It's that time of the year again, when the heat creeps in, fades out teasingly, then wakes you up in mid-September to remind you that Summer ain't over yet even though Fall is just around the corner. By the time Autumn has finally shown up in early November everybody's favorite music company, Ableton will be ready to host its international music conference Loop. What is this conference all about?
The name was inspired by live-looping/loop-cutting, both are relatively new methods of performing/producing music on the fly by solo or group artists. The conference is described by Ableton as, "three days of discussions, performances, presentations, studio sessions, installations and interactive workshops designed to share ideas at the forefront of music, technology, and creative practice". The conference will be held at the historic Funkhaus Nalepastraße radio station in Berlin for the third year.
Anyone using a DAW nowadays should be familiar with MIDI instruments and the Piano Roll (#blessed). Before the Piano Roll became a staple in music production, explorers in electronic music relied on step-sequencers of all types.
The earliest analog step-sequencers were used in player pianos which were fed rolls of paper with holes punched into it to tell a piano which notes to play, hence the 'Piano Roll'. Software step-sequencers were developed for and have been used in computer music since the 1950's, allowing for composition, playback, and sound synthesis. In the 1980's we saw the invention of Soundtrackers which were some of the first software step-sequencers to allow for complex music production.
You’re Doing Too Much: Common Mix Mistakes We are currently in the middle of two weeks of advanced mixing techniques in our most advanced class here at Beat Lab, and it’s amazing how the more we learn about the process the more we keep coming back to the basics. The simplicity of the concepts of proper EQ, compression, and balance can make these tasks appear to be easy and we often feel we have grasped their importance before we really have. We have all been there and every part of this process of creating records from songwriting, to production, to mixing, and mastering is all it’s own endless rabbit hole so don’t be discouraged. If you feel your mixes still aren’t where you want them to be it’s possible all that is missing is the strongest possible foundation. From there there is often little work left to do. More advanced concepts will definitely …Read More
5 Arpeggiator Techniques + Free Cheat Sheet We continue with our Ableton Effects cheat sheet series. Check out the previous cheat sheets and techniques by CLICKING HERE. The entire collection is available to Beat Lab students and alumni. Up until now we shared many techniques and cheat sheets cover the audio effects in Ableton Live. The Arpeggiator is the first MIDI effect we tackle. Because it’s a MIDI effect, it must come before an instrument. It does not make a sound on its own but only change the incoming MIDI signals. It can be a very powerful tool to create melodic sequences, basslines, arp textures and percussion phrases and fills. In the most simple form, it can even act as a note repeater. Let’s check out a few ideas of what to do with it. Instant Fills Arpeggiator in Random Style can help you create some awesome fills! Load …Read More
Getting to Know Your Different Reverbs Reverb is one of your most important tools for sound design and mixing as a music producer. The perfect reverb type with the right settings (dry/wet, decay time, size, etc.) can make a sound or mix come alive, and the wrong type and settings can kill a mix for a variety of reasons. Your most important tool for the right reverb is your ears and while it is a relatively simple concept, like everything in music production, reverb becomes a deep rabbit hole once you start getting into all of its possibilities. Ask Audio recently did a nice overview of the different reverb types and we thought we’d do our own to provide our community with what we found to be some very useful tips and guidelines. Below we’ll go over a few of the major types of reverb and their common usage. Hall …Read More
How to Hack the Playlisting Game – Getting Heard It’s probably no new news that playlists are a big deal. They are hard to avoid… and kind of just pop up everywhere. Music bloggers, music news sites, magazines, streaming services (Spotify, Apple Music, Pandora), brands, radio stations and bands are common curators of such playlists (one of my favorites is the Indie Shuffle). Playlists are great for the listener: hitting play is mindlessly easy, and exposes the listener to unknown songs in a style they’ve already given the nod. For artists, they can also be a major game changer. Take independent singer-songwriter Perrin Lamb, whose album hadn’t gained much traction up until a year after its release. One day he discovered one of his songs had gotten placed on an official Spotify playlist, gaining it more than 10,000,000 views. From zero to hero, by algorithmic magic. This is just an example of how a mindfully placed …Read More
Sound Recipes #3: Future House Bass You can check out previous Sound Recipes HERE This type of sound uses Frequency Modulation (FM) to get a plucky metallic sound. We will use 3 layers inside an Instrument Rack: Low Mid wide FM Bass Mid-High Distorted FM Bass Sub Layer We’ll be using Operator exclusively to create all the layers of the sound Low Mid wide FM Bass By default, Operator function as an FM synth which is exactly what we want. Meaning that only Oscillator A is audible. Oscillators B, C & D do not output any sound but rather alter the sound with Frequency Modulation. It is common to use Sine waves for FM synthesis and we’ll stick with those. Turn up OSC B volume until you hear the sound change. Now you can adjust the Envelope to be shorter to give us that pluck character. Turn down …Read More
Song Exploder – Eavesdrop on your Favorite Artists in the Studio Everyone loves eavesdropping. And this podcast is all about eavesdropping on your favorite artists as they talk about their songwriting process. It’s a quick podcast—about 15 minutes—where an artist pulls apart one of their songs and tells you how it was made: the sounds, the inspiration, and the process. Song Exploder interviews a variety of different artists, from Odessa to the Lumineers, to Iggy Pop and Daedalus, Andrew Bird and Carly Rae Jepsen. Even if you’ve never heard of the artist before, or aren’t interested in that style of music, it’s always productive to learn how other artists approach the process. Here are some songwriting styles and stories that stood out to me the most—maybe they’ll fascinate you, too. -Did you know the intro bass line from Chet Faker’s “Gold” came to him in the middle of …Read More