Slice of Winter from Bjorn Vayner on Vimeo.

Hate soundware and generic downloaded samples? You’ll love this. The “Slice of Winter” sound pack created by Covert Operators for CDM doesn’t have a single sound in it – not one; you bring your own. Instead, install this pack and you get a whole mess of slicing presents for use with Ableton Live’s Slice to New MIDI Track feature. Grab an audio clip (or record your own), hit Slice to New MIDI Track, apply a preset, and you get a new Drum Rack instance with slices mapped to pads, effects, and live controls. (You can see what I mean as Bjorn plays around with the feature in the video.)

Naturally, this works nicely for drum loops, but if you apply to vocals or weird found sounds or other material, you can get all kinds of results. You’ll need Live 7 as it’s a new feature, but you can use the free trial to try it out; the trial is still unlimited time-wise and now even saves for the first 14 days.

It’s not so much that this is something other tools can’t do – even some hardware drum machines have a similar feature. But in the context of Live, slicing takes on a different quality. It integrates with all the clips you have sitting around your session, can map to those warp markers, and gives you virtual drum machines with live controller mappings and the ability to insert effects (including third-party plug-ins) on each pad.

We feature this technique in the CDM Winter Guide for two reasons. One, it’s a perfect antidote to sets that get boring because you have clips looping endlessly. Two, you can get a lot of mileage from this feature musically, so it’s something to live with for a while (which was the idea of the guide). In the guide, we have a detailed tutorial for using the feature, how to make your own presets (which isn’t clear in the manual), and some creative ideas. Francis Preve joins in with some tips; he used this feature heavily on his single “Caboose.” Previously:

Free Tutorials, Techno iPhone Ringtone from Francis Preve, Celebrating Single “Caboose”

Get the Guide + the Pack

So, be sure to not only grab the sound pack but download the free PDF, or get the bound treeware version to keep on your desk:

Print Edition + Free PDF Download @

Support independent publishing: buy this book on Lulu.

And for the free Live Pack download from Covert Operators:

More Brain Dumps on Live

Covert Operators also makes other lovely stuff for Live and live performance, including software (like a utility for making better use of the BCR2000 controller), Live packs (free and fee), and an in-depth video subscription series with power tools for Live use.

If you want still more Live knowledge, Grooveboxmusic has a limited-time deal on three hours of free tutorials, on special through the end of the month: Free video tutorials [, via the ever-vigilant]

Now pray for a snow day to actually get some Live time for music making! (I know I’m hoping for one. Or an Elton John Day.)

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  • tendo

    That looks like a lot of fun. I'm going to spend winter vacation messin' with Live.

  • ronnie

    Something new for my ever growing stack of nice things to check this holiday season.

  • Andreas Wetterberg

    Bj-Ron, U R an insane. Someone help this man, for realz!

    I'm personally using these to great effect just throwing random stuff in there – make a new track, resample a bar or two into it, slice it up, go!

  • dan

    wonderful feature cdm! thanks.

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  • katie firestone

    awesome slicer!

  • HMMM

    cool idea but they really just make everything sound like garbage imo.
    b for effort


  • Peter Kirn

    @HMMM: Ha! Well, uh, extra points for honesty?

    Seriously, these are a little bit different in that they're heavily dependent on source material and how you use them when finished. So it's really better to think of them as templates rather than simply presets. By the same token, I've been leaving about four of Live's macros empty in presets (see discussion in the guide). That way, you can assign additional macros after the fact – and assign them to individual pads, like a knob for doing something to the bass / hat / etc.

  • octatone

    How the hell did they map reverse on/off to a macro from simpler. am I missing something? hidden feature?

    inquiring minds need to know!

  • Peter Kirn

    @octatone: Live lets you convert Samplers to Simplers. So they just mapped the macro while the Sampler was a Sampler, *then* converted to a Simpler. As it happens, this retains the reverse capability even though Simpler doesn't have a UI hook for it.

    I think this is useful even if you own Sampler, because it's often more convenient to deal with the Simpler UI on Drum Rack instances.

  • octatone

    That's damn interesting. I wonder what other capabilities simpler has that don't show in the UI but would retain from a Sampler to Simpler convert. I don't own sampler (kontakt user) so I thought it odd plunking through the mappings to see reverse listed. So, this is basically a feature unlock for me… someone go through and unlock the rest …


    you can also slice to midi directly from Live's browser w/out having to have an audio clip in an audio track… just in case anyone didn't know.

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  • Paulo

    Love the presets! Except I'm gonna need to go through every single one and create a description of what it does so I can more easily find the kind of sound I want.

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