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. http://www.cambridge-mt.com/ms-mtk.htm 

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 | 2017-06-28T19:55:37+00:00 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 | 2017-06-28T19:56:19+00:00 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 | 2017-06-28T19:56:25+00:00 August 4th, 2014|Music Theory, Producers Blog|1 Comment

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 | 2017-06-28T19:56:43+00:00 July 15th, 2014|Music Theory, Producers Blog|24 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 | 2017-06-28T19:57:02+00:00 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 | 2017-06-28T20:01:14+00:00 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 | 2017-06-28T20:02:13+00:00 November 14th, 2012|Music Theory|35 Comments
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