Music Production

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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Abelton 9: The Reviews

As mentioned a couple of months ago, Ableton have released version 9 of their incredibly impressive software, after a 4 year wait since their last update.

To find out if all the bug fixes have been addressed and the overall impression of the latest releas, check out a selection of quality reviews below.

Review 1 here

Review 2 here

Review 3 here

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New Jim Pavloff Video: The Making of “The Prodigy – Voodoo People” in Ableton

Last month we brought you the excellent Jim Pavloff’s Ableton version of the Prodigy’s Smack my Bitch Up, well following on from that,  we have another of Jim’s video’s, this time Voodoo People by the Prodigy.

Again, Jim gets behind the beats and rifts of the track and takes you to the original samples and shows you how they were manipulated to become Voodoo People.  Truly genuis and insipirsing stuff, check out the video below and also pay a visit to Jim’s website at www.jimpavloff.com

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Ableton release version 9!

As you may already know, Ableton are due to release version 9 of their highly successful DAW, in 2013 but did you know you can currently buy version 8 with a 25% discount and get a free upgrade to version 9 when it’s released. Sounds like a good deal to me!

The upgrade is all about enhancement rather than a radical overhaul and this comes in terms of being able to record automation in to session clips, tweaked studio effects and the new glue compressor, sound improvement and Max for Live is included, rather than being an add-on. All in all, a pretty impressive list of enhancements.
To find out more, click here.

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How to Make Garage Music

how to make garage music
UK Garage is back with a bang, so to help you out here are a few tips on how to make Garage music from one of the most prolific dance producers around, Jeremy Sylvester.

The backbone of UK Garage – The Drums

The foundation of any UK Garage track is the drums. Solid drum patterns quantised to give UKG its trademark groove. The swing ratio is commonly set between 50-56%. This groove setting will set the tone for the rest of the ingredients added a later stage. Here is a very good tip for creating your drum pattern. Start with a good drum kit, spend time looking for nice crisp sounds beginning with the kick drum. Traditionally, 4×4 Garage tracks have strong punchy kick drum that are not too naturally bass heavy with solid mid range frequency. This will be the starting point of your groove. By choosing this kind of kick drum, this will leave enough head room for when you start to look for other sounds such as the bass line patterns.

So now you’ve decided what kick drum to use which you can always change later,its time to add the claps , search for a nice crispy clap, but try to take some release & decay off it to shorten the length. You really want it to sound tight, but not too tight . You want to be able to still pick out the natural sound. From here you can begin to add all the other elements of your pattern groove. It’s very important to keep your pattern simple and with enough space in the groove to add other elements later on, so keep that in mind. Many people make the huge mistake, me being included , by over complicating the drums. Less is more as they say. The key factor here is to make every element of your groove have a distinct role, so every drum element is there for a reason. It’s always good to make several patterns, all with slight variations to give your overall track some variety. A good tip to try and bare in mind when programming drums is to imagine you are a ‘drummer’ and how a drummer performs to help you construct patterns.

It is best to keep the kick drum and other bass parts in mono and the other drum parts like hi hats and some percussive parts in stereo to give the groove a nice spread. Always keep your hi hats neat and tidy, otherwise your in danger of making it sound too messy.. A good tip would be to try and keep your effects on drums to a bare minimum. If you have too much FX such as reverb etc, it can drown out the groove and make it too wet. You will loose the energy of the drums this way.You will notice this much more over a club sound system. Another tip overlooked is to try and play around with the pitch of the drum sounds. By de-tuning kick drums or percussive elements of the groove, you will bring another dimension to your drums and completely change the overall vibe.

Chords, Stabs & Melodies

Another important element of UK Garage is the melodic groove. If you can not play keyboard like most people can’t, then there is also the option of using one shots / hits to help you. One shot hits can be short chord keyboard hits, bass notes, percussive sounds or synth stabs. When you are creating a pattern, try and listen to the drum groove you’ve made. Work with it, not against it. The rhythmic pattern of your melody must marry the groove, in other words, the drum pattern and the melody line must ‘communicate with each other’. It must be a part of the groove. Try and use low –pass filters automated via envelope with various effects to manipulate and create motion within the sound and add reverb for depth and warmth. Try and use parameter controls over velocity maps to control cutoff and decay. This will create character and by adding a little compression to the mix, will really transform your sound and bring new life.

For UK garage 4/4 style tracks, space is important. When I mentioned above about ‘Less is more’, it really does mean something here. Picture a melody in your head and imagine how people will be ‘dance’ to it. This will influence the way you create your melodic groove pattern. Garage melodic patterns tend to be on an ‘off beat’ groove and are not straight line groove patterns. When deciding on what sounds to use, try and look for rich harmonic sounds and textures. Obscure jazzy chords, deep house chord stabs or even sampled sounds from classic keyboard synths like Korg M1 for those classic organ sounds.
Arrangement

When arranging your song, always keep the DJ in mind and imagine how he/she will be mixing your track within their Dj set. The intro is very important for Dj’s as this allows them enough room to mix your track into another. Make your arrangement progress in 16 bar sections, so the DJ and the clubber knows when to expect changes within the song. Within each of these sections, some elements of the groove may consist of 1, 2, 4 or 8-bar repeating patterns. These elements tend to move around by adding, removing or altering every four or eight bars.

Breakdowns tend to be in the middle of the track, so if you have a track that is 6 minutes, you can drop the breakdown around the 3 min mark. There is no hard & fast rule to this, so use your imagination, this is only intended as a guide. You could also have a mini breakdown either side of this, for instance right after the intro and just before the first major section of the song when everything is in. Try to be imaginative and try different arrangement ideas. You could start with drums then lead into some intro vocals then the mini drop, or you could start with a non-percussive intro building up into a percussive drum section and into the main section of the song, its totally up to you and depends on the elements you have within your song. Another good tip is to finish the final section of your sing with drums. This is something a DJ really likes, as it allows once again for them to start mixing in another track within their Dj set.

Vocals & Vocal Chops

UK Garage is known for its very percussive vocal chops which are an essential part of the genre, especially when you are making ‘Dub mixes’. Use various kinds of midi based samplers and software instruments to help with this process. Way back in the day, Akai & EMU samplers were very popular. Producers would chop up and edit sounds within the sampler and map it across a keyboard and play it in manually. Nowadays, things are much easier, there are many different ways of doing this such as using Ableton Live sampler or ES24 being the most popular. Experiment and play around with vocals by chopping up samples every syllable. Try short vocal phrase of 5-6 words, and once chopped up and edited, you’ll end up with double or even treble the amount of samples allowing you possibilities to manipulate the phrase in any way you want, even completely disguising the original vocal hook. Map the vocals across a keyboard in matrix editor and have fun coming up with interesting groove vocal patterns over your groove pattern. Add effects and filters and play around with sound envelopes in much the same way you would with ‘one shot chord hits’ as explained earlier. Treat the vocal as a percussive instrument and listen to the melody and lyrical content so it all makes sense to what the track is about. It’s a very good idea to program 4-5 variations to choose from.

Need Garage loops:

UK Garage Loops
Please leave a comment below and let us know what you think about this article.

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Ableton – .MOV files in………….Ableton?

Yep that’s right, as if Ableton didn’t do enough already, you can use Live to edit you videos as well.

Editing videos in Ableton isn’t a new things but it’s probably one of those things you’ve heard of but not really explored.

To add a video to Ableton it needs to be a .mov file, you can then add the file only in to the arrangement view  and start slicing and cutting up the film as you like.  Whilst not all of Ableton’s features are available, such as Consolidate, Reverse or Crop, you can Cut, Duplicate and use Warp Markers to speed up or slow down different sections.

There’s no restriction on size of file, just your processing power, which gives you the opportunity to add entire films in to Ableton.  You can now sample all your favourite films or add your own soundtrack to a film.

If there’s a particular video on YouTube you like, here’s a smart trick in how to get the .mov file behind the film.  This only applies to Macs, if anyone knows how to do the same with a PC, please add instructions as a comment.

  • Open YouTube
  • Select a video
  • Press cmd alt a (in the first few seconds)
  • Look for the largest mb (sized) file that opens up in the separate window
  • Double click this file and save to your mac
  • Add the .mov file to the arrangement view

If you create any masterpieces, add a link in the comments section and we’ll check them out.

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Ableton: How to Programme Tech House Drum Track

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 for using as the basis of your house track, 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 MIDI editor is set up as a four bar loop, which you can see in the bottom right hand corner as 1/16 which means 16 beats in total or 4 beats in 4 bars.

There are two main ways in which you can programme beats in to the MIDI editor, either with a MIDI instrument such as a keyboard or by drawing the notes in to the grid.  To do this, select which part of the kit you want to use first, found on the left side of the MIDI editor, i.e. kick, then double click on the grid where you want the beat to fall.  I’ve placed a kick on the first beat of each bar.

Other parts of the kit you’ll need are a closed hat, cymbal, clap, clave and snare.

You’ll need to set them out as per the screen shot below but try adding in Congas or Maracas to get an individual sound you’re happy with.

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