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Dynamic mixing using automation

From: Up and Running with Ableton Live 9

Video: Dynamic mixing using automation

If we think of an old-school mixing engineer working on a big analog mixer disc, we think of an active mixing process. When building the track, the mixing engineer does not simply adjust the volume, panning, EQ, and compression and sits back; he moves the faders according to the song energy, creating a dynamic mix that would carry the energy of the song with more impact. You can choose to go the old-school way and record your volume automations using a MIDI controller or edit them in manually into automation lanes.

Dynamic mixing using automation

If we think of an old-school mixing engineer working on a big analog mixer disc, we think of an active mixing process. When building the track, the mixing engineer does not simply adjust the volume, panning, EQ, and compression and sits back; he moves the faders according to the song energy, creating a dynamic mix that would carry the energy of the song with more impact. You can choose to go the old-school way and record your volume automations using a MIDI controller or edit them in manually into automation lanes.

Let's go to the Arrangement view and first, I am going to open up the Guitar group. Under Guitar, I am going to open up the automation lane, expand it, and I am going to click on the Track Volume so Live will jump to the automation lane of the Track Volume. Then I am going to zoom in on the intro and make kind of a fade-in. So, create a breakpoint by clicking, create another breakpoint by clicking somewhere else. Everything is now highlighted, so let's click into background just to deselect and take the first breakpoint down.

(music playing) Let's listen to that. (music playing) I am going to do the same thing with the Reverse Guitar, so clicking on the Track Volume to jump to the Automation lane of the Track Volume, creating a breakpoint, creating another break point. I am going to take it down. Remember, you can also add a curve between two break points by holding Option or Alt.

Let's close the Guitar group. Now I am going to open up the Drums group, and this time I am going to automate the group Track Volume, so let's click on the Volume. We see it jumps to the Mixer. Track Volume. I am going to fade it out right before other elements of the Drums come into play together, so creating three breakpoints and taking it down. Let's listen. (music playing) We can also go to the Master track automations, expand them, and choose Song Tempo. So we can automate the song's tempo.

Let's go to the end of the song, create a breakpoint, create another one to slow it down towards the end, and we can see the timeline change according to the new tempo. So, let's play it. (music playing) You can automate the track's volume and panning, as well as effects. For example, you can automate the bass compressor and EQ to give more punch in the chorus.

You can even add a filter delay to affect only the last phase of the vocals. Dynamic mixing can add more impact to your song and help carry the energy between the different segments. I recommend using a MIDI controller, hitting the Global Record button, and recording the real-time changes in volume and panning. You can always undo and rerecord or edit everything later. So, just because we are making music in the computer doesn't mean we cannot bring the old-school magic.

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Up and Running with Ableton Live 9

33 video lessons · 5029 viewers

Yeuda Ben-Atar
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