Can I Duplicate Ableton Track Without The Clips? (Answered)

Ableton Live is a world-famous DAW (Digital Audio Workstation), filled with powerful tools and a host of intuitive features. Among any popular DAW, shortcuts, and actions make your life easier, but sometimes certain DAWs just don’t include these features.

Creating tracks on Ableton is as easy as any other DAW, but there are also certain actions that Ableton doesn’t have.

In this article, I’ll help you figure out duplication and how to make the most of Ableton’s tracks.

Here’s Whether You Can Duplicate an Ableton Track Without The Clips:

Unlike Logic or FL Studio, Ableton Live does not include the ability to duplicate or copy tracks without the clips. This means that you have to delete the track content (such as audio or MIDI clips) once you’ve duplicated the track. Use shortcuts to make the process more efficient.

Male works on music production. Two computer screens open with MIDI keyboard connected

How Do I Create a New Audio Track?

First off, let’s get a basic understanding of what an Ableton track is.

In Ableton Live, a track holds musical elements such as audio clips, MIDI clips, and software instruments, along with any added effects and processing. These are the basic building blocks for creating music or sound designs within Ableton.

Ableton has two types of tracks:

  • Audio tracks are used for recording and processing audio (like actual audio waveforms).
  • MIDI tracks are used for creating and editing MIDI data which controls software instruments or external hardware synthesizers.

Ableton tracks can be layered and arranged into complex musical works, packed with audio effects, automation, and different instrumental parts.

Right, now that we know what tracks are within Ableton Live, let’s dive into how to create a new audio track:

  1. The simplest way to create a new audio track in Ableton Live is to use the “Command+T” shortcut for Mac, and “CTRL+T’ for Windows.
  2. You can also right-click on any pre-existing track
  3. Then, select “Insert Audio Track” from the drop-down menu.
Once your new audio track is created, you’ll be able to record any external audio sources such as microphones, instruments, or sound modules, or they can be used to import pre-recorded audio files.
From there, you can add a variety of audio effects, such as EQ, compression, delay, and reverb.

Can I Duplicate a Track Without Regions/Clips?

Copying or Duplicating tracks within Ableton Live is a great way to quickly and effectively carry over things like audio or MIDI clips, effects and VST plug-ins, automation parameters, and so much more.

But what if you’re not looking to copy over your Regions or your Audio and MIDI clips?

Unfortunately, Ableton only allows you to duplicate the entire track, which includes all the track content such as the audio and MIDI clips.

You’ll have to manually delete your Regions and Clips on your new track after duplicating or copying from the old one.

Let’s jump into why this can cause frustration for Ableton users, as duplicating and copying tracks is a mainstay practice for any experienced musician or producer.

Often when working on Ableton, you’ll want to record a new part on a new track, while still using the same effects that you had on your old track’s device chain.

Here’s an example of this:

Let’s say you’ve recorded your first vocal take, most likely the lead vocal, over an instrumental beat. The next step would be to manipulate the audio with effects, such as Compressors, EQs, Reverbs, or even Delays.

Now that you’ve successfully honed that audio track into sounding how you want, you’ll want to start on your next vocal take, most likely a harmony. The last thing you want to do is record on a brand-new audio track, and have to set up all of your effects all over again.

The quickest fix for this problem is to simply duplicate your first audio take, complete with all its effects and automation.

The problem is that this new track still contains all of your audio clips from the previous one, meaning you have to manually delete all this information, which slows down your creative process and wastes your precious time.

Frustratingly, Ableton doesn’t offer any reasonable workarounds. Where other DAWs like Logic Pro and FL Studio offers simple solutions to duplicating tracks without including the audio and MIDI clips, Ableton offers none.

The good news, especially for those producers like us who like to work quickly and efficiently, is that some shortcuts can speed up the process of deleting your track content on your newly duplicated track.

Here are shortcuts to speed up the process:

  • Firstly, once you’ve selected the track you’d like to duplicate, press “Command+D” for Mac or “CTRL+D” for Windows.
  • Next, right-click on your newly duplicated track.
  • Now, press “S” which will snap your highlighted area to “Select Track Content”
  • Next, hit “Enter”. This will highlight all your Audio or MIDI clips on the track.
  • Finally, press “Delete” or “Backspace” to wipe any clips off the track.

The other option to clear any audio or MIDI clips off your newly duplicated track is to highlight the entire track with your mouse and then delete the highlighted section.

This method can be tedious if you have a long or convoluted project, especially if you’re working on smaller screens or with a trackpad instead of a mouse.

How Do I Create a New MIDI Track?

A MIDI track is essentially a channel used to host and edit MIDI clips, which are sequences of musical notes and information in MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) format.

MIDI tracks in Ableton can be used to create and manipulate MIDI clips using a whole bunch of tools and features, including virtual instruments (such as VST Synths), samplers, and MIDI controllers.

You can record MIDI performances in real-time using a MIDI controller or input notes manually using Ableton’s piano roll (the onboard keyboard used to record and edit MIDI information).

MIDI tracks can also adjust and control MIDI data in various ways, such as automating note velocities, quantizing timing, adding swing, applying MIDI effects, and more.

Now that we know what a MIDI track is within Ableton Live, let’s dive into how to create one:

  1. The simplest way to create a new MIDI track in Ableton Live is to use the “Command+Shift+T” shortcut for Mac, and “CTRL+Shift+T’ for Windows.
  2. You can also right-click on any pre-existing track, and select “Insert MIDI Track” from the drop-down menu.

Now that your new MIDI track is created, you’ll be able to record MIDI information with your MIDI controller, or even punch in your desired notes using Ableton Live’s piano roll.

You can also adjust this MIDI information using a bunch of Ableton’s onboard audio effects, or even external VST plug-ins.

How Do I Copy Track Settings?

Now that you’ve recorded your perfect guitar part, or your incredible MIDI synth lead line, what’s next?

The next part is just as exciting.

Here you can add audio effects, automation, and a host of other exciting audio editing to make your track sound interesting and sonically vibrant.

Once you’ve edited, adjusted, and played with your audio and MIDI clips to your heart’s content, you’ll often want to use those same track settings on a new track. This is especially true for groupings of tracks, such as vocals or guitars, where you want your different takes to have similar sounds and tonalities.

Let’s look at how to correctly copy and paste your track settings to a brand-new track:

  1. Simply duplicate your pre-existing, pre-edited track, along with all of its track settings and audio effects.
  2. Once you have your new audio or MIDI track, you can just delete the audio or MIDI clips that came along in the process.
  3. Now, you are left with an empty track lane and all your settings and effects from the previous track’s device chain.

If you’ve already recorded onto a new audio or MIDI track and want to copy over a different track’s settings and audio effects, don’t fear.

Here’s how you can get all your edits and automation carried over:

  1. First, navigate to your desired track’s Device Chain, which can be found in the small window on the bottom right-hand of the screen.
  2. Next, click anywhere in the “Drop Audio Effects Here” window.
  3. Press “Command+A” for Mac and “Ctrl+A” for Windows.
  4. Then, hold down “Command+C” for Mac and “Ctrl+C” for Windows to copy your audio effects and plug-ins.
  5. Finally, head to your new track’s Device Chain and paste, using “Command+V” for Mac and “Ctrl+V” for Windows.

To copy automation, you’ll need to first engage “Automation Mode” in Ableton’s Arrangement View.

  1. From here, navigate to your selected track, and click on the “Device Chooser”, located just under your Track Name.
  2. From the Device Chooser’s drop-down menu, simply select the automated parameters that you’ve worked on.
  3. The automation will show up on the track lane, where you can copy and paste to your new track’s lane using the shortcuts shown above.
  4. Remember to ensure your new track is on the same device selection when pasting.

Note that other settings like Track volume and Send/Return levels will have to be adjusted manually on your new track unless they’ve been automated, where you can copy and paste the automation information using the above method.

How Do I Delete Regions/Clips?

In Ableton Live, Clips are the self-contained musical bits, either MIDI or audio, that can be played, triggered, or manipulated within a track. MIDI clips are musical notes in a digital MIDI format, whereas audio clips are made of actual recorded sound.

Regions, on the other hand, are a specific selection of a bunch of MIDI or audio clips and can extend to multiple different tracks.

To select a region, you can highlight a section of one or more tracks, or even select the “Loop Recording Region”, located at the top of Ableton’s Arrangement View.

Now that we’ve selected a specific Clip or Region, let’s figure out how to delete these selections.

  • Firstly, highlight your clip or region within Ableton.
  • Next, simply hit “Backspace” or “Delete” to wipe your highlighted selections.

Final Thoughts

Although copying tracks and their included audio effects and settings can be an easy option for creating a solid template for a new track, it’s important to remember that not all instruments or takes should be affected in the same way.

It can be tempting to simply copy and paste your same audio effects settings and automation.

However, I always say it’s always best to treat each track as an isolated example and manage that track accordingly.


Ableton’s Arrangement View

Clip Region Loop and Display