Drum Patterns for Electronic Music

Over the past week I have been loving using my Launchpad Mini and the custom LPC Live 2 script for drum sequencing. As I am still learning how to write new drums on the fly I decided to make a few “cheat sheets”.  I have printed these out and use them to help me write in the patterns. The idea here is if I do it enough, it will be second nature.

The images below show the sequence in a 1/16th setting. They can also help you visualize different beat patterns in multiple genres for your own production.

House and DnB Step Sequence

For me what I am doing is writing on the Kick part, and the Clap part into my step sequencer to then create the beat. If you wanted to, you could always recreate this in Ableton like the image below:

House Music Midi Pattern ableton


By | July 15th, 2014|Music Theory, Producers Blog|19 Comments

5 Tips for Fast and Furious Songwriting

To continue with this whole theme of Time Management, I want to dive into techniques in Ableton live for fast songwriting. These tips and tricks will help you stay creative, bust out songs, and feel confident in how you are spending your time.
If you are not using Ableton Live or, what to read the article on taking your time, it will look at the bigger picture of how artists can better manage their time.

1. Good Old File Management

Nothing says “I am an artist” like spending a day going through your files. Every successful musician I know is ruthlessly efficient with their sample library. We each have our own way of managing our files as well.  Here is what I do with my Sample Library:

Drum loops File Management_2This example shows how my Drum Loops are separated from the genera.


Constantly Building the (aq) Composition Toolkit

A few weeks ago I released the (aq) Composition Toolkit. This Live Pack shows a collection of Arrangements and Compositions to help with songwriting. It is made to easily drag and drop in the track you are making. Easy and quick way to add inspiration to the writing process.

New Compositions for the Live Pack

Over the week I have been asked to add a few more tracks to the pack. I spent some time looking at more “alternative rock” tracks from artist like Radiohead, Tool, and Coldplay.  I then added there arrangements to the pack.

The reason I bring this up is to show off a cool new feature of the new website design. Once and a while I will update a love pack. Either for my own improvement, request, or updating for new versions.  If you have ever ordered the live pack in the past you will be able to download the new version through logging into “my account”.

If you ordered the (aq) Composition Toolkit you can not download version 2 to add these 4 new arrangements to your repertoire.  I am so glad I have developed the site to be able to constantly be expanding these live sets for you.

There is a free video / live set that walks through the technique in this blog.  Feel free to check it out, request songs you would like to see in the Toolkit as well.


Quick and Easy Composition Tricks

When building up a track we can sometimes get lost on what is next. Where does this path lead? Do I put a drop in here? What is a Chorus part?  There is a lot of possibilities of where your track can expand to when you are writing it. Because of this I have developed my own technique to help me stay creative when writing my own music. This is a really simple trick, but it can greatly speed up your writing and give you new ideas.

So here is the basic idea. Make a midi track at the top of your set. Here you can add MIDI clips and name them after the part of the track.

Using ableton live to write music Here is just the BLANK midi Track: (more…)

By | June 26th, 2014|Music Theory, Producers Blog|1 Comment

Tuning to 432


Since I wrote this 3 years ago I have expanded on my knowledge of 432 and made a more comprehensive work around tuning in Ableton Live, theory, and using third party plugins. Check out the three articles below for a deeper look at 432:

Theory and 432 Tuning

Tuning Ableton Live to 432

432 with VST’s and Third Party Plugins


Lately I have heard a lot about 432 tuning and wanted to try it out. I’ve been experimenting with returning in Ableton Live. Before that lets review about the idea behind 432 versus 440 tuning.

The idea is that the natural world resonates with 432 and it’s tuning more than 440. This get very theoretical, but let me put it this way. Tuning was histrionically free game. You could tune your orchestra up or down. There was actually a problem called “pitch inflation”. Basically the higher the tuning, the sharper the sound. It would also make it sound louder to the listener.

At some point the decided to standardize it. I believe 440 was chosen because it’s mathematically easy to deal with. 440 x 2.5 is a lot easier then 432 x 2.5 Read more about the history here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A440_(pitch_standard)

Now 432 does seem to have a lot of resonances and correspondences. I am still exploring this deep subject, and am taking it with a grain of salt as well. What I can tell you is this. The lower the tuning the more calm and lush the music sounds. I actually really like 432 tuning because of the quality of the harmonics and resonances.  Feel free to comment below on this thread to share your thoughts. I would love to hear them.

Also here is a picture of a water image at the different tuning.

image showing 432 in music.

432 tuning ableton

So now back to tuning our synths and production. The problem with 432 tuning is that there is no master tuning in Live. All your different samples and synths also have their own tuning center. The video below shows how you might tune your different synths as well as elements.

Here is the Tune It! Vst: http://freemusicsoftware.org/

A fellow Max For Live user has made a better micro tuner. Here is the link: http://maxforlive.com/library/index.php?by=any&q=microtuner

Love to hear your comments on how you are using 432 tuning, thoughts behind it, and more.

By | June 19th, 2013|Music Theory|24 Comments

Song Structure in Electronic Music and Dubstep

Developing a song is more than just the pieces placed together. It’s about getting your timing and flowing in and out to create a fluid story. In this article I am going to go over how to arrange your track and getting a solid song structure for your music.

UPDATE: Check out the new video and tutorial for song structure in Ableton live with free download.

The parts that make a song

To start, let’s go over the parts that make up an arrangement. There are many different terms, depending on the style of music. For our purposes, we will be looking at these basic terms and then applying them to the electronic music arrangement:


By | November 14th, 2012|Music Theory|30 Comments

Basic Harmonic Theory

Harmonies and the Circle of Fifths

In this article I am going to be going over the basic understandings of the circle of fifths in terms of building a harmony in your music. To start let me share my thoughts on Harmony and what it is. To start we have to go to the very route of music and why it sounds good.

Music is perceived subconsciously by humans as “good sounding” by it’s abuility to create and hold complex ratios and mathmatical similarities. That is what separates it from objects just clanging together.  All notes are based on ratios. All scales are organizing the ratios in such a way that there is perceived order.  When you play a C first you are saying that is the root, or the lowest point on the scale. Then you build other notes that are in ratios and you get chords.  

Music is that play between this perfect good sounding ratios and Tension which is ratios that work but aren’t perfect. This tension creats interest as well as can be resolved to add release in the listener. Harmony is the basic ratios going back and forth from perfect to tense to perfect.


By | September 28th, 2011|Music Theory|2 Comments

Composing Music in the Circle of Fifths

Over the last year I have been learning a lot and fine tuning my skills in composition and writing music. It was easy for me at first to just write out some music, but it wouldn’t really come together melodically until I got a better understanding of Melody and Harmony. This article is going to be about understanding Melody and the Circle of Fifths.

Basics of the circle:

The circle of fifths is an intuitive method for determining the relationships among all of the tones and key signatures used in music. It offers composers a way to visualize how the tonic and fifth degrees of a scale are linked and is useful for creating chords, harmonizing melodies and deciding how to move music to different pitch centers. The circle of fifths is also useful for musicians since it provides a way to efficiently anticipate and understand harmonic progressions and scale relationships found throughout music.

Circle of fifths

(Available as a sticker for your laptop or studio)

So basically the Circle of fifths is an easy way to make chords and notes that sound good together with in any scale.  You pick a root, or key. Lets say C major. The major notes are one either side. F and G.  The minor notes and chords are then D A and E.  The diminished is B.


By | April 7th, 2011|Music Theory|27 Comments
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