
Glide, Press & Lift
- Select the drum sound within that Drum Rack that you wish to control with Glide, Press or Lift.
- Right-click on top of the selected Simpler instrument and go to “Simpler → Sampler”
- Assign Pitch Bend (Glide), Aftertouch (Press) and Off Vel (Lift) to the parameters you wish to control. You can also assign Velocity(Strike) to control other parameters.
Slide transmits MIDI CC 74 by default.
You may change what MIDI CC message Slide transmits under the Global settings of BLOCKS Dashboard’s Drum Block app.
You can assign Slide to the desired parameters on a Drum Rack or an Audio Effect by MIDI Mapping. In this example, Slide is being set to modulate the amount of ‘Drive’ control of ‘Saturator‘ Audio Effect on the Kick Drum:
- Select MIDI Mapping on the top-right corner
- Select ‘Drive’ on ‘Saturator’
- Perform the Slide gesture on your Lightpad Block to map it to this parameter
That’s it! You are ready to play some drums with your Lightpad Block and Ableton Live’s Drum Rack.