December 2013

Attack, Decay, Sustain, Release – (ADSR)

Attack, Decay, Sustain, Release (ADSR)

If you’re new to music production, you might have heard of the terms Envelop and Attack, Decay, Sustain and Release (ADSR) but wonder what they’re all about, well hopefully this article will shed some light of the subject.

An Envelop is really the collective name for ADSR, as shown below in the picture.

As the Envelop consists of these four different stages, so the sound at each of these stages and be manipulated or automated, to get the sound and feel you want.

Attack – is when a note is first played i.e. by pressing a key on a keyboard and signifies the time taken for sound to go from silent to loud.

Decay – determines how quickly the sound decreases from the attack peak to the sustain level.

Sustain – is the sound level held until a key on a keyboard is released, at which point it then passes to the release stage.

Release – shows how long a sound exists, after the sustain ends, until it fades to silence.

A word on low frequency oscillators LFO’s.  LFO’s take a sound a vibrate it, therefore, rather than your sound travelling through your Envelop as a constant tone, an LFO can be applied, which will give a ‘wobble’ to your sound.  There are numerous effects like this that can be achieved by applying modulation, filters and oscillators.

Therefore, remember that the effect you apply to your envelop will affect your sound over the time it exists.

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Ableton: Programming a Tech House beat

In the following article we’re going to explain how to programme a Tech House drum track in Ableton, using the Roland 808 Classic drum machine. First up, go to the instruments section of Ableton, select drum rack, then Kit, scroll down until you find 808 classic, then drag this in to a MIDI channel. Your screen should look like the below screen shot.

All the Roland drum machines such as 707, 808 and the mighty 909 are great to use as the basis of your house track, as not only do they give that rich familiar sound but the 808 Classic rack in Ableton, comes with a multitude of additional sounds such as Congas, Claves and Maracas for adding something extra to your tracks. Double click on one of the clips in your MIDI track and the following MIDI editor will appear at the bottom of your screen.

The track is set up for 16 beats or a four bar loop.  The various elements of the kit can be found on the left side of the editor.  You can either use a MIDI instrument such as a keyboard or you can double click in the editor to programme your drum beats.

I have placed a kick drum on the first beat in each bar.  You’ll need to add a closed hat, cymbal, clap, snare and clave.  Use the screen shot below as insipration but play around with the sounds in the kit and the placing of beats to come up with a really unique sound, enjoy!

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