We take a look at building up a basic Psytrance groove using Ableton Live, then show you how this powerful program can help you work you psytrance loops into basic track ideas. We’ve used Nuborn’s Psytrance Samples Vol 2 pack as a fast way to build our groove, since it contains all the samples and MIDI we’ll need in one place. If you have problems loading the video player below try refreshing your page and hitting the play button again, you can also view this in full screen mode.
We’ve started off by setting our tempo to a suitable 145 BPM then chosen the psytrance drum loop that Nuborn use in their demo track. As you can see one of the beauties of Live is it’s instant and accurate time stretching abilities – simply drag and drop your audio loop into the clip view window, it’ll even create a new track for you if there isn’t a spare track handy.
Next we add in a kick drum, using a Simpler, Live’s basic sampler, recording in a 4/4 kick pattern using our MIDI keyboard. Live will automatically quantize our playing to the setting in the record quantization menu. You can change this easily by choosing Edit Menu -> Record Quantize.
We continue to build up our groove using one of the psytrance basslines from the Nuborn pack, however you could easily edit in your own pattern using the MIDI note editor. As with audio to import a MIDI file all you need to do is drag and drop from Live’s browser window, then assign an instrument to the MIDI track. You could choose any VSTi you have, but we’ve opted for a bass preset from Simpler ‘Monobass’. Notice we tweak the envelope of the sampler to get that tight ‘Psy’ bass sound.
We then add a crash cymbal to our groove and continue to add in an acid stab, again using Simpler and recording in our pattern using our MIDI keyboard. We then add some delay FX to the acid stab to give that spacey feel. Next a standard TR-909 style Hi-Hat finishes our basic groove.
Moving on we need a melodic part to finish our psytrance loop so we skip through some of the MIDI’s in the pack. Choosing a suitable sequence we tune it to the key of our track then flick through the Synth Stab section and choose one we like the sound of. Adding the stab to simpler we tune it to the key of our track.
Next its time for some Psy filter fun. We add Live’s Auto Filter to the synth stab track and choose a preset at random. We then sync the filter’s LFO to Live’s tempo, tweak our settings and there you have it – a twisting psychedelic synth groove.
Now its time for a little arrangement fun! We’re using lives ‘Scenes’ (the lines that run horizontally along the clip view) to create different scenes that we can flick through at will. This is a great way to build up sequences to play live in clubs since you can flick between any of these easily, one over-riding the next. You can see how we build up each ‘scene’ with the elements that we’d like it to contain then use the scene play buttons on the far right of the screen to flick through each to create a ‘live’ psytrance track. As with all controls in Live it’s possible to assign pretty much any control that you can see on the screen to a MIDI keyboard, knob, slider or keyboard press, so triggering samples and sequences is a doddle.
This is just the tip of the iceberg of what you can do with Ableton Live, and if all this sounds like alien gibberish we suggest that you download the demo version and take a leaf through the excellent built in tutorials that come with Live, they take a few minutes each and will really show you how powerful this software can be, especially for performance orientated musicians.
Mark is a passionate DJ who loves to remix and make tracks with various synth sounds and producer packs. Mark works for DMS in the UK who sell various DJ music sample packs. Click for more information, here.
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