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!

Ableton Live’s Audio Effect Rack Video Tutorial

Create crazy effects chains with the Audio Effect Rack in Ableton. This is part 1 of our video tutorial series on all 31 of Ableton Live’s built in effects.

This is part one of a video series that will show you how to use each each of Ableton Live’s built in effects. I decided to start alphabetically with the Audio Effect Rack. Stay tuned for more!

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!

Basic Chord And Scale Theory Through Ableton Live

Learn to sequence any Major or Minor chords/scales with Ableton’s piano roll in minutes. In this video tutorial, I show how to program and manipulate notes allowing you to instantly write better melodies and chord progressions.

Learn to sequence any Major or Minor chords/scales with Ableton’s piano roll in minutes. In this video tutorial, I show how to program and manipulate notes allowing you to instantly write better melodies and chord progressions.

Here are the formulas mentioned in the video:

Major Chord Formula: 1, 4, 7 (these numbers represent half-step increments)

Minor Chord Formula: 1, 3, 7 (these numbers represent half-step increments)

Major Scale Formula: W-W-H-W-W-W-H (W = Whole Step, H = Half Step)

Minor Scale Formula: W-H-W-W-W-W-H (W = Whole Step, H = Half Step)

Top 5 Ableton Partner Instruments We Are Most Excited About

The folks at Ableton have gathered up 25 of the best Live Packs and made them available in one easy-to-digest set of “Partner Instruments”. Here are our 5 we can’t live without.

Ableton have officially released 25 “Partner Instruments” and they are the furthest thing from disappointment. Here’s the scoop from the official Ableton website:

Exquisite instruments—custom-made for Live by our favorite sound partners. These instruments look and behave just like our own, and many are exclusive to Ableton Live. All work with Suite 8, Live 8 or Live Intro.

Here are a few (out of the 25) we are personally excited about:

1. Puremagnetik Retro Synths (EUR 59/USD 79)
The best of Puremagnetik’s catalog of classic analog and digital sound libraries, with more than 4000 samples.

Why It Rocks:

With countless Pro-Level Live Packs under their belts, Puremagnetik are no slouches when it comes to creating great sounds. These guys (and gals?) have painstakingly created multisamples directly from vintage behemoths such as the Minimoog, Roland TB-303, ARP 2600 and the Doepfer Modular.

2. Flatpack Electronik Drums (EUR 39/USD 49)
Over 500 synthetically generated drum samples, micro culture and atmospheres plus 10 rare and original drum kits.

Why It Rocks:

Enough analog drum sounds to keep booties shakin’ for years to come. Beautifully mapped out with control over individual drum hits (like we would expect less?). And as if Ableton is selling Gnisu Knives on late night TV, they throw out the “Wait! There’s more!” line, with 10 – count them – 10 classic drum machine recreations, sampled from the original unit. Yes, the 808 and 909 are there.

3. Toontrack Fibes Kit (EUR 29/USD 39)
Recorded by Morgan Agren on an old Fibes kit. A dirty, dry, vintage sound for hip-hop, alt. rock and country.

Why It Rocks:

Widen the palette of drum sounds with some dirty, beat up, vintage drum sounds. Real drums recorded by a Swede, what more can you ask for?! Could easily rival BFD for a fraction of the cost. I love to throw Saturator and Compressor on these to add even more grit!

4. Flatpack Textura (EUR 29/USD 39)
Diverse and emotive ambient textures that are otherworldly, cinematic, bizarre, peculiar, eerie, and lush.

Why It Rocks:

To cover the texture side of this well rounded list, we highly recommend Textura. Sounds that are perfect for transitions, intros, swells, you name it. Even create straight up ambient dreamscapes with just these sounds.

5. Soniccouture Synthi Aks (EUR 49/USD 59)
Raw and unstable, this library gives you horror klangs, zaps, snarling leads, basses, and fat, rubbery textures.

Why It Rocks:

We love Soniccouture because they’re not afraid to cater to the avant-garde and experimental crowd. It was hard to narrow it down to just one of their Instruments, but because of the “Jack Of All Trades” ability this one provides, we suggest start here. Twist the crazy sounds for percussive elements, or load the leads and basses for even more synth sounds to add to your arsenal.

Of course, for more information on the 25 Partner Instruments visit the official Ableton Live site.

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.

6 Tips To Optimize The Performance Of Ableton Live

Making music on a computer can sometimes present ugly problems; Laggy Audio, CPU spikes, the list could go on forever. Find out how to prevent these.

It’s not like the old days. Making music on a computer has it’s own set of problems we have to deal with. Laggy Audio, CPU spikes, the list could go on forever.

Usually these are a result of not getting the maximum performance out of Ableton Live. Here are some tips:

1. Enable Multicore Support

Go under Options>Preferences, locate the CPU tab and make sure your “Multicore/Multiprocessor” tab is selected. This allows Live to distribute the CPU load amongst multiple cores and CPUs (if your computer supports it).

To find out if your computer supports multiple cores and processors in a PC, you can right click on My Computer>Properties, and it will tell you your CPU type.

For Mac users, most modern Macs and MacBooks have multicore processor built it.

2. Freeze Tracks

Freezing tracks can save you a lot of CPU power. I work with Native Instruments Guitar Rig on some tracks, and this thing is a CPU consumption beast. Keep your CPU meter down by simply right clicking the desired track and selecting “Freeze”.

3. Stick To The 44.1kHz Sample Rate

Disclaimer: I am not an Audio Engineer. I am just basing this on my humble personal experiences.

It is of this writer’s opinion that if you are mixing and mastering your own music, anything above 44.1kHz is a waste of time. Unless you are have a mastering engineer’s set up, keep it at 44.1kHz; it saves processing power.

A consumer level CD-R burned out of iTunes will render at 16 bits and 44.1kHz. However, it is a good idea to have your bit rate set to 24 in Ableton because this will give you more dynamic headroom while mixing/mastering the track.

Final thought: A bad song (poorly mixed, mastered, etc) exported out at 96kHz will not make it noticeably better.

4. Use Live’s Buffer Settings

Here is a general rule of thumb: Poor CPU performance (stuttering audio) means you should raise the buffer level (512 to 1,024 samples ought to do). The trade off? Higher latency (the lag between playing a sound and hearing it).

At lower buffer levels your latency should be nearly gone, however, you will experience higher CPU loads, as well as audio dropouts.

Final thought: Find a happy medium where your latency is tolerable, and you are not having constant CPU spikes. (I have mine set at 256).

5. Use Sends For Effects

Some people get into the habit of dropping multiple effects that have similar settings on each of their tracks. To save on CPU power, use sends!

Drop a single effect onto one of Ableton’s Send tracks, and you can instantly send the signal of this effect by simply turning up the send knob on individual tracks. Make sure you have the wet knob turned up to 100% on the effect.

6. Get Rid Of Unnecessary Applications

For the PC it’s Ctrl+Alt+Del to enter the task manager, for the Mac it’s Cmd+Option+Esc. Whichever OS you’re running use these application managers to kill any un used programs in the background.

As an extra word of advice to mac users, be sure to turn off your airport when running Ableton.

Hopefully these tricks will help you to get the most out of your Ableton Live experience. I am sure there could be a few I am missing, if anyone would like to share, please comment below!

chipPad For iPad: Live Glitchy Multi-Touch Loop Performance Goodness has just released a Multi-Touch Loop Performance app for the iPad called the chipPad. Read on for more details. has just released a new app for the iPad called the chipPad. Here are the details:

  • 8 stereo tracks
  • AIF/WAV support
  • up to 128 steps per track
  • saves sessions and loads them quickly
  • half/double speed
  • 4 mute groups
  • loop mode
  • reverse
  • per track volume faders
  • per track mute & solo
  • performance-oriented microfades
  • optional track info display
  • master volume fader
  • multi-touch
  • portrait or landscape
  • practically zero latency
  • built-in help and sample sessions
  • made for musicians who create their own music
  • supports audio files of practically any length
  • manage audio files using file sharing via iTunes
  • load audio, create some sessions, take it with you and jam on the commute
  • amazing performance feel

Here is the official website:

Working With Strings In Ableton Live

To create better sounding string arrangements in Ableton Live, it takes an understanding of the instruments themselves. Plus, learn how to sequence and create your own string library in this tutorial.

A typical string section in an orchestra can consist of five different sections (violins, second violins, violas, cellos, and double basses). To make things even more complicated, there are three ways to play them (plucked, bowed and struck).

Let’s go over some of these terms and how they can affect your string productions.

String Theory

As mentioned before strings come in all shapes in sizes. A list of stringed musical instruments could fill up plenty of pages, so we’re going to stick to the five most orchestral stringed instruments.

Violin – A mid range instrument that has a low note of G3. Consists of four strings with a tuning of G, D, A, E (tuned to perfect 5ths). Commonly bowed (arco) and plucked (pizzicato).

Violin sections in an orchestra are made up of first violins and second violins. The first sections play melody, while the second section plays harmony.

An “A Scale” being bowed (arco).

Viola – The Viola is very similar to a violin with a few notable exceptions. A viola is in a similar pitch range as the violin, except it is a perfect fifth below the violin (tuned C, G, D, A).

The biggest difference is the viola’s natural timbre. Usually consisting of a darker and more full bodied tone than the violin. The viola can also be bowed, as well as plucked.

Cello Suite 5 performed on a Viola. Note the darker, fuller tone of the Viola.

Cello – The lowest pitched instrument in the viola family, the cello’s lowest note is a C2 (two octaves below a middle C). Like the violin and viola, a cello is also tuned to perfect fifths (C, G, D, A).

A sample of Bach’s Cello Suite #1. Notice the range from low to high the cello has.

Double Bass – The double bass rounds out the bottom end of the strings section. Tuned in 4ths (E-A-D-G) with the lowest note being an E1.

Double basses are usually bowed in orchestral environments, but are known to be plucked in Jazz.

A double bass being bowed with harmonics.

Now that we have the basics of the various stringed instruments used in an orchestral setting, lets go over some of the different terms used for playing these instruments.

Vibrato – The sound of vibrato is achieved by quickly bending the string to oscillate the pitch of it. This can be achieved in Ableton Live by using the pitch wheel on the sampler, or by using the LFO to control the pitch.

A sample of a violin playing an A#4 with vibrato.

Glissando – A simple slide of pitch which causes notes to rise and fall smoothly without separate steps.

To emulate glissando in Ableton Live, simply use pitch automation for a smooth note transitions.

Here is a sample of a violin playing a glissando from D4 to A4.

Pizzicato – With pizzicato, the strings are plucked directly with the fingers created a sharper, quicker attack. Most string sample packs come with version of notes played pizzicato.

An “A Scale” being plucked (pizzicato).

The Poor Man’s Orchestra

Here is a technique to getting a full orchestra inside of Ableton Live, for free. Granted, this takes a lot of time and patience (if you would like a quality string orchestra, buy Ableton’s Orchestral Strings).

Step 1. Go to

Step 2. In this example we’ll use the Violin, so click “Violin” on the site.

Step 3. Right Click and Save As the first audio sample on that page (Violin.arco.pp.sulG.G3B3.aiff (4.1mb)).

Step 4. Drop the aiff file into your favorite audio editor (Sound Forge, Wavelab, Audacity, even exporting these out in Ableton Live would work.)

Step 5. Take the 5 notes (G3 – B3) and edit each note to be exported individually. I use the naming convention (note-name)-(instrument name)-Arco.wav. For example, the G3 is saved as G3-Violin-Arco.wav.

Each of our notes to be sampled and exported individually. The pink area represents the best place for trimming.

Step 6. Once you have saved the five notes, open Ableton Live and drop Sampler on an empty Midi track.

Step 7. In Sampler, click on the zone tab.

Step 8. In the Sample Layer List (gray area in Zone window), drop the G3-Violin-Arco.wav sample we’ve saved.

Step 9. Repeat step 8 for G3#, A3, A#3 and B3. Your zone window should now look like this:

Step 10. Trim each of the green sample zones, until they are only underneath their note. For example G3 – Violin – Arco.wav should have a small sliver of the green bar underneath the G3 key.

Step 11. Finally, right click on the Zone Editor window and select “Distribute Ranges Equally”.

You can now play the sequence of notes on your keyboard, and they will correspond perfectly. These steps can be repeated across the entire range of the violin, or any other instrument.

Better Sequencing Through Strings

Knowing the various stringed instruments can help a great deal when it comes to sequencing them. We’ve already discussed the ranges of strings, as well as the different ways they can be played, so lets talk about how this translate into MIDI sequencing.

Expression is everything when it comes to strings. Even the players taking a breath during a certain note can change the tone. These subtle nuances are key to programming realistic string Sequences.


Try and set a realistic velocity when programming String parts. On the bottom section of the piano roll editor are your velocity settings, raising and lowering the velocity of a note (from 0 – 127) can offer a wide range of dynamics within a performance.

Different Playing Styles

It’s a good idea to have a set of samples that have the different playing styles mentioned earlier. Playing styles to look for: legato, pizzicato, arco, and staccato.
Program Realistically

For an authentic string section sound, it helps to not program in chords. For example, instead of using one violin and programming a chord with it, use two violin tracks each playing one note. Set the notes slightly off time from each other to get even more realistic results.

Use High String Drones For Texture

This works when you’re using the strings as a supplement in a track. Find the key of the song, and program the string drone to the tonic (first step in a musical scale) of that key. Reverb, chorus, and other effects may help to add more texture to the sound.

The String Of Things To Come

I hope this gives the reader some insight into how getting realistic string sounds can be achieved. Stay tuned for another tutorial that will discuss programming string sounds for Ableton’s Synthesizers.

German Ableton User Group In Goettingen: 6 May, 19:00 at Cafe Kabale

For all of our friends over in Germany: There will be a User group held at Cafe Kabale on 6 May. Read on for more details.

For all of our friends over in Germany: There will be a User group held at Cafe Kabale on 6 May. Here are the details:


Goettingen Ableton User Group auf Myspace