YOUNG WEATHER +++ COURT OF TREES
ABLETON SESSION BREAKDOWN
a. Push's encoders are touch sensitive (awesome) and send MIDI notes when touched, even on the top. In User mode, the Push is a fully-customizable MIDI controller. So naturally, they're good for making some Resonator-heavy clips that I dubbed “encoderbells.” You can then map the notes the encoders send to clip slots. In each clip I wrote some clip automation for the Resonator base note (varying around the key of D major). This makes some subtle but unnerving melodic hints to start the song. Each clip moves the Resonator's base note, but plays a D note itself. The track that houses these clips is then routed to an Audio Track that resamples my performance of them into an Audio Clip. I mapped a
clip slot on this track to a pad on the Push to make a simple clip recorder.
b. Tension sound “Plipp” is fun because the short notes are pizzicato-like but when held ofer an abrasive screech. The Limiter is your friend when venturing into sound design with Tension. I like to add stereo imaging and movement with short stereo delays, a bit of a habit right now.
c. Vocal Sampler is Racked with a voice singing an “ooh” and spread across a Simpler, and a small drum loop that adds some percussive/repitched flavor. By using Simpler, it is quick and dirty to use repitching to play the sample in pitches higher or lower than it's original, sampled note. This creates artifacts and eventually “chipmunk” tonality in the sample, but using some keyboard-based flter modulation you can adjust the pitches that begin to sound strident or “whale-like” to morph as you move up and down the keyboard. Likewise, the drum loop chain pitches up and down and loses sync with the original tempo of the track. This is on purpose to push and pull at the track's own groove, but I made sure to have a macro mapped to the level of the loop so it could be brought down if distracting. The bit Redux audio efect adds old sampler favor to it – and with Push's lovely integration into Live's devices, I can easily select it
during the performance and lower the bit depth on-the-fy as a clip automation envelope.
d. Of course, being a drummer, Push's repeat buttons make for fun, over the top flls if you're into that kind of thing – I use a combo of MPC Style playing while recording a loop and step sequencing after a couple of bars are recorded in, so that my hi hats can be a little more random.
Oddly enough, coming from a drum and MPC background, step sequencing makes me think more randomly than playing in. Of course, Push allows for easy workfow in switching between pad-playing and step sequencing.
e. The ambient drum part that transitions into the B section has some sounds that are barely audible, and in the moment I pecked at them a little, though they're not really heard – this is a combo of me getting settled in the performance (don't be afraid to do this!), and getting rhythmically set for the
transition drumming (when everything drops out you can hear those small elements with clarity).
f. The repeat subdivision buttons are nicely placed to allow for pinky pressing to change the subdivisions while holding down notes (of course those repeats are responding to velocity/aftertouch as they are held!) - the changing from 32nd notes to 16th notes sounds pretty fun – especially in chords that feel adrift at the moment from any clear chord progression. This is to add a sense of harmonic (and rhythmic!) loss to the track, so that the bassline, when it returns, feels like going home, and has more
impact as it returns the feeling of melodic progression.
g. The B section bassline is done in a 7 bar phrase to feel just a little “short” and odd time – likewise, dropping the note right before I end the clip recording (causing a little pause or breath in the note before it loops back to the beginning of the clip) was something I did initially out of not wanting to hang a note into the beginning of my clip. I could use legato (or note force legato as it's sometimes put) to make each note extend fully to the next one, but I actually liked the little indicator the pause gave to the rhythm of things – it gives a little bump in the groove that also helps to identify the “odd” bar count.
h. The big synth at the ending is an operator patch that's pretty simple, but uses Vinyl Distortion (called “Grunch” in my macros), and Auto Pan (called “Flipper”) whose amount and rate are tied to a single macro (making the effect speed up as it becomes more “wet” in the sound) – using a single macro
on 2 parameters is an easy way to take an efect control to an unconventional place.
I. At the very end, I return to the encoderbells, after a (purposefully) abrupt ending by moving the scene down via the arrow buttons (still in note mode on the Push) – I have the touch strip in my Push User mode mapped to a dry/wet macro on an Audio Efect Rack containing a Soundtoys Echoboy + Soundtoys Crystallizer – which bring in the low echo rumble at the very end, to mimic going back to the city sounds and traffic...and away from a court of trees...