Ableton Live And Music Production Posts

Tips, tricks and generally anything Ableton Live and Music Production.
Ideating Chord Progressions - I

In this article, we'll be looking at some tips to make your chord progressions sound interesting.


Note:  If you’re new to music theory or feel the need to brush up on basics, I strongly suggest checking out this lesson on music theory by Dawn

#1 Number and order of chords

Try shuffling between 2, 3 and 4 chord progressions. each has its own unique flavour. All your chords need not be the same duration. Watch the below clip to see what I mean.



#2 Rhythm - pauses & repetition

Sometimes, silence can make things better. This idea is even in music and especially in chord progressions. Also, every chord needn’t always start on the beat. Try breaking and repeating your chords with pauses. Some of the most memorable riffs or chord progressions use this idea. This is illustrated in the clip below.



#3 Slowing chords and creating dynamics

Slowing down just chords can sound beautiful, the way it interacts with the rest of your music. Digital instruments can respond to velocity, altering it across the notes can affect the tonal balance. We can also affect dynamics by including inversions and voicings. Check the below clip for some examples.


#4 Different chord types for more flavors

Beyond these basic triads, we have seventh chords, suspended chords, augmented chords, and so on, which can add a twist to the sound. Chords like this, when placed adjacent to the original triad can sound flavourful. See how expressive your music can be in the below clip.


#5 building a library

Midi clips can be reused in a new project or even in a different DAW!  Having a library of MIDI chord progressions organized according to key & scale is a great way to get unstuck, find inspiration, or speed up your production process. Watch the below clip to see how you can save and export midi clips for later use.


Got more ideas?

The above techniques should help you kickstart writing good chord progressions. Sharing is caring, so if you got any interesting ideas I've missed here, do share them in the comments below! We’ll be doing a part-II of this soon.


Make your own drumkit 


Hello! In this post, we'll be looking at a fun process of recording sounds at home and turning them into a great-sounding drum kit in Ableton Live.


Sampling opens up a lot of cool ways to music-making. One such idea is building our own drum kits! A typical drum beat is made up of kick, snare, and hi-hats. A great way to start off is to use these sounds as inspiration and find sounds around you to build your own kit.


Check out this beat that I’ve made using sounds captured at home!




Download the samples used in this rack here!  Below are some simple steps to make a similar drum kit.


#1  find and capture cool sounds


Scout around your house, and make a list of things that sound percussive. Cardboard Boxes, crumbling paper, utensils, foodgrain jars, deodorant spray, leaky taps, squeaky drawers; Use your microphone, field recorder, or mobile phone to record those sounds. Watch the below clip to see what I did!




It helps to have a list and cross items off as you’re done recording them.


#2  assort the best takes


Bring these sounds to the DAW. Listen to the recordings, and Isolate the best takes as a separate clip. Label them for convenience.



#3  create a custom drum rack


Finally, drop these takes on to an empty drum rack!

Trim the start and end, Balance the volume, filter, or eq to shape the tone.




#4  glue them all together


Slap a compressor or drum buss on top of the drum rack, to glue the dynamics of different sounds together. Finally, we can save our drum rack as a preset and use them on future projects.





It’s a nice feeling to have your own sounds in your music. And don’t be disheartened if the drum kit doesn’t sound up to your expectations. You will only move forward as a producer, and your ear for recording and processing will only get better from here.  Believe it!


If you've made your own drum kit, or have some music you made with it, feel free to share it with us. Also, do reply to this post if you have any questions or thoughts!

Sound Designing with Delay


In this lesson, we'll be looking at some really cool ways to design sound effects using Ableton Live's Delay audio effect.


We love the delay effect. It’s a really cool effect used in popular music parallelly on top of the vocals, synths and let it do its thing. But did you know that the delay effect is also a great sound design tool? 


Click here to download free sound effects.


The above link contains a pool of 20 sound effects you can use! All these effects were designed using only the Delay effect. Let’s look at a few tips to help build our own pool of sound effects!

#1 - Time Delay Mode 


Switching the Delay Mode from Synced to Time allows us to create smooth accurate changes in Delay time over high Feedback. Especially changes in terms of milliseconds can animate a dull sound. Check out this illustration to find out how this can be cool!


#2 Time Modulation with LFO


If we modulate Delay time using an LFO set to a relatively high rate (10-40 Hz), we can get a very interesting Rhythmic effect while drastically mutating the original sound. Watch the clip to learn how this can be done!




#3 Modulate the modulations


When we change the rate of modulation as the sound feeds back, we can design very complex sound effects. Watch the below clip to see what we mean.




#4 Freeze that Feedback


The freeze button not only allows the feeding back sound to repeat perpetually, but also allows further manipulation on the frozen sound! Check the below clip for cool effects you can make from this.




Remember that we get different results based on different sounds we use for the same process!



#5 Adding Width & Changing Tone


By setting Delay to Ping Pong Style, we can make the sound feel wider in stereo, by setting very low delay times. This can also affect the tone, more so when we increase feedback in this setting.




Your Own Sound Effects Library


Making sound effects isn’t just a great exercise. You can organize and use them as your own sound library. This is a great way to save time and creative energy while making music! Here’s a link to some music I made later, where I dropped these effects!




Do try this at home!

Try building your own set of sound effects using the delay effect. Reply to this post if you have any questions. If you’d like to share some sound effects you've made with the community, feel free to reply with a link here. We’d also like to know about what you did to get those sounds!.