we continue our look at the tips from ableton's "one thing" series. remember you can click the .gif's to look at the videos yourself or watch them all on ableton's official page!
as with many of the tips in the "one thing" series, Bwana uses an artificial constraint in order to inspire his creativity. specifically, he says he likes to force himself to use samples from a single youtube video when starting a track. resident pATCHES artist Pierce Engineer thought it would be fun to apply this technique to Bwana's own video & used soundflower to rip the audio into live.
any of the normal processing tricks you use will be helpful in this case, but the non-musical sound source will force you to push them to their extremes. Pierce uses transpose & warping to twist his selections into his composition. then, just like Bwana, once he "uncovers" the sounds, he uses the arrangement grid to begin to sequence his samples.
you can listen to the finished track, built using only samples from Bwana's "one thing" entry, here:
composer John Kameel Farah has one of the more unique entries in the series, offering improvisational ideas for exploring & discovering new musical scales. he starts with a simple repeating pattern in his left hand as a foundation. then he slowly starts to add to the notes that are "available" to him as he meditates on the harmonic relationships between the melodies & loop. this is similar to the technique that a lot of guitarists learn when they first start exploring their fretboard. playing along to a song or with a band, they find a couple notes that fit in & combine them in various ways. then, like dipping in a toe to test the water, they will try a out a new fret. if it works, it becomes a new note they can use & over time, they discover the scale of the song & play more dynamic melodies.
it's easy to take advantage of these techniques using ableton live. you can create the drone element by looping a short melody in a clip & experiment with playing over it. the great thing about using the software is you can record your improvisations & pick out the best parts later. you can even loop & quantize them & start the whole process over again. this way, you don't have to be much of a musician to take advantage of this tip.
often, a genre song will sound like it can't say very many new things. if you find yourself stuck in this rut, Ulises Lozano demonstrates an interesting technique for creating new ideas in his video. simply put, he takes two song ideas & smashes them together. in the process, he creates something that sounds completely fresh.
this is a fairly easy process in live - you can just find your project in the browser & drag the whole folder into your project. I find it best to group the imported tracks (they will already be selected) to keep them organized separately until you find how you will merge & intersect those opposing elements in the original.
Mike Parvizi recommends recording out long passages of instrumentation & testing out shorter loops for interesting rhythms & harmonic progressions. sometimes, the best stuff will come from an unintuitive place, like a loop starting on the "4" instead of the "1".
whatever the clip, this technique can help you find new grooves & rhythms just by moving where the downbeat falls. because its so easy to move the loop bracket around in a clip, it is probably worth trying out if you ever feel yourself stuck on ideas.