Creating Your Live Performance Setup

Technology has given artist new tools and ways of imagining their live performance. We can now sync live visuals, trigger samples on the fly, have access to unlimited effect processing, and all of this can be done through a single computer.  Ableton Live gives musicians an easy way to envision their live set and add as much simplicity, or complexity as they would like.

In this article I am going to go over some basics of live performance with Ableotn Live. This will help you envision what you want to make out of your live performance, and inspire new ways of looking at things. To start, let’s look at the different type of live performances.

2 Types of Live Set

This image shows the major types of Live Sets. I will review what these sets are and their advantages. This will mainly be centered around making these sets with Ableton Live as the backbone. (more…)

Creating Tension and Resolution in Music

Getting a good chord progression is one of the foundations of a good track. Understanding the movement in the Circle of Fifths can help you get a really good chord progression. I have written a few articles on the Circle of fifths, but invited Umang Bhat to share his knowledge of some advance techniques.

Enjoy the article on how to spice up your chords and music with the Circle of Fifths. Also make sure you check out Umang’s blog at Guitar Cover.


Creating Stems in Ableton Live

Sometimes to collaborate with other musicians we need to turn our Ableton Live Tracks into Stems. Using stems is a great way to send tracks to other people that use different DAWS, such as Logic, or for remix contest. Before we get started though, let’s define what a Stem is.

Stem-mixing is a method of mixing audio material based on creating groups of audio tracks and processing them separately prior to combining them into a final master mix. Stems are also sometimes referred to as submixes, subgroups, or busses.

In other words, it’s taking our track and turning it into a handful of stereo tracks. That way you can send 8-10 tracks instead of 50 individual tracks or one final master.

I created an in depth PDF that walks you through the steps needed to turn your track into stems. Below is the video walk-through.  I also have a free PDF guide for download below that.

Download PDF


Scale References In Ableton Live

Do you want an easy way to drop in cool scales and write in new MIDI parts? Or have you ever wanted a Scale Reference in the Piano Roll?  I’ve created a new technique I call Scale References to help me with this. It’s helped my productivity and makes sure the parts I am writing are in the scale I am using.  Here is a video walk through of the technique:

You can grab the Scale Reference Live Pack or follow these steps to create your own Scale Reference: (more…)

Sharing your Tracks and Creating Live Packs

Collaborating with your music is such an amazing experience. It lets you bring new perspectives to your tracks, outsource to other musicians to use their strengths, and it’s just straight up fun as hell. Ableton Live is a great platform to collaborate with, but it takes some knowledge. It’s really frustrating when you get that “Media Files Missing” or  “Missing external Plugin” notification when you open a file. That’s why I made the (aq) Sharing Files PDF.

Here are some example pages from the Free PDF.

 (aq) Sharing Live Sets eBook4(aq) Sharing Live Sets eBook


Microtonal Music in Live – Scale of Fifths

Microtonal music can bring a whole new meaning to your music. When you start exploring Microtonal music you are exploring the edge of what is possible. This article will look deep into making Microtonal music in Ableton Live. But to start lets look at what Tunning and Temperament is.


There is a difference between that pitch reference, that concert tuning, and temperament or scale you build from that pitch reference. When we are talking about tuning there are 2 things we need to keep in mind and understand how they are separate, but interrelated.A440_vs_A432

Most music and DAWS are set to the reference pitch at A=440hz. All this means is that the first note, that all others are built from, is at 440. There are many different ways to calculate what the frequency of the next note is. This is when you get into tuning schemes, and temperament. (more…)

By | January 19th, 2015|Ableton, Music Theory, Producers Blog|9 Comments

Mixing Example – Bringing out the Dub Vibes

The other day I was contacted by Ableton to teach a class at Lewis and Clark College in Portland.  It was an intermediate class, so I wanted to bring something that could really level up their sound with Ableton Live.  I put together a live set with stems and showed off a bunch of mixing techniques.

I wanted to share the Live Set I created and a few pointers on Mixing. Here is a before and after version. Notice how the vocals go more to the front and center and the drums have more power to them.

Here is the Live Set:

Download Live Set Example

The way I set up this live set is I put a bunch of effects on all the different tracks. I then mapped all of them to the “0” (zero) key. That way you can A/B test it. Just hit the 0 key and check out the difference. You can then go through and see what I did.

The stems came from the dub track Run Run Run by Arise. The stems are up and can be downloaded to try out your mixing chops. 

If you want to look deeper into mixing techniques I suggest you check out my Mix Down Toolset. It has a huge collection of tools to level up the mix.

Here are some more articles that also look deeper into the techniques used in the example.

What is Mid/Side Mixing
Spatial Panning in Ableton Live
Making a Track Bigger

If you have downloaded the example and found your own tweaks, feel free to share in the comments below.

By | November 21st, 2014|Music Theory, Producers Blog|0 Comments

Creating a Bootleg Remix with Ableton Live

There are a lot of DJ’s and performers out there. It can be a monumental task climbing up the endless heights to be known as a performer.  One way you can quickly rise above the crowd and get recognition is through bootlegs and remixes. You can take any track and make your own spin on it. By taking popular dance tracks and adding your own spin you can quickly get your sound and vibe out to the world.

I just created a new Bootleg Remix Pack to help speed up the process and wanted to share some techniques and tips I use a lot in remixing.


To start, lets define what a Bootleg is.

A Bootleg is one type of remix of a song  in which the remixing DJ uses an entire song or samples from a popular song without the explicit permission of the original artist. A bootleg remix generally uses the stereo master track and or accapella of the track.


By | August 13th, 2014|Music Theory, Producers Blog, Sound Design Tech|9 Comments

List of Note Frequencies

When I am mixing and working on sound design I sometimes like to turn to a list of the frequencies of notes. It helps me bring up the resonance of a note, or keep the fundamental harmonic of my sound design at to fit the key of my track.

Here is the list of frequencies. Keep in mind this is for equal temperament with A being at 440.

Frequencies of Notes at 440

Octave Note Name Frequency Hz
-3 C 32.7031956626
-3 C#/Db 34.6478288721
-3 D 36.7080959897
-3 D#/Eb 38.8908729653
-3 E 41.2034446141
-3 F 43.6535289291
-3 F#/Gb 46.2493028390
-3 G 48.9994294977
-3 G#/Ab 51.9130871975
-3 A 55.0000000000
-3 A#/Bb 58.2704701898
-3 B 61.7354126570


By | August 4th, 2014|Music Theory, Producers Blog|1 Comment
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