Skip to main content

Configuring a MIDI Track: Instrument Rack

Let's configure a MIDI track. You can continue working in the same project where you followed the previous tutorial to combine generative drum beats with harmonic and melodic content.

Loading the Device

Drag and drop Flow from your Ableton Live User Library onto a new MIDI track. Again, you will see a loading screen followed by the main device interface.

Loading screen
Loading screen

Configuring Synths and Key Zones

In this tutorial, you will learn how to route Flow's output to multiple synths based on key zones. This way, you can create rich and varied musical textures by using different sounds for each part. You will use Ableton Live's Key Zone Editor to assign different MIDI note ranges to different synths. Then, you will configure Flow to output notes on multiple octaves, so that each sequencer part can play its own synth.

Instrument Rack

To create a container for multiple synths, drag and drop an Instrument Rack device onto the MIDI track right after the Flow device.

Next, add an Analog device to the Instrument Rack. This synth will play a bass sound in the lower octave range.

Then, add three more Analog devices to the Instrument Rack. These synths will play the chords, arpeggio and melody.

Instrument Rack with four instances of Analog synth
Instrument Rack with four instances of Analog synth

Now let's set up the key zones.

Key Zones

To assign different key ranges to each synth in the Instrument Rack, follow these steps:

  • Click the Key button to open the Key Zone Editor;
  • Drag the edges of the key zones to adjust their ranges. Use these settings:
    • Key Zone 1: C-2 — B0 for the bass part;
    • Key Zone 2: C1 — B2 for the chords part;
    • Key Zone 3: C3 — B4 for the arpeggio part;
    • Key Zone 4: C5 — G8 for the melody part.

Your Instrument Rack configuration should look like this:

Instrument Rack with four key zones configured
Instrument Rack with four key zones configured

Each synth is now mapped to a separate key range on the keyboard.


Now, let's assign different roles and sounds to each synth using simple sound design techniques. Adjust the following parameters of the synths:

Synth 1 will be our bass synth. It will have a smooth attack and a low-pass filter to remove the high frequencies:

  • Filter 1 Cutoff Frequency: 500 Hz;
  • Amp1:
    • Envelope Slope: Linear;
    • Envelope Attack Time: 50 ms;
    • Envelope Release Time: 10 ms.

Now your Instrument Rack configuration should look like this:

Synth 1
Synth 1

The setup is done. You are now ready to create some generative music!