Managing Your Live Sets Using Color Coding

Featuring Loops In Worship Posted on September 10, 2010

If you use loops frequently then one of the most important things to consider is the concept of file management. It’s one of the “unsexy” parts of using loops but if you put in the effort up front it will pay off big time. It’s important to consider and answer a few questions like, “where do I save my files”, “how do I name them” and “where do I back them up?” One of the concepts we’re going to look at in today’s post is how to manage files within our Live set using color coding techniques. Live gives us the ability to change up the way our session looks and with a little bit of thinking we can use these conepts to our advantage.
The Basics

In Live we can Color Code Three Features:

   1. Clips
   2. Scenes
   3. Tracks

Color Coding these allows us to clean up our screen and make it easier to associate files and clips with certain songs or differentiate parts of our set from others. When you’re staring at a computer screen for 30 minutes during a set and most of us multiple times each Sunday, we need all the help to keep us from getting bored and being able to clearly see whats happening. One thing to remember when labeling your Live set with colors or text is to make sure to label it clearly and concisely so that when you look at it you know immediately what it is. This may mean using your own system to label or creating shortcuts but whatever you do make sure it requires little to no brain power to figure it out and that you use it consistently.
Setting it up

To change the color of our clips, Scenes, or Tracks we can right click on either of the three and select the color we want or choose no color. You can even select multiple objects and assign your color all at once. It’s important to note that we can also enable and disable the “Auto Assign Clip Colors” option in Live’s Preference Pane under the Look/Feel tab. When turned on Live will automatically assign colors to each clip. If you’ve turned off the feature you can select a default clip color for all your new clips in Live.
A Couple of Color Coding Techniques

   1. Color Code each of your scenes so that all scenes pertaining to a certain song get the same color. You could color song 1 grey, song 2 yellow and song 3 red. If you’re using multiple scenes you can select each of those scenes and make them the same color. If I was using an external controller and had a large supply of colorful electrical tape I could also label my controller by color for each song.

   2. Color Code clips & loops by type. If you use multiple clips for each song and you typically use the same “type” of clips you could color code your set so that you can quickly see where and what type of loop each clip is. For instance I could always color my percussive loops red, synthetic loops yellow, washy electronic loops blue, and electronic loops grey. When I look at my set I would immediately know what “type” of loop each sample is. This is extremely useful if you’re doing an improv set where you have the freedom to launch different type of loops. It’s nice to be able to quickly see what type of loop you’re working with without having to read it in detail.

   3. Color Code your tracks by type. If you’re a keyboardist this may be really useful. If you’ve got multiple tracks and instances of synths, pads, keyboards etc. you may want to color code them so you know what type of keyboard they are. Lead synths get a color, Bass Synths get a color, Pads get a color, Rhodes gets a color, and piano gets a color. If you’re using a lot of loops and keys you may just want to differentiate between the two types of tracks by choosing a loop track color and keys track color.

These are only a few ways you can manage files using color coding in Live. It’s important to note even if you just want to change the way Live looks you can easily do that by using color coding and it can help keep you from getting bored!

How do you use Color Coding in Live? Share your file management techniques in the comments!

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