Jeremy Latham

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Beginning a track

These videos show the beginnings of a track that I started working on some time ago. I wanted to get the basics of the track made and not get distracted by the mixing process. By just concentrating on the basics and getting the foundations down then rest of the track can be constructed later and the basic elements refined. There’s no point spending a lot of time working on a track if you decide later that you don’t like it.

Videos

Part 1 of 5

Part 2 of 5

Part 3 of 5

Part 4 of 5

Part 5 of 5

Process

  • I start off by pre-selecting a drum loop and a kick and snare. The drum loop’s transients are modified and then a equalizer is applied to remove some of the low end which will make room for the kick drum which will be overlaid using a one-shot sample.
  • Next a side chain trigger channel is created. A sidechain compressor is applied to the drum loop further making more room for the kick drum which will be overlaid later.
  • After applying the sidechain to the loop a¬†‘click’ is very noticeable, this is common when using a sidechain. This can usually be fixed by altering¬†the compressor’s attack and release controls, but in this case I remove the click by dipping the volume on the affected part of the loop using a volume envelope.
  • The kick and snare are then overlaid on top of the loop using a basic 4/4 pattern.
  • Some swing is then applied to the percussion, this can be refined later.
  • I then add a pad channel using a basic chord progression – the scale is A minor. I am mainly using presets so that I can work quite quickly, these can always be tweaked later.
  • The first of two bass channels is then added using a simple 16th note pattern. The filter cutoff is changed and a autofilter device is also added to the channel. These filter adjustments could be made using the synth’s filter but I like the sound of Live’s autofilter resonance.
  • The second bass channel is then added which forms a kind of ‘call and response’ with the first bass channel, again this is sidechained.
  • I then add a second pad channel which uses chords and also shorter notes on top of the chords which form a motif/melody.
  • I then add a new channel which works as a layer to the previous pad channel. I remove the chords and just use the top notes.
  • By this stage I thought that there needed to be more of a rhythm so I add a new channel using Nexus and create a short repeating pattern.
  • I then add a new channel which will act as a counter melody, for this I use Nexus again.
  • You will notice that I am frequently copying a channel’s previous notes and then setting them to disabled, this is a workaround until Ableton add a ‘ghost notes’ facility to Live which will hopefully be in the next version (Live 10).Over about 40 minutes or so I have built the beginnings of a track which could later be expanded upon and refined. By not spending too much time on mixing it is easier to get ideas down, and then if you decide if a track is worth working on further mixing can be done properly later.

Vocal snippets

In video 5 I show the making of a simple vocal snippet motif using Live’s Simpler device.

Jeremy Latham

Chillout / Trance

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