Geometry in Music Composition with Ableton Live

The Golden ratio unlocks a nature’s harmony, we see in the world around us.  Beautiful never lacks proportion, and mathematics is the language of proportion.

The Golden ratio occurs in nature all the time. From a shell spiral, architecture, growth patterns of plants, the human form, and more. Using this ratio in our music it injects a kind of natural beauty, similar to Da Vinci’s portraits.

last-supper-phi-golden-ratio

The golden ratio, also known as the divine proportion, golden mean, or golden section, is a number often encountered when taking the ratios of distances in simple geometric figures such as the pentagon, pentagram, and dodecahedron. It is denotedphi , or sometimestau .

The formula for the Golden Ratio is:

a/b = (a+b)/a = 1.6180…

Here is an example of using the Golden Ratio. If we have a square (a) with a side = 1 we then divide it by 1.618 to get the size of b. This gives us a shape that uses this natural ratio.

GoldenRatio_1401

If we keep expanding on this we get the natural spiral in Shells and other natural forms.
Fibonacci NatureIf you would like to read more on the Golden Ratio, then check out this article at Mathworld. Now lets look at using this ratio in out music.

Using the Golden Ration in Ableton Live

Here are some tips and techniques for implementing the Golden Ratio in your song.

Write the track and then apply the Golden Ratio:

I generally find it useful to first write out my song / composition. After I have it mostly laid out I can overlay the Golden Ration to the track. It can inform me when to put a break down, add a riser, or other such things on those critical moments in the golden ration.

To do this you first:

  1. Measure the length of your song in seconds.
  2. Calculate the segments in the Golden Ratio. To do this use the Golden Ratio Calculator.  Remember that this gives you the time in seconds, so if it’s 130 seconds that is two divisions of 60 (minutes) and 10 seconds.
  3. Use this as an estimated place to add elements or change the composition in some form.
  4. You can also further divide the different sections into new segments of the Golden Ratio.

Starting a track with the Golden Ratio:

Another technique would be to first decide segment side, like 16 measures. You can then see how long that is in Seconds at your current BPM (changes compared to your BPM). You then follow the same steps in the above example.

You can then use these segments as anchor points as you build your composition. With this technique, it’s a great way to visualize where the drop will be, chorus, verse, and so on. Really helpful with Pre choruses.

Comment Below:

I would love to hear how you use this technique. Add a comment if you have  a song you developed with the Golden Ratio, or have a technique you love to use. Also check out the Fibonaccii Effect Rack for more geometric goodness.

 

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By | 2017-06-28T19:51:41+00:00 June 22nd, 2016|Ableton, Free Music Tools, Music Theory, Producers Blog|8 Comments

8 Comments

  1. Subaqueous June 22, 2016 at 12:05 pm - Reply

    Stoked to share this with you all. Love to hear how you use the techniques.

  2. Phil June 23, 2016 at 11:02 am - Reply

    hi! will these effects packs work with other DAWS or just ableton

    • Subaqueous June 27, 2016 at 10:33 am - Reply

      No they do not. The idea would work, you would just have to re-construct it.

  3. Mike June 23, 2016 at 3:22 pm - Reply

    So I’m a bit confused about how to use this in a practical sense. Is it simply a tool for the length of verse/chorus parts? Or can it be broken down to A is the drums first version, and then B is the adjusted version of those drums?

  4. Piero Salardi June 24, 2016 at 9:35 am - Reply

    Super cool Issac
    I’ve been using Fibonacci in design for a long time now and is very interesting to see that you have applied the same concept in Music.

    I believe there are masterpieces made with this same secuence grid. Will love to hear and break it down to really see how this guys applied it.

    Anyhow, great work Issac!

  5. Mateusz Mucha June 24, 2016 at 12:57 pm - Reply

    Hey Isaac, I’m Matt from Omni Calculator. Thanks for linking to our Golden Ratio Calculator. If you had ideas for calculators that help people create music, I’d love to create them. You have my e-mail.

  6. Jasko September 17, 2016 at 9:10 am - Reply

    Writing your composition in advance and applying golden ratio afterwards seems to me like a backward way to compose. Im no math wizard, but ive a decent sense of logic and it would seem more logical to decide on the length of a track prior to composing it and figuring out the ratios in advance, then compose a track around it. Any thoughts on this?

  7. derek October 13, 2017 at 8:12 pm - Reply

    Thank you for putting in the work for this, its really interesting. love your blog btw don’t just subscribed to you on YT. keep up the awesome work

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