December 27, 2012  |   Ableton Tutorials, Tutorials

Festive Sound Design Tutorial – Turn Santa’s Ho into House with Ableton Live!

In this article, Danny J Lewis helps stoke up the festive mood with this Ableton Live tutorial where he creates a bumping house beat by using just 3 yuletide source sounds (and absolutely nothing else!) – a chime, sleigh bells, and of course Santa’s unmistakable Ho Ho HOOO! Check it out in the video below and read on to grab a free download of the samples.

Want to have a go yourself? Of course you do! Download the samples here and lets see what you’ve got. Be sure to come back and show us how you got on with a link to your beats in the comments below this post.

Video Transcription:

Hi, this is Danny J. Lewis. I’m a course developer and tutor at Point Blank Online. I’ve released music on labels such as Defected, Strictly Rhythm, Masters at Work Recordings, and this video you are about to watch comes from the Ableton Live Sound Design Course. Make sure you subscribe to the channel so you don’t miss out on future videos and also check for more information about the courses.

So, we’ve got challenge view now which is to use three samples that we’re providing and use those to create a foundation track idea in the session view of Live. So, you’re only allowed to use these samples, but you’re allowed to use any of the techniques that we’ve covered over the last eight weeks on this sound design course. The sounds themselves; we’ve got a chime, Santa himself, and then finally some traditional sleigh bells. You’re only allowed to use these samples, none of the other instruments. So, that means you can drop them into sampler or simpler or bring them through as audio clips and manipulate those. Let me show you what I’ve done. I don’t want you to copy exactly what I’ve done. This is just to give you an insight into some possibilities. Think about all of the lessons we have had so far, all of the techniques. Think about the kind of techniques that you might like to apply yourselves to those sounds. This is what I’ve done. The drums all created from the sleigh bells. The bass is Santa’s voice. Congas are from Santa’s voice. This texture here admittedly sounds quite vocal and that’s Santa’s voice. Another rim shot. This is from Santa’s voice. That’s an organ type stab created from the chime.

Let me show you what I did to create these from the original source samples. I used the sleigh bell for all of the drum sounds. This sound was very, very high frequency, but I noticed there was quite a low frequency rumble in there, so that came from the recording. I thought I’d take advantage of that and use it to create a kick drum. Over here, you can see I’ve taken a very short part of that sleigh bell and I’m triggering that. It’s running through the filter, a low pass filter, and I’ve got the envelope adjusting the cut off frequency. So, the settings are here. The real key to this is the pitch envelope. It’s taking it from high to low. Let me just take off the filter envelope for a moment. When I apply that, we’ve got brightness at the beginning of the sound. It gets warmer as the time progresses. The pitch envelope, off. You can see here I’ve transposed minus 37, so it’s like the sleigh bell sound is now just low. That’s all it is whereas I put this on. We got a pitch modulation high to low to create a nice punchy kick flavor. So, that’s what’s going on with that. Also, I made it a single voice, so overlaps.

The next one, this kind of knocking, rim shotty kind of sound. Very similar position, just slightly later. You can see the settings I’ve used here. I’ve taken it minus 14 on the transposition. No envelope settings for filter or pitch, but I did use a high pass filter to take away the low frequencies. That’s a nice easy one. The sleigh bell hat. So, once again, very, very similar position. This time high pass filter set very high frequency. There we go. That’s quite recognizable as the sleigh. That one has actually proven to be a really handy sound, just with a little bit of a volume envelope setting on there. There’s a ping pong delay here just to add a nice little bit of stereo width occurring there. So, that’s the drum sounds all coming from the sleigh bell. So, just a little reminder.

Now, the bass. This is quite funny. The bass is kind of the second part of the ‘ho’. So, you can hear that it’s being filtered, envelope as well. I take the filter right off. Just play it down on the keyboard. So, that’s creating that. There was naturally this bending pitch in the actual vocal. I thought that would make a great bass sound. Just played low and down on the keyboard. So, the Santa congas. Let’s take a look at these. Different part of the vocal. Just a very short end part of that, filtered with a filter envelope. EQ just to bring out some frequency here you might find on a real conga.

This vocal, another little portion of the actual Santa vocal. Just being filtered with a high pass to thin it out. Then running through an auto filter. We’ve got LFO movement on the filter frequency and also some envelope modulation, too. This is running through the ping pong delay to add a bit of stereo movement. Santa, rim shot. Same bit of vocal as before. This one’s just played quite high up on the keyboard to meet EQ to distribute out a bit. Spread around there to add a bit of stereo width. And the chime. Just a few notes played in here. Not even quantized. This is the chime sample played just after the first transient here and filtered with a filter envelope. Also, reverb and redux here to add the buzziness, because I felt that it was just too much like a chime if I take it off. Still sounds quite good, but I wanted to make it sound a bit more modern.

So, that’s it. That’s what I’ve done. It’s up to you guys now. So, download the project with the samples and work through that. Just try to get, maybe, four bars or so of music. Get some drums down, a bass sound, some other elements and see what you can do. Think about all of those techniques that we studied over the last eight weeks. It’s just not about the MIDI side. You might be doing some audio processing or re-sampling. It’s absolutely up to you. The main aim is just to have some fun with it and see if you can flex your sound design and production skills.