Self Generating Music using Ableton Live 11's new features.


In this video, we use some of the new features of Ableton Live 11 as well as some effects devices to create unique musical sections that will give you endless ideas

once you set it up!


Live has a lot of features and effects, that lets us introduce randomness into certain parameters like velocity, pitch, and ... almost every device parameter! Here we'll look at creatively using some of them, while having control over the extent of randomness introduced, such that the musical expression is not lost, but elevated!


Check out the full lesson in the video below



Here’s a detailed process to help you follow along and try this out yourself!


Load up desired sounds for melody, harmony, drums, and bass.


Drums: First, let’s do the Drums. Here we rely heavily on velocity ranges and chance functions built into the MIDI Clip view, to introduce controlled randomness.

  • Start with regular repeating closed hi-hats (¼ or ⅛ timings)
  • Add open hi-hats on top of every alternate closed hi-hat.
  • Adjust the chance amount for the closed hi-hats directly below those open hats.
  • This ensures that the open hats play sometimes, but not in a predictable manner.
  • Add hi-hats in all the offbeat spaces but at lower velocities, and dial in velocity ranges (hold control/command and drag down on a note's velocity value)  as well as chance. This ensures these off-beat hi-hats happen sometimes and are mostly not at full velocity.
  • Add in a kick and snare/clap patterns, and don’t hold back on the kicks (add a lot of kicks both on and offbeat)
  • Introduce velocity ranges for the offbeat kicks (so they’re not as loud as on-beat kicks) and introduce chance variations for almost all the kicks.
  • Add additional percussion as desired, and adjust randomness via velocity and chance controls as before.

Harmony:

  • Set up your Harmony track. I used 2 sounds in a rack, but you may use a single instrument or a dozen in an instrument rack as desired!
  • Create an empty midi track, with a single long midi clip (1, 2 or 4 bars as per taste)
  • This is the track that will manage and send out midi instructions to your other tracks.
  • Lets name it MIDIManager
  • Set up the Input of your Harmony track to this MIDIManager track
  • Add midi effects in this order Random > Chord > Scale.
  • Set up Chance percentage in your Random - this increases the chance of an incoming note being randomized.
  • Add 2 or 3 notes, via Shift knobs on your Chord midi effect (don’t worry about what chord it is.
  • Add Scale Midi effect by using a preset corresponding to your song’s scale (major/minor etc) and set the base to root note (eg: C)
  • Add an LFO, and map the 3 shift knobs to LFO’s mapping functions.
  • Adjust the range of LFO map parameters as shown in the video. (such that the shift knob values don’t overlap much with each other.
  • Set LFO Wave Shape to random, and Rate to 2 bars (or whatever your midi clip duration is)
  • Adjust LFO values or Shift knob ranges till you hear consistent interesting harmonies. (if pitches sound too high, or too low, adjust choices to compensate that)

Melodies: Here we use an Arpeggiator to melodify the incoming notes, Note Echo to offset the melody in time, and LFO to randomize parameters like Rate, or no of Repeats to keep things interesting with every loop.


  • Set the input for your melody track to receive the MIDIManager’s output, just like the harmony track.
  • If using an instrument rack, solo 1st chain and follow the below steps.
  • Add Arpeggiator followed by Note Echo to this chain
  • Set the Repeats to 3 or 4 in the Arpeggiator to limit the length of the pattern.
  • Set the Note echo's Input to Mute and Play around with Delay Time to get different values. Adjust Feedback to 0%. 
  • Add an LFO after the Instrument Rack, and map it to the Rate of the Arpeggiator. Set it to Wave shape - random  and control the range of mapping such that Arpegiattor swings between 1/16 to 1/4 (or as desired!)
  • Add 2 or 3 more sounds in the instrument rack and repeat the above process by adding Arpegiattor, Note Echo, and LFO.
  • For one of the sounds with a sharp attack (Piano, Mallet, Bells, etc) Change Arpegiattor's Mode from Sync to Time and map the LFO to its Rate for some interesting twist in this symphony of melodies!
  • Play around with Range (max and min) of Rate mappings in LFO, No of Repeats, and Note Echo's Delay Time for individual chains, such that the patterns do not clutter too much.

Bass: You can repeat the same process as for the melody, just ensure you don't overlap multiple notes. Or to make it easier, use a single sound instead of a rack of sounds! 

 

Hope you enjoyed going through and trying out this exercise! Let us know if you come across any doubts while following along in the comment section below! And if you do try this out successfully, share your thoughts with us :)



Happy Learning!