Making Music with Ableton Push
Illustration by John Hersey
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Programming beats using drum racks


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Making Music with Ableton Push

with Yeuda Ben-Atar

Video: Programming beats using drum racks

Ableton Push adjusts itself to your currently selected track, by switching between different modes, as you select different tracks, automatically. The first mode I'd like to show you is Drum Rack mode. Push will switch to Drum Rack mode whenever it detects an armed Midi track with a drum rack. So let's load the Drum Rack preset. I'm going to to into Browse mode, scroll down to Drum Rack, scroll down to Loop Masters, and let's load a preset called Cold Cut.

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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

Programming beats using drum racks

Ableton Push adjusts itself to your currently selected track, by switching between different modes, as you select different tracks, automatically. The first mode I'd like to show you is Drum Rack mode. Push will switch to Drum Rack mode whenever it detects an armed Midi track with a drum rack. So let's load the Drum Rack preset. I'm going to to into Browse mode, scroll down to Drum Rack, scroll down to Loop Masters, and let's load a preset called Cold Cut.

Hit the Load button. (SOUND) In Drum Mode, the main 64 pads grid is divided to three sections. The drum wreck pads, step sequence and controls, and loop length controls. The Drum Rack pads let us play the samples in the drum rack in the same order that appear on the screen. (SOUND) The drum rack pads just like the drum rack device in Live is only showing 16 pads at a time. You can use the touch strip to scroll between pad banks, or alternatively, use the Octave Up, Octave Down buttons.

The Touch Strip also gives us indication to which banks have samples on them. A pad slot with sample would be highlighted in bright yellow, and an empty pad will be highlighted in dark yellow. To load individual drums, click on the device button, hit a pad, and select it using the selection controls, and then hit the Browse button. While browsing, you can hit any pad to load a new sound to that pad (MUSIC) allowing to quickly change into visual sounds in the drum rack.

For that pad, I'm going to load a different hat, the less selected drum rack pad is highlighted in blue and can now be sequenced using the step sequencer controls. I'm going to go down and select my click. A step sequencer will basically give us a visual and physical interaction with our midi clip inside Ableton Live. You can change the step sequence or solution at any time using the grid select tool buttons to select. I am going to hit the high heart sample and choose the eighth note grid. When I turn on the entire first row, I have created one ball with high heads played on the each note.

Note, the sequencer doesn't stop at the first ball and actually gives you four balls. Whenever you start a new pattern, or in other words, create a new clip, Push will populate as many bars as it can to fit into this four eight button rows. According to the selected grid resolution, we got four bars. The loop length can be changed from the loop length control section right here. You can make loops up to a maximum of 16 bars you can edit each individual bar by hitting the pad or selecting a loop length by holding one pad and hitting the other like so. This is two bounce, and this is four bounce.

If we go into life (NOISE) and look at the clip, we can see that it's 16 bounce, 4 bounce and I can also edit individual bounce. Let's go back to two bars. Let's create a drum beat using the step sequencer. I create a two bar clip, but first I'll change the master tempo using the dedicated knob. (SOUND) And if you want to change it in small increments, you can hold Shift and move the tempo knob.

I'm going to delete the high hats. Let's change it to 16 and start with a kick. (SOUND) Let's play some notes. (SOUND) Let's hit play. (MUSIC) (INAUDIBLE) the snare. (MUSIC) And some hi-hats. (MUSIC) Notice that you can add or remove multiple notes at once and therefore each note division you also have its triplets division labeled with the note value and a small t.

In triplet grid, Push will color the last two columns in red giving us only six pads on h, o, eighth note triplets, 16 note triplets. So the Push gives us complete control over Drum Rack. And has the added functionality of step sequencing just like the old school drum machines like the TR808 and the (INAUDIBLE) drum. With the power of step sequencing in Drum Rack mode, on the Push, you can make beats on the fly and you don't have to play them live.

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