Physics of Music


Ableton Tips and Tricks


Lesson Info

Physics of Music

We're gonna go right into the applied physics for music and talk about the science of sound and music. So, uh, we measure volume in decibels we measure pitch with frequency or like a note, value or scale degree um there's a bunch of different measurements, the able ten uses uh the way that we're going to control things externally in the way the way that I'm controlling this presentation is with midi using the push controller. This is a quarterback control and the send many messages many stands for musical instrument digital interface, and it was invented thirty one years ago and it's been around for quite some time. It's a fairly simple protocol. It works, um in a bolton ableto handles about sixteen channels of midi and each one of those channels has one hundred twenty eight note messages are that would be you could think of them represented on a piano roll. There's one hundred twenty eight note messages there and there's all send off on and off message and velocity value and are able ...

to receives that depends on your keyboard on the different values that it might receive. There's also another kind of parameter in many kal sec or control change and cc values there's actually there's believe there's six there's one hundred twenty eight different ccs on each of the sixteen channels so and each one of those species has a value of one hundred twenty eight different values, so if I were to start at the bottom of a dial, so my frequency is all the way down, it would be a value zero if it was all the way up, the value would be one hundred twenty seven's for a total of one hundred twenty eight different values, so basically it steps in increments of of zero to one, twenty seven. So you've got most of the communication you'll be using from your many devices will be either at cc message or a ah note message. Um, one thing to note is that if you're using a cc assigned to a button by default, enable tone, that is a momentary message. Momentary stuff is really cool because you going to sign that to something like the on off oven effects rack or an effect on audio effect? And just when you press that button, that effect will be on, and when you release it, it will go off, so it eliminates this toggling motion and you can do more things with one hand simultaneously, which is nice when you're actually trying to play an instrument um, so there are a few different parameters of that we can control and these air pitch, tambor amplitude or volume dynamic. The stereo field and how it plays back and the sense of space that we get, and also time which can also be represented or thought of as a rhythm uh, so first we're going to talk about pitch and, uh ableto um is if you're working an operator or in clip mode you're you can adjust either semi tones or half steps actually me some itunes which are half steps meaning it's in a chromatic mode, it's the next to each other, so basically all the notes or just one ah whole step would be half step there would be no half step and then whole step so there's one note in between there's a half step in between the original note and the whole step up so someone turns or just half steps and a scent would be one one hundredth of a semi tone. And if we look at a an audio clip and you can actually adjust in your transposed ill and that's in semi talyn's, and then you can also d tune and sense so you can go on a very granular level, so it goes down to fifth negative fifty you can go half a cent or half a half step on there's also what they call course and fine tunings in an operator in some of the soft sense and those air ratio based so it's based on the frequency that your early note that you're playing so you you know I'll show you a quick demo off operator I'm just going to turn off our filter and lfo and I'm going to bring up this decay so it is just a c major scale there and the course and fine tunings can be found and they also later the course tunings just take you up through the but it's got a real step e kind of sound to it so unless you want that step he kind of like jumpy effect then this isn't probably the something that you would automate her modulate as much you probably want to do something that has more of a glide to it fine does have ah and so and it's just ah fine it's basically just a fine tuning of the pitch which is this and these air smoke that's a smaller increments then the course tinning so pitch is also pitches a measured in frequency and a bolton is all the instruments are tuned to the standard tuning of four forty and the note of a um you can also use envelopes and lf owes to modulate pitch so if I go turn on my lfo and I route the destination to oscillator eh it will give us an lfo squelch it's probably really allowed turn that down a little bit for you ah on and you can actually add a pitch envelope ah so what's happening here is this pitch envelope it's basically an automation theo it's modulating the break about our so I'm going to save that that's pretty cool might use that later I like the black ops so let's call that blab and you can save patches by just clicking on the little disco icon at the top of right of any effects or instruments that are in mableton and you can also save patches for previous vsd little virtual instruments or audio units so there are also some frequency and pitch oriented audio effects that frequency shift and resonator so looks like I've got a frequency shifter here so I'm gonna turn off that telephone e I know this is a way the frequency with frequency shifter shifter is that is kind of more of an effect um I feel like it has some kind of weird a little bit of weird alias sing and like artifacts in there it's definitely got its own character teo and I'll use it on stuff like risers like at the end of a phrase or something on a sound that's kind of going off the rails or something um I kind of avoid it with like the sounds that I want to be like really pristine and like they're in president and stuff like a lead sound or like a bass sound or hard hitting drums or something like that I don't really use frequency shift that much on stuff like that just because it feel like it's got some kind of wonky walking us through it it's really cool though for like um modulating river bs on the bus or stuff like that more of like sound effects that are a little bit more background and so that another pitch effect would be a resonator and written millman see so what I'll do is what you can do is you basically khun set the root note and you can create some harmonics of accord and these air the different intervals um excuse me these air that these air intervals so this is three semi tones up eso if we're in a a minor key this would be the third scale degree of the minor key in c minor and this the seven semi turns away from the the or the tonic note in c minor would be the perfect fifth or the so we could play that back well actually I think are sent this currently mano phonic which I will change by adding more voices so that this's basically what without the resonator if you're playing the three notes you're just playing the route now eh so it's generating those the theme three third scale degree and the fifth skilled agree is generating those harmonics so it's kind of got a little bit of ah vir be space thing to it going on it's pretty cool I I got some interesting results with with a really resonant bass sound that it recently that I wasn't really it wasn't big enough in the spectrum and it added these upper harmonics to it that we're still really smooth and nice and it just just added that residence and it was a really cool effect so um I it's not something I've used a ton but it's it is a really cool in a plan on using it more so resonator and you can just basically generate any, um the harmonics that you specify and up tio uh well I guess it's like you can basically generate up to five additional harmonics it doesn't I have to be um the written it that you're generating when you could you could just change the route here in the first one and then there's also glide and port aumento so we had a little glad earlier ah and our ah arpeggio example you couldn't push the time up on that so in operator goliad is in this pitch envelope section so there's basically just four different what sort of amplification and filtering lfo and pitch sections here and you can go in and adjust things like um like glide so glide is traditionally glide between two different notes and portmanteau his cords seems like the definition is pretty loose so that's what is determined as glide and operator is also had also glides chords as well okay, so next we're going to talk about amplitude and basically this is a re occurring the the onset duration falloff is this is a recurring thing you'll see it almost every instrument, whether it's a sampler or in a soft sent and it has to do with how the sound hits, how it were, how if it goes like the length of the time between the hit and the volume level that it actually sustains that so that's the decay because it could be going down or it could go up because that you're the initial part of the sound could be this really abrupt like punchy nous and then the volume the sound can go down and then the decay would be up the will decay we usually think of is going down, but it could be up or down and then the sustain is the volume in which the sound sustains at for the man duration and when you release the note there's a release value right and that really is basically just it's almost like a tale or kind of has like a, um a little like a delayed fall off almost like a rebirth river bish sounding effect to it so we'll go in and play with that real quick right now really flat, so wait slow the attack and now I'm gonna bring bring in the sustained valued down on now I'm just like I'm bringing you gotta fall off and basically a sustained by of zero and then when I released the value the note value now it just stops instantly, but if I extended, this is really fun for some sort of bouncy, bouncy techno baselines if you've got, like, some pitch glide going on and, um, a little bit of some release there it can be it can be a lot of fun, maybe a little too much released, we'll bring that down, you can use some residents or maybe even change it really popular one is using something a little bit more harmonics like a square sounds weird that's because our feedbacks up way dance we're going so, you know, there's a lot of character in the in the attack desiccated sustaining the release or the you know, on separation of fall off, um, so you'll find that and almost any soft sent or, uh, or sampler and sometimes you can also, um well, you can also automate those values over time, which is really cool effect um and you can also you can also use envelopes like that toe artemis, other values so something that you could you going to sign an l a photo like we did, um and you can also call the pitch envelope here an operator can be assigned to control other things like rape and that's not necessarily a pitch effect that it's doing its just using that the shape of that envelope, which is that traditional attack decay sustained release envelope and you can basically with operator you can just assign that to other values that would be in destination b and your routing there. Ok, so we're going to talk about tambor next and there's a bunch of different frequencies that make up a sound and the fundamental frequency is the loudest usually the lower pitch one of the lowest pitches in the sound it's some sounds do you have a sub harmonic it's? Not quite as loud, but for the most part the fundamental frequency is the loudest lowest pitch of the sound on other other sounds in in in a sound or other frequencies are usually within something called the overtown siri's and it's basically a series of of frequencies that harmonize perfectly with that frequency and usually they're in either an active or perfect fifth interval and its reference the chart so uh there's also some sort of radical frequencies and there's also noise and there's all kinds of stuff and sounds, and the unique parts of of that makes them a different sound or a different temper and that's what defines the timber that's what makes ah saxophone sound different than the guitar. And I mean, it's also has to do with the way that those frequencies come on or the attack for the way that they fall off and that kind of thing. S o um yeah, so different instruments and different recording techniques. They all have these these characters of different frequencies and in different in different volume dynamics. And this all goes back to the concept of each instrument or each sound having its own place in the mix. And also recording techniques can can lend itself to that. A drum mike from the nineteen fifties, um, going to an analog tape had a lot different distortion and sound or noise curve than then say something recorded today. So using a diverse palate of sounds and tempers that come from a a range of recording techniques is a really awesome way to get a lot to get a nice palate going and to get sounds interacting. Interestingly, so keeping it, keeping the variety there will benefit. And then and I I suggest keeping a lot of color and a lot of ready and then subtracting and figuring out ways to subtract that work with the interaction of each sound, and that goes back to the color, the tone color or the character of the sound that's that's september is okay, so, uh our next slide is o r next part is we're talking about the stereo field and how you will mix sounds and how how we perceive things. So all kinds of theories about psycho acoustics the way that we can control and able to know is that we have control over, like, how far left something can go far, right? If it can sit sort of in the middle in there or dead in the middle there's there's certain sounds like the kick drum and the snare drum and the vocals that you want in the middle, the effects of those could be super wide, or they could be affected or they can have motion, but those those and the base I really need to live in the middle of the mix because there's all kinds of playback systems that that you can, you can you could be on, and you never know how someone is playing back your music, so you want to mix it with that in mind so that it sounds good on every system or at least the parts that are really important in your music to play back. So this figure is is a visualization of the stereo field, and you can see they've they've sort of set it up like a clock position and I like to think of I like to sort of try to visualize um you know my stereo field with instruments and place them in their own spots and especially if if there's stuff that lives in the same frequency range trying to put the in the unique places um now phasing can actually make things depending on the phase you can use an effect called a phaser andi that basically shifts the period of of the way of meaning the the the crest and the trough khun b slid over back and forth and you can you can change the perception of sound you can also de tune some sounds and in a soft sent and that will give a wider effect to a sound so you khun you can also play with, you know, putting the emphasis on the the wit or the wide face parts of the sound and you can use an effect called utility for that. So right now at one hundred percent that is that's in the middle and as we go all the way to two hundred percent that'll push us to that outermost points of the phase and you almost can't even hear that somebody set that back to zero because that has that gives us the parts of the sound that air in the middle and on the outside and we can also use uh auto pen thiss gives us the motion back and forth left to right and you can actually shift the face an auto pen s and now it's actually just ah volume modulation because the faa's air lined up there and when they're perfectly you know they're basically going and not just the visual representation suggests you can you can also make things feel whiter with reverb um I like to put some reverb on the top ends of my sounds it really kind of gives you that dimension expansion feeling in sound and you can play with the motion of the sounds that are critical to be in the middle of your mix and it's really interesting with effects like auto pen and you can also do that in your timeline and arrangement you with automation there okay, so we'll talk about space and a great way tio to affect the space is river bond we talked a little bit already about using reverb on your return bus. One thing that really changed the game and how good my tracks air sounding as faras like the mixed down goes in the way that everything fit into the mix is when I started using different river bs that had some different stereo effects or they had different spaces in the next want someone don't left some on the right somehow the long tail some had short tails I started using a little bit of a rove of a variety of those to give each sounds sort of their own space in their own reverberation and uh reverb is just a it's a really smooth, pleasant sound and it's it's nice and I it helps a lot with with percussion and drum sounds and I you know, giving the sense of of space in the mix so experiment fearlessly with river it's your friend I like I said I often use a parallel the return bus you don't want to use a ton of instant river because that we'll just add up and they'll eat your cpu so there are there is a river of effect actually I'm gonna I'm going to jump in to it real quick when I go back to our piano break down again so have a standard over if you're just starting off with playing with reverb the two things to play around with are your two k time and you're dry wet these two parameters um well basically make it really huge and really sustained and long and drastic on but also play either so the driveway actually if you're using it as an insert effect when you bring that down to fifty percent that means it's a it's it's fully parallel so that means you're getting the original part of you got half of the signal going to the master channel and which is the original sound and then the effect is also sending its signal to the affected sound, too. So it's it's technically parallel when you use the driveway. Um, but it's and it's not well, I don't know if it's technically parallel, but it's it's not, um it allows some of the original sound to come through the mix like you would, um, if you were using it as a parallel effect on the return bus and said, I prefer just to use my river bs on the return bus and I usually run them pretty much all away wet, and unless I'm dialing that in for some reason and it just sounds good, then the next effect, if you've got max for live, which is really awesome, is the convolution, reverb and convolution. Reverb is really interesting because it works with, uh, these sort of audio snapshots called impulse responses, and it generates reverb effects based on the shapes, lengths and durations, or the sense that you know, the sort of attack to k sustain envelope of these impulse responses that that you have and you can load your own impulse responses and there's a huge variety of them, and they're all really unique and interesting sounding s o um, I've been finding this is now my go to river is the convolution river pro because has such a broad and unique selection of river bs that sound really great um and that comes with max for a live it's ah it's available on the able to website for free so uh next we're going to move on to two time and so one of the things that I've noticed about contemporary music and newer elektronik music is that a lot of times there's either on ly one sound hitting at a time in the sequence um or that sound is highly prioritized in the mix with something like a side chain effect that makes the other sounds duck out so there's a big emphasis now on creating about our about letting a sound hit one of the time and whether you're using it aside chain effect which there's a variety of um it doesn't have to be compression um or you're just choosing tio and in your composition composition stage if you're choosing to when you're making the choice of the sounds if you choose not to let sounds of a similar frequency range hit simultaneously, then you'll run into a lot less issues like frequency masking and you'll also uh each sound will have its own place in the mix. So, um if you can't get it to work and the other spaces are another in the pitcher and uh you know, with with other volume automation or modulation or or stereo field uh you might need to change the real over the timing of the sound another way to do this is with track delay um so track delay is a feature you can confined it over here in your view pain in your hide view menu on the right it's close the bottom it's d and I think the best example of track delays recent we're with the elvis song ain't nothing but a hound dog ok most people are um then elvis is ahead in the band on that track the yank it zit almost sounds like they can't keep up with all this because he's just such a fast thinker and it's cool because he's like charging and it's like it has this uh the sense of urgency to it and it really adds that emotional dynamic well um elvis is like literally ahead of the band I mean that's and that's why so if I were to have recorded elvis in that session and he was in time with the band and I wanted to push him ahead I might use track delay to do that and I could actually um I would give it a negative value so I would probably bring it down down about ten milliseconds that's probably the about about as far ahead of the band is as almost wass what's amazing about this is that we can pretty much hear a shift of ten milliseconds meaning um like uh oh yes that would be uh wait we can hear a very, very small increments of sound visually we we complete emotion at thirty frames a second easily, but saudi audio is more we have is more sensitive way can we can hear far far many more snapshots of audio in a second thousands even then we can visually so track delay can help you adjust the phase of the wave or sounds if they're if they're getting some frequency masking or something like that or you just want to push us a song sound ahead in the mix trucked away can do that for you sometimes I'll do use it with a baseline to sort of put it in the pocket a little bit if it's competing with a kick drum um or you can cite chain that kind of thing um and these are some of the sunshine effects of course there's compressor there's also a sighting gate meaning it actually literally just makes the other sound duck when over the other son hits that you can set up that priority of that sort of master slave relationship with the sounds and you can also flip or inverse it. So um let's see, I've actually got an example here ah, so I'm actually gonna shift tone of this just that we have a lot of contrast let's see where I'm at my sequence prayer move this over here, okay well, happy hardcore and kwon ties those like so off that actually wasn't qantas very well so I'm gonna go in here and actually was it looks pretty good gonna fix this last note just slide it over so I'm gonna go in here and turn that sound on and I have my second sent over here and I'm going to drop in a gate citing a gay and will cite chainat so good audio effects gate and I will expand the gate effect initialize the site chain and I must say you're going to take audio from physics one sent one lower the threshold here without the gate that's modulating the volume of that were transforming inverted so that's no on the peas so jeffrey, if we were to slow down and wait give us sort of a house you know, some people get the same effect with compression I feel like this gates this get effect is really clean and nice so uh and then there's other effects that you can aside shannon it and you can decide chain and able to the audio filter is really great. You can you can filter out certain frequencies and um and it and emphasize them when another sound drops there's also corpus, which is kind of like a combination of a resonator it's a really wild effect that will take a closer look out later and there's also glue compressor, which is it's, a compressor that has a little bit different character and the standard able to compressor and now there's multi band dynamics, which is provides up high, mid and low um inputs so the frequency is is actually split. And you khun you khun site chain this effect as well. Okay, so next up is the user interface tour so let's hear the arrangement and session views that we've talked about this a little bit already. And with it, when you hit the tab button, it will actually take you between these two, which will probably be doing quite a bit of um and, uh, you know, like I said before session mode is represented vertically arrangement mode is represented horizontally. I like to keep track of them with the track numbers here. That's the easiest way for me if I'm like, ok, I want to do all this and sherman and but I want to do it with a session view I can liken tab over, find the track and I think the mixer is in the session view. So I find the if I'm there may be adjusting the volume or something like that, I often do it in session view uh, so I will tap back over and adjust it that way

Class Description

Ableton Live is the most efficient platform for electronic music production for djs, producers and sound designers. DJ and producer, Andrew Luck will take you through some of the coolest, and most commonly overlooked, features in Ableton Live.

In Ableton Tips and Tricks, Andrew will walk you through sound design using Ableton Instruments, mastering both Sampler and Simpler to bring real-world audio samples into your production. You’ll also learn about some of the less intuitive features of Session View including, Impulse, Clip Launching and Slice to MIDI.

If you're a new Ableton user and are ready to start using the platform like a pro, Andrew Luck's tips and tricks will help you brush up on those next-level skills.