The Ableton Live 9 User Manual (section 5.3) is notably terse in explaining how to import and export MIDI files. Actually, it doesn’t explain how to import a MIDI file at all. While it does (sort of) explain how to export a MIDI file, it leaves out an important detail.
How to Import a MIDI File
- Begin with a MIDI file in SMF0 or SMF1 format.
- Put the MIDI file in a folder defined in the Ableton Live Browser (or add the folder to the Browser).
- Click on the folder name in the Browser. The name of the MIDI file should appear in the Browser’s “Name” pane.
- Toggle to Session View.
- Drag the MIDI file onto the Session View. A “ghost” of each track in the MIDI file will appear as the mouse hovers over the Session View. When you release the mouse button, Ableton will create a track for each track in the MIDI file.
- Assign instruments to each track as appropriate.
How to Export a MIDI File
The User Manual (as well as this Help article) fails to mention that Ableton Live can only export individual MIDI clips from a single track. There is no way to export multiple tracks into a single MIDI file.
- Select a given clip in a track.
- Select File > Export MIDI Clip… (or press Ctrl+Shift+E). The file name will default to the name of the clip.
- Navigate the folder you want to save the file in and click Save.