Working with Automation and Modulation

  • Live Versions: All
  • Operating System: All

Clip envelopes can be used to automate or modulate mixer and device controls. Whereas automation envelopes define the value of a control at any given point in time, modulation envelopes can only influence this defined value. This difference allows the two types of envelopes to work together in harmony when controlling the same parameter.


Automation can be drawn in with the mouse or recorded to clip envelopes.

1. To view and edit automation envelopes in the Arrangement view, activate Automation mode using the toggle, or the A key. (Live 10 and later).


2. In order to enable automation recording, activate the Automation Arm button:


3. To record automation in the Session View, use the Session Record button:


4. To record automation in Arrangement view, use the Global Record button.


5. Session view automation can be viewed/edited in the clip envelopes box. Make sure that Aut (10.1 and later) is selected. Note: Aut and Mod buttons only appear in Session view clips, not in Arrangement view clips.


6. Arrangement view automation is moved to its own automation lane. Automation mode must be active to view/edit automation in the arrangement view.


7. Once automation has been added, the parameter appears with a red dot.



Modulation envelopes can be created or edited using the mouse only.

1. In Session View clips, switch to Mod in the clip envelope box (10.1 and later), then create your desired modulation envelope. Modulation envelopes are colored blue.


2. In versions of Live until 10.1, Modulation envelopes can be shown by selecting the Show Modulation option available in the right-click(PC) / CTRL-click(Mac) context menu on controls. 


3. In Arrangement View, modulation envelopes remain accessible only in the clip envelope box.

Note: In Arrangement View, a Clip must be selected for Show Modulation to appear in the context menu. In Session View, a Clip must have been launched for Show Modulation to appear. If the Stop Slot has been triggered, Show Modulation will be greyed out. Launch a Clip to make this option available again in the context menu.

Grid snapping (Live 10 and later)

Breakpoints created close to a grid line will automatically snap to that line if "Snap Automation to Grid" is enabled in the Options menu.


Hold down the ALT (PC) / CMD (Mac) modifier while dragging horizontally to bypass grid snapping. Holding down the Shift modifier while dragging vertically allows you to adjust the breakpoint or line segment value at a finer resolution.

Automation and Modulation shapes (Live 10.1 and later)

Choose from a predefined list of automation shapes. Right click in any envelope or automation lane and insert a shape from the list:


You can highlight a section to apply the shape to the entire selection, or drag and extend a shape after adding it.

Simplify Envelopes (Live 10.1 and later)

The overall amount of breakpoints can be reduced, using the Simplify Envelope command (in the right-click context menu). This makes editing recorded automation more comfortable. Curve-like movements are simplified into C- or S-shapes, whenever possible.





Envelopes can be simplified across multiple clips. Just create a time selection that stretches across multiple automation lanes and trigger the command from the context menu or 'Edit' menu. This will only work in Arrangement View though, not in Session view.


  • Simplification cannot be applied on parameters that require discrete steps, such as booleans (e.g. on/off switches) or enums (e.g. dropdown menus, radio buttons, stepped dials, etc.)
  • Simplification can only be applied once, i.e. you cannot simplify an envelope and then simplify it further in an additional step.

Exact breakpoint values (Live 10.1 and later)

All breakpoints and segments now also accept values entered via the keyboard for more precision. Right click on a breakpoint, select "Edit Value" and type in the required value in the box which appears:


Ableton offers these in-depth help and learning resources: