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Rendering Instrument Tracks

Working with Instrument tracks is great as you can easily modify MIDI notes and Automate your synth settings. But sometimes it is necessary to convert an instrument track to an audio track. For example, if you want to play it in reverse, pitch it up or down, or time-stretch it. So how can we do this in Ableton?

There are two methods to achieve this. One way is to use Resampling. The other is to use a feature called Freeze Track. Right-click any instrument track to do this.

Ableton Freeze Track
In other DAWs freezing is sometimes referred to as ‘consolidating’ or ‘rendering’.

The freeze track function will render the entire instrument track, including its effects, to audio. This includes all the clips in your arrangement and session view. A frozen track will appear with a light blue background.

A frozen instrument track
Notice the light blue monitoring options, indicating the frozen track state.

You can still duplicate and cut frozen MIDI tracks, but you won’t be able to change notes or effects. This is a useful feature to save CPU power, but it also allows you to share Ableton projects with other producers that don’t own the same plugins as you do. You can unfreeze a track at any time by right-clicking and choosing Unfreeze Track.

But in this case, we want to turn this frozen track into an audio track. To do this we simply need to right-click the track once more and select Flatten Track.

Ableton Flatten Track

That’s it! Now you can manipulate this audio clip in any way you’d like.

A flattened Track in Ableton
Session view MIDI clips are also rendered to audio.
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