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Fast Songwriting In Ableton Live

Lesson 12 of 18

Melodic Devices in Songwriting

Isaac Cotec

Fast Songwriting In Ableton Live

Isaac Cotec

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Lesson Info

12. Melodic Devices in Songwriting

Lesson Info

Melodic Devices in Songwriting

We're going to move into the next big conversation on what I like to call melodic devices now you know, we just did like a dragon drop type of composition I'm huge in this dragon drop idea we did dragon drop many chords we did drag and drop uh templates and stuff like that in pre sets were developing all these things that are very quick teo just movinto our production developed the ideas and move out and so on one of the things that I like around that same concept is this idea melodic devices so if you're working on a track ah melodic devices something composers used to create and develop melodies, so if you have some melody and you're like that this is a cool melody and I haven't a section but what is my variation sound like or how do I add new interest to this melody that's where melodic devices come in it's the same way like drag and drop an idea take your idea throw in one of these melodic devices and you could have this brand new concept to play with and we're going to go through ...

these examples there are more than this, but this is a really these are the ones I use the most and these are the ones that I think would be very helpful so there's a lot of them but we're going to go through it so first, when we have is calm response this's where a performer or group of her formers sing such play one line, which is then answered by another line or group or performers very common, incredibly common in a music. You do a call, you have a response, right? Let's, show what that is. And I'm also trying teo, help you with this language so that, uh so that you you know the words behind it it's gonna be easier for you to remember and like bringing this this concept and assumes live opens show you it. Do either of you guys have ah, uh, music history when it comes to anything like this matlock devices or yeah, yeah, I've been in bands for twenty years and written music for awhile. So, like that concepts makes the call response and a couple of the other ones where you pulled out, the ones that I learned in school when I was taking music theory. Yeah, use a lot in classical music and stuff like that. I'm going to show a lot examples based off of classical, but come on. Yes, it worked, but here's the first one, this is a a classic gospel tune. Gospel does this all the time I call you response very obvious, right? But you can take that same idea it's used all the time in dub step and things like that where you have some base growl that is then answered by another either melody or base growl and you're having these concepts kind of talking to each other people find that very interesting way more interesting than this like very stagnant melody because now it feels like the music's talking to itself it's like a band that is like oh hey here's a little riff what's your response so cool here's my little riff way more energy oh here's a uh si this's the who my generation just calling back and forth a little bit faster pretty simple but doing that in your production is seriously going to give it some life now let's look at sequence phrasing melody that is represented at a higher or lower pitch same rhythm so other word's you're taking the same melody and you're moving up or down these little things can seriously take a song that seemed stagnant and add some life so here's example ah it feels like it has movement it's moving up and up and up and forward and that is a type of sequence phrasing right and very simple to do in your production you have some melody you just duplicated and um one trick that's very helpful in live is if you take all of those mini and if I hit shift and go up or down. It moves it up or down an octave very easy shortcut that you should know that to help you in your writing. Cool. So let's, look at let's further this idea with rising and falling sequences. So melanie has a if a melody has a repeated phrase that is rising in pitch or lowering and rich that last one kind of did that but let's show more clear examples where this is if you even look at the milady, midi is just going up and up and up. S o if you do that with your melodies when you're writing them, think of like, oh, I can come up with like, a motif, an idea like a simple hook. I can play that hook and then rise it up and up and up and up and you get these very nice melodies and sequences that seem way more intriguing. Now here is a descending that's bob and then here's that same one but a little bit more develop sounds like many music right there, but you can't even see that it is rising and falling, but it is overall falling, and those types of movements that you get the falling sequences can give it a really kind of interesting sound so the point is let's say you're writing something just go I don't know what to do oh falling sequence throw that and let me write a falling secrets oh let me write a column response you know I would just keep building on those ideas next one is hock it now someone ages ago called told me this was ad hawking but I have not been able to find it any information on add hawking at all but apparently hock it is the the more traditional way that people say this and hock it is the rhythmic linear technique where a single melody is shared between two or sometimes mohr voice is such that alternating one sound one voice sounds while the other rests this is a really awesome technique in music I was trying to find some good examples in my own music and others and there weren't as clears I want that's why I'm going with these very simple, simple ways of viewing it so you don't get lost in the rest of the track but I use this all the time because this way you can take a very simple melody and move it between multiple instruments see this all the time and glitch hop or something like that where it's like one line spread it all over the place so here we go let's just play this is just a lord very simple melody right very simple melody now let's see when we ad hoc it tio no, wait just separated we're just separated over two instruments and doing that even in similar instruments that are a little bit different will give it a unique quality that lets it bounce back and forth very, very powerful I highly suggest you trying it out with your tracks and here's another example hey little fast this is one where I had hock it track so there is the base being the melody but then it rises up to that like other line they bounced between multiple melodies there's also different based voices so it took the same melody of separated over the baseline and the different harmonies to create it was a very simple melody and that's the great thing about ad hawking you can take something that might seem super cheesy and straightforward and make it seem interesting by separating it um and what's this okay, this is just another classic. This is classic hockett from um older, more traditional music oh, all the time and many of them using trumpets and horns and they're all kind of one line many instruments okay, I think we get that one so next one is imitation this's where one vocal or instrumental part begins with a little bit of melody and is immediately repeated or imitated from another part with the same tune so this way I could take something and a great example asses row row, row your boat right row, row row your boat as that one's going something else follows it and repeats it and then the way they build it creates a cool harmony because they all start overlapping so let's hear that e s so there's the imitation way they work together make a very interesting everyone knows this song right? And then here's another more classical example they're repeating it themselves it's very dissonant piece but the idea is that it's creating this kind of movement and movement in booth and when we look at the mini you'll see that we have this top part and when the top part plays here it's repeated in this other section so if I see it's just kind of repeated and put down like maybe uh what is that half a bar so that's imitation another very useful thing next one is ground base we hear this all the time in electronic music all the time and this is where a composer puts a melodic line in the baseline of a piece which is then repeated throughout a section of the music or even the whole piece so in other words ah lot of traditional music does not have the baseline as the melody but dub step is that it is straight up ground base the base is the melon and here we go is an example of that so that's the melody happening teo wait all melanie is happening in the base just straight up ground sounds pretty obvious for you to play with but it's good to know that you can move the melodies from different aspects you could have one part playing this cool little bell melody and then it's imitated by the ground base by the base melody right so another section is just the bass playing that state melody and then add hawking and moving it playing with those aspects of your melodic devices will really add energy and interest to your tracks and then the next one isn't motive thick development this is where the melody is a short group of notes or more teeth the motif is then developed you can't develop a motif by gradually adding more notes or changing the harmony or total quality amazing example of this is I when you have I think it's like bach and beethoven do this all the time yeah beethoven piece here but we have this right he's saying right at the beginning of peace that is the motive and then you hear the motive being built and one of the big parts of the motif is it does get it done it's a few short notes and a long note and that is his motif did it had done so he's building the idea he's adding more changes wei brings back the original and always playing with it right he's adding mohr little increments more little interest in the change and that's a beautiful development is developing it more more and more he's changing your perspective around that one simple it just keeps going for forever but that's what civic development so I highly suggest playing around with coming up with an idea well, why don't you like duplicate that idea done it it on why don't you add a little little movements little extra notes ghost notes different elements to kind of build out that one little concept into your whole piece and that can also kind of build out your track and then the last one which is really important is counter point this is the relationship between voices that air independent harmonically yet interdependent and rhythm and contour in other words, you're different voices that airplane different harmonic aspects of the track but there independent when it comes to the rhythm right so their rhythm can be completely different or by contour it might be like uh having quick and long note sort of vice versa example that of counterpoint is right here. Ah, very simple counterpoint well, you have the one instrument kind of playing the lowest aspect of it, but we can continue to build this let's just call this next one see how they're they're they're independent voices doing their own melodies but they seem tto work together harmonically when you're adding counterpoint to your music, it's going to help a lot so you have some heart, you have some melody and then think like, ok, what is what would accord be off this melody and then write another melody with this with different notes or different timing by uses the same underlying notes will create very interesting melodies. So between counterpoint colin response, you get all sorts of fun stuff. And then when we look at all these days, possible ways that we can improve our melodic aspects of our track ad. Really amazing interest by calm response sequences, ground base, you name it. So this is, like a quick, dirty wanna one movement through some, uh, some music theory for you to use in your tracks. There's one question about hock it for using the rocket technique. Is there any basic concepts I can follow to get synergy between the multiple instruments? I've tried this with different presets, and it kind of sounds like a mess at times. Well, uh, first of all, I would start by writing it on one track, like writing the whole melanie and then separating that, milady amongst multiple instruments and in terms of, like, using different presets or different sounds, what you're going to have to do, I mean, it really depends on your music like glitch hop does this all the time because it's it's taking that sound and putting in the horn putting until like ten instruments over like one bar it's crazy but it seems to work because it's so chopped up as far as another way of doing it is sometimes maybe put on lee all the lower notes in like a flute that have a very elongated sound and inputting the top notes in a piano and it does kind of sound like a mess that is kind of like if you listened to that one example uh here sometimes it just sounds busy it's got things going on all over but that's what it's going for that is kind of the natural thing of the technique but the point is if you add a a bee part that does this and it does sound kind of messy with your melody and then you move into your sea part and it's very clear the melody you're releasing that tension and you're giving them like something new to listen to and it will actually like the mess the mess will be like oh I like how crazy it was and now it's so much more simple so something you have to keep in mind when you're writing is you don't necessarily want all the parts to sound perfect I don't want them to sound great you want a section that sounded bad to make the other part sound better you see this all the time in classical music, too, where it's like, totally dissonant and weird. And then all of a sudden, it just snaps together. And now, it's, super pristine and clear and playing with those different things. The mess and the clarity is, is what will give you a better composition.

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.


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!