10 More Ableton Live Tips to Keep the Creative Juices Flowing While in Lockdown

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So it looks like this Corona Virus lockdown is gonna drag on huh? Here’s a follow-up to my last article; 10 Ableton Live Tips to Keep the Creative Juices Flowing While in Lockdown, coming at you with another 10 tips to keep you inspired. Check it. 

11. Experiment with the Vocoder

Live’s Vocoder is a nifty little guy that’s often overlooked because it’s not as straight forward to use as other FX. Maybe you use it all the time for interesting vocal effects, but why not try using it on a drum loop or bassline? Here’s an awesome tutorial from the Australian artist Slynk that will 100% give you ideas.  

12. Make a Mixtape

Mixtapes are the perfect way to showcase who you are as a DJ and what kind of tunes you spin. Use this time to discover new music and what you might start playing when all the clubs re-open. Live features fantastic warping algorithms and BPM detection, allowing you to beatmix your tracks together for one long continuous mix, commonly referred to as a mixtape.  You can set Live’s arrangement view to reflect a standard DJ mixer and you can automate EQ settings to create seamless transitions between one song and another.  

 13. Humanise Chords

When you play a chord on a piano, it’s rare that you’ll play all the notes at the same velocity and exactly the same time, it’s these expressive nuances from players that add a human touch and groove. However, for many electronic musicians programming chords into a grid, this is not always possible. The easiest way to do this is to make sure all the notes in your chord have slightly different note lengths and that they don’t all start at the same point. Next, use Lives MIDI device called Velocity to subtly randomise all the notes in your chord to give it more of a human feel.  

Tip: Experiment with groove pools to really give you chords more vibe.  

14. Create Your Own Sample Library

As an artist, establishing your ‘sound’ is all part of your musical development. If you think about your favourite artist and producers, they all have their own unique sound that makes them who they are. A good way to go about this is to think about what style of music you want to create, and then compile a list of sounds, samples, FX and anything else that you find yourself continuously coming back to. Live makes this kind of thing easy peasy, just create a new folder with a title in the browser, and then add to it as you go. This library of sounds will help you discover your sound as an artist.  

15. Create Interesting New Loops

Here’s a fun little tip for creating new hybrid loops from a bunch of pre-existing ones. This can be used with any kind of loop really just make sure that they are all the same in length, say 4 bars. In this tip I’m going to stack 4 percussion loops into separate audio channels,  

  • slice all loops at the end of every bar and repeat throughout the whole length of the loop.  
  • Highlight all regions 
  • Press the ‘0’ key to turn them all off 
  • Then randomly select individual regions pressing ‘0’ turning them back on creating a new hybrid loop.  
  • Tip: Try reversing some regions.  

 16. Create FX Racks

I often find myself reaching for the same FX devices and using them in the same combinations, say for example reverbs and delays.  We all have our favourite plug-ins and devices so it’s a good idea to group these together and create your own FX rack to save time down the line. Click in the Macro selector icon to show the racks Macro controls where you can map 8 macro controls to effect parameters within the rack.  

 TIP: Each macro control can be mapped to multiple parameters across multiple devices.  

17. Use Track Markers

Track markers – or locators  can be placed in the timeline in arrangement view and are super handy for navigating around your project, verse/chorus/bridge, etc. When you‘re working on a complex song with a lot of tracksit’s easy to get confused — markers can make things a lot clearerTo add a marker in Live, right-click the top Scrub area (under Beat Time Ruler) and select Add Locator to place a locator marker at the play head’s current position. Select the locator and use the right-click menu or hit Ctrl/Cmd-R to rename it. You can jump between locators and Live will stay in sync with the track’s tempo 

Tip: These can be mapped to MIDI controllers or your computers Keyboard for triggering them on the fly. 

 18. Group Your Tracks

When working in projects that have many tracks, it’s important to group them together as a more efficient way of managing your projects. An example of this would be grouping all drum tracks together, i.e. kick, snare hats, percussion etc. You can even take it one step further by creating a group within a group, commonly known as ‘nesting’. Say a drum group has multiple percussion parts, you may want to nest these together for better management.  Once a group has been created, the group’s overall volume can be modified with one fader, plus you can add effects to the whole group.  

19. Get into Max For Live

Max For Live is a bottomless bag of goodies, filled with instruments, FX and devices designed for music making. They are highly customisable, and you can even create your own if youre cluedin with a little bit of coding. Hellwhy not use this down time to learn?  There’s a whole bunch of learning resources available here.

20.  Insert or Delete Time.  

When working with an arrangement, it may be necessary to duplicate the length of, for example, a chorus, or maybe you need to duplicate the length of an intro, or even move the breakdown around. In the past I found myself delicately selecting entire regions of a track and dragging them around, or doing the whole copy & past thing, which is super clunky and leaves plenty of room for error.  Giving these a try.  

  •  Insert Time:  CMD + I on a Mac or CTRL + I on a PC will bring up a small window asking you how much time you want to enter in, with the measurement being in bars. Say you want 4 bars’, type in 4 and Live will insert 4 bars, perfect for if you want to copy a region from elsewhere.  
  • Duplicate Time: Great for duplicating the length of entire regions over multiple tracks.  SHIFT + CMD + D on MAC or SHIFT + CTRL + D on PC will duplicate whatever you have selected and insert that amount of time.  
  • Delete Time: CMD + D on MAC and CTRL + D on PC will delete a selected region.  

Alright guys, hope all that helps you stay sane out there, enjoy!

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Noisegate is an Australian based collective of working musicians, producers, DJ’s, and live audio professionals.

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