Pedals for Ableton Live

For a concert later this year, a friend is gonna use Ableton Live to play some sounds, while also playing other instruments, and so he wanted to be able to control Live with his feet. Ableton Live is very nice, control wise, in that it is easy to map keys on the keyboard to do almost anything, and also that you can easily switch over to a mode where two rows of keys map up to a little more than one octave on a musical keyboard.

The switches for each pedal

The switches for each pedal

Having some pedals from old organs laying around, we decided they would be ideal for the physical part of the interface. And as they, on the lowest level just consist of one full octave of switches, the easiest thing was just to make it work like a keyboard. Mapping the “white” pedals to “asdfghjk”, and the “black” to “wetyu”.

I ripped the controller board out of an old USB keyboard, and used a multimeter in continuity mode to find out which pins matched the keys we wanted. Then it was just a matter of solder two wires from each of the pedal switches to the right pins on the controller card. Since some keys shared pins, we also matched those up, and connected the matching pins, to reduce the clutter.

The pedals all connected to the keyboard controller

The pedals all connected to the keyboard controller

Now it is just a matter of planning and rehearsing, finding out what sounds to map to what pedal. Having the ability in Ableton Live, to also have different trigger modes on the sounds makes it a very nice program for live performances, but I guess that was the whole idea of the software, so it’s not surprising.

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