Live Scratcher for Max For Live

Live Scratcher is a MaxForLive device that attempts to emulate the sound of a record being played forwards and backwards on a turntable, much like a DJ would do when scratching.

The device simply moves a playhead over a sample to replicate the turntable movement, and you use a MIDI note to ‘cut’ the sound in as it moves.

There are various ways of controlling the playhead: either manually with the mouse, with a dial on Push, or with a dial / fader on a MIDI controller.

You can also automate the playhead within a MIDI clip using Automation Envelopes, or use the built-in LFO to move the playhead forwards and backwards automatically.

Much like the action a DJ would normally perform with a crossfader, the sound can then be ‘cut in’ with the note C3, either in a MIDI clip or played live.

By combining different note patterns with moving the playhead forward and backward over the sample in various rhythmical movements, you can go some way to creating a reasonably authentic scratching sound.

Please see the video above for a demo and quick walkthrough. For further details, please refer to the product manual.


Tips:

  • Works best with samples of exactly 1 second in length. Anything longer or shorter and it won’t sound as good. You can negate this a little by increasing the ‘Drag’ amount for longer samples, but try to stick to the 1 second length for the best sound.
  • Also works best with particularly noisy, aggressive-sounding samples. Screams, white noise, car screeches, etc. all work well.
  • When using a custom sample, adding a short amount of silence before and after your sample helps give the initial transient more ‘attack’ as the playhead passes over. Without the silence beforehand, things can sound a little ‘mushy’ as the playhead passes each end of the sample.
  • Try to use the highest quality sample you can. Avoid MP3s and try to go for .wav or .aiff if possible.
  • Although you’re limited to one custom sample, you can still add more instances of the device if you wish, either each on a separate track or together in a Drum Rack. The only limit here is your CPU, although the device itself is not particularly CPU-intensive.

FAQ:

Q: Why can’t I edit automation inside the clip when I’m in Arrangement View?
A: When in Arrangement View, the clip edit window at the bottom of the screen is used for editing parameter Modulation, not Automation. Automation envelopes are an absolute value, Modulation envelopes are always relative to the current parameter value. (See this link for more info on Modulation vs. Automation.) As the device’s parameters are not enabled for Modulation control, please use the main Arrangement view for automating parameter movements:

Q: Can I use the device with longer samples?
A: You can but it won’t work nearly as well. Samples of no longer than 1-2 seconds are recommended.

Q: Will this work with a jog wheel or DVS?
A: No. Well, not yet at least… 😉

Q: Can I map Playhead / Turntable control to my Push’s touch strip?
A: Yes, but it requires a bit of a workaround. To do this, put your Push’s touch strip in Mod Wheel mode (hold Select and move the touch strip), then place an Expression Control device before Live Scratcher. Map the Target to the slider underneath the main waveform in Live Scratcher and set the Expression Control as follows:


System requirements:

  • MacOS 64bit / Windows 10/11.
  • Ableton Live 11, Ableton Live 12 (Live 12 required for the example Live Project)
  • Max For Live (included with Live Suite or bought separately for Live Standard)