MPE in Live 11 and later

What is MPE?

MPE (MIDI Polyphonic Expression) allows you to control multiple instrument parameters simultaneously depending on how you press the notes on your MPE-capable MIDI controller. 

With MPE you can change these individual values for every note in real time

  • Pitch Bend (horizontal movement)
  • Slide (vertical movement)  
  • Pressure

MPE MIDI messages are displayed once you record or draw a note, and you can edit them at any time.

How can I use MPE?

You need an MPE-capable MIDI controller to use Live devices that have MPE functionality. Many third-party VST/AU plug-ins are also MPE-capable. 

Which Live devices are MPE-capable?

  • Drift
  • Wavetable
  • Sampler 
  • Simpler (MPE settings can be changed by converting to Sampler)
  • Arpeggiator
  • AAS devices (Analog, Tension, Collision, Electric)

How do I know if my plug-in is MPE-capable?

Except for Drift, MPE-capable devices display an MPE logo in the top right corner.

What is MPE Zone Configuration?

You might experience that playing your instrument in MPE mode results in silent notes. The reasons and solutions for this problem affect certain hardware synths as well as multi-channel Plug-ins. Read more about it here.

How do I set it up?

  • Connect your MPE-capable hardware, controller, or phone app with your computer
  • Open Live’s Preferences > Link/MIDI
  • Activate the MPE button for each device

I don’t have an MPE controller. Can I still use MPE?

Yes, MPE editing can be used to write modulation for individual notes by using either Draw Mode or the mouse to edit a curve and its breakpoints.

What is the difference between MPE and Polyphonic Aftertouch?

Polyphonic Aftertouch creates a MIDI message which is specific to each key. MPE creates three different types of MIDI messages (horizontal, vertical, pressure) which are specific to each key

Can I use it with Push 1 and 2?

Push 1 and 2 support Poly Aftertouch in compatible Live devices and plug-ins. This allows you to apply different levels of Aftertouch to individual notes, making your music more expressive. To enable Poly Aftertouch with Push 2, press Setup on Push 2 and set Pressure to Poly.

How can I edit recorded MPE modulation?

  • Select the MIDI clip and click the Note Expression tab in the Clip View Editor.
  • You can view each parameter by clicking the Show/Hide lane buttons.
  • Similar to editing automation, you can move breakpoints, copy/paste/delete them, mark them, or use the draw mode. 
  • Morph between chords and add bends by connecting the curve of a note with any subsequent note.

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MPE Control and Expression Control MIDI effects

These two MIDI Effects are designed for MPE devices, and are included as of Live 11’s Core Library. 

MPE Control influences the range and curve of incoming MPE data to improve expressive playing. It also lets you control non-MPE instruments with your MPE controller.

Expression Control lets you add more MIDI sources with a transformation curve for each row and source, and can be used to integrate effects in an MPE chain.

Why does the Pitch Bend of my MPE controller move in incorrect increments?

The Pitch Bend range of your MPE controller and the MPE-capable instrument need to match for correct tracking.

Can I use Pitch Bend for other parameters than pitch?

Yes, you can change the Modulation destination of the MPE instrument (depending on the instrument) or use Expression Control to map Pitch Bend to device parameters.

Why can’t I control my effects polyphonically with Expression Control?

Controlling effects with Expression Control is only possible monophonically with last note priority.

Why can’t I modulate Sample Selector and Sample Offset continuously?

This is expected behavior. Sample Selector and Sample Offset changes are only applied on Note On.

How can I change MPE settings in Simpler?

While you can play Simpler using an MPE device, some MPE settings cannot be configured manually. To make changes, you can convert Simpler to Sampler, and convert it back to Simpler.

Note: Sampler is included in Live Suite or can be purchased separately for Live Intro or Standard.

Can I use MPE in my version of Live?

MPE is available as of Live 11 Intro, Standard, and Suite.

Ableton offers these in-depth help and learning resources: