30 Days | 001

This is the first track of the 30 day challenge.
This track came as a pleasant surprise based on just getting up and going.

 

I was sitting on the couch watching tv and then stopped to take a break. I told myself I should get up, so I did. While I was up and about, I had a little percussion loop stuck in my head at a certain bpm. I decided to act and I headed up to my music room to put some ideas down.

 

 

Process

I started with just the tempo, which was a different start than normal. I tapped it into Ableton and then moved to the drum kit. In my head I heard this little rhythm and I tried to find the sound I was going for which ended up being on the snare rim. I used my laptop sleeve to mute some of the low end and overtones from the snare. I looped the snare-rim groove and then made this muted snare loop, which turned out really nice. Next came the main snare hit which is pretty straightforward and then the reversed snare to add some texture.

With the percussion looping I moved to add some synth sounds. I’m new to Ableton synths (and synths in general) so I stuck to some presets which are somewhat unhelpful since they’re mostly geared towards EDM type stuff which isn’t exactly my style. This preset I found works, but overall doesn’t really fit with the song BUT it did give me a starting point to build on so I left it in the track. I was feeling burnt out on the synth so I moved to my guitar rig for inspiration. I added the rhythm guitar part, the low end guitar and finally the lead line on top. After that I moved back to the drum kit to create a larger break and end the song.

Once I recorded all the parts I got a little stuck since I didn’t know where to take it next. I moved over to a different app to start writing and take a break. That was helpful. I decided to just take all the stuff I had recorded and arrange it all to make a complete track, and that’s exactly what I did. As I finished up the arrangement, I did some tiny mix edits and automation work and then called it done.

 

Lessons learned

Here are some good take aways from the track and some things I need to work on:

  1. The drum buss plugin in Ableton is really, really good and simple to use. That really shaped the entire drum sound since I only used one overhead for the whole kit
  2. I need to work on synthesis, especially getting good sounds that fit my sound/style, maybe even making my own sound library that I can pull from for inspiration. I’m new at this so I’m having to tell myself to take it easy. I’ve been playing drums and guitar for years and have done a lot of research on how to get good sounds out of them. I’m new to synths (and that’s okay), I just need to be patient and know that making great synth sounds isn’t just going to happen overnight.
  3. I’ve found a system for making these tracks. I started by just looping everything in session view and letting it play. I would add different parts layered on top then take a section from the middle and let it loop. I kept doing that as I went until I got to the big, main break of the song then I stopped. From there I took all of what I already recorded and put it together to make the track. It was a really different way to make music and I think only Ableton can really work that way. It was nice just playing and staying in the groove as I added parts, there wasn’t a whole lot of stop and start which kept the musical ideas flowing. I’m hoping to try and even expand this method in future tracks.

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