Composing non-electronic music in Live

Discussion of music production, audio, equipment and any related topics, either with or without Ableton Live
Posts: 1
Joined: Mon Jun 26, 2006 8:00 am

Composing non-electronic music in Live

Post by stovetop » Thu Feb 17, 2011 7:58 pm

Just curious how many out there use ableton to compose more classical/orchestral type music instead of those inside the DJ or electronic realm. And if so, how is it a part of your workflow?

Posts: 3185
Joined: Wed Feb 23, 2005 5:19 pm
Location: Reading, UK

Re: Composing non-electronic music in Live

Post by Khazul » Thu Feb 17, 2011 8:23 pm

Depends if its loop orientated composition or not and if creating it or reproducing it (from notation for eg) - that is more what separates workflow approaches than the kind of music you are making. You can do loop based classical parts like anything else. And like anything else, there ae parts that are unique phrases. In a decent classical composition, there will be some elements that can loop, but probably more elements that shouldnt I guess. You mighth spent more time geting the right articulations out of the samplers you are using (instead of automating filtters or whatever on synths).

The big difference if im trying to do a convincing orchestral string section from the ground up (for example) is in the arrangement and voicing of the separate sections from kontakt VSL stuff (separate ensembles for each standard sections, for eg violins 1, violins 2, violas ... etc and addition kontakt instances for any solos too) and the mixing and applying of fx if I really want it to have a convincing sense of size and space etc (lost of separate reverb instances to get the real space). In terms of recording and subsequent voicing - the same problme can apply to just recording and voicing decent synth pads - ie what you want is impossible to play due to spread of notes. Different to a normal piano parts for eg which are intended to be playable on a keyboard.

Most of the time - a single string ensemble patch in omnisphere gives a really nice result in a mix and is a hell of alot easier to play/record and voice+arrange :)

Beyond that, no real reason for workflow to be significantly different to any other music with a similar number of parts.
Nothing to see here - move along!

Posts: 7
Joined: Fri Dec 17, 2010 5:07 am

Re: Composing non-electronic music in Live

Post by derek73 » Thu Feb 17, 2011 10:36 pm

I use East West Quantum Leap (composer's collection; I chose Symphonic Orchestra Platinum, Pianos, Goliath and Storm Drums, amongst others). These samples are premium and typically work best in 64-bit environments. That said, Ableton in my opinion is still the best for creative workflow.

I'll add instruments to each track as I need them and play a part. Using scenes to launch is important here to keep the appropriate parts together. Then, as with other styles of electronic music, Duplicate and modify with variations into each subsequent scene. The clip view is extremely useful for trying different parts until lots of options exist. Then the arranger mode is used to put things in the right order. With classical you end up using tempo changes more frequently. For non-4/4 beat electronic music flow, I use the clip view for experimentation and the arranger view to build the song like in a traditional DAW.

Ableton easily allows tempo and time signature change automation too, so composing in a traditionally linear time-based manner is your thing, just work from the arrangement view. What's lacking is sheet music conversion, though Cubase is good for that if you need sheet music from your piece.

Don't know how much this is helpful, just my take on it :)

Posts: 1397
Joined: Wed Jul 07, 2004 1:06 pm
Location: Miami

Re: Composing non-electronic music in Live

Post by Anubis » Fri Feb 18, 2011 5:35 am

There's a few of us non DJ's in here. :)
9.0.4 Suite-Samsung Chronos 7 laptop(17")-12GB RAM-Samsung 840 series SSD(250GB)-iPad2-Maschine-TouchAble-SaffirePro24-Saffire6USB-Komplete Audio 6-Axiom25-PCR300-Nocturn-LaunchPad-QuNeo-QuNexus

Posts: 791
Joined: Sat Aug 08, 2009 3:36 am
Location: Beijing

Re: Composing non-electronic music in Live

Post by luddy » Fri Feb 18, 2011 6:30 am

I do some string scoring and other non-electronic stuff from time to time, and I tend to do it all in Live these days. I have a couple big string libraries in EXS24 format that I have not been able to convert to Sampler format, so I run an instance of Logic (not in rewire mode, just a freestanding separate instance of Logic, which is done by starting Live first, then Logic) and I have a template set up for hosting those libraries and returning the audio via a loopback path in my audio interface.

As for workflow in Live, it's just a simple MIDI and audio sequencer. I write parts in the piano roll when I don't play them via a keyboard. I find Live's piano roll to be very fast for entering and editing new parts. I use Session view simply to hold a whole bunch of variations on parts that I've tried. I drag clips into the arrangement to create a conventional linear arrangement.

For music that has no natural grid or constant tempo, I usually just set the tempo to something like 60bpm or 240bpm (so that beats or bars correspond to seconds) and just turn the grid off. It's easy to work with both audio and MIDI in Live with no grid whatsoever, and most all of Live's own effects and instruments have options to work in terms of time rather than bars/beats.

One small detail that comes up a lot in this kind of music, I find: I end up with much longer MIDI clips than I would if I were working in say Logic, because Live's handling of notes that hang over the end of a clip or start before the beginning of a clip is not the same as Logic's, and I find it easier and more reliable to simply avoid such overhanging notes altogether.


Posts: 1104
Joined: Fri Jan 12, 2007 11:48 am

Re: Composing non-electronic music in Live

Post by LeifonMars » Fri Feb 18, 2011 6:50 am

Most of the music I do is not electronic music. I ambients and music for theatres and sometimes I score for films as well. I have access to PT as well but I'm quite comfortable with Lives arrangement view nowadays and I work efficiently with it. Just turn the grid off.

What i miss though is fade patterns that you could drag on highlighted area.
MBP OSX 10.6.8, Live 8.4, MFII, Evolver, Monomachine, Octatrack, APC40, Launchpad

Posts: 3238
Joined: Tue Dec 27, 2005 12:45 pm
Location: Lost Island

Re: Composing non-electronic music in Live

Post by Pasha » Fri Feb 18, 2011 7:27 am

As previously said it depends on being loop based music or not.
I do compose music that is not electronica and I'm not a DJ but I'm not on
Classical/Orchestral, now mainly instrumental.
So I hope this can help you anyway.
The Workflow I find appropriate is when I capture several phrases
and variations of myself playing in real time and then mix them together
using random clip actions. This maintains some kind of 'humanity' in to the
structure. Track by Track I do that and then when I'm satisfied I record all in the
Arrangement view where I record the final parts linearly.
For me Session View is key but I understand others might like working
differently and sure it depends 100% on the genre.

- Best
- Pasha
Apple Desktop / Laptop
Live 9 Suite,Zebra 2.6,Guitar, Bass, VG99, JV1010 and some controllers
Music :

Posts: 72
Joined: Sat May 16, 2009 8:01 am
Location: denmark

Re: Composing non-electronic music in Live

Post by dolphie » Sun Feb 20, 2011 7:26 am

nice post i did learn a couple of things in this so maybe lets us keep a bit alive :)

Posts: 19
Joined: Thu Nov 04, 2010 2:39 pm

Re: Composing non-electronic music in Live

Post by AbletonFinn » Sun Feb 20, 2011 8:21 am

I compose classic rock/blues/country/ballad type music with Ableton. I used to use Cakewalk since dos-times but it has bloated and become too complicated. To me Ableton is very fast tool to get my ideas on the paper so to speak. I even composed a piece for a brass band with Ableton (I'm a tubist too).
What I'm missing of course is notation but that can be handled with other programs or manually.

Posts: 72
Joined: Sat May 16, 2009 8:01 am
Location: denmark

Re: Composing non-electronic music in Live

Post by dolphie » Sun Feb 20, 2011 12:45 pm

well i came from house and is moving toward sound design and scores for games movies

Posts: 30
Joined: Mon Sep 20, 2010 12:32 pm

Re: Composing non-electronic music in Live

Post by So-Fi » Mon Feb 21, 2011 10:38 am

I'm probably quite unlike other people here, but I only use the arrangement view, as I'm more a musician and songwriter than a producer. I simply just use Ableton to "pile-up" all of the different sounds, I want to use in a single song. Ableton is great because of it's accesability (if you ask me), and if there's anything you need, there's almost always a plug-in for it.

I know for a fact that Anders Trentemoller, the Danish DJ and musician, uses the arrangement view and STILL manages to make incredibly organic music that blends electronica and more analogue genres such as surf rock (on his latest, "Into the Great Wonder")

I personally strive to combine the two, and that is why Ableton is so handy.

Posts: 72
Joined: Sat May 16, 2009 8:01 am
Location: denmark

Re: Composing non-electronic music in Live

Post by dolphie » Mon Feb 21, 2011 11:29 am

hey sof i am dane to and trende møller is awsome

Posts: 72
Joined: Sat May 16, 2009 8:01 am
Location: denmark

Re: Composing non-electronic music in Live

Post by dolphie » Sat Mar 19, 2011 3:21 pm

bump how do you guys go around the lack of multi inline editing in live 8

Posts: 384
Joined: Sat Apr 05, 2008 2:43 pm
Location: Frankfurt/Germany

Re: Composing non-electronic music in Live

Post by Saxer » Sun Mar 20, 2011 6:54 am

i use logic for orchestral work. i´m used to it´s sophisticated midi features.

but this guy here is using live for film/game scoring... looks interesting! ... er&list=UL ... re=related ... re=related

Post Reply