Create a (kick-ass) master template for Ableton Live | Jonathan Haidle | Skillshare

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Create a (kick-ass) master template for Ableton Live

teacher avatar Jonathan Haidle

Watch this class and thousands more

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.

      Class Intro


    • 2.

      Bus/Summing Channels


    • 3.

      Audio/MIDI/Return tracks


    • 4.



    • 5.



    • 6.

      MIDI Mapping


    • 7.

      Saving the template


    • 8.

      Class project


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About This Class

Ramp up your efficiency by creating up a master template - so that you can simply open a new session, and immediately get started.  This class will share tips/ideas pulled from over 7 years of studying the best Ableton producers out there.

At the end, you'll not only have a working template - but you'll understand the strategy behind these suggestions, so you can continue to tweak your own template over the years.  

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1. Class Intro: Hi. My name is Jonathan Hagel and I'm a composer and musician, and I've been using able to lie for about seven years now. And in this class, I'm gonna show you how I've created a master template to make my writing more efficient and more organized. And what I'm going to show you is the product of many years of tweaking not only from my own personal use, but from any other good ideas that I come across. And we're going to recreate this template step by step. But you have a working template in the end. But I'm also going to explain thoroughly the reasons behind why I'm setting up that way. Because invariably as you go along, you're gonna want to change it to make it more workable for yourself and understanding the reasons and the strategy behind what I'm showing you will help you continually refine your own template. Over the years, 2. Bus/Summing Channels: when creating a template from scratch. I like to start with something Channels or some people refer to them as bus channels. Your master track is kind of like the ocean and the summing channels where the bus channels are like the major rivers that lead into their. Then we're going to set up all the individual tracks, which would be like smaller rivers. Your audio is go start in these individual channels that it funnels into the summing channels are the buses and then into the Master Channel. All right, so let's set up the summing channels. I'm going to add three more tracks up here. Audio tracks. I'm gonna make him all the same color so that I can recognize them easily and I to create four different summing channels. One is for the lead, which could be lead part or lead vocals. The next is the main body, then base and finally, drums. Summing channels are what I used to help in the mixing process. I'm usually using multiple different drum tracks or bass sounds or guitars are keyboards and all those we're gonna be funneling in and consolidating here in these summing channels . You can then go to each one of these tracks and turn off the input. So I'm just liked all of them and set this to no input. There is gonna be an input, but it's gonna come internally, not from one of your audio inputs or from many channel. The last thing I put in there is a track that I'm just gonna use as a spacer colored white so that I can recognize it, change the name on it just to be a few dashes. I turned off the input and then I make it really small. Insert this prior to the other ones. And this is just simply for organizational purposes so that I got a little bit of space between my summing channels and individual tracks and session view. I also go through and change this so that I remove all the stop buttons and shrink it down . So it doesn't just take a very much real estate again. This is just purely aesthetic. I just like a little bit of visual space there to help me find my way around. Now some people might argue that you don't need something channels when you have the ability to group different tracks together, and that's certainly one way to do it. But the reason that I don't do that is when it comes to mixing. It's a lot easier to keep the summing tracks together, and I'll show you that later. And the other reason is if you're using an A P C or push or launchpad and your group tracks together, it creates another column, and for me, that makes it harder to navigate using those kind of devices to control Mableton. So I don't group tracks together until the end. But that's just a personal preference, so there's no real wrong way to use a built in. It's just however you choose. 3. Audio/MIDI/Return tracks: Now that we've set up the master track and the summing channels, I recommend putting in channels for your audio, and this might be kind of a minimum one for each audio track that you have in your interface. But also, you could set some up based upon the sort of audio tracks that you tend to record Whether that be guitar voice, piano are any other outboard instrument for the purposes of this class and this demonstration, I'm just gonna create four audio inputs and I'm gonna move these to the front. From an organizational standpoint, I was like to put my lead part, whether that be vocal or another instrument right at the top. And then other audio tracks might be backing vocals, guitar, maybe acoustic guitar, maybe an electric guitar. Oops, I didn't mean to create an extra track there. I'll leave in anyways. My recommendation is to create as many audio tracks as you might possibly need the reason for this. So I find it's a lot faster and easier to simply go into your template and delete the tracks that you're not gonna be using for that particular song than to open a new session. and have to add more tracks because you want to add another part. Now that you've created the audio tracks, let's assign the audio. Now that we've set up the inputs, let's set up the outputs, take my lead track here and send that to the lead summing channel, the other ones, the background track backing vocals, acoustic guitar. Let your guitar. I'm gonna send all these to the body track, which is kind of that I just used the word body toe stand form the bulk of the parts and instruments that are not the lead or the baseline of the drums. Just kind of everything else You could call it main or another name if you want. And last time to take this bass guitar and send it to the bass track. Do you have drums that you're according live? Put those in there, too. Again, just for the purposes of this template, I'm trying to show you the main concept. Not necessarily make one that's specific to your studio. You're gonna need to customize that for yourself. If you're like most April 10 users, you're probably using Midi tracks as well. So let's go ahead and insert a couple of those again, I'm gonna slide those over in front of our summing channels. So now I recommend creating a number different trucks based upon the ones that you more often tend to use, whether that be keyboards or pads or baselines, because always easy to just go through and delete the ones you don't need for a particular song that you want to work on. For the purposes of this illustration, I'll create a few in here, which will just be like a pad, maybe a synth since and base keys and drums. I usually always use a number of different drum racks, so I'll go ahead and duplicate the drums here so that we have another track. Now that we put all those in, let's assign the help. It's now you can't really assigned their audio outputs until there is an instrument in there. I'll go ahead and put some instruments in there already. Feel free to put in some of your favorites just to give you a place to start with. Okay, now that there's an instrument in each midi track, we can adjust. The output would take the power. I'm gonna put that into the body something channel. I'm going to go to the synth bass, and I'm going to stick that into the base channel keys I can put into body. And the drums are obviously going into the drum bus. Now that we have some of these out here to work with, let's talk about some organizational things. I like to take this space or track and insert that before each instrumental group, whether that be the drums, vocal parts and then the other instrument groups. You can obviously put that wherever you want. Teoh. This is just how I organize it again. The goal is just to make it easier to look at, especially if you have a number of tracks going on. The other thing that I like to do is to make them color coordinated. You can, of course, pick whatever colors you like, but I tend always make the lead vocals pink, and then I make backing tracks or other ones like that, like a lighter color pink. So it's still within the same family of color, but its distinctive from the lead part. Maybe I'll make that even a little bit lighter like this. I'll make all the pads move the bass guitar and the synth bass together of the keys over. I'll make thes all kind of in the green family. And then I'm gonna make my basis to be more purple. I might even just put little space or there between the base and the body parts here. And then I always do my drums in blue again. There's no reason that I chose thes particular colors, but if I keep it consistent, it helps with my visual organization. I also like to play with the sizing of tracks to help with that organization. So I'm gonna take thes summing tracks which aren't really gonna have any information in them. And I'm gonna remove all the stop buttons from them and shrink them down to be a little bit smaller. The other thing that you're gonna need to do on the summing channels is to change the monitor to in. Otherwise, when you some the audio into those buses, you will be able to hear it. I also then go over to the arrange for you and adjust the sizing there as well. Some of select on my summing channels and I'm going to shrink those down a little bit, too, as well. Okay, so now let's add some return tracks. Now. I personally don't use very many return tracks. Typically, just have a general reverb that I might use and a delay, possibly another kind of reverb. Some people use these heavily. I personally don't use them that often because I have a lot of ram on my computer, so I just put the effects on the individual tracks. But it is a great way to save on CPU usage if you need that again. I like to play with the sizing on these return tracks to make him a little smaller and also make them all one color. 4. Plug-ins: Now that we set up the tracks, let's add in some commonly used plug ins or audio effects. Now, I don't recommend putting too many in to your template because the point here is to help with efficiency, so inserting the ones that are most commonly used is the important step here. But I also wouldn't recommend considering your master template to be a static document. It should be a work in progress. So as you continue to do work and you find that you have a particular plug in, that you always use, put it in there. The most important goal of a template is to make your time more efficient. So anything that you might include that does. That is great. Okay, so here's defects chain that I pretty much use on every single track. Start with the utility plug in, because I might want to adjust the gain that's coming in and then insert the queue, followed by a compressor and finally a utility plug in. I used the utility plug in all the time for a couple main reasons. Number one is that it's very basic, so it doesn't use every much CPO and doesn't put a load on your computer to use it often. Number two. I think it's really important to keep consistent where you increase or decrease gain in your signal chain. And because there's lots of different ways that you can do that, you can do that in the queue or in the compressor. Here. A lot of other plug ins have volume changes, and I like to keep it consistent where I make changes in the gain. Thirdly, for some plug ins, especially more advanced ones, it's really important that you don't over drive them. So sometimes I stick a utility in front of it to control the gain staging, which is basically a fancy way of saying that I want to make sure that things don't get louder and louder when you add more processing to it. And the last reason is it's a great plug in for automating volume changes. When I first started using a Bolton, I did that automation with the slider. I would either do that here and session view, and while I was recording, I would move it up and down and record that on a mission or go to range view. I would show automation for the volume of the track, and I would make those adjustments this way. Problem came that when I got to the final mixing stage and let's say I wanted to decrease the vocals a tiny bit, but I've already tied up my track volume of all this automation. I either have to introduce another plug in, which is, like the utility want to increase or decrease it a little bit. Or I have to copy all the automation for the whole track and raise and lower that. So what I do now is I used the utility plug it, and I make automation changes by the gain. And this allows me to make adjustments in the mixing stage to the track volume without changing the automation that I've already put in for the volume. OK, so moving on what I do next, I take all these plug ins and I group them together. That way I can turn them off to preserve the CPU on tracks that I'm not using yet, and then I copy this into all the other tracks. Then I also copy this into each one of the summing channels. Now for the drum buzz Here's what I might do. Different. I'm gonna replace this compressor with the drum bus compressor. Enable 10 live 10. They came out with the specific compressor for the drum bus, and I think it has a lot of nice features to it now for the return tracks. This is where I'd recommend spending a little bit more time setting up your plug ins. This is in contrast to how I set up the plug ins for the template and all the other tracks where the e que and the compression and whatnot is going to be adjusted almost immediately . Toe whatever song I'm creating or whatever sound is in that for the purposes of this class , I'm just going to add some generic fix and not spend the time dialing. And in I'm just trying to demonstrate how you might start to set this up. Let's put in a reverb and two different delays about a ping Pong delay and then just a simple delay. After these effects, I'm going to just put in in a queue and a generic compressor, and I'll do that for each one of the other return tracks. I don't put a utility on the return tracks because I'm rarely automating any kind of volume changes in the return track itself, because the best place to automate that is in the sends for each individual channel. Finally, let's put some effects on the Master Bus or the Master Channel. I'm gonna start with the utility function again because I like to just the volume that's coming into the Master Channel. Put any Q on there this time instead of regular compressor. I'm inning start the glue compressor because that's modeled after compressors that have typically been in the final FEC's chain for the mix bus. Sometimes you can hear it referred to as mixed bus compressor. And finally, I'll put in a limiter not to use like you typically do in a mastering process for finalizing your tracks, but just simply to put a cap on the volume that's leaving my Daw and going into my speaker to make sure that there's not any peaks that might damage them. The last thing I do with the Master Channel is I go to the utility plug in and I change it to mano. I think it's a great idea if you're recording and tracking and mixing to do that initially in mono to make sure everything's working. Fine, because if it works in motto, then it'll work in stereo. But the converse is not necessarily true, So setting my template to mono helped me remember to always start with that. 5. Sidechain: now, For those of you who are creating Elektronik music side chaining is a really important part of that sound. And I include something specifically in my template to help with that. I feel like the easiest way to do that is by including a MIDI channel as my side chain. So I'm gonna go ahead and add another MIDI track here. I'm gonna put that in with my drum group. From an organizational standpoint, I'm gonna name this side chain, and I like to use the impulse plug in for my side chain because it's very simple and easy to use and then find a kick sample. I like to choose one with a longer sustain so that I have a little bit more control over it . And then one thing that's important is to change. The output descends on Lee. This allows you to use the output for side chaining without a going to the Master Channel. So then there are two ways that you could create the side chain pattern that you're going to use one way is to copy the bass drum pattern from one of your drum tracks. That's more applicable if you have a drum pattern where the bass drum beat is very irregular or is more complex. I should say, if your bass drum pattern is very simple, you can simply create a MIDI clip here in the side chain. Let's say it's gonna be on one and three. Now it's gonna play that basement on one and three or four on the floor. If you're gonna have it, be more of a techno beat and it's gonna automatically play that site chain pattern for you . Next. Let's set up the compressor that we're going to use for side chaining on the summing channel for the body and for the base. We'll turn on the side chain and will add that from our side chain channel. I'll go ahead and start that so we can make sure that it's working. And then I usually put one on the base channel as well, but with a more subtle effect. If you wanted to take this a step further, you could create other mid eclipse that had other bass drum patterns to them. I don't really feel like that's necessary because it's so easy to simply come in here and draw in a different pattern. But that's just impossible idea 6. MIDI Mapping: all right, So the last thing that I do if I have any sort of gear that I'm using to control my doll with a happy a keyboard or if I'm using the push or an external controller is I set up the midi mapping for the MIDI channels, you can actually go in and set the MIDI to come from a specific place, whether that be a keyboard or controller that you have. And my favorite thing to do is to go to the summing channels and to map the sliders to some sort of external controller. I'll show you how that works. So if I go up here, you click on the MIDI mapping button and then you simply click on the slider and then the one on your controller on the next one. The Knicks lighter and the last one for the drums. Turn off the mini mapping button, and now these sliders correspond to our summing channels. And for me, this is a lot more enjoyable to use sliders to adjust this than to simply go up with the mouse and move it up and down, which you can do as well if there any other knobs, sliders, buttons or keys that you plan on using regularly. This would also be the time to set those up. So just go to Midi mapping again and configure any that you want to use so that they're saved with your master template. 7. Saving the template: all right. Now that you spend all this work creating your master template, we'll need to make sure that you save it. To do this, you'll need to go to the preferences. So who appeared alive? Click on Preferences and then it's gonna be under file folder. There's Look and Feel Audio Lean Committee and then file folder, where it says, Save current set as default. That's where you click safe That way, every time you select open a new project, this template is going to come up, and whenever you have changes or tweaks that you want to make to it, go to file. Open a new live set. This will pop up, and then you can make your changes to it, and then you save it again. Just be sure when you save it again that you've cleared out any audio or any MIDI files or anything that you don't want to be in your master template. Because if there's a clip in here or any sort of audio, it's going to save that with your template as well 8. Class project: Hopefully you found this very useful and setting up your own master template for this class project. What I want you to do is set up your own template and then take a screenshot of both the session view and the arrange views. Though we can see what it looks like. I think one of the most exciting things about the April than community is the fact that you can learn so much from what other people are doing. That's how I came up with this format for a template, as I drew small ideas from lots of different people. So share your set up with the class and we'll see what further learning can take place.