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Fast Songwriting In Ableton Live

Lesson 16 of 18

Using Generative Music in Songwriting

Isaac Cotec

Fast Songwriting In Ableton Live

Isaac Cotec

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Lesson Info

16. Using Generative Music in Songwriting

Lesson Info

Using Generative Music in Songwriting

Now we're going to look at what I called generative music and this is to me personally this is when we take advantage the most of the machine of what a bolton does like we can be composers, but we obviously have different technology than someone who writes for orchestra and one of those technologies that we have is the machine and this is a little image to kind of demonstrate this idea that it gets a little esoteric, but we are in for like as much as we try to control able to live or software or music, elektronik music in general were equally as influenced and controlled by the software, the hardware and the boundaries of it. So don't just think that like, oh, I can make anything I want realized that the workflow of able to live the workflow where v s t sounds that you have whatever affects us a musician and you can either work against that or you can work with it, right? And I like to see this as a good fusion when I can use the the random ization of a machine or the unexpected glitch...

es or funny aspects of something to inform my music, then I can create something that no one else has created before and is pushing the edges of the technology right and that is where the random ization of a machine comes in with the humanization and editing process of your taste so we're looking at generative music now dent generative music describes music that is ever different in changing and that is created by a system in other words it's raining music that just randomly figures out its own thing um by balancing random machine generate content with logical constraints inhuman editing we can quickly create new ideas so this little movement is to represent the editing the results logical constraints and random sounds and how those things all interplay to create new concepts now with random ization we have these different tools like velocity weaken randomize velocity weaken randomize note weaken randomize telephone filters weaken randomize uh playback like what is being played when it's being played some of our logic constraints of that would be like a mini scale ah midi scale constrains the random notes by saying no I don't want just any note I want notes within this scale the minimum maximum setting yes velocity could be randomness we want but within this scope right note range controlling the chance of the thing and then editing the human aspect of this is spicing the samples re sampling the different parts choosing what you want editing the midi and rendering out that parts that you do like from the randomized thing that you created so now I'm going to show all these different examples of randomized music generative music within able to live all right so ugo have either of you guys used uh random ization in your production techniques yeah I'll just take a loop and just chop it up like you were doing earlier when you just took a drumbeat and kind of syncopated it a little bit yeah totally yeah have you ever used it on training? I'm way too much of a musician I write everything by hand oh uh it's funny because it was kind of an insult yeah. So the point of the the generative music is that this should be a thing that comes up with ideas that van inspires you to something else it's not like you can totally make music this way there are people that do this I think the attacker has done a lot of this uh but it can some unexpected stuff happens views of what might be considered generative is using the rpg ater so here's an example of generative music so I basically have one note on both these clips it's one very long note and listen to what it is so it's generating all those notes all at our appreciation and defining what it wants it to be a way s so how it's doing this is through using these different midi devices so we have this many note random notes we have these chords which take that random note puts it into a chord and that goes into a scale function which then goes into the effect that the sound so that way you can see whenever notice played, plays a court that will never be the same now well, but it is random heist and then on this one, I am using kind of the same idea, but with our appreciate er's and some random functions here to create random melody so let's go through and actually developed that from the ground up. So I have this s o I just have this instrument, right? And I don't want to do is add some rain of notes, so I'm going to go into midi effects and then I can go to random. The chance is the chance of a random notes happening? Wait. So even if I had the same way getting random notes right on dyken do scale and choices are all sorts out of that. But now we need our logical constraint, random note. Great, but it won't sound like music, so we put in a scale function. Let's, uh, pick like c minor. Wait, it'll be in scale. Uh, and then from here, we can just build on this idea and warm or one idea is we can add arpeggio. So if I put in our picture before e e it's more interesting essay, randomize ing the note where then are appreciating that note on making sure it's in the scale right so we're constraining it but also randomize ing it more more because it's playing that got right and that begins to create these cool little ideas is cool little mela cities and another amazing feature that could be helpful with this is using velocity so the idea here is if I turn up my random s it's creating volume changes through the velocity but what if I if I have first one is random rain velocities I can create a second velocity effect to basically edit out sounds that are below a certain freak velocity so if I come here and change my uh see where's range so if I change my lowest our highest range it's now on lee letting the highest velocity through all of it or only the last wave so you can begin to edit out notes by changing that salami randomize this one again so I'm creating basically I'm editing out automatically someone at our presentation that's a really cool way first throw one in your randomize it a second one you say on ly let through the highest velocity version um it can create more interesting changes and you can use this to create like glittery top sounds or interesting new concepts but it's just one way in which you can play with this generative music and their arm or they were going to get into that kind of build off this idea more more so that was random melodies through appreciation in random notes. But we could also use things like max for live for random effects. This gets really cool. Okay, well, that same concept of random notes and stuff can be used for drum patterns as well. I forgot to mention that. Um so we can randomly create melodies, but we can also randomly create drum patterns on of you guys have played with instant house it's a match for live device. It's really awesome. Check this out. It is literally instant house. I hit pattern changes in the pattern randomly. That's great one. I like that that's my entire dj said right there were done. Oh, yeah only and then you have a little keyboards you can play some melodies on in somewhere pga shit, you're good. It could be really fun to play with it, just like a jammy, weird space. But, you know, generating something random can be really cool, especially you start editing. So if I set this one too in from that one, make sure it's set from there. I can then record. And then I have these different versions of the trump pattern which I can then edit and play with and do all these cool things right off the bat I think people have hacked this to do instant trap as well I know you hate rap but some people like it and you can do I mean, all it is is basically some pattern settings and you you open up max for live and you change the pattern settings then you randomize those and you can play with it. You can also randomize swing and shift and know it all sorts of stuff it's super fun it's a very fast way to come up with ideas but let's look at random ization affects this is also really cool let's say I have this very simple melody right it's right now there's this match for live device that comes with a built in sweet it is called device random and all you do is you hit randomized and map it it's randomly changing all those macros and you can come in here and you can open it and say smoothing them out or sink him out really cool way of doing it but you can also send it to trigger right and you're coming up with these new parameters very quickly. Now something I like to do this is very common english shop it can take your synthesis to a whole new world is if you open up make sure this is set to re sample and you can come in here and record theo now I have a re sample of all those right create these cool modulation that's awesome little glitch iciness that is really cool within baselines or something like that to create different growl effects or things and you can edit those down to create a whole new concept. It can be as subtle as you want to like slight movements in your kick to give it more compression more higher whatever to seymour natural to totally weird randomized effects and that's the advantage too. The machine and generative music you can really create things on the fly uh that were unexpected too. And this next one is going to be follow actions with complex rhythms. This I use a lot still the same idea of generative music but this one I use specifically for beats. So basically I have all these different beats or samples. Now once if I want to create, like, generate some new rhythms from this that it would be unexpected a random what I can do is if I select all these guys or multiples and if I come through here and I can then go to this thing called launching, which is l it's this little button right there and I can say how it launches well, these follow actions is the key by coming to my follow action and I changed this to next after one bar it goes to the next one so I'm starting to create something random, right? Not so much random has changed but if I change this toe other it will then move teo any other sample so generating new percussion now let's change this to a lot faster so let's go like two so this goes beats bars and measures, right? Yeah uh beats measures in bars, bars, measures and beats. Okay, anyways so I said that's a lot quicker so now it no longer one bar I'm down to two beets get totally weird glitch. Yeah, and if you wanted to record that, you just do the same thing where you take that track and you sampled too. They decide. Yeah there's two ways you can do it. One of them is I hit record and now it I recorded it to my arrangement view and we can see all of it right there for me a cool way to make a new beat. But I can also like you're saying re sampled like io in ri sampling and now if I said that to record is that all the time to create these really fun cool glitch effects now you can also do this with and again, if you come in here and you just change these timing one one thing that's key that I forgot is putting in llegado mode so llegado means normally, it's when it starts to clip, it starts at the very beginning so you're only hitting sharing the first hit it's not necessarily what I want if I do llegado it basically means that the beginning of the bar, if we go to the next one and how we're playing it we're almost halfway through and we go to the next random launching, then it will continue from that same point in its playback so that things were happening at the right playback time so llegado you'll notice a difference. Oh yeah it's like, all way totally weird you could make strange gabber whatever totally weird sound effects out of that, but it doesn't just stop with percussion. You can use it with melody. So this is flute recordings from anthony s so it's now just randomly picking flew parts so you could do this with instrumentation you name it, sound facts, sky's the limit. Now let me see if I, uh so within live I'm just going to show you an example with how I've used this technique in the past of if I go into tracks, its wake of forever is a remix that I did for aligning minds okay in the wake and I did a lot of this technique, this is kind of what really pushed me with this technique is if I play trump's gonna change something real quick because it's for my life said it's a little different so let's change all these all too master ah so there's a lot of glitchy things happening so even with that this was a bunch of different presets and things that are randomly happening which by themselves they sound all right but when you have the full track it was just randomly generated and I threw it in there and let me try to find another way there's another great example getting his weird glitches and click things that overall quality cool texture so that's random ization and a lot of editing like definitely a lot of editing involved and the last one is re sampled instruments through random presets this could be really great with bass so you have this a lot of times with glitch hop dub step some trap um weird likes more psychedelic type music but if I come in here and go to general instruments let's say I have this okay so I just have a seat so I was just like this weird little base right? Well if I come in here and I take something like like massive a lot for this wait it's gonna take me a second set this up I'm gonna turn that down because it gets you're crazy but since I have this glitch recording coming in from here that's the io I just sent it to glitch percussion if I hit record here and I flipped through random presets sometimes I get these really weird things that I would never expect and I can edit it down later that was all right. All right cool so what I can do is I can come over to arrangement you and I could drag this in here when they go back and crab that okay make sure no one okay make sure that's its auto great so now what I can do is I can cold none of that beginning I liked but I do need to make sure the timing is still the same self there we go so I liked that part a lot of times what I'll do is I'll just insert another audio track I'll take the same thing put it down here because sometimes the way you take that I'll put that there that you seeing what I'm doing is I'm just cutting up these different aspects and adding it to that one above and I'll just keep playing with that more more and I can get these really weird awesome glitch hoppy sounding baselines from it especially with ariel you guys get that really fun I love doing that a lot it can add some new aspects to your music cool so you guys have any questions on kind of that generative music and using those tool sets to come up with quick new sound of fax or or designs so in all reality I do know of some of these things and there's some plug ins that basically do that right? Like I think sugar bites has one and you are you familiar with any of them and that you would recommend yeah sugar bites and there's a deep deep blue does the glitch effect which lots of people hated on for a long time but is freaking awesome um especially when you get into this editing mode where you're recapturing re editing, shopping up putting back back and forth you'll get these very unexpected sounds ah one of um like I was saying is glitch and that is under glitch uh deep blue crit glitch on where is it okay, there is so if I dragged that in it's all these random presets so it does random cutting and glitch ing it be better actually on the uh the beats so we can actually hear it more like that sound right there are really like so if I record this that you know and ed out those little parts and put him in, I can create these really fun, intricate percussions all through random ization and then granted this takes a lot of editing because you don't like that I don't want that whatever that blown sound no, but these little accents little ghost knows could be really cool any other questions so in terms of the workflow you recommend doing this part last this this kind of generative part because I see it is also a great way in the beginning to get yeah, yeah, I just put this at the end, too, because we built up a lot of these ideas. I don't want to show you this first, as if that is music creation. This is not like this shouldn't be your default, but I totally used this. Early on in the aspect is beat creation all sorts of time. It's it's just a different approach to music production through using the machine through using random ization and using it as an inspirational tool to then inspire you and vice versa to keep that circuit going. We don't. I have an opportunity a lot of times as like producers at home or elektronik musicians to work with other people, but we can work with the machine as if it was a person giving you input. You know, it could be a really fun way of looking at production totally throughout the process.

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!