MPC Note Repeats Tutorial with Impulse

Learn how to create classic MPC snare rolls with Impulse

Photo credit: Jaymis Loveday

Looking to add a little more flavor to your live drum programming?

For years, owners of the legendary Akai MPC series have been able to create stuttering note repeats and drum rolls with the flick of switch. Today I am going to show you how to achieve these exact same results with a copy of Ableton Live’s Impulse Drum Machine and Beat Repeat.

Thanks to Daniel for this great tutorial idea!

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Top 5 Free VST Plugins For Ableton Live (Mac Edition)

Here are our favorite free plugins for Mac OS X.

Photo credit: M Maeghan Donovan

It’s been a long time coming Mac users, but here is a definitive guide to 5 free VST plugins for Mac OS X. They can be used in any music production program that support VST, but since this is a blog dedicated to Ableton Live, these are – of course – geared towards electronic music production.

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How To Create An Analog Drum Machine Collection In Ableton

Learn how to create a free collection of authentic analog Drum Machines using free samples found on the web and Ableton’s Drum Rack.

Photo credit: David J

In this tutorial, I am going to show you how you can create your very own collection of classic, analog drum machines, all for free! We’ll be using the classic Roland TR-606 drum machine in this example. However, the techniques shown in this tutorial will work for any of the dozens of drum machine samples found at Music Machines: samples.

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How To Create A Phased Out Retro Synth Pad With Analog

Learn how to program a swooshing analog synth pad with just Ableton’s Analog Synthesizer and it’s humble Phaser plug-in.

Photo credit: David J

Synth pads are versatile. They can serve as the lush background for a full track, or (in a lot of Ambient music’s case) serve as the front-man on tracks. Either way, pads are fun to program and even funner to play. In this tutorial i’ll show you how to carve out a nice, phase-ey retro synth pad with Ableton’s Analog.

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How To Program A Bass Sound In Ableton’s Operator

In this tutorial, I show you how to take Ableton’s FM Synthesizer – Operator – and sculpt a simple bass sound that is worthy of matching Operator’s fatter cousin; Analog.

Operator may not be the first synth you would consider for bass in Ableton Live (usually that’s reserve for the much fatter “Analog”). However, with minimal tweaking, you can program your own, smooth bass sounds in a matter of minutes.

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How To Change The Feel Of A Beat With Triplets

In this video tutorial, I show you the basics of how triplets can affect 4/4 beat. Dabrye’s track “Hyped-Up Plus Tax” is used for our example.

In this video I will be using Dabrye’s song “Hyped-Up Plus Tax” as a reference point to showing how powerful changing even just a couple notes to triplets in a 4/4 beat can help change the entire feel of it.

I chopped the original melody by warping it, and matching it to the metronome. After that, it was a matter of figuring out the drum pattern of the beat.

How To Get That Crazy Electro House Bass Sound

Bigger is better when it comes to Electro House bass sounds. Learn to how to program one from scratch in Ableton Live with this tutorial.

Photo credit: Rodrigo Senna

You know…the one that sounds like an elephant with auto-tune is charging after you.

Electro house bass sounds consist of stacks of synthesizers. They’re big and they will hit you right in the gut. Oh, and did I mention they’re really fun to program?

For this tutorial we’ll be using Ableton Live’s Instrument Rack (for stacking our synths), some creative automation and some sidechain compression.

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How To Create Transitions For Your Songs In Ableton Live

Transitions in electronic music (especially dance music) have become a staple of modern arrangement. Find out how to create your own in Ableton Live.

Usually associated with bridging a verse to a chorus or introducing a bridge, transitions are a staple of most modern electronic music. Here are a couple of transition techniques for Ableton Live to help you bridge the gap.



The Reverse Cymbal

Simple, yet effective, the reverse cymbal effect is a great way to quickly introduce a breakdown.

1.) Grab a sample of a crash cymbal with a fairly long decay.

2.) Drop it into Ableton’s Arrangement View.

3.) Click the sample once and open the clip waveform view.

4.) Under the sample section click the “Rev.” button.

5.) If your cymbal has enough decay, the build should last for about 1 measure.

6.) Make sure it buttes right up theto end of the measure before the breakdown.

7.) Add Reverb to taste.


The Reverse Vocal Swell

Reverse vocals swells are not only great for transitioning to certain a chorus or a breakdown, but also very effective at leading into vocals.

1.) Start an audio track underneath your vocal or acapella track in Arrangement View.

2.) Select a small snippet (usually 1 bar will do) from the vocals and copy it (Ctrl+Drag) into the newly created audio track.

3.) Add a Reverb to the audio track with the copied vocal snippet.

4.) Crank the reverb decay up to about 6-7 seconds.

5.) Start one more audio track (3 total, including the original), and set it’s audio source to the track with the 1 bar audio snippet and Reverb.

6.) Arm the new empty audio track and record the reverb/snippet vocal. Make sure to let the entire reverb tail fade.

7.) You can delete the snippet track, but keep the newly recorded version.

8.) Click on the newly recorded part and reverse it using step 4 in the “Reverse Cymbal” section above.

9.) Place it right against the main vocal melody and fine tune the end of the swell with volume automation and cropping.


The Machine Gun Snare Roll

This technique is used a lot in Trance, where build ups can be (what seems like) hundreds of measures long. I’ll show you the beginnings of how to do a short snare roll.

1.) Find a sample semi-realistic snare drum with a fast attack and a short decay.

2.) Load it into a MIDI track with drum rack. Be sure to click show/hide devices and turn the release all the way up, and the velocity to 100%.

3.) Create an 8 measure MIDI clip on this track, and set your drum grid to 1/32.

4.) Program one 32nd note at full velocity, and the second at about 70 – 80.

5.) Copy and paste all of the notes to fill the 8 bar loop.

6.) Use the volume automation (on the mixer, not drum rack’s) to slowly build the snare roll in.

7.) Optional: Introduce claps every 2 and 4 of the beat.


The “Swoosh” Transition

A very simply transition that can be easily achieved with white noise and a low pass filter.

1. Load a copy of Analog or Operator (or any other synthesizer that can generate white noise).

2. Select the 1st oscillator to generate white noise.

3. Record a fairly long note (4 measures for this example).

4. Start the low pass filter at about 600 – 800hz and slowly open it until it is maxed out. Use automation, or record your own filter sweep.

5. Edit to taste with Reverb, volume automation or even delay.


I hope these simple, yet effective techniques have given you some good starting points for creating your own transitions in your electronic music. And don’t be afraid to get creative, it’s half the fun!

10 Of The Best Ableton Live Tutorial Videos

Knowledge is always power, so today we have rounded up 10 of our favorite Ableton Live video tutorials from the web.

We can all use more information when it comes to making music with Ableton Live, it’s why you’re here! Although this site does its best to bring you quality Ableton Live tutorials, I think it’s about time we’ve compiled a list of our 10 favorite Ableton Live tutorial videos from around the web. Enjoy!



1. Tom Cosm’s Electronic Music Tutorial (Parts 1 & 2)

The holy grail of Ableton Live video tutorials. Tom Cosm does an excellent job running over the basics of Ableton Live, then quickly digging into topics like designing a bass line from scratch and sampling drum parts.

Tom has yet to make the other parts to this series (it’s said there will be 10, making this whole series over 10 hours!). Let’s keep our fingers crossed.


2. 20 Ableton Live Tips & Tricks In 8 Minutes

Quick and to the point. Unless you’re an Ableton Live genius, there is bound to be something new here.


3. ESKAMON: “Fine Objects” – Ableton Tutorial by ill.Gates

A great tutorial featuring some interesting and creative ways on using Ableton Live’s Sampler.


4. Sound Design For Film (Parts 1, 2 & 3)

Nick of Nick’s Tutorials takes us through the process of designing sound for film (in this case, clips from the “Clash Of The Titans” trailer). Great for those of you looking to get a demo reel together.


5. DJing With Ableton Live (Tom Cosm DJ Megaset 1.0)

An insightful approach to DJing with Ableton Live. Yet another brilliant Tom Cosm video.


6. Dubspot: Creating Dubstep Drums/Beats In Ableton Live 8

A great video tutorial showcasing the power of programming drums in Ableton Live. You don’t have to just make Dubstep to get something from this video!


7. Designing Glitchy Sounds In Ableton Live

Another great video tutorial from Nick over at Nick’s Tutorials. A simple/quick way of getting glitchy sounds out of Ableton Live.


8. Making Prodigy’s “Smack My Bitch Up” In Ableton (by Jim Pavloff)

Not a tutorial proper, but nonetheless, this jaw dropping video that shows the power of Ableton Live. “Smack By Bitch Up” completely recreated from scratch in Ableton.


9. Ableton Live Tutorial – Operator

Operator is a tough instrument to really wrap your head around, this video gives a great general overview of how things work.


10. Deadmau5’s Interview With Future Music Explaning His Live Setup (Parts 1 & 2)


Have any videos you’ve made? Or have you stumbled across some that you would love to share with the Ableton Live community? Post the URL below!

A Detailed Guide To Dummy Clips In Ableton Live

Dummy clips are Ableton’s way of extending the non-linear approach to arranging and effect automation. Learn how to master them in this tutorial.

It’s common knowledge that Ableton Live’s famed non-linear approach to the songwriting process has changed the way music is made. Endless musicians have used the free-form arrangement techniques of Ableton’s Session View to spark inspiration.

Ableton’s dummy clips take this even a step further.



On a basic level, dummy clips are just plain ol’ audio or MIDI clips. The big difference is that they are not meant to play or sequence audio – instead – their envelope settings are used to control and automate the effects and sound of other tracks in Ableton Live.

If you’re unfamiliar with how dummy clips work, it may help to see the basics action. So, let’s get started:

Creating Our First Dummy Clips

Step 1. Load up the first Audio Track with an Audio Loop. For this example I will be using “Hiphop.wav” which can be found in the Device Browser under “Library > Lessons > Samples”.

Be sure to rename the Track to “Originial” by clicking where it says “1 Audio” and pressing Ctrl+R (Cmd+R for Mac).

Step 2. Click on our track titled “Original” while holding Ctrl (PC) or Cmd (Mac) and drag it to the right to create a copy of it. You should have two Audio Tracks, “Original” and “2 Audio”.

Once again, rename the “2 Audio” track to “Dummy Clips”

Step 3. Click and drag (while holding Ctrl or Cmd) the clip file of “Dummy Clips” to the clip slot below to create a copy of it.

Step 4. Rename the first clip on “Dummy Clips” to “Dry” and the clip below it to “Beat Change”.

Step 5. Change the output of our “Original” track to “Dummy Clips” in the “Audio To” section.

Step 6. Change the “Monitor” section of “Dummy Clips” to “In”.

Step 7. Drop Ableton’s Beat Repeat onto our “Dummy Clips” Track.

Step 8. Click on the clip we labeled “Dry” and hit Shift+Tab on your keyboard to switch over to Clip Waveform View.

Step 9. Under the Clip Box in our Clip Waveform View, hit the small “E” Picture icon to open our Envelope section.

Step 10. Under our newly opened Envelopes box, Select “Beat Repeat” from the first pull down menu, and leave the one below set to “Chance”.

Step 11. Drag the red horizontal line at the top of the Waveform all the way down to 0%. This, in essence, will create a dry clip, not affected by Beat Repeat.

Step 12. Back up in Session View, click on the clip we labeled “Beat Change”. The Envelope Section and Waveform View for this clip should still be visible at the bottom of the screen, if not, follow steps 8 and 9.

Step 13. This time, still in the Envelopes box we still want Beat Repeat left selected, but underneath that, change the pull-down menu to “Offset”.

Step 14. Drag the horizontal red line in the middle of the waveform up to “5”. You will see the number appear in a small white box next to the start marker.

At this point you can launch the dummy clip labeled “Dry” (be sure to also launch the original “Hiphop.wav” clip for the audio) with no change to the original sound, but things start to get interesting when you click on the clip titled “Beat Change”.

By affecting Beat Repeat’s parameters with the Envelope of the clip titled “Beat Change”, we have automated an effect’s settings by simply activating another clip.

Notice the slight stutter on the bongos? This is a subtle change, easily made with the press of a button through the use Ableton Live’s dummy clips.

Try experimenting with different effects, parameters, and multiple clips to see what inspiring sounds can be automated using dummy clips in Ableton.

Automating Effect Chains With Dummy Clips

For this next exercise, we can delete the dummy clip “Beat Change”, but keep the clip named “Dry” on “Dummy Clips” as well as “Hiphop.wav” on track labeled “Original”.

Also, don’t forget to delete our Beat Repeat effect unit on “Dummy Clips” Track. We will keep the same routing setup for both of our existing channels.

Step 1. Create 3 more copies of the clip named “Dry” on the Track titled “Dummy Clips”. You should have a total of 4 clips.

Step 2. Rename the 2nd Dummy Clip “Reverb”, the 3rd Dummy Clip “Flange” and the 4th Dummy Clip “Chorus”.

Step 3. Drop an “Audio Effect Rack” from the Device Browser, onto the “Dummy Clips” Track.

Step 4. Click the “Show/Hide Chain List” button on the left side of the Audio Effects Rack.

Step 5. Right click to create your 1st chain and call it “Dry”. Right click underneath the newly created “Dry” chain, and create 3 more chains. Rename these to “Reverb”, “Flange” and “Chorus”.

Step 6. With the “Reverb” chain selected, drop a copy of Ableton’s Reverb onto the “Audio Effects Rack”. Do the same with the “Flange” and “Chorus” chains selected by dragging in the appropriate effects.

Step 7. Click the button titled “Chain” on the top right of the “Chain List Section” of our “Audio Effect Rack”. With the zone window opened, drag each zone one step over. Starting with 0 on “Dry”, 1 on “Reverb”, 2 on “Flange” and 3 on “Chorus”.

Step 8. With the “Reverb” clip selected on our “Dummy Clips” Track, lets go back to “Waveform View” by pressing Shift+Tab on our keyboard.

Step 9. Under the Envelopes Section of our “Reverb” clip, choose “Audio Effect Rack” from the pull down menu, leave the menu below it at “Chain Selector”.

Step 10. In the Waveform Display, drag the horizontal line up 1 step to switch this clip’s chain to “Reverb”. Select our “Flange” clip and raise the horizontal bar up 2 steps, and on our “Chorus” clip, raise it 3 steps.

Do you see a pattern emerging with the power of using these dummy clips to automate parameters in Ableton Live? Experimentation with a Ableton’s myriad of effects and envelopes are key to utilizing dummy clips to their fullest potential.

Consolidating Multiple Dummy Clips

In this exercise, we will be recording our dummy clips from the last exercise into Ableton’s Arrangement View, then consolidate them into one large Dummy Clip and drop it back into Session View.

Step 1. Starting from where we left off on the last example, arm the record button on Live’s transport panel. Arm the “Dummy Clips” Track’s record button as well.

Step 2. Launch the “Dry” clip, let it play thorough, then do the same for all of the clips below it.

Step 3. Once all of the clips have been launched, hit the Stop button on the transport panel.

Step 4. Switch over the Live’s Arrangement View (Tab) and delete all of the information recorded onto the Track we renamed “Original”.

Step 5. Select all of the dummy clips recorded onto our “Dummy Clips” Track, right click, and choose “Consolidate” in order to merge all of the clips together.

Step 6. Click and drag the clip onto the Session View icon and drop the newly consolidated clip below all the other clips on our “Dummy Clips” Track. Right click and rename it to “All FX”.

Step 7. Launch the newly created dummy clip along with with original “Hiphop.wav” clip to hear all of the dummy clips you recorded to Arrangement View have been consolidated as one.

Clips To The Rescue

As mentioned earlier, mastering dummy clips can breed new ways of Arranging songs. There is almost a sub culture of dummy clip fiends out there who map out new techniques, and think up new templates to further exploit this creative tool (just check the Ableton Forums for some interesting dummy clip templates).

Have fun with dummy clips, and remember to always experiment with routing options, effects, parameters and any other area of Ableton Live.