Launchpad Tutorial with Ableton Live 10 Lite - Part Four
MIDI Effects and Audio Effects
Let's start with a clean slate, so click the File menu in Ableton and then click "New Live Set."
My first MIDI track (track #1) is yellow, so right-click the title bar of your first MIDI track and click the first yellow color in the top row of colors to make it easier to follow along in this tutorial.
In the Ableton Browser, click Instruments and then expand Instrument Rack, and then expand Piano & Keys, and then drag "Crep Slide" onto the title bar of your first MIDI track. Then double-click the first clip slot in track #1 so that you can see the Piano Roll and the Note Editor at the bottom of the screen.
In Part Three we saw that if you hover the mouse over the bar numbers above the Note Editor (so that the mouse looks like a magnifying glass) then you can click and drag the mouse down or up to zoom in or out in the Note Editor. Similarly, if you hover the mouse to the left of the Piano Roll (so that the mouse looks like a magnifying glass) then you can click and drag the mouse right or left to zoom in or out in the Piano Roll.
To the left of the Piano Roll, change the Length value to 3 so that we can draw 3 bars of music. Place a note at C2 at the beginning of bar 1, and then hold down the Shift key on your computer keyboard and press the right arrow on the keyboard several times until the note takes up the entire first bar:
Hold down the Ctrl key on your computer keyboard, then click and drag the note at C2 to create a new note, and drag the new note until it's at G2 in bar 2, taking up all of bar 2, then release the mouse button. The note at G2 is currently highlighted, so press Ctrl+D to duplicate the highlighted note, then use the arrow keys on your computer keyboard to move the new note to C3 in bar 3. This demonstrates some ways of copying and moving notes around in the Note Editor.
You now have 3 notes. Launch the first clip to see how it sounds:
Right-click the first clip in track #1 and click Duplicate (now you're automatically working in the second clip). Hold down the Ctrl key on your computer keyboard, then click and drag the note at C2 up 4 notes until the new note is at E2 in bar 1, then release the mouse button. Keeping the Ctrl key down, click and drag the note at E2 up 3 notes until the new note is at G2 in bar 1. You now have 3 notes in bar 1, all of which take up the entire length of bar 1. Do the same thing with the note at G2 in bar 2 (placing the new notes at B2 and D3 in bar 2), then do the same thing with the note at C3 in bar 3 (placing the new notes at E3 and G3 in bar 3), as in the picture below.
You have now created 3 chords, because a chord is defined as 3 or more notes played at the same time. Without going into a bunch of music theory, bar 1 will now play a C major chord, and bar 2 will now play a G major chord, and bar 3 will now play a C major chord one octave above the C major chord in bar 1 (technically they're called "major triads" because there are exactly 3 notes being played in the chords). Launch the second clip to see how it sounds:
Above the Piano Roll is a round button which looks like headphones (which we saw in Part One). Click it to turn it blue so that you can hear the notes when you click the black and white buttons in the Piano Roll. Click the white buttons in the Piano Roll labeled C2 and E2 and G2, which are the same notes as the C major chord that you drew in bar 1. By playing the notes one at a time in the C major chord, you played an "arpeggio." This just means that instead of playing the notes in a chord all at once, you played them individually. Try playing an arpeggio with those same notes in this order: C2, E2, G2, G2, E2, C2 (we'll come back to this arpeggio in a moment). You can play the notes in a chord in any order you like.
In the Ableton Browser, click MIDI Effects on the left side and then drag Arpeggiator onto the title bar of track #1. This will place an Arpeggiator effect into the Device view at the bottom of the screen, which will create arpeggios. Then drag Chord onto the title bar of track #1. This will place a Chord effect into the Device view, which will create chords. Now click Audio Effects in the left side of the Ableton Browser and drag Auto Filter onto the title bar of track #1. This will place an Auto Filter effect into the Device view. All of these effects will enable you to modify the sounds of the clips in track #1.
Each effect has an on/off button at the top left corner (highlighted with red rectangles in the picture below), and for now we'll turn off all of the effects except for "Crep Slide" (which is the instrument for this track). In the Arpeggiator effect, click the Rate value and drag the mouse until it says "1/1." In the Chord effect, click the Shift 1 value and drag the mouse until it says "+4 st" and then click the Shift 2 value and drag the mouse until it says "+7 st." Now we're ready to try out these effects:
Launch the second clip in track #1, which will play 3 chords (1 chord in each bar). Near the bottom right corner of the picture below, the Clip View is highlighted with a red rectangle. You can watch the vertical black line in the Clip View as it moves from left to right, showing you which notes or chords are being played. Now turn on the Arpeggiator effect by clicking the round button at the top left corner of the Arpeggiator, highlighted with a red rectangle. Since the Rate value (highlighted with a red rectangle in the picture below) is 1/1, now you can only hear 1 note being played in each bar. Click the Rate value and drag until it says "1/3," and now you can hear all 3 notes in each chord. Click the Gate value (next to Rate) and drag until it's at the minimum level, then slowly drag until it's at the maximum level. This affects how long each note is played:
Now click the Rate value and drag until it says "1/6." This will play a 6-note arpeggio for every bar. Click the Style dropdown and select "Up & Down." This will play the arpeggio as C2, E2, G2, G2, E2, C2, just like we did above.
Turn off the Arpeggiator effect and listen to the chords for a moment, then launch the first clip in track #1. This is the same chord progression as the second clip, but it only has single notes. Turn on the Chord effect and notice that the first clip with the Chord effect on sounds exactly like the second clip with the Chord effect off. This is because we set the Shift 1 and Shift 2 values in the Chord effect so that it will shift the notes in the first clip by the same number of steps (semitones) which are between the notes in each chord in the second clip. If you change the Shift 1 value to "+3 st" (i.e. 3 steps or semitones above the original note) then you'll hear minor chords (technically they're called "minor triads" because there are exactly 3 notes being played in the chords). If you change the value of Shift 3 to "+10 st" (10 steps or semitones above the original note) then you've added a fourth note to the chords, and now they're all playing minor seventh chords.
Now, here's where things get interesting. With the first clip playing, turn off the Chord effect so that you hear a single note being played in each bar. Turn on the Arpeggiator effect, and you should hear 6 single notes being played in each bar, because we left the Rate value at 1/6. Since the first clip doesn't have any chords, the Arpeggiator effect can only play the same note over and over in each bar. Now turn on the Chord effect. This takes the single notes from the Arpeggiator and turns them into chords. While the first clip is playing, click the title bar of the Chord effect and drag it left until it's before the Arpeggiator effect, then release the mouse button. Now the Chord effect is turning the single notes in the first clip into chords, and the Arpeggiator effect is turning those chords into arpeggios.
The thing to notice here is that the effects are processed from left to right, so the order of the effects can make a dramatic difference in the sound.
While the first clip is playing, turn on the Auto Filter effect so that all of the effects are on. In the Auto Filter graph area, click the orange circle (highlighted with a red rectangle in the picture below) and slowly drag it around, left and right and up and down, and notice how this changes the sound. Try clicking the buttons below the graph area (highlighted with a red rectangle in the picture below) and then dragging the orange circle in the graph. These controls enable you to shape the sound to be just the way you want it, and you'll see people in YouTube tutorials using these controls and explaining the reasons why they're doing this. In the picture below, notice that the volume under the Master track (on the right side of the screen, highlighted with a red rectangle) has turned red. This is called "clipping," and in my case it's being caused by the changes that I made in the Auto Filter effect. Clipping happens when an audio output is being pushed beyond its maximum limit, which causes crackling and distortion. You want to avoid clipping, so keep an eye on your Master volume as you're working on your songs, and make sure it stays green. If I like the changes that I made in the Auto Filter effect, for example, but I want to avoid clipping, then I can simply reduce the volume of track #1 so that the Master volume stays in the green:
(more coming soon)
Part Five provides links to some videos which will take you further in your journey of becoming a music producer.
September 04, 2019 - New page.