Hi ! My name is Senet, I’m a Bass Music Producer and Guest Blog Writer at Acolyte.audio
Something that I wish I had been better at since the very beginning of my production journey is organization and planning. Not only does this come into play with sound selection and arrangement considerations, but it also plays a major role in routing a project as well as how it is laid out visually. While some of us out there prefer to stick to their own brand of organized chaos, there is definitely a tremendous benefit to trying out different ways of setting up your projects and finding out what works for you most efficiently.
Putting thought into this aspect of our projects does two things: first it helps us to display our palate of sounds in a way that makes logical sense to us, secondly it is a real time saver when it comes to the mixing and more processing-intensive stages of creating a track. One reason I really like Ableton Live is for the way that the grouping system works, which I take advantage of to process different elements of my track separately.
For example, I like to keep my “actual drums” away from my “high percussion” elements because throughout all of my projects I have found that I prefer to process the two differently and separately, and setting up my default set to accommodate this lets me focus on jamming. This is something the popular Bass Music Producer NGHTMRE also does. Another way that I utilise the groups feature is when I am routing different parts of my project through bus or return channels. Let’s say I wanted to add a little more ‘gel’ to both drum groups from the previous example, I can open a new audio track to use as a bus and route both groups to it. This way I can maintain the qualities I desire out of separate processing while still benefiting from a little bit of extra grease.
Being a uniquely individual preference, organisation takes on a different meaning to each of us, especially when it comes to our personal artwork. I want to point out that there are lots of “little things” you will find that help your production evolve, some of which sound ridiculous to other producers. Remember: if it works it isn’t stupid.
I’m including an Ableton Live 9 template and walk through below which you are free to download and experiment with. My hope is that this can be a useful tool for getting some organization and signal flow ideas, if not an outright starting point for you to create tracks without having to think about all that stuff too much. This is a modified version of my own custom default Live template, I have condensed some elements as well as removed my default processing chains and any devices that are not available outside of Live 9 Suite (disclaimer: I’m not 100% sure that the template will work with Live Lite or Intro, it may have too many tracks).
I’ve spent a lot of time re-designing this as I learn over the past couple years so I hope it can help some folks.
Note: To save any Live Set as your default set, navigate to the File/Folder tab of Live’s Preferences menu and click ‘Save’ where it says “Save Current Set as Default”.
Template and Walkthrough
-Tempo is 140 BPM
-Bars 1 to 121 are broken into 8 bar sections with locators in Arrangement View
-All routing is outlined below, modify to suit your needs
-All tracks except for groups and busses are set by default to -12 dB
-Mixbus is set up with an EQ8 and Glue Compressor, both disabled, I usually start mixing into these early on in a project
– Need more? Acolyte’s pack ‘ARC: Ableton Rack Collection’ is used by producers signed to Circus, Twonk Nation, OWSLA and more.
THE RUN DOWN
One MIDI track and one audio track, both sent to the group. The group is routed to the Mixbus rather than the Sidechain channel because I usually set up a separate sidechain directly on the Sub group to keep the signal from mixing with the rest of the track until the end of the chain. I don’t really know why I do it this way but for some reason it makes sense to me. Drums
Two MIDI tracks with a Simpler device on each track, one for a kick and one for a snare, with both tracks sent to the group. The group is routed to the Mixbus, but sometimes I will set up a separate bus track fed by both Drum and Percussion groups which in turn flows to the Mixbus. Usually I just keep it the way it is though, I like to compress the shit out of my drums and leave my percussion with a little more breath.
One miscellaneous MIDI track plus two audio tracks, one for hi hats and one for miscellaneous percussion audio. I usually mess around with percussion racks in MIDI but if I need a placeholder for either hats or percussion I have separate channels for each ready to go. All tracks are routed to the group, which is in turn routed to the Mixbus.
One MIDI track and one audio track, my synth group usually ends up only containing MIDI channels but sometimes I find myself throwing audio in for one-shots and such so I like to have the track already there for convenience. Both tracks are sent to the group which is routed to the Sidechain.
One MIDI Track, since most of my basses tend to be made in Serum or Operator. I usually just duplicate the track when I need another one and initialize the instance of my synth on the new track. All bass tracks are sent to the group which again is routed to the Sidechain.
Three audio tracks to accommodate a variety of vocal elements. I start with three tracks because I’m pre-set to do harmonies as well as easily organize a larger selection of vocal samples right off the bat. I don’t always use vocals but when I do they’re all sent to the group, which is (you guessed it) routed to the Mixbus.
Four audio tracks for: Ambience, Uplifter, Downlifter, and Impact. I like to have these four FX tracks set up beforehand because almost all of my tracks contain all of these elements. Another thing I like about organizing my FX like this by default is that when I get stuck I can fall back on my pre-arranged tracks as a guideline for building some atmosphere. All FX are sent to the group and then routed to the Mixbus.
Receives the signal from Synths and Basses. I left this track blank so that you can add your own preferred sidechain device. Routed to the Mixbus.
Receives the signal from all tracks, acting as a “master channel” so that you can process your track as a whole while leaving the true Master channel free for a reference track to flow through when A/B’ing.
Drop your reference track, this channel is routed to the Master channel. By default I left this channel muted, just hit the solo button at anytime and your reference track will play through Ableton Live unprocessed.
Reverb and Delay return channels are the standard return channels that open with the Live factory default set. Reverb is green, Delay is purple, both are routed to the Mixbus