In our first instalment, we discussed programming and sequencing beats with Ableton’s Push controller.
In this second half, we’ll be focusing on playing melodies and sequencing riffs from our instrument collections.
Let's get started on laying out a bassline for the beat we previously sequenced.
The first thing you’ll want to do is create a new midi track. Let's tap the ‘Add Track’ button to add a new MIDI track to the Set.
Something to keep in mind is if you press and hold the Add Track button you can toggle between Audio, MIDI and Return tracks
Once you Add a track the Push will automatically go into ‘Browse mode’, from here we can navigate and load through our Instruments. Once we find the right Instrument we’ll want to tap
Note mode, I’m going for one of Sampler’s presets.
Now that our instrument is loaded, our Push grid will automatically set itself up to play notes. All notes on the grid by default will be in the key of C major.
Now The bottom left pad plays in the octave range of C1. As you move upward in the grid, each pad will be a fourth higher. If we Move to the right, each pad is the next note in the C major scale.
If we want to play a major scale we can press the first three pads in the first row, and then continue playing the first three pads in the next row up. until you reach the next C:
An important tip to note is that the pads will be colour-coded to help you move through the scaling;
Blue is the root note of the key.
White indicates that it is in the scale.
Green is the note that is currently playing.
Red is the note currently playing when or in the recording.
If you hold the Note button it will give you access to the loop length control, and the settings will automatically appear in the top row of pads.
If we want to change our scale, we can tap the ‘Scales’ button to change the key as well as scale associated with the grid.
The currently selected key is indicated in the Push display with an arrow pointing at it. The scale selection options indicate major scales by default. With Encoder 1 you can shift to a variety of other scales.
You can also adjust the grid layout using the two buttons on the right. You can switch between Fixed Y/N: If Fixed Mode is enabled, the notes on the pad grid remain in the same positions when you change keys the bottom left pad will always play in C except in scales that don’t contain a C, the bottom-left pad will play the nearest note in the key. When Fixed is off, the notes on the pad grid shift so that the bottom-left pad always plays the root of the selected key.
Key and Chromatic modes
With In ‘Key’ selected, the pad grid is modified so that only notes within the key range are displayed. In ‘Chromatic Mode’, the grid contains all of the notes. The Notes that are in the key are lit, while notes that are not in the key are greyed out. if you hold the Shift button while in Scale mode this will allow you to access additional note layout options.
Sequencing Your Basslines and Melodies
Next, we’ll get into step sequencing your melodies and basslines. Switch to the Push’s Melodic Sequencer by pressing the ‘Note Mode’ button once again. This will set the Push’s pad grid The eight rows of pads allow you to place notes in the specified clip. You’ll be able to adjust the loop length and access additional sequencing pages using the loop length pads above.
If ‘In Key’ is selected, each of the rows corresponds to one of the available notes in the currently selected scale. With ‘Chromatic’ selected, notes that are in the key are lit, while notes that are not in the key will not be lit. The light blue row will indicate the root of the selected key. Each column of pads will indicate a step in the sequence set by the Scene Grid buttons.
Tapping the ‘Octave Up’ and ‘Down’ button shifts the range of notes. You can also use the touch strip to change the range.
The brighter touch strip lights are to indicate the currently available note range, the dimly lit touch strip lights indicate that the clip contains notes within the corresponding note range.
This concludes Part 2 of our Bassline and Melodic Sequencing guide. Tune in next week for another detailed post on advanced production and mixing tips in Ableton Live 9 & 10.