I absolutely love making instruments in Ableton Live. I love the challenge of coming up with an idea, or turning a sample into a new instrument. There are a few techniques that can help you make a really realistic and dynamic instrument. One of these is playing a sample on Note Release. In other words, if you want to play a different sample when you let go of the note, then you can use Note Release.

Here is a video showing off the technique and why it can be useful in making an instrument.

Steps for creating a Sample that plays on Note Release:

1. Add a new chain for a new instrument that will play on note release. (called Release Chain)
2. Add any sampler, vst, or instrument to that Release Chain.
3. Add a Note Length Midi Device to the Release Chain.
4. Set the Note Length MIDI device to Note Off.

Triger on Note OffNow you will have the second instrument on the Release Chain play only when you release a note. This is great for building flutes, horns, or synths that have a unique sound when the note is let go.  This works particularly well with pianos when you want the sound of the keys moving when you release them.

There are instances when you do not want the Note Release instrument to play if you are playing multiple notes. You might just want the sound when all notes are finished and it’s the final release sound. We can achieve this with one more technique.

Gate the Note Release:

1. Add a Gate Audio Device to the Release Chain.
2. Open up the Gate Sidechain Option.

Gate Sidechain
3. Turn Sidechain on and Sidechain to the same track as the instrument. Set the Audio Device to the same Track as the instrument.
4. On the Device Title Bar (the second pull down window) choose the first instrument chain as the input.

Gate Settings

5. Set the Gate to Flip.  This will reverse the Gate behavior and will let the signal pass through only if it is below the threshold level.
6. Set Threshold, Return, and Release as you would like to get the right effect. Image above showed the settings for the instrument I created, though your threshold might have to be higher or lower depending on the volume of the first Chain.

Edit Note Release Velocity:

There is also one more advance tip for users using Note Release. In the Velocity Editor for your MIDI clip you can actually change the Velocity of the Note Release. To do this just Right Click, or 2 finger click, the Velocity Editor. Then Pick the  Show Note Off Velocity. You can then edit the Velocity of the Release. Note Release


This technique can be used really creatively to make new instruments. You can even have a unique reverb play only on release, or have a filter change on the released note that is not on the sustained instrument. The sky is the limit. Enjoy the technique. If you make any instruments and have techniques you like to use, comment bellow. Love to hear what wizardry you are up to.