Lack of inspiration: Arpeggiator
We all got stuck creatively while creating a track. It sounds great but you feel something is missing, or you want to make a different segment, but can’t find the right melody… One of my simple tricks to help me through this difficult phase is the Arpeggiator.
Is a midi effect that creates a rhythmic pattern according to your midi notes. It is a very easy and useful effect you must know how to master. I can assure you that 80% of most electronic music producers use an Arpeggiator at one point: it is a basic.
To guide you through I will explain my steps with an example of a beat I was working on for a client until my inspiration failed.
Basic bass or chord rhythm
I found a nice chord line, but wanted to switch it up a bit. You can use this technique for bass lines as well. Here is my basic chord melody line that I had:
From now on the Arpeggiator is going to modify the rhythm and the notes automatically. No more playing around the keyboard to find something.
The Arpeggiator works great on long notes. It will chop it up rhythmically. Now drag and drop the Arpeggiator from Ableton’s library onto your midi track. The default settings should look like this:
You should already hear a pretty cool rhythm pattern to inspire you! Now let’s tweak the parameters a little to make it fit the mix.
The first parameter to play around with is the rate section:
Sync: this allows to sync the speed of your Arpeggiator with your tracks BPM. Otherwise, you can control the speed of the Arpeggiator in seconds by switching it to Free mode. For this example, we are going to stay in Sync mode.
Rate: this sets the speed of the pattern of notes played by the Arpeggiator (in bars: 1/8 – 1/24 – 2)
Gate: this controls the amount of time your note will be played by the Arpeggiator. A short gate will give you a simple hit (20%), it will play the whole note at 100%. Once you go over 100% it will keep playing the previous note, while the Arpeggiator triggers a new note. Play around and you will understand very easily!
Once you have found a good speed and gate that sounds good, it’s time to make the rhythm sound even better! The Groove section of the Arpeggiator gives the rhythm an extra “swing” which makes the overall rhythm sound less mechanical.
Style: If you are playing a chord, the Arpeggiator will play the notes one by one. This setting allows you to decide how to play that section: going up, down, up then down… Play around with all the options to have an idea.
Groove: it will give a little swing to the rhythm of the Arpeggiator by making the notes more or less off beat.
This is a really important parameter in case your other instruments are a little off beat. An offbeat saxophone or drum line will sound weird with a perfectly on beat arpeggiated chord or bass for example.
Great, now I have the perfect chord line for my client’s track.
But I had another problem… My lead sounded a little simple and I wanted to spice it up a bit without modifying my midi notes. So here is another trick using the steps and distance parameters of the Arpeggiator to add more notes.
Intense lead melody
For this section I added a lead to the track with two segments. One with long notes and another with a melody I found on my keyboard. here is the soundcloud link again to hear the example (it starts right after the end of my rhythmic chord section)
This is the “note” section:
Steps: this allows you to set the number of times the Arpeggiator will transpose the notes of its pattern. It will start with the original note and transpose the next ones. (Your original note should be long for this parameter)
Distance: this allows you to set the distance between transposition steps in scale intervals. 12 st is one octave, meaning the Arpeggiator will play your original note followed by the octave.
Transpose: you can choose the Arpeggiator to transpose the notes according to a certain scale (minor or major) or just note by note. It allows the Arpeggiator to not be off tune.
Once you have found a nice note sequence go back and modify the rhythmic section again to see.
Arpeggiator are really fun to use and inspiring. You can create a different song just by adding an Arpeggiator! Also play around with the position of the Arpeggiator in your effect rack to see the differences. You can also add a Chord midi effect before or even a second Arpeggiator to make it even more intense!
Back to being creative!
I hope you enjoyed and please let me know if you need some tips on anything specific!
Official website: http://ericbakerdubois.wix.com/prod
Sound cloud: https://soundcloud.com/ericduboisprod