Dreamr Lab Sessions #3 | Intro to Music Production (pt. 1a) & Ableton Live with Derryck "Big Tank" Thornton

Mar 22, 2021 5 min read
Dreamr Lab Sessions #3 | Intro to Music Production (pt. 1a) & Ableton Live with Derryck "Big Tank" Thornton

Big Tank has worked with some of the top music artists in the industry such as Chris Brown, Christina Aguilera, Jhene Aiko, and Rihanna. He is currently the SVP at Sony Music and is known for producing music for hit films and tv shows like The Chi, My Wife and Kids, You Got Served, and The Boondocks.

DOWNLOAD THE STEP-BY-STEP GUIDE HERE

Introduction: Learn the Menu

FILE MENU

This is where you will Create New Set or open an existing project and Open Set. To install packs, you would do that here as well. When you save your project, make sure you Save Live Set As so you don’t record over your set. Lastly, Export is how you would bounce a beat, which I will go over in a later course.

EDIT MENU

When/if you make a mistake you can select Undo / Cut Clip. Later, we will go over what it means to Freeze and Flatten track to MIDI audio. Quantize is the main thing you’ll be using in the Edit Menu. The different options to Record Quantization is the speed in which things lock up.

CREATE MENU

We won’t really use this menu that much nor will we need to Insert MIDI Track because we will be using USB as MIDI.

VIEW MENU

You can choose between Full Screen and Second Window, toggle In/Out, Sends, Returns, Mixer, etc. on or off, but we will get into that later.

OPTIONS MENU

The most important part of the Options menu is Preferences. Leave the Look/Feel, Audio, Link/Tempo/MIDI, Record/Warp/Launch, and Licenses/Maintenance tabs alone; everything is already set up as needed. File/Folder is where you can import sounds. Library contains everything Ableton comes with. We will be continuing to add on more plug-ins, which can be found here.

TEMPO

This is where you can make it faster or slower. In this example, it is 84 beats per minute.

COUNT RHYTHM
METRONOME

You can toggle this on and off. You will only want it on when you are making your beat (to stay in rhythm) but not for vocals. You will need to press the Play button to hear it. The speed of the metronome will change if you adjust the tempo.

METRONOME VOLUME

You can adjust the volume of the metronome as you start putting in sounds. The more sounds you put, the more you will increase the volume.

1/2/NO COUNT-IN OPTIONS

You can select 1 Bar, 2 Bar, or None; if you choose ‘None’, it will start right away.

LOOP

Turn on when you are making a track since you will be building different things using kicks, snares, etc. (we’ll get into that later); you want to turn this off when doing vocals.

OVERWRITE

Make sure this ‘+’ icon is toggled on for Overwrite when you record because if you don’t, you will record over your own sounds. When it’s on, you add to the beat you’re creating.


STEP 01: PICK A SOUND

There is a wide variety of sounds, instruments, audio effects, plugins, etc. that are available to you in Ableton, which makes this program is perfect for beginniners. You can explore these sounds by using the drop-down menus. In this live set, we will explore guitar sounds. Select 12 String Chorus Guitar and drag it over to a track (on the right side).

STEP 02: ADJUST SOUND

After you’ve drag + dropped sound/instrument onto the track, you’ll notice the sound pop up in this panel where you can control the sound of the guitar. We are going to change/fix the sound in our Edit menu and select Quantize. By choosing Quantize, it will smooth out your beats.

STEP 03: FIX SOUND

When you double on the MIDI file, it will appear at the bottom where you can fix certain parts of your beat. Make sure your arrow tool is selected to edit chords by clicking on the particular part you want to edit; you can move it, make it shorter/longer, etc.

STEP 04: LAYER ANOTHER SOUND TO YOUR BEAT

Make sure your settings are all toggled on/off before you start recording your second sound. Once you click the record icon, you can add another sound to your beat.

STEP 05: [REPEAT STEP 03] TO EDIT SOUND

Make sure your settings are all toggled on/off before you start recording your second sound. Once you click the record icon, you can add another sound to your beat. When you double-click the MIDI, it will appear on the bottom panel where you can edit the sounds. On the bottom right, where it says 1/64, you can adjust the clip view higher/lower to see more/less of the chords; the lower the number, the easier to work with when editing certain parts of the sound. To adjust it, hover over the top part of the panel where the magnifying glass is, and drag it up/down to adjust the number.


YOU'VE MADE YOUR FIRST BEAT!

Good job! This is just the start of a 3-part course.

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