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Fast Songwriting In Ableton Live

Lesson 5 of 18

Creating a Template in Ableton Live

Isaac Cotec

Fast Songwriting In Ableton Live

Isaac Cotec

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Lesson Info

5. Creating a Template in Ableton Live

Lesson Info

Creating a Template in Ableton Live

What is the template? What does it matter? Template is a way to prepare your workflow and it's this awesome thing within live, which means as soon as you open it up, it is the template that you've created, so it means when you the second you open up alive, it is a prepared project that lets you just instantly start working on your music. This is a great way to have all the tools that you use all the time it's also really good for setting up let's say you have a moog er, slim fatty or something that you use. You can set up the routing and save a template, so every time you open it up, it has that if you're finding yourself doing the same thing over and over and over let's, shave off at ten minutes of your work time so that you never have to do it again and you'll produce a lot faster and feel a lot more creative. Also, you can have everything in its place and ready to go when you start a song. There are few things that help us create a good template, their color coding, adding group's u...

nderstanding return tracks in and out routing as well as re sampling tracks I'm going to go over this in the creation of a template so let's get to it. All right, so the idea here is if I open up a new life set this is what it is naturally right completely blank slate well see um so here's my production template which you will also get with this course. So if you get this course you're going to get I think it's six gigs of files it's a lot this is the most I have ever given away like one hundred dollars in just live sets and stuff because I sell us on my site for twenty bucks but your guys are going to get it if you get the course from creative live on dh also going to show you just how to build these things so you're not well lying on this either but here's an example of template and this template has all these return tracks which are effects that I like to use they're all right here and let me, uh shrink the return tracks so you can see and then here are all my different groups so I have my textures melody, my harmony and so on and it's just ready for me to use in my production as soon as I opened up this template I can say ok let's add um harmony and start building it out and because it's so simple I could just come in here open up my sends send them to my different effects that I like to use right so it's ending to this delay and now I can affect the delay way makes it very easy in my production especially if they're the same things I used over and over right so let's build this from scratch all right here's a blank slate right? Well me personally a little organization goes a long way in my production and I like to think of things as these eight groups let me see if I haven't even sure I don't have that angel in there but I like to think of things is groups of eight because basically minnie like I don't know who decided this but almost everything has eight right like launchpad there's a huge list of controllers that just to use eight rows because of that I do eight groups because it easily translates over into my life set which uses eight and I just used ate over and over and over it's just very easy so I will generally start with it groups what I mean by that is all have let's say this is uh melody so I right click and a group it group track and then I will call this melody so all maimane melodies my lead lines everything is in this group now things sound better when they're color coded it is a fact I've studied this for years uh surges color it and I have my own coloring system because of my life said because of my I don't know having knobs that air colorized just helps me a lot so I have a standardized color thing that I do which is melodies will be blue let me just do this real quick I will rename this harmony beats concussion texture bass and one, two, three four five six uh you see what I'm missing um oh yeah oh okay, uh kick I keep the kick separate from my drums just because of my life set I'll talk and show about that later within the last one is add now what I mean by ad is that's just like sometimes they're just random things that I don't know where else to put them because there may be a sound effect or maybe it's some weird percussive thing that I don't want in my percussion group or whatever so I just separate them so what I would do is I'd right click group tracks okay harmony and color it's no it's already their group two drums and so on, right and again you're going to get my production template so you're going to be able to play around with this uh okay well this one I was too green and then I won't bother doing all the rest just for this example all right, once I have that there are some things that I always dio right pretty much one of them is queuing so if I'd track and eq u I had this all ready to go right? Well, one thing I do all the time with you queuing is high cut, low cut sort of stuff so what I can do is act in group this effect coming here I'm just going to set this up real quick by changing the filter, right? Click this into group macro and then say, uh, hi pass and I can do the same thing with this too low pass, right? And then they're just there that she's ready for me to use in my production, right? And you can build this out like a mixing bus that is the things that you just used over and over on every single track. Now there's this awesome thing, which I'm going to put this on here, I created this this is all about being efficient, right? I don't want to constantly do the same thing over and over and over, so if I created this, uh, affect iraq it's good to go every time I create a track, I'm going to want that same effect. What you can do is if you right, click or double uh, double finger click on a knack I can say is it, uh, save as default mini trach now whenever I add a mini track, it's automatically there so I never have to drag in that queue again it's always on my track or whatever I might want um actually take this a step further to yeah to this mixing tool which I'll open up which has a hi past low pass dr amount a spectrum analyzer and also some painting stuff with the utility now I have that and if I just save as default yes all over right now I'm good to go on any anything I got all those tools ban now that might seem not that important but I've just saved you hundreds of hours in your life because once you set this up you're good you never have to do this again you can still develop your ideas and they're just little increments of time that really stack up all right and let's see what else would I do gonna delete this put this in okay groups groups um return tracks one thing you might notice is a return track or an effect that used all the time right where it could be like uh maybe you'd like to add some saturation I talk a lot about this in the mixing with able to live course on creative live about using buses for mixing and stuff but if you just throw in some type of effect that you like like I always use really intricate were delays that's just a huge part of my music so I will look up a delay with unable to live um here's this master delay I like to use and bam I have that so whenever I create an element I can just threw my sins send it to that scene effect right it's a very fast way of getting the same type of sound out of all of your different tracks and makes it very easy to just second I sit down I'm gonna play a melody, write a melody send it on over um which brings up the next thing of you know we're just preparing a template of something we use all the time so maybe you find a drum kit that you use fifty to eighty percent of the time for me I have a, uh, step let's see step well, it's probably an audio track, so here we go so there's this future step drum kit that I use constantly um for a few reasons one of them is because on all the different things see, I have this little chain selector so I can change the instrument. So basically I've developed one instrument that I can change over and over and over again and we're going to go over a little bit about creating pre sets like this but this one drum rack is basically equal to fifty or more possible trump racks and I use it all the time, so I'll just throw that in here and I would say this to my set is to step and that way every time I opened it that instrument is there, right? So you just think like, what else do I do all the time? Well, maybe, uh maybe in my baseline I constantly use um reactor I will come into my plug ins find a synth dragging a reactor I love reactors razor if you haven't used it wow, totally amazing if I have groups, so I just set that in there and it's a part of my you know, part my template and I'm good to go one other thing you guys might want is if you use an external hardware, you can set that up through your routing, and I can do that by inserting another mini trach, and what I can do is I can come in here into uh uh instrument put in a external instruments than I can say output to wherever that external gear is. My sound card currently doesn't have like a good way of routing and I don't have external, but you can set this up with your meaty to send it to the device and then you can have your audio in where you can have audio from if you want to use on audio an external audio effect like let's say you have a really awesome external reverb or something you just go into external audio effect and you can set that up so this is all set up for your gear in your workstation whoever you like to do it and then this is the trick you go too your options preferences so you go on your preferences within live looking feel or is it uh yeah okay file folder then you go into save as default I hit safe alright it's now saving as my default set so if I open a new live set well we're actually not going to see anything because it's going to open itself back up so every time if I close live and I opened it up it's going to be the same exact life set and that way you sit you're ready tow work you're ready to create music as compared to having to rebuild this now some thoughts on this while it was alive is slowly loading that uh you know, doing all this work from the very beginning might not actually be the best way to go about this what I found here is that template right it's just ready for us to produce what I found personally is if I'm creating new album I will start building ideas and concepts and sketches and eventually there's just generally that that track that pushed you in a new direction or is this cool new idea I will take that track I will edit it down into my template and then use that template for all my other tracks for the rest of that album, right? That's the way that I found to best use my time into kind of make this a little bit more creative, but for my album, emerge, that's what I did, and then I made one track that totally pushed me turn it into a template, open it every time, and I used probably by the end, I used fifty percent of the instruments involved, like I would swap drums in or out or add new elements or whatever it might be, but because I was starting from the same level, I had an album that sounded like a a complete work that was one album or concept, right, as compared to recreating a track every time you might have completely different genres and completely different sounds, and it doesn't sound like one artist that sounds like a compilation, so doing this also can help get your sonic quality in your sonic sound to be very congruent, right? But you can always change it, morph it like every album is a new template. You can also save your templates and have multiple templates, and they're also tons of templates online if you want to grab them, I'm going to give you all a template is a part of this course, but you know I have these things called bootleg templates which also will come with this class and if you open it up I've made it templates based on a genre so I'm opening up right now my dub step and trap template and it opens up and it has the instrumentation I need for that for dub step in trap it also has some, um, some midi and stuff to make it really easy so if I come in here close that, uh you can see I already have some drums, they're just kind of ideas to start with really great way to just feel creative if you consider your already have some like basic midian there and you're good to go start creation, it also helps with that annoying thing of having a blank slate being like I don't know where to stay dar there's an endless possibility where well, you at least kind of gave it some structure and it would be a lot easier to then a white canvas looks like we have a question you yeah, so I think setting up the template and even have some examples and there's generally good and maybe the question would be more appropriate for a little bit later but I thought ask question of how do you make sure it's also not sound too formulaic at the same time? Uh yeah that's definitely going to be in the music creation a part of things right? Like adding modulation adding sounds that seem really interesting and kind of work together, but a template won't won't inherently create that problem because the temple it's just like the's the drums I like these air these things I like uh there's definitely musicians who use the same drum sound every single time and it's an amazing album where they use the same moog bass every time, so that isn't what I think creates formulaic formulaic is more in composition more of the story because you can have the same language but a different story. Uh, answer cool, so you're just a little review and some advice tools for making a template we used color coding groups return tracks ah, I didn't open up io routing because that's more specific to your own gear, but you can also route things in different ways that you need to and oh, I didn't show this, um, which is totally an amazing thing in my work flow and let me just kind of shrink these real quick it's called re sampling and what I do is if I create a new audio track and I go to my eye oh my audio from if I changed this to re sampling what that means is is that anything that a bolton hears goes to my ri sample track and I can record it now this is awesome when you're writing because you might just be playing with a synthesizer and making really weird noises that you want to chop up later you should just re sample it because you can so it just recorded that so I'm going to show a lot of re sampling techniques later but that way you can quickly grab ideas from your own music where if you're changing your presets around or something weird thing happened you can just hit record on that track, grab it real quick edit it, change it, morph it move on it's really great for doing sound effects risers stuff like that um and I will show more on that that's why I wanted to make sure sure you had to set it up and then words advice on templates on ly add elements you use all the time if you use that silent simp synth once don't throw it in your template try to keep it very basic but somewhat organized you're ready to create the template is a starting point but elements can evolve and change you can always as your style changes change your template you khun re save it you can also back up like your first template and then a year down the line you have a completely different version you say that you can multiple different templates for different things that you're working on and different templates for different projects so I'm not always working on one project musically I have like an ambient project as co tech andi I'll have different templates for that we'll have templates for so victorious and all of templates for glitter moss that other project and that lets me just get into that mode of that type of music and create great any questions online or we have one questions it's about um your workflow um or not your workflow but your work schedule rather than your workflow so I'll just read it hello everyone this is a great course loving it great could he ask isaac about his work schedule? I mean music production work schedule does he have a daily routine or not so much? Thanks a lot so you talked a little bit about that use candles start but like a lot of people are talking about the day to day the day to day and like your morning routine as being really an important part of the creative process to set you up for that success is there? What is your morning routine look like before he totally uh well, one hard thing as a musician for a lot of people is just so much is changing all the time like I've been in new york for the last week and a half so I couldn't work on music or what am I doing at what point you know sometimes I will separate like weeks just for the back end of music like music insurance which totally get everyone music insurance it's awesome things like that like setting up my accounts and things um but when it comes to music when I get into that mode uh I find that for me personally where works the best is at least having one or two days a week to just to music right? That might not even seem that much from a professional musician like myself, but really you'll be surprised how much back end there is these things but at least working on something once a week if not two times a week then I'll wake up generally I like to work in the day some people like to work in the night I'm just a day person uh some days I will just work on preproduction and tools that's all I'm doing all day long and I'll wake up I'll start working on those tool sets learning worked four hours like I was saying before to a candle due a break um have some food walk, do another four hour session and then call the day I think only working eight hours a day is going to help you in the long run just because you can lose creative steam, but some little trick that I have when I move over into music creation that you might find really useful is I will wake up shredder or whatever. And then the first thing I do when I'm making music is not open the computer. Actually, I have an autoharp. Uh, that I play a lot and it's like just me playing this autoharp. And I get in my creative mode as quick as possible. I am just playing. I am just having fun for the sake having fun, there's. No recording of this is never no one else will ever hear this. You can do that in your own production. Sit down. Just start playing the keyboard, playing whatever instrument you like tapping on the desk. I don't care something something cool, because that will get you moving. And when you open up live, you will feel like a musician already as compared to you. Like my goodness. Like, where do I start? I don't know. Um, and then I will dedicate as a musician from a day to day, uh, let me open this real quick. I will dedicate usually a day to some aspect of my process. So maybe the whole day is on preproduction. Maybe the whole days on sketches. Maybe the whole day is on building out these compositions and maybe two compositions and a sketch, something like that, because these air different aspects of your of your musicianship, like mixing those tools are completely different brain then sketches so by segmenting things and spending four hours on one aspect of your project is going to make overall much quicker so hopefully that help day today um because it again like so much of my life changes like constantly but that should give you a glimpse into how I liketo work totally getting a lot of questions from the chat room about music insurance a lot of people have no idea what that is remains well all right, this is kind of our subject but I am glad to help you all this happens all the time my friend has gotten I've had a few friends quite a few that have gotten their gear stolen right? You have your laptop at a gig somebody steals your bag you're screwed like you could have five thousand dollars in gear I personally use american insurance pro american music pro I think is their name something like that just search it online on dh they do a lot of insurance for like cello tze and you know, orchestras and lady gaga and whatever like I think it's like american music pro or or american music insurance I don't know it's some very obvious it's the number one thing and I pay one hundred dollars a month it covers five thousand dollars in gear and there are really good at it I've had friends who've gotten there they ran over their own guitar, and it was covered. You have your stuff in your car going to a gig, it's covered, you're in another country, it's covered. The airline loses, it's covered seriously, a hundred bucks to save your life, because I again, I'm tired of seeing these kick starters. My gear got stolen, like if you're professional, you can handle this, just get music insurance. Awesome, enjoy being my or an ascap, but that's, totally different, but identical assurance.

Class Description

When you are working on a song it’s easy to get lost in the details of production and lose sight of what you are really trying to do: make better music. Ableton Live can help – Ableton’s flexible workflow lets you focus on what really matters.

Isaac Cotec is an Ableton Certified Trainer and in Fast Songwriting In Ableton Live he’ll teach you how to setup Live so the technical side of your songwriting process is simple and straightforward.

You’ll get tips on organizing your sample library, presets, and other assets so you can stay in the flow once the creative process starts. Then you’ll work through every step of songwriting process. To start off, Isaac will share tips on:

  • Picking a concept, genre, and bpm
  • Building out the melodic and rhythmic seeds
  • Quickly writing the foundation of the track

He’ll also help develop your work after you’ve laid a foundation. You’ll get insights on using:

  • Core elements: intro, verse, chorus, bridge, break, pre-chorus
  • Melodic devices: call and response, passing notes, ground bass
  • Rhythmic devices: syncopation, polyrhythm, etc

For those times when inspiration isn’t coming, Isaac will share the strategies he uses to overcome writer’s block and help you know when a song is done. You’ll know exactly what it takes to set up an optimal workspace in Ableton and how to write a song while taking full advantage of it’s functions and features.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Caribbean Drum Beats

Concept Music Guide

Creating Stem

Drum Loops

Fast Songwriting Example Files

Future Step MIDI Patterns

Hip Hop Beats 60-100 bpm


Production Template v3

Scale MIDI Presets

Scale Refrences

Sharing Live Sets

Fast Songwriting in Ableton Live - Syllabus

Isaac Cotec - Scale Refrences.alp

Isaac Cotec - Scale Refrences.alp

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Ratings and Reviews

Student Work

Related Classes


a Creativelive Student

I started sequencing in the mid-80s using Dr T's Keyboard-controlled sequencer... it had two modes like LIVE, a loop mode and an arrangement mode... you can see the progression of design today.. of course, there were no internal sounds, just MIDI, so you used modules and keyboards for sound generation, synced to tape for recording, added vocals, then took your tape to a bigger studio to mix, then sent off your master to those mysterious magicians to make it sound like a record. Amazing to see such a young kid like Isaac, able to do all the above work out of a little laptop! This young man is such an inspiration. He's not only got the music and technical side down, he's got got a good head on his shoulders. Great job, Isaac! Thanks so much for your willingness to teach and share what you have, and you have a lot! You're a great help.

Victor van Dijk

In awe with this super kind and highly knowledgeable teacher! Wow, he really pours his musician's heart out in this outstanding course on everything that relates to being a musician, sketching, writing songs, composing, and so on. Also it's a course chock a block full of highly helpful Ableton Live project files, PDFs, and many many useful tips and tricks. I highly recommend this course, it should have cost WAY more, and in all honesty, it's a steal! And did I mention, that you learn a lot about and within the Ableton Live environment?! LOVE this course!


Isaac is one of the best guy who can teach anything on Ableton! He got so many tips! His courses are so amazing! I really improved my skills thanks to him! And I do rewatch his courses with pleasure!