Building background parts with the Chord and Scale effects
Video: Building background parts with the Chord and Scale effectsOftentimes you need additional background parts to add depth to a song. Let's take a look at Live's chord and scale effects and see how they can be used to quickly create simple background parts, and also see how they can be combined with other devices to create interesting effects. So I am going to go to the Live Device browser and locate my MIDI Effects, and I am going to grab the chord effect, and I am going to drag this down onto this brass track. Now remember, that MIDI effects have to be added before the virtual instrument. So if I try and drag this and put this over here on the right of the instrument, or on the output, you'll see that we get that warning message down in the bottom that tells us, "Insert MIDI effects before instruments." Go back over there.
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Ableton Live 8 Essential Training with Rick Schmunk offers a comprehensive overview of Ableton's live audio and MIDI sequencing software and the techniques required to compose, record, and edit music, in real time, on stage, or in the studio. The course includes tutorials on compiling live sets from audio and MIDI clips, loops, or samples, applying MIDI effects, warping audio, and recording and producing songs in any number of contemporary styles. Exercise files are included with the course.
- Putting together a DAW system
- Setting up Ableton preferences
- Importing and exporting content
- Recording MIDI
- Editing and quantizing MIDI data
- Recording audio
- Recording in Arrangement view
- Using sends and returns in the Live Mixer
- Grouping tracks
- Signal processing
- Creating and editing automation envelopes
- Using fades to mask audio pops and clicks
- Looping and warping audio clips
- Mapping device controls to a MIDI keyboard
- Working with virtual instruments
- Integrating Live with Pro Tools and Logic
Building background parts with the Chord and Scale effects
Oftentimes you need additional background parts to add depth to a song. Let's take a look at Live's chord and scale effects and see how they can be used to quickly create simple background parts, and also see how they can be combined with other devices to create interesting effects. So I am going to go to the Live Device browser and locate my MIDI Effects, and I am going to grab the chord effect, and I am going to drag this down onto this brass track. Now remember, that MIDI effects have to be added before the virtual instrument. So if I try and drag this and put this over here on the right of the instrument, or on the output, you'll see that we get that warning message down in the bottom that tells us, "Insert MIDI effects before instruments." Go back over there.
It turns gold, and I can let it go. So the chord effect is pretty simple. I have a number of Shift knobs here that I can actually transpose an incoming pitch. So, if I grab one of these, I'll put that up +2. And by the way, this is in half steps. So now if I hold down a note, I should hear the note and a note one whole step above it. (Music playing.) I will move that up another couple. I should get a major 3rd if I am on four steps. (Music playing.) And I can continue adding more pitches either above or below.
In this one, I will go up +7, which is going to be a perfect 5th above the original pitch. So now, I am going to get the original pitch, a major 3rd above it, and a perfect 5th above it. (Music playing.) I can also take one of these and move it below the original pitch. So, if I might want to double one of the notes that I have already got, I can grab this and move it down. So if I want to get a 5th below, that would be minus five steps. Now, I'll have the note, a major 3rd, a perfect 5th above, and a perfect 5th below.
(Music playing.) Now below that I have a velocity setting that allows me to kind of fine-tune how loud each note is contributing to the chord that I am creating. So that lower note is actually fairly dominant, so I can bring that back a little bit. And then I can dial up a little more level on the top note, so that the melody stands out just a little bit more. Let's see what that sounds like. (Music playing.) Okay, that's a little bit more balanced. So I can do that with up to six different notes, and there are a number of different presets available in the Chord, MIDI Effect category here.
So I have got chords that are like Debussy and so on and so forth. And there's a number more of these that you can actually download from the Internet. So by itself, the Chord plug-in is pretty interesting, and it allows me to play one note on the keyboard but generate an entire chord. I can also use that in combination with other MIDI effects. And in this case, I am going to go to the Scale MIDI effect plug-in, and I am going to drag the C Major preset and put that on the track after the Chord plug-in. Now as we first take a look at this, I am actually going to disable the Chord plug-in.
We will bring it back in a second. So right here, I have got a matrix that defines, when I play a note, what note will actually be output. So if I play the note C, you see that that lights up, and I get the note C. But this row right here would correspond with C sharp, and if I play C sharp, it's actually going to transpose it back down and play the note C. Just to show you that. So I am playing a C# there. If I play D, I will get a D. If I play a D#, I am actually still going to get a D.
Now, if I go ahead and turn on the Chord plug-in, now when I play this, I am actually going to be generating a chord that is going to go into this C Major Scale preset. So if I play a C chord that should all work out fine. (Music playing.) And you can hear it generating the C Chord. But if I go to play the note D, I'm telling it in the Chord plug-in that I want to transpose it up +4 steps, or a major 3rd. And in this case, I would need to generate an F#. But in my Scale plug-in, it's been decided here that when I play the note F#, I'm actually going to get an F.
(Music playing.) So where I have got the Chord plug-in to actually generate a major triad, by adding this Scale plug-in after that, I can force the notes into a key, and in some cases, I will actually end up with a minor triad. So in this case, I'll get C major when I play a C, D minor when I play a D, E minor when I play an E, and F major when I play an F, so on and so forth, all of the chords that are part of the C major scale. Now I can transpose the base of that so that I get different scales.
So even though I'm in a C Major scale, I can transpose that so that I am actually in a different key. And now I would do the same thing. I would actually be in a D major scale. So there's D major. If I go down to C, I am actually going to get a C# diminished chord. Now in addition to that, there is several scale presets that we can use besides C major. So I have got C minor. I have even got C pentatonic. Let me pull that one out. And now whatever I play is going to be forced into just that particular scale.
You can see that there is less notes available. (Music playing.) So you can actually change what will happen here by clicking and changing the notes. So when I play F, I'll get an F, or I get an F#, so on and so forth. All right, so I am going to bring back out the C major preset, and I am going to set this to one of my favorites, which is more based upon 5ths. And then I'm going to add in our Arpeggiator effect after the C major scale plug-in.
So now what's going to happen is I am going to play a note, it will come through the Chord plug-in which will generate additional three notes, then it will go into the Scale plug-in which will force any notes played in to the C major scale, and then it will hit the Arpeggiator, which will break up the chord into a rhythmic pattern. So I am going to set this. I will try Converge & Diverge. I am going to set the gate to 16th note, so it's going to pulsate, or create a rhythm, at 16th notes. I am also going to turn the velocity on, so that I get velocity changing over time.
In this case, I will make it get quieter. Now, I'll set a little bit longer decay. And now on the brass track, if I go over to the MIDI Editor, you can see that I have already recorded notes here. So I have got a C then a F, then a G, back down to an F, and that's going to generate a little bit of a chord progression at the same time that we get this drum pattern that I have got on the second track here. So let's go back, and let's check out what this sounds like. (Music playing.) Stop those clips, and I'll play them both at the same time now.
(Music playing.) So by themselves, the chord and scale effects seems simple; but when combined, the possibilities are endless.
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