Top Ten(10) Tips for Writing in Ableton Live

How To Write Melodies and Chord Progressions

Top Ten(10) Tips for Writing in Ableton Live

Here are some tips for writing notes in Ableton Live’s DAW.

1. Know what key you are writing in: In order to know what key your writing in; you have to first learn the chord structure of the piano. First off here is an unconventional tutorial on music theory. For example: A Chord is A;C and E notes. The way I learned music is that every key two white notes above or below is in the same key as the note in the middle.

2. Be aware of how long of a clip you are writing: Often times when I am Writing in Live I shorten the clip to only be one (1) bar. This allows for the music to flow and frankly; it gives me less writing to do. When first starting out I would write in Four (4) bars. This often times can be difficult to listen to; because it blatantly repeats itself. However with one (1) bar; the repeat on the track is less noticeable.

3. Be cognizant of note length: In order to produce the best track possible; be aware of how long the notes are. In order to produce the best track possible; use notes of all lengths. Usually when I am Writing in Ableton I use quarter notes when writing in one (1) bar.

4. Learn How to Write Chords: Chords can be defined as the heart of the piano. In order to write chords you must know this: a chord is a sequence of usually three (3) notes; all of which being two white notes away from each other. For example a C Chord is: C; E and G. A B Chord is B; D and E. An A Chord is A; C and E. And so on and so forth.

5. Use the Ableton Live Instruments: Personally; I have a few favorite Ableton Live Instruments. One of which being Guitar Bass. Another being Percussive. If you’re able to do Sound Design and can make your own Instruments; you obviously don’t need to read this part. However; for everyone else: there is the Ableton Live Instruments.

6. Try to not repeat notes: Especially if you are doing Chords. Customarily it is only okay to repeat notes when Writing Ableton when it is the 2nd and 4th notes of a one bar four note sequence.

7. Experiment with different octaves: The Live DAW is great for this. Usually when I am trying to switch octaves on a sequence of notes I Command-A to select all then hold down Shift and use the Up or Down arrow keys to Change Octaves.

8. Use the draw tool: In the upper right hand corner of Ableton’s Daw there is a pencil like icon. When clicked: this enables draw mode in the DAW. Then whenever you click a note in the DAW; it fills in a note. Pretty cool, right?

9. Quantize; Quantize; Quantize: In order to use the quantize tool: which is Command-U if you don’t know. This is like spell-check for musical notes. After you select all and choose to Quantize it moves the notes around into a better sounding structure.

10. Have Fun! Lastly; but not leastly; remember to have fun. I believe it was Michael Jordan who claimed that the best way to be the best at something; is to love the practice of it. So if you want to produce melodic structures like a pop star; just love the practice of it and everything you’ll be great in no time.

Thanks for reading all the tips. If you don’t already have ableton live you can try it free for 30 days here:

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Brendan James Mulhern
See all posts by Brendan James Mulhern