July 12, 2013  |   Tips & Tricks, Tutorials

Push Deconstruction Lab (Skream – ‘Midnight Request Line’ & Kraftwerk – ‘The Model’)

Last month we headed to Barcelona to create a special ‘Deconstruction Lab’ around Ableton’s Push using the skills of our expert tutor Ski Oakenfull. These deconstructions took place at Ableton’s artists meet and greet at Sync Studios, Barcelona.

Skream – Midnight Request Line

In the first of his excellent deconstructions, Ski Oakenfull gets to work on a timeless dubstep track, Midnight Request Line by Skream.

Kraftwerk – The Model

In the second installment, Ski Oakenfull breaks down one of the best known tracks from electronic music pioneers, and Sonar headliners, Kraftwerk.

Video Transcription (Midnight Request Line):

Hello, my name is Ski Oakenfull and I am a tutor and Course Developer at Point Blank Music School, and we’re here today with Ableton at Sync Studios in Barcelona for Sonar 2013. For this video I’m going to be looking at a classic track by Skream, it’s called “Midnight Request Line”.


This track came out in 2005 and Skream was a dub step pioneer. So it’s a very influential track and there’s some really interesting elements that I’m going to try to recreate using Ableton live nine.


I’m going to talk a little bit about how I’ve created the presets, and then I’m going to try programming the track using the Push here. And try not to look at the screen as much as possible.


So just to kick things off I’ve actually got the track I’ve put it into Ableton. You can see it here. And I’m just, I’ve divided it up into various sections. So let’s just have little quick listen through to those, and just kind of establish what key we’re in, and what the cords are.


So we have our kind of intro here. And one of the real distinctive things about this track is this arpeggio. And a great beat here, and the bass. So all of this I’m going to call the A section, and then we get to this section here, the B section. Different cords. So lets just have a look at the key signatures to start off with. I’ve got a rogue sound here. We’re in C minor. ‘’==


Do you notice it’s got a real chromatic sound to it, because we have this C minor chord, and then it goes down a semitone to a B minor. And then for the B section we go to F minor chord and E minor chord. So A section C minor, B minor, B section F minor E minor. So I think we’re going to start off by programming the beat. I’ll just remind you of that comes in here.


Sounds to me like a pretty standard 909 kit. So we’ll do the beat and then we’re going to the kind of arpeggio sound, and talk about how recreating that. So I’m going to just get rid of the keyboard here. We’re going to go back over to this mode here, session mode and lets go to the push. So first things first, I’m going to load up the kit.


So I’m going to click on add track, and we’re going to go to drum rack here, scroll down to user library, and this is a kit that I’ve created already it’s called Midnight Kit. There we go, it’s loading up. You can hear it’s pretty much just an adaptation of a 909. So we’re going to start off with this high hat. And I’m actually going to put this in using the step sequencer.


So it’s going to take accent off just going to check the tempo’s a 140. And we can leave the conties [SP], well it’s actually the record quantization is on at the moment, so we’ll leave that. So I’m going to start off just by creating the one bar. Then I’m just going to mute the original back track.


So we’ve created one. So I’m just going to program this in, so we’ve got the hat, there we go, let’s just play that. And I’m just going to accent the, these beats here. Now I want to make this into a four bar loop, so I’m just going to click on the double bar here twice.


And then let’s copy that pattern over and made it into a four bar loop. And what we have on the last bar just for the last kind of eight, eight notes, eight beats we have a sixteenth kind of pattern. So I’m going to put that in I’m just going to take the accent off, and just put that in like that, there we go.


There sounds like there’s a bit of a volume crescendo there. So I can actually put that in using Push. And if I just hold down each one of these beats here, or the pads, I can just adjust velocity. And you can see that your colors kind of getting a bit dimmer the blue.


So let’s just start off kind of at the bottom and just build it back up, and try to just make each one kind of slightly increment in velocity, there we go. I’m kind of guessing this a little bit so maybe I can, I can kind of adapt to it once I listen to it. Let’s listen now. So let’s put that back on.


Okay, so there we go, we’ve got our, we’ve got our, my high hat pattern there, let’s go for the clap now. So again I’m going to use the step sequencer. Let’s make these accented. Cool. And then let’s go for the kick drum. So there we go, we’ve got our drum pattern there.


We’re going to come back to this maybe, kind of like add some beats once we get to the B Section, buts that’s working pretty well as our, as our main kind of A section beat.  So now we’re going to look at the this arpeggio sound. So I want to talk a little bit about how I created this.


So I’m going to click on add track. There we go, brings up the browser. Going to go to analog and this is in my synced miscellaneous section, there we go, Midnight Riff. Cool, now there are basically three different types of arpeggio going on here. I’m just going to go back to the electric piano sound here.


It’s the kind of fast, almost like sixteenth kind of notes and the started just plays two notes. And then for the B section it goes to an eighth note feel. So what I wanted to do was try to figure out a way to perform this live with push. And the way I went to bounce it was to actually create some chains, three different chains each with slight variation in the device settings, and then assign those chains using the chain selector to a map crow.


So I’ll just demonstrate to you now, how that worked. First of all I’m just going to change the scale to C minor which is the scale we’re in, and now I’m going to change it to chromatic as well. Click on the device key here. So this is our main one here, then I can just adjust the macro here to go to the eighth note. And then I can also play the first bit of it as well.


So let’s just have a quick look at that. And how I’ve built that chain. Let’s go to the main pattern here. So what we have here is the chord device and then a note length device and an arpeggiator. And then you can see here it’s playing an analog device here. So if I take all of these off the chord, note, and the apeggiator.


Let’s just select the right chain. I think I’m playing chain one there so let‘s just select this one here. Okay, so let’s take these off. So this is just the note on its own. Now if I play the arpeggiator, turn that on.


Again, if I just hold down one note. It’s just going to play that at sixteenths. It’s only when I hold down other notes, it’s actually going to start playing other notes from the chord. So the way I got around that was to create a chord device, and if I just go to the key board here, I programmed in using the chord device, the actual notes of the chord here.


That’s one, two, three, four, five, and six notes. And you can see those there. So then if you put the arpeggiator back on, and for the first intro pattern on the first chain here, are exactly the same thing, but I’ve restricted the note length here. So I’ve got here, it says 209, if I just increase that you can see it’s playing more of it. There we go. And then just go to the third one in the chain.


If you look at the arpeggiator here I’ve changed the rate to one eighth which kind of slows it down. So let’s try putting that in. I’m just going to take the key board off again now. There we go. And let’s just play the, the beat. So let’s do the first pattern first, just the two note one. I’m going to put the metronome on just to help me keep in time, we’ve got record quantization [SP] on.


Let’s just start again, just delete that. Cool, so that’s working really well. Straito [SP] I’m just going to go over to session view, actually what I’m going to do is press new and then I can put in the second arpeggio riff. So let’s record that in. Cool, that’s working really well. So let’s have a look at some more sounds now.


The next one I want to put in is a pad sound. So I’m going to click on add track here. It’s going to bring up the browser, and then we have analog here let’s go to pad, and here we go I got the Midnight Chords here. And remember for this main A section we’ve got the A minor and a B minor chord.


Let’s just play along. Record that in. It’s working well. So let’s also record that on the first scene as well. And you notice that going back to that first scene it hasn’t actually changed the chain in the arpeggio. So what we need to do is actually write that in as ultimation [SP]. So I’m just going to go back to that scene there. And I’m just going to write that in.


There you go, that’s going to the right one now. And then if we go to, over to the next one, and then change that to the second pattern. Just write in that ultimation [SP]. So now when we switch between the two.


So I’m going to add a bass line now, so I’m going to duplicate that scene, there we go, and let’s go back to device here. Just click on add track, analog, lets shoot up to the bass sounds and let’s try to get a kind of really dub steppy bass, here we go. Sounds nice. Course we can work on a little bit of the arrangement now. What we can actually do is take out the beat or the first two scenes.


Hold on, delete, there we go, and this one as well. There we go, so we’re building up the arrangement now. Now I want to work on the B section. So I’m going to duplicate this scene, here we go. And let’s just get rid of the chords and the arpeggio. There we go, just go back here and let’s put in this one now. You can then select the third pattern which is this one here. Just put that in put the metronome on. Okay, and I’m just going to lighten that automation as well, just select that odd pattern.


Cool, and then I’m going to shoot over to the chords, and these are actually the same chord as played in the C minor and B minor but played an octave up. So let’s click on the octave up button there, so let’s record that in.


Cool, let’s go to the bass line. And we’re playing an F here, we’re on the pending the arpeggio it’s a bit more rhythmic there’s a bit more of a pattern here. So let’s play that. Cool, so let’s go shoot over to the session view so we can now flip between the A section to the B section.


If you remember earlier how I talked the beat and how we can add some sounds, I think there’s some extra kick drums going on there, so if we go to the beat. I’m just going to add these in on the step sequence put the accent on. Cool, so one slight variation. After the B section the A section comes back in, but the bass line changes a little bit. So let’s duplicate this scene. There we go.


And let’s just select our bass sounds. Just delete that. So now we’ve got our scenes we can actually try recording this into the arrangement, and then maybe try playing something over the top. There’s a nice kind of harp sound that he put in. So what we do is we can then go over to this arrange page here, there we go, click on record. And let’s just put down a rough arrangement just to see how it could work. So here we go.


Let’s go to the B section now. Get that running a little bit, and then we can shoot to the section with the slight different bass line. So there we go. We’ve got our track in now rough arrangement just click on this button here, and then we can actually see how that’s gone in.


So let’s just bring up the last sound I want to look at which is the harp sound. So I’m going to click on the add track again and this is a tension sound if I remember rightly. Here we go it’s in guitar and plucked, Midnight Harp there we go. I’m going to play this on the keyboard. Little down a little bit. So this comes with over the transition from the A section to the B section.


Let’s just try recording that straight into the range page. There we go. Maybe try a little bit of improvising over the bass section. So there we go. I’ve put in the fundamental elements of the track.  And obviously there was some other stuff that was going on in the track, you know, sort of various effects and things but these are the main parts, and you can see how easy it is to put this stuff in using push pretty much not looking at the screen as well.


I also kind of, you know, you can perform things as well with playing around with racks and chains and assigning things to the macros you know you can really get into some performance, as well.


So I hope you enjoyed that I’m off now to check out some of the accents Sonar by Day, I’m really looking forward to seeing Mathew Herbert later. And I hope to see you again very soon.


At Point Blank online you have two methods of interaction with your tutor. Firstly, you’ve got the weekly online master class which is in real time. And then also we’ve got feedback on your assignments and that’s known as DVR.


So the online master class is a one hour session you get with your cheater every week. You can ask questions about lesson content. You get instant feedback and also demonstrations on the fly from the computer desk top with our streaming technology. DVR stands for Direct Video Response.


The concept is really simple you upload your Ableton logical key based project file to your tutor, he downloads it and then Push records on the screen captioning software and it evaluates your work.


So basically giving you one to one feedback you see all of the mouse movements and any parameter changes made by your cheater. It’s kind of like sitting in a studio over their shoulder watching what they’re doing whilst they work.


We have found that DVR processes truly revolutionized the way we teach on line. And the results speak for themselves. Book your place on a course now by visiting pointblankonline.net.

Video Transcription (The Model):

Hi, there. My name’s Ski Oakenfull and I’m a tutor and course developer at Point Blank Music School. Today we’re with Ableton at Sync Studios in Barcelona and for this video I’m going to be deconstructing a classic track by Kraftwerk. They’re actually one of the headline acts here at Sonar by night.


[Vocals by Kraftwerk - She's a model and she's looking good.]


So, I’ve got Ableton Live 9 and a push as well. So, I’m going to be inputting all the parts as much as possible using push, constructing the different sections, but I’ve also got a keyboard here just to demonstrate some of the chords and there might be a couple of parts that I have to put in on the keyboard.


So, let’s get cracking. First of all, I’ve put just an MP3 of the track into Ableton and I’ve just highlighted the different sections. I’ve just colored them as well. So, we’ve got an intro, a verse, a bridge and  what I’ve called like an arpeggio section as well.


Let’s just have a little listen through the different sections. Just like an instrumental intro there. Then we’ve got verse with the vocal. Then we’ve got this bridge section here which is another instrumental section, different chord sequence.


Then back to verse again and then we just got this arpeggio section that comes here. So, let’s just have a look at the chord sequences. There’s basically two main chord patterns.


Now, the song’s in A minor and for the first section the main intro and verse section, we’re just going very simply from an A minor to an E minor. These are just triads here. This is the one chord and this is the five chord, but for the B section or the bridge section it goes to the C which is a three chord.


Then this which is a B minor and this is the two chord, but you’ll notice there is this F sharp here. For this I’d say we’re going to the A minor Dorian [SP] scale.


So, we’re going back down to the A minor and into the G. G is the seven chord and then back to the C major again, B minor and then to the E which is actually like an E7 which is the five chord. We have a very kind of classic cool pattern here where we go for the two, five and the one then back.


So, they’re the main chords. I’m going to go back over to push now and actually start putting the parts in and we can refer back to those chords when we get to them.


I’m now going to try to not look at the screen as much as possible and just focus on push and start putting the parts in. First of all, we’re going to put the beat in. I’m going to click on add track and that should bring up the browse section here, okay and I’m just going to scroll right down to the user library here.


I’ve actually created a kit. Let’s see if I can find it. There we go. It’s through Kraftwerk Model and these are the sounds.


All these sounds actually are used from the microtonic [SP] drum machine. That’s created those sounds and actually sampled them and put them into a drum rep. So, we’ve got the accent on here which means they’re going to play at one, two, seven velocity. Let’s just check. We’ve got record quantization [SP] on. Sixteens, let’s put the metronome on as well and I think we’re good to go.


I’m just going to put in the beat. Oh, let’s just check the tempo as well, tempo is yeah, one, two, four which is the original tempo of the track. So, let’s hit record. Let’s put this pattern in.


First of all, let’s just mute the original. We don’t want that in. There we go. Okay, let’s go again. Just press delete and let’s go. There we go. Very simple. So, next thing is the chords. Now, there’s like a 16th patterned chord. We’re just going from the A minor to the E minor, so I’m going to put that in now.


Again, I’m going to hit add track and we’re go down to analog and we’re going to find another patch that I’ve created already. This is in synth key section. There we go. Kraftwerk model chords. A bit loud, so I’m just going to click on track button. Turn the volume down.


Now, we’re going to use the scale function. Remember I said this track was in A minor, so we’re going to click on the scales and go down to minor and go to A. There we go and then . . . and that means I can just play this one shape, these three notes playing a triad.


I’m just going down a row and these rows go down in fourths, so we have this A here. This is autonic [SP] going down to the E. I’m going to put it an octave down. Just play along. Just put this in. Think that’s working pretty well.


Now, let’s look at the bass. Again, click on add track. Let’s go scroll up. We’re on the analog here again. I’m going to scroll up to the bass section. Let’s find one I created, Kraftwerk Model, there we go. Again, I’m going to turn it down a little bit. Okay, just play along. So, those bass notes are just underpinning those chords still going from the A to the E. Let’s put that in. Cool.


Now, for the next sound we’ve got a kind of synth sound that has actually got quite a few different roles in the different sections. For this section, it’s just kind of copying the bass line, so let’s get that sound up again. It’s another analog sound that I’ve created. This one is a synth lead section. Let’s just bring it up. Getting quite loud, let’s turn it down. Let’s put that in. Cool, so that’s pretty much the intro section of the track.


What we’re going to do now is go to the verse section where there’s a vocal, but the synth line actually copies what the vocal line is doing. So, I’m going to use this button here, new. This is a really fantastic feature of Push because what it allows you to do is it basically creates a new scene, but with whatever track you’re on it kind of leaves it empty. It kind of leaves a space for you to actually put a new part in. There we go.


If I just go up an octave, I can record that in. You never know in a future video we might actually get to record the vocal. Let’s just see what happens. So, let’s just shoot back to the session mode now and we’ve got two scenes here. Well, this one is our first one which is the intro and then we got the verse.  Cool.


Now, I’m going to look at the bridge section and this is where the new chord sequence. What I’m going to do here is I’m going to click on duplicate. I was going to duplicate this scene, but all I need from this is the beat. I’m just going to delete the bass and the chords and that synth line. We just got the beat back. There we go.


Now, what I’m going to do here is I’m going to go to the keyboard because the chord pattern goes from an A minor, but it also ends up on an E major chord. So, it’s a little bit tricky with Push when we’re setting the scales because we’re actually going from sort of within the one chord pattern we’re going between two different scales.


It’s a little bit easier to play it on the keyboard, but that’s cool because it just kind of shows that Push is a great kind of central hub, you know? It allows you to you know, have other things attached and kind of use it as a recording device. Let’s just play along and put this part in.


In fact, why not bring up my virtual keyboard and then you can actually see what I’m playing. Okay, so let’s hit record. So, let’s delete, I made a little mistake there. Here we go. There we go and because this is being recorded from an external device not the Push, then it might not have quantized [SP]. I’m not quite sure, so just to make sure I’m going to quantize [SP] anyway. Okay, cool. Let’s go to the bass now.


I’m going to hop over to the bass and this really nice kind of octave part. We’re going from the C to the B to the A to the G. So, let’s record that in. Let’s just go one more time on that.


Cool. That’s working really nicely. Now we’re going to introduce some other sounds. There’s this kind of choir sound that comes in. So, let’s go to add track again and let’s go down here to an operator sound.


This is one that I’ve adapted. Preset the [inaudible 12:16] here, so let’s go down to pad and Kraftwerk Model choir. There we go. A little bit loud. Let’s just turn it down a bit and let’s record this in.


Nice, so one more sound to go and this is a kind of expression lead that I’ve created and I’m going to load that up now. Again, clicking add track and let’s go to analog and this is in synth lead. Here we go. I’ve actually used the Max for Live device with this. There’s a great device it’s called expression control and what that allows you to do is to apply any kind of Midi expression, any kind of controller to one parameter of any device you’re working.


So, for this I’ve applied the after touch pressure sensitivity. Just turn it down. I’ll push which is great to the vibrato now. So, you can see there as I’m pressing harder it’s creating more vibrato and that really allows me to kind of give a bit of expression to this sound. It’s really cool.


Let’s go back to scales. I’m going to try to put this in with push. I’m actually going to switch to chromatic mode. This is the part. Let’s put that in. A bit too much expression there. Let’s delete that and go again.


So, we’ve got our whole kind of next section, our B section. If I flip back to session mode now, we can then go between these three different sections. Then we got our bridge here. One nice thing might be quite cool to put on with the drums. Let’s just go back to the drums here. Maybe use this sound here.


This is a great sound, but I’m just wondering it might be quite nice with some reverb on it. Let’s just go here and click on add effect and let’s just scroll down to reverb. Here we go. Let’s just try, I don’t know, like a concert hall or something. Okay. Put on the device. So now the dry, wet level is 100% at the moment, so I’m going to take that down. That’s quite nice.


What I can do is at the moment, it’s just a two bar loop, but what I can do is if I double that to make it an eight bar loop just by clicking on this double button here and the just put this in the step sequencer. There we go. So, just this start of every eight bars, we’re just going to have that hit. You hear it coming around again in a minute. There we go. Really nice.


There’s one more section and that’s the arpeggio section. I’m just going to again, attempt to play in Push. So, we’re going to go back to session mode here and basically the back [end] is usually the same. It’s just that synth line that we want to change. I’m going to duplicate this. There we go. Let’s just check the sound. Let’s go into track. This is the sound. There we go. So, let’s just delete that and I go back here.


We’re going to go back to the end key mode here. That’s this part here, so it might take me a couple of go’s to get right, but let’s give it a go anyway. Here we go. Let’s go again. Made it. Amazing. So, there we go. We’ve got our four different sections. Back in session mode now, we can just play those.


I should do one thing. Actually it might be quite nice to add a high hat to that, to the [inaudible 18:07] here. Just go back to the drums. There we go, a note. Why don’t we use the repeat function as well? Hit record.


So, yeah. Just finally. Why don’t we try actually recording this into an arrangement. That could be quite cool. Let’s just shoot over to here, the arranged page and let’s take it back. Let’s go to session mode here. Here we go and I’m just going to hit record.


You can see it going in, into the first section. This is where we’re going to get some vocals for the next video. I’m not sure who you’re going to get it [inaudible 19:40], but we’ll have to see about that.


Let’s go to the bridge section now. A little bit too much expression there. I might have to do it [inaudible 19:52] afterwards. Now to the arpeggio section and then back to the verse. So, you can see how that works.


We’ve now got this into our range page and we can now play it from here. We can do all of this. So, there you go. Hope you enjoyed that. That was my deconstruction or recreation of Kraftwerk’s Model. I’m off now to check out some of the acts at Sonar by day and I’ll hopefully catch you again very soon.


At Point Blank Online you’ve got two methods of interaction with your tutor. Firstly, you’ve got the weekly online master class which is in real time and then also we’ve got feedback on your assignments. That’s known as DVR.


So, the online master class is a one hour session you get with your tutor every week. You can ask questions about lesson content and get instant feedback and also demonstrations on the fly from their computer desktop with our streaming technology.]


Danny J

Lewis:             DVR stands for Direct Video Response and the concept is really simple. We

upload your Ableton Logical key based project file to your tutor. He downloads it and then Push is recorded on the screen capturing software and it evaluates your work.


So, basically giving you one to one feedback. You see all of the mass movements and any parameter changes made by your tutor is kind of like sitting in the studio over their shoulder watching what they do whilst they work.


We found the DVR process has truly revolutionized the way that we teach online and the results speak for themselves. Book your place in a course now by visiting pointblankonline.net.