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Hip Hop and Ableton: Tips and tricks Drum Pad Controllers
Old 9th August 2008
  #1
Gear Maniac
 

Hip Hop and Ableton: Tips and tricks

Whats up GS?
I wanted to kind of share notes with other GS users that work with Ableton Live, especially on the hip hop side of things. For any one who has never used it, I'd highly recommend downloading the trial version if you are considering any changes in your work flow.

I've been using it for a little while now, so I thought I'd post a few of the different ways I work with drum loops.

As Loops- A lot of times I'll just drop in or record a drum break and loop it, no "chopping". Instead I'll go pretty heavy on drawing in the envelopes.

First I'll kind of cut out chunks with the volume envelopes giving a chopped feel and leaving room to replace certain parts or to layer with other loops. Next is to trip it out by detuning a couple of kicks and snares with the transpose envelope.

Finally I add effects, I have a rack set up with a Redux(bit crusher), Saturator and Autofilter, this is pretty much is my go to drums, though I like using Vintage Amp Room for this as well. The Filter Delay is a great included plug as well and great for drums.

Last step is to automate wet/dry with unlinked Envelopes. For those that haven't used unlinked envelopes this is a must, allows you to have say an 8 bar envelope loop even if the drum loops is one or two bars. This is great for like automating a really dubbed out sound with short audio loops (using send envelopes).

All right thats all for now. Chopping into Impluse next time.

What you guys got?
Old 9th August 2008
  #2
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ryst's Avatar
 

Jake,

Thanks for starting this thread about Live. It's good to see a few people in the hip hop community embracing this incredible program. BTW, do you mind sharing that fx rack?

I love unlinking the envelopes and messing with the Sample Offset parameter. Just a little goes a long way and adds life to the drum loop.

Also, I like to make slight variations of whatever my final drum sequence is and randomize them with Follow Actions. Again, a little goes a long way.

You mentioned chopping into Impulse. Sorry if I am getting ahead of you here but I do this too.heh

Whether I am sampling a 70's soul record or sampling my own music, I like to set up at least 2 instances of Impulse, chop the samples, drag them in, and at that point it's a virtual MPC. These really aren't tips, they are more just "workflow" ideas. I'll try and think of some actual tips next time.
Old 9th August 2008
  #3
Gear Head
 

quick chopping tip (auto-chopping or chop shop):

select any audio file in your library and click "slice to new midi track". u can tell Live to chop that audio piece in beats, bars or warp markers. u get a drum rack with every chop mapped to a separate pad. if u dont like how Live chopped your sample, u can adjust start and end points of any pad to your liking. u can also use this method with .rex files.
Old 9th August 2008
  #4
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ryst's Avatar
 

Ok. Here are some actual tips.heh

I highly suggest setting up different templates. I have 3 right now.

One is for when I want to add more tracks to Pro Tools. I set up 24 tracks and all of them have their outputs assigned properly so it's easy to get it up and playing tracks into Pro Tools. The other 2 are pretty simple. one for midi production and one for more sampling type of production.

Also, since almost every parameter can be controlled via midi or by the computer keyboard, I make sure my templates already have the transport functions assigned to keys. Not only play, stop, and record but also tempo, tempo tap, scene play buttons, but anything that will make recording/playback less mouse controlled.
Old 9th August 2008
  #5
Gear Maniac
 

OK couple of things to add.

Chopping with impulse-

This is something I figured out recently as I've been trying to help my friend transition from Reason. I still start by just dropping a loop into an audio track and pulling up an impulse right next to it. To prep it I'll set my loop to just one or two bars and throw warp marks on the 2 and the 4 to make it really tight. The final preparation is to copy the clip into 8 scenes to coincide with the 8 impulse banks.

Once this is done its really easy to just loop the sounds you want on each scene. for example the first scene I'll loop the kick, second the Hi hat, third the snare and so on. The nice thing is that your loop points don't have to be exact, if theres a little air at the beginning or it clips at the end you can fix that in the impulse.

Now drag each of your eight scenes over to the impulse. I tend to activate the use keyboard as MIDI so that I can preview the hits while I do the fine tuning. Remember the impulse has individual amps, filters, saturater, transpose and stretch for each pad, so you can sculpt out a great drum kit pretty quick like this. If your into making really glitchy sounds play around with the stretch and transpose knobs.

Once I'm done I tend to save it right away to a preset and then do a couple of different versions racked up with effects. Of course you can use this method with the Drum Racks for really deep effects chains, but the simplicity of the Impulse is really its strong point, quick effective drum chopping.
Old 9th August 2008
  #6
Gear Maniac
 

@ Ryst, I've just been getting into the follow actions myself there pretty interesting for adding a little variation.

I'd be glad to share a couple of my racks not sure quite how to do it though, I have no way to host anything.

Key mapping is essential I always have the metronome as /(on the number pad) and overdub as * (also on number pad) and ` as my tap tempo. Another one is I like to have my first 9 scenes mapped to 1-9 on the number pad for quick improving. Something I just found is that you can also use shift to double the amount of keys mapped (so "a" and "A" are two differnet commands).


@ Nojus, I'm really into the monophonic chopped sounds when I'm doing like instrument chops (say like a piano riff) so I use the "chop to single Sampler" option which is great as you can apply uniform controls to the whole piece instead of having to adjust individual simplers.

Any one else use ableton?
Old 9th August 2008
  #7
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Nahuel's Avatar
 

I luv Ableton.

tips? ...

I like the clip envelopes: for example I like to play a melody with a pad sound, copy the midi part to another track, insert an arpeggiator and a synth with a crazy lead, then I draw sum "cuts" on the lead part n do the opposite on the pad part: crazy! I do this all the time with samples too.
Old 9th August 2008
  #8
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ryst's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jake Gilla View Post
@ Ryst, I've just been getting into the follow actions myself there pretty interesting for adding a little variation.

I'd be glad to share a couple of my racks not sure quite how to do it though, I have no way to host anything.

Key mapping is essential I always have the metronome as /(on the number pad) and overdub as * (also on number pad) and ` as my tap tempo. Another one is I like to have my first 9 scenes mapped to 1-9 on the number pad for quick improving. Something I just found is that you can also use shift to double the amount of keys mapped (so "a" and "A" are two differnet commands).
Not sure if you are on a mac or pc but their is a folder on the mac side that has your presets. In the presets folder there is one called "Audio Effects". And then in there there's a bunch of folders for the various Live effects and also one called "Audio Effect Rack". The rack file is less than a meg. You can upload it here easily. I will try and share some too. If you are just using Abe's effects any Live user can use it. If it has 3rd party plugs then they just show up blank.

Thanks for the "shift" keys tip! I don't know why I never thought of that.
Old 9th August 2008
  #9
Gear Nut
 
Mickey Free's Avatar
 

Hey Guys, I'm interested in Live, but every time I've messed w/ it, I get frustrated and go right back to my MPC. I'm very hands on, and I know you can map a lot of parameters to a control surface, but i've got some specific questions:

1. Is there an easy equivalent to the MPC's "16 level" function for pitch. Essentially this allows you to take a sample, and with 2 button clicks play it transposed across 1 octave or so. It's important to be able to do this on the fly when inspiration strikes. I know there's ways to transpose in Live, but can it be done on the fly? And then easily recorded?

2. Can sample/ slice start and end points be edited via controller knob data? I can't stand grabbing the mouse to do that kind of editing, I wanna let the sample play then dial in by hand my start times, as is done using the data wheel on an MPC.

Thanks guys, hopefully this isn't too off-topic for this thread. Live seems awesome, I just get hung up on the complexity of the interface. Any input would be much appreciated.

Thanks,
Mickey
Old 9th August 2008
  #10
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ryst's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mickey Free View Post
Hey Guys, I'm interested in Live, but every time I've messed w/ it, I get frustrated and go right back to my MPC. I'm very hands on, and I know you can map a lot of parameters to a control surface, but i've got some specific questions:

1. Is there an easy equivalent to the MPC's "16 level" function for pitch. Essentially this allows you to take a sample, and with 2 button clicks play it transposed across 1 octave or so. It's important to be able to do this on the fly when inspiration strikes. I know there's ways to transpose in Live, but can it be done on the fly? And then easily recorded?
Yes. Put the audio you want to sample in a clip slot. Bring up the midi assignment screen (Apple+M on Mac), click on the clip, on your keyboard press and hold which key you want as your "middle" key (where the pitch is not altered), while still holding the middle key press another key where you want the lowest pitch, and then press the key where you want the highest pitch. That way you can actually have a few audio clips mapped out accross the your keyboard depending on how much you are pitching each clip. There is a longer version of this method that involves making a Simpler Rack if you want to get more detailed.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Mickey Free View Post
2. Can sample/ slice start and end points be edited via controller knob data? I can't stand grabbing the mouse to do that kind of editing, I wanna let the sample play then dial in by hand my start times, as is done using the data wheel on an MPC.
In the clip view you can assign the start and end buttons to midi controllers.

But honestly, you can put the sample in arrangement view and chop in up very quickly with the mouse and and Apple+E.
Old 9th August 2008
  #11
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ryst's Avatar
 

Here's another tip. It's always good to mess around with Lives different Warp modes to find out what sounds best for the loop.

But also try finding the warp mode that makes it sound "worse". Sometimes on "beats" mode I will find some really cool artifacts (skipping and repeating) when trying out the different parameters (1 bar, 1/2, 1/4, 1/8, 1/16, 1/32). And then playing with the tempo will slow down or speed up the skips and repeats that can really add some cool stuff to the loop!
Old 10th August 2008
  #12
Gear Nut
 
Mickey Free's Avatar
 

Thanks, Ryst, I'll try it out.
Old 10th August 2008
  #13
Gear Head
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by ryst View Post
Yes. Put the audio you want to sample in a clip slot. Bring up the midi assignment screen (Apple+M on Mac), click on the clip, on your keyboard press and hold which key you want as your "middle" key (where the pitch is not altered), while still holding the middle key press another key where you want the lowest pitch, and then press the key where you want the highest pitch. That way you can actually have a few audio clips mapped out accross the your keyboard depending on how much you are pitching each clip. There is a longer version of this method that involves making a Simpler Rack if you want to get more detailed.




In the clip view you can assign the start and end buttons to midi controllers.

But honestly, you can put the sample in arrangement view and chop in up very quickly with the mouse and and Apple+E.

HA! Never thought about using that function for that purpose. Thanx!

In the spirit of the post, I often make extensive use of the A and B channel cross fader assignments for quick and easy variations of themes/samples/programs.

Also, if you want to get more in-depth with chopping your sample, you can drop a loop/sample into a session slot, then in the waveform view at the bottom of the screen, use your mouse to play at any of the different warp markers as you see fit. Be sure to change your quantize setting to whatever fits your purpose first.

Also, some of abletons factory plugs are GREAT, particularly the included filter. It's easily my favorite software filter, and seems to be built for filtered house/hiphop tracks.
Old 10th August 2008
  #14
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by gradylives View Post
Also, some of abletons factory plugs are GREAT, particularly the included filter. It's easily my favorite software filter, and seems to be built for filtered house/hiphop tracks.

Yeah a few of my favorite plugs are the Autofilter, the Saturater, Filter Delay, Redux, and Beat Repeat. I use them pretty extensively on my sessions, just purely simple to use.


Speaking on what ryst was saying alot of times when I'm working with drum loops ill have one clip where I set the loop and transpose it way up in beats mode and gives it this nasty digital bit crush effect for a cool fill.
Old 10th August 2008
  #15
Gear Head
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by ryst View Post
Here's another tip. It's always good to mess around with Lives different Warp modes to find out what sounds best for the loop.
yup, but "beats" is standard for drums, "tones" for instrument samples, "complex" for loops (samples) with lots of instruments.
Old 10th August 2008
  #16
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Ol' Betsey's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by nojus View Post
yup, but "beats" is standard for drums, "tones" for instrument samples, "complex" for loops (samples) with lots of instruments.
Still good to mess with the settings tho. Some creative uses to mangle sounds in there as well.

I'm not a hip hop guy but I like these discussions.

Something I like to do:

Take a loop/melody and copy it, say 5-10 times (depending how many notes are in the loop) into stacked session slots.

Move the start point of each session clip to a different note in the melody.

Dive into Follow Actions and set all clips slots to Other and Chance to 1. Set the Follow Action Time however it works for you/the loop/in the context of the song.

Now you've got new, completely random, sequences generated from your original notes that will still be the key of your song (and more importantly, play over your original chord structure).

Let the randomness do it's random thing and record it into arrangement and pick out the best bits for a little extra melodic flavour here and there. (Works for drums too)

You gotta work with it but I look at it like an improv jam session. How many times have you had all the guys around (is that old school or what?) and dicked about for 5 hours but there was that one thing, about 3 1/2 hours in, and it only lasted for a minute, but it became the basis of a new tune?

Live' great like that!

R.

P.S. Sorry for jumpin' into the Hip Hop forum but hey, you guys dig melody right? And we ALL need hooks! heh
Old 10th August 2008
  #17
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ol' Betsey View Post
P.S. Sorry for jumpin' into the Hip Hop forum but hey, you guys dig melody right? And we ALL need hooks! heh
What do you normally make in ableton? I have a friend who plays metal and we've had a hell of a time making kind of a metal/industrial blend in Ableton.

Also, speaking of warp settings, its good to try out the different warp algorithms because they have different controls. The beats algorithm has transient control based on quantization, Tones has the grain control, Textures has grain size and flux which is a lot of fun, I use re pitch a lot cause its pretty simple on drums, and complex is great for heavily warped vocal samples.

Someone mentioned the cross fader, for DJ style sets ill send different clips to the two sends only and put a cross fader control on those, then I mix just like a traditional two channel mixer. With Midi control and by adjusting the cross fader setting, I've found I can even scratch pretty well on the turntable.
Old 11th August 2008
  #18
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cynic one's Avatar
 

Good tips here!

Some good **** over @ CDM also.

Create Digital Music » Ableton Live Rack Tutorials: Slicing and Drum Racks, Vocal Slicing with Simpler Racks

I've been getting into Ableton heavy this past week, trying to make a mix release of all my unused beats. Going pretty good so far, but I need to practice and up my mixing game. My transitions are **** right now... heh

I've got the MC-505 all mapped out and translated using Bome's midi translator right now, but it's kind of a hacked controller.

Anyone using something like the cheap ass behringer BCD / BCR / BCF series to control ableton? Those endless rotary knobs on the BCR look dope.
Attached Thumbnails
Hip Hop and Ableton: Tips and tricks-505_ableton_control.jpg  
Old 12th August 2008
  #19
Gear Maniac
 

I like to make two copies of my drum track. I run the first copy at a normal volume, then take the second copy, reduce its volume, and slap on a beat repeat or similar plugin. With a little tweaking, this can give a pretty nice "ghost notes" effect, add a little life to the track.

I used that basic trick on my track Unga Bunga, Baby.
Old 12th August 2008
  #20
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Ol' Betsey's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by jedilaw View Post
I like to make two copies of my drum track. I run the first copy at a normal volume, then take the second copy, reduce its volume, and slap on a beat repeat or similar plugin. With a little tweaking, this can give a pretty nice "ghost notes" effect, add a little life to the track.

I used that basic trick on my track Unga Bunga, Baby.
Oh yeah, this is nice too. I actually use LiveCut for something similar.

Great little freebie for randomness!

R.
Old 12th August 2008
  #21
Gear Maniac
 

I've been seriously considering doing a couple of DIY controllers for different purposes, just got to get the nerve up to buy the components.
Old 12th August 2008
  #22
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Ol' Betsey's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jake Gilla View Post
What do you normally make in ableton? I have a friend who plays metal and we've had a hell of a time making kind of a metal/industrial blend in Ableton.
Well you asked...

Not what I do on a day to day basis but it's fun to let your hair down once and while, right?

heh

R.
Attached Files

TMQ3.mp3 (959.6 KB, 3140 views)

Old 12th August 2008
  #23
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cynic one's Avatar
 

^^^ dope, sounds good...that break about 0:40 in would be ill with some drums over it.

was that all done in ableton?
Old 13th August 2008
  #24
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by cynic View Post
^^^ dope, sounds good...that break about 0:40 in would be ill with some drums over it.

was that all done in ableton?
My favorite part as well.
Old 13th August 2008
  #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jedilaw View Post
..................and slap on a beat repeat or similar plugin. With a little tweaking, this can give a pretty nice "ghost notes" effect, add a little life to the track.
lol, ever heard "Promiscuous" by Nelly Furtado? (check out the end too) heh
Old 13th August 2008
  #26
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Ol' Betsey's Avatar
Hahaha. That's my favourite bit too. But we wouldn't have gotten there and it wouldn't have been nearly as effective without the walls either side, right?

Hmmm... But was it all done in Ableton?

Well it was kind of tacked on to the end of a session as a dirty little instrumental to close an album so I think I quickly tracked the drums into Ableton (via Apogee's - not that you can tell after they've been roughed up so much) and warped them to the grid as opposed to the whole Beat Detective debacle and the bass synth is definitely from Ableton (again filtered and distorted) and then guitars was my trusty API 3124 121/SM7 combo into Abs as well.

The only reason I'm making that a point is that I normally track (and mix) in Pro Tools and use Live rewired to mangle stuff but this was pretty much all Ableton as a tracking DAW as well.

But I'm actually trying to find something a little more subtle as an example of what I do with Follow Actions. Like I said, that was just a a little bit of fun. There's nothing a 70's Marshall stack and a microsynth to clear out the cobwebs. heh

R.
Old 13th August 2008
  #27
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cynic one's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ol' Betsey View Post
The only reason I'm making that a point is that I normally track (and mix) in Pro Tools and use Live rewired to mangle stuff but this was pretty much all Ableton as a tracking DAW as well.

R.
what's the ableton/pt rewire workflow like?

i'm considering doing something similar with ableton/cubase
Old 13th August 2008
  #28
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Ol' Betsey's Avatar
Hey Cynic,

Well, you know, it's Rewire? Actually I'm not sure how much you know about Rewire? Do you use it much already?

It's cool but not TOTALLY streamlined. I mean, for instance, you can't send audio directly out of PT, via a buss for instance, and then route it back into your session seamlessly.

With MIDI you can control everything from with the Master program but with audio you still have to bounce things down and shunt them over to do any ripping and tearing.

I mean it's not THAT big a deal but it's also not like using a plug-in.

Of course once it's in the program you can stream it back into your host sample-accurate so that's all sweet.

I will say though that if you're doing loop-based stuff it's amazing how quickly you can come up with something so new and, in some way, almost always usable.

Like I said earlier in the thread, loop-based stuff isn't really where I'm coming from but I still incorporate Live into what I' doing and it keeps surprising me.

The way you can just drag and drop effects so quickly and efficiently and create these really spontaneous textures is really what makes it worthwhile to me.

The amount of times I've come up with something so randomly and thought 'How the hell did I get here?' is what makes it so cool.

I would give it a try definitely. They have a great demo program too. I don't think you can save what you do other than bouncing it back out as audio files but you get a really good idea what it's all about.

Give it some and read/watch some of the tutorials and I'd be surprised if you didn't get just a little stuck to it.

R.
Old 13th August 2008
  #29
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cynic one's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ol' Betsey View Post
Hey Cynic,

Well, you know, it's Rewire? Actually I'm not sure how much you know about Rewire? Do you use it much already?
R.
I've actually never rewired anything...My workflow now usually is cook up something in FL Studio or the MPC, then bounce all the files down into separate audio stems, then mix/track vocals in SX.

I'm considering the Ableton / SX combo because I imagine I could bus the audio from Ableton into SX, and still use the auto plugin delay compensation (UAD) and external FX features. So I could make the sounds / sequence in Ableton, but handle my mix in SX.

Then I imagine I could track vox in SX (I like the comp takes workflow better there), and still have the flexibility to switch up the arrangement in Ableton if necessary. Seems like a fluid way to work.

I really like the way Ableton makes resampling a crucial part of the workflow - although perhaps I could achieve something similar inside Cubase with a sampler like Morgana.

Stuff like that is what I was talking about when I mentioned workflow.
Old 13th August 2008
  #30
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Ol' Betsey's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by cynic View Post
I really like the way Ableton makes resampling a crucial part of the workflow - although perhaps I could achieve something similar inside Cubase with a sampler like Morgana.
I don't know much about Cubase but I'm pretty sure that you'll LOVE the workflow and gotta say that Live is pretty unique in that sense.

It's a little daunting at first because of exactly that, the workflow is definitely different than other programs. The way the Session and Arrange pages work takes a little getting used but if you're going to Rewire it into SX you won't even really need the Arrange page to start out.

Most people I know (outside of hardcore Ableton users) do exactly what you're going to do: Work in Abs and then stem out into there main DAW (PT, Logic, SX etc).

Honestly, take a week messing around with and read some of the tutorials (and watch You Tube!) and see what you think. I think you'll be surprised.

Take care,

R.

P.S. It's brilliant for playing out live with as well. Totally solid and you can set up your live sets to do some seriously amazing streamlined and slick ****.
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