Ableton Tutorial #12 Songwriting

Being a bunch of keen Ableton Live and Push 2 enthusiasts here at Noisegate HQ, we are always looking to see how much we can squeeze out of this powerful DAW and production controller unit. In this #12 installment of our tutorial series we go back to some basics and explore one possible way to approach songwriting using Push 2 and Live 10’s Session View.

Ableton Live stands out from its DAW peers as a uniquely creative and musician focused platform. Regardless, not everybody can draw immediate creative stimulation from a QWERTY keyboard and mouse.

This is one of the reasons Ableton’s dedicated Live controller ‘Push 2’ has been so popular. The level of integration between the two is so deep that you’d be forgiven for thinking Push 2 had a MacBook Pro tucked away inside running Ableton Live.

In this video we explore one possible way to approach songwriting using Push 2 and Live 10’s Session View. We start with 2 basic drum patterns sequenced using push. Then we add an arpeggiated bass part using the Push’s repeat function, as well as the pads’ pressure sensitivity to quickly automate some filter modulation.

To add syncopation we add a sidechained gate in flip mode so that the bass is not heard while the drums are played. This typically only works with sparse drum patterns however the sidechain’s filter can be used to block out things like hi-hats so the gate is only triggered by the kick drum for example.

Finally we add a simple synth pad. Again a sidechained gate is used to modulate the rhythm, but this time it is triggered by the bass so the two are always in sync. Similar results can be achieved by using copying the settings from the bass gate, however it is always worth experimentation and seeing what works best.

Finally, hit record in arrange view which records clip launching and level adjustment.