Making Music with Ableton Push
Illustration by John Hersey

Humanizing beats


From:

Making Music with Ableton Push

with Yeuda Ben-Atar

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Video: Humanizing beats

Using Drum mode, we aren't limited to sequencing drums in a straight square manner, like old school drum machines. But you can also easily humanize the individual notes or steps of your beats, check it out. I'll load the drum rack, by going to Browse, going to Drum Rack, and scrolling to Loopmasters. I'm going to load a preset called Classic Records. Let's load preset, let's select the high hat sound by pressing it once.
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Watch the Online Video Course Making Music with Ableton Push
1h 46m Appropriate for all Aug 01, 2013

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Imagine making digital music without having to touch or even look at your computer. The future is here with the Ableton Push, which allows you to compose melodies and basslines, make beats, arrange music, mix and master your tracks, and perform live—all from an intuitive, touch-sensitive interface. Join author and DJ Yeuda Ben-Atar, aka Side Brain, for an introduction to creating and performing music with Push.

First, Yeuda demystifies the many trigger pads, knobs, and buttons on the Push and shows how to map the device to Ableton Live. Next, learn to browse and load sounds and create drumbeats with the step sequencer. Humanize the sound of these beats by changing individual note velocity, length, and position and adding in quantization and swing. Then, learn to play Push like a pitched instrument, and use it to remotely control a Live set and Live devices. Along the way, Yeuda offers valuable lessons about basic music theory—concepts like notes, chords, scales, and time signature—that will make your experience with Push more rewarding.

Topics include:
  • What is Ableton Push?
  • Browsing and loading sounds
  • Programming beats
  • Recording drums in real time
  • Adding quantization and swing
  • Controlling the mixer
  • Controlling Live devices
  • Adding custom LED feedback
  • Step sequencing melodies
  • Browsing and loading third-party plugins
Subject:
Audio + Music
Software:
Ableton Live
Author:
Yeuda Ben-Atar

Humanizing beats

Using Drum mode, we aren't limited to sequencing drums in a straight square manner, like old school drum machines. But you can also easily humanize the individual notes or steps of your beats, check it out. I'll load the drum rack, by going to Browse, going to Drum Rack, and scrolling to Loopmasters. I'm going to load a preset called Classic Records. Let's load preset, let's select the high hat sound by pressing it once.

(SOUND) Then, I'll change the grid resolution to 16 and I'll press all eight buttons across the four rows to create a simple 16 note high hat pattern over two bars. (MUSIC) Right now this pattern sounds very straight, you can tell its sitting right on the musical grid. Let me show you how to introduce some variation to these notes to humanize them a bit.

Push allows us to change the velocity, which is the volume of each note, length of the note, with more fine tuning than actual rhythm note values, and also notes position on the grid mean you can nudge them left or right. Now, if you click and hold on one of the pads, the display shows three options nudge, note length, and velocity. If you still changing the velocity, you can see the shade of blue getting lighter or darker.

If you look at the clip in Live, while changing the velocity, you can see change as well. If you change it in Live, it will also change on the Push. You can do the same for Note Length. Once again, this does not set the note value by a determined good resolution, but rather allows you to do a small adjustments to your notes duration. It's important to point out, that when change in a note length this will not always change the sound, depending on the sound's volume envelope.

Which can be located under the device the sample is playing from. By default, any audio file that you drop on a Drum Rack, will be placed inside a simpler device. In the simpler, you can change the volume envelope using the attack, decay, sustain, and release parameters. You can nudge the note slightly off the grid to create your own groove, and you can also select multiple notes at a time and nudge them all together.

So, let's create a more groovy high hat pattern by adjusting velocities and nudging the notes slightly to create a shuffled rhythm feeling. To save time, I'm going to hit and hold four pads at a time, and adjust the velocity while I hold them. (SOUND) If you want to change any of these parameters for every instance of this pad's sound in your pattern, hold the Select button while pressing and holding the Pad, and then you can let go of the Select button. You'll see the same values on the display.

This will also allow you to select the pad without actually playing the sound, which is very useful feature for making beats live on stage. You don't want your audience to hear you messing around with your sounds. You just want to start sequencing them. Finally, you can solo or mute pads by holding the Mute or Solo button. (SOUND) And that's also solo. Soloed and muted pads will be highlighted in dark blue when focused, and in orange when not focused. You can also mute individual steps in your sequence, as well, by using the same method.

(SOUND) As you can all the see using the step sequence in push is a great way to make beats on the fly, but it also give you precision control without the need to touch your computer.

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