Composing in Live - What method works for you?

Discussion of music production, audio, equipment and any related topics, either with or without Ableton Live
freqn
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Composing in Live - What method works for you?

Post by freqn » Fri Nov 17, 2006 2:24 pm

What method do you use when writing new material with live. Do you record all your clips then do arrangement? Do you record only a few, then start an arrangement and go from there? Do you record on the fly? Sorry if my questions are too vague. I am fairly new to the software and I'm just trying to see what different techniques are used and how you keep the creative flow going.

Tarekith
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Post by Tarekith » Fri Nov 17, 2006 2:45 pm

For writing original tunes in Live, I mainly just stay in Arrange view like a typical DAW. Session view for me is just for performing live or DJ sets. Some people like to sketch out tunes in session view, then fine tune in Arrange view. If I had a controller I was happy with, I'd probably work this way too.
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Post by Poster » Fri Nov 17, 2006 3:32 pm

basicly;

First sketch in Session..
Make loops in a couple of scenes, like different stages in the song..
This way you can sort of hear the song allready; get the feel of the progression..

Then record a basic arrangement by jamming in Session > record all in Arrange..

Then finetuning in Arrange..

mbenigni
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Post by mbenigni » Fri Nov 17, 2006 3:40 pm

I'm finding that I write exclusively in Session view. At first this sort of process seemed phony to me: recording loops instead of "real" performances of parts. But I am now seeing incredible value in a process that allows me to document ideas quickly but keeps me from getting hung up on signal quality, the perfect take, and all that crap, when I should be focusing on the writing. Now I get everything into clips in session view, drag them around until I can play through the entire song by selecting scenes, then record that into the Arrangement.

As part of a separate process, I can later go to the Arrangement view and record final "live" takes onto separate tracks, using the clip-based arrangement as guide tracks. So there's a good healthy distinction between the writing effort and the perfomance/production effort.

Wish I gave in to this concept a long time ago. It's very effective and totally legit IMO.

slow riot
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Post by slow riot » Fri Nov 17, 2006 3:56 pm

I'm still a long way away from a method that I feel is complete, but for the moment I am reasonably happy with this process:

1. mess around with loops and sequencing in session view until I find something that inspires me enough to turn it into a full song.

2. jam with these loops, and get a feel for what I want to do with the track.

3. split loops into several main 'sections', using dummy clips and automation where appropriate.

4. record sections into arrange view.

5. fine tune automations, add the break down. more general tweaking.

8. play back. more tweaking.

9. more tweaking

10. render.

11. more tweaking etc etc.
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Post by 5dots » Fri Nov 17, 2006 6:13 pm

When I first started using Live, I did everything in the arrangement view (even, embarassingly, live performances - it was the only thing that made sense to me at the time!). Now I generally make a bunch of loops in session, jam them out into arrangement, and then go back and finagle them into something nicer.

Though the last track I did, after moving things into arrangement and figuring out the overall structure of the song, I played the keyboard lead in realtime (sort of like doing the last track with a four track). It came out really sloppy (because I'm a shitty keyboard player), which sounds really great given the type of song it is - it never would've sounded as good with a loop going the whole time.

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Post by ikke » Fri Nov 17, 2006 6:29 pm

So you folks are using instruments? Or are these session jam sessions MIDI tracks that trigger instrument plugins in Live or HW synth/sampler/etc? Or do you play your hardware samplers/synths as instruments without midi?

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Post by mbenigni » Fri Nov 17, 2006 6:33 pm

I run a guitar and a vocal mic into Live, and the guitar has a MIDI output to trigger synths.

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Post by Poster » Fri Nov 17, 2006 6:37 pm

ikke wrote:So you folks are using instruments? Or are these session jam sessions MIDI tracks that trigger instrument plugins in Live or HW synth/sampler/etc? Or do you play your hardware samplers/synths as instruments without midi?
I'am using hard and soft instruments..
I play them, but always record midi first, then record audio because I'am not trained in playing instruments so i have to do corrections on my playing..

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Post by ikke » Fri Nov 17, 2006 7:00 pm

mbenigni wrote: the guitar has a MIDI output to trigger synths.
How do you set this up? can you do this in Live?

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Post by woodman1200 » Fri Nov 17, 2006 7:17 pm

I do pretty much what everyone else here does.

1. Session View - pile up beats (sample loops) from Apple, Trackteam, Future Music/Computer Music, or internet until I find something I like.

2. Find a bass sound that works with the beats. Operator, Simpler or X-Station. When I record the X-Station onto an audio track, I also record a simultaneous midi track so if I make a "happy accident" while playing, I can reproduce it easily.

3 Add something else. This can be an arpeggio, a pad progression, or just an atmospheric sound - just a background to add to the rythm. This might inspire a melody or cause the bass line to be tweaked som more.

4 Find a lead sound that works well for your melody - this is often dictated by the bass/drums/background.

5 Tweak in Arrangement View. Shorten/lengthen parts. I also make drum fills in arrangement view by manually chopping and re-arranging drum loops.

6 If I want to (hope to) play the song live, then I re-record the bass or melody in real time until I can play it well. The good thing about playing the whole song through is that it may inspire a completely different version of the song.

I know these aren't shining examples, but on my MYSPACE PAGE, "Maschine Haus" and "Inda Haus" are the same songs (with scratch vocals) just played differently.

Good luck,
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Post by Poster » Fri Nov 17, 2006 7:26 pm

woodman1200 wrote:I do pretty much what everyone else here does.

1. Session View - pile up beats (sample loops) from Apple, Trackteam, Future Music/Computer Music, or internet until I find something I like.
why don't you program beats till you find something you like?
just a friendly question though..
not meant to be a 'loops are cheating' flame war starter..

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Post by DJ VAKIS » Fri Nov 17, 2006 8:24 pm

Session view as well.I do all the work here like loops and...........and then i just copy them in to the arrangement and make the track done.
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That's what's so cool about Live...

Post by rasputin » Fri Nov 17, 2006 11:06 pm

...is that you are not armtwisted into working in any particular way. It's great to read so many different methods in this thread, not even to mention how people use it playing live...

I realized when I started with it back in '02 or whenever that it was going to really accelerate the way I worked since working with MIDI was painfully slow for me.

Just something as simple as being able to actually hear changes you make to a work in progress on the fly is sort of amazing in context. Lately I've been reading old electronic music history, when people had to write a program to create a composition (and actually design the sounds using other programs), then create IBM punch card decks containing the programs, submit the card decks to the data center, then the next day take the compiled result over the machine that did the D/A conversion...assuming no compile errors, in which case you would fix the compile error and do the whole process over...man, composers were tough in those days! We have it so astoundingly easy compared to that.

r.

Adonis
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Post by Adonis » Fri Nov 17, 2006 11:22 pm

Lately I've been keeping it simple

one drum to one instance of simpler

kick, snares, claps, hats

all in session view

Once I effect that kind of stuff out I bounce them down to audio tracks

now I have loops

With some clever routing I make a lead line then copy paste into a bassline

some stabs later and maybe a vocal thingy I'm ready to sequence

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