Exporting MIDI files from Ableton

Jack Keough Updated by Jack Keough

This document covers tips for how to export a MIDI file from Ableton LIVE for the purposes of a Transcription assignment on Middy.

Key Takeaways
  1. Middy and Ableton Live handle MIDI files differently. The way Ableton LIVE visualizes a MIDI Clip in the sequencer can differ from how MIDDY interprets and displays a MIDI file. You may be confused why Middy is reading your MIDI file differently from how Ableton reads your MIDI file. Please see the list of Gotchas 👀 below to see how you could run into a few issues.
  2. For the most part, you can consider the MIDI Note Editor as the source of truth for how your MIDI file will be read in Middy. However:
    1. Middy reads notes starting from measure 1. Do note upload a MIDI file with notes in negative measures (see Gotcha #3 to see how you could run into this issue).
    1. The best way to ensure that the MIDI Clip will start from measure 1, is to ”crop” your MIDI Clip before you export it.  Right click on the MIDI clip you wish to export and click “Crop Clip(s)” from the clip's context menu. 
    Notice in the GIF below how the starting measure in the MIDI Note Editor changes from 2 to 1 after the Midi Clip is shortened and then cropped.
    1. Middy will read all active notes in deactivated regions (see Gotcha #1 & Gotcha #2 to see how you could run into this issue).
    1. Middy will ignore notes that are deactivated in Ableton.
  3. When you create a MIDI file, Ableton Live will set the LOOP mode to ON by default. For the purposes of transcription assignments, we recommend you turn LOOP mode off as it may create unexpected behavior (see Gotcha #1 to see what issues you could run into). See the screenshot below to see where the Loop button is located in the MIDI clip preview.
  1. Select the MIDI Clip you wish to export and use the “Export MIDI Clip” command from the File menu, or directly from the clip's context menu (accessed by right clicking on the MIDI clip).
List of common mistakes (aka Gotchas 👀)
  • Gotcha #1: Extending a MIDI clips length with LOOP mode ON will NOT change the length of the MIDI file. It is just configuring the MIDI Clip in a way that Ableton Live understands, but Middy ignores.
    • Notice in the GIF below how the MIDI Note Editor is NOT affected by changes in the MIDI Clip’s length in the sequencer when LOOP mode is on
    • If you are transcribing a piece of music with a repetitive sequence of notes, do not expect that extending a MIDI clip while LOOP mode is on will generate the duplicate measures in Middy. Middy ignores this loop configuration! 
  • Gotcha #2: Extending files from the starting point with LOOP mode OFF will create measures that have negative values. Middy will read your MIDI files from the first positive measure. 
    • Notice in the GIF below how the MIDI Note Editor does not add or subtract measures when there are changes changes to the MIDI Clip’s length in the sequencer.
    • When you extend the file from the starting point, you add measures that are positioned on negative measures. Make sure to add notes only to measures with positive values.  
  • Gotcha #3: Shortening files with LOOP mode ON or OFF will NOT change the length of the file
    • Notice in the GIF below how the MIDI Note Editor does NOT change the length of the MIDI file when you  shorten the length of a MIDI clip with LOOP mode on (screenshot #1) or off (screenshot #2)
  • LOOP mode is ON in the screenshot above
  • LOOP mode is OFF in the screenshot below
Looking for more tips on writing your exercises?

Creating a Lesson for Middy(Overview)

Logic Pro Tutorial:Prepping your files for Middy

Sibelius Tutorial:Prepping your files for Middy 

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Transcription Exercise Guide

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