Ableton Live Video Tutorial: ‘Stutter Gate’ Real-Time Vocal Gating Techniques

In this new video tutorial, Dubspot Ableton Live Curriculum Designer Professor Nalepa explains and demonstrates a great technique to create real-time stutter gated vocal effects where you can adjust the rate of the gate on the fly. You can use this live on vocals or other instruments, but it also works great in the studio. To accomplish this, you utilize all three types of Ableton‘s built-in tools. The vocal audio used in this tutorial courtesy Hanna Kim, a Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter and former student of Professor Nalepa.

On a MIDI track you will place a Simpler, in this instance we load it up with an acoustic piano preset. It doesn’t matter what sound you choose, you won’t be hearing it in the mix anyway. The key is to choose a sound that has a quick attack and a relatively short release. A slowly ramping in pad sound for example wouldn’t be helpful, as you want the level of the sound to be at full volume as soon as it is triggered. You next place an Arpeggiator MIDI Effect in front of the Simpler. Create a one bar MIDI Clip and draw in a one bar long note. Again, since you won’t be hearing the sound, it doesn’t matter what note you pick, something in the middle range works well like C3. Turn off the track so you don’t hear it in the mix. Next, on the track where you are receiving the live vocals (or the other sound you wish to gate), drop the built-in Audio Effect: Gate. Gate is normally used to only allow an audio signal to pass through if it is above a certain threshold. If it is below that threshold, the track will be silent. This can be useful when working with drums or vocals, when there is not supposed to be any noise you don’t want to pick up background sound like a computer fan, etc. The Gate is one of three built-in Ableton Live effects that incorporate Sidechaining. (For a more detailed look at Sidechaining, check out our previous series of videos on it here.)

Once you enable Sidechaining on the Gate effect, select the Simpler as the input source. Now when the volume of the acoustic piano is louder than the Threshold, the audio on this vocal track will pass through.  By lowering the Threshold and finding the sweet spot, you can have it so that the vocal is chopped and stuttered to whatever Rate you have the Arpeggiator set at.  If you set the Threshold of the Gate too high, you won’t hear anything. If you set it too low, the audio will pass through continuously without being gated. Finding the perfect setting for the Threshold will create a nice gated stutter effect, in essence chopping up the audio at a rate that is in time with the BPM of the song. By MIDI Mapping a knob or fader on your MIDI controller to the Rate control of the Arpeggiator, you can now adjust the speed of the gating in real time. Live also lets you set a Min and Max value for a MIDI Mapped parameter, so you might want to limit the Rate to more useful values, from 1/16 note to 1/4 note for example.

- Dubspot Instructor and Ableton Live Curriculum Designer Professor Nalepa

Below, we have another video tutorial in which Professor Nalepa demonstrates more techniques for spicing up your vocals.

Ableton Live Producer Certificate Program

Starting Sept. 26, October 12, October 24th  in New York and week of October 2 Online

See dates and register for NYC and online classes!

The flagship of our music training, with every Ableton Live course offered at the school. After completing this program, you will leave with 4 completed tracks (EP), a remix entered in an active contest, a scored commercial to widen your scope, and the Dubspot Producer’s Certificate in Ableton Live.

What’s Included:

  • Ableton Live Level 1: Shake Hands with Live
  • Ableton Live Level 2: Completing Your First Track
  • Ableton Live Level 3: Production Essentials
  • Ableton Live Level 4: Sound Design & Instrumentation
  • Ableton Live Level 5: Advanced Composition & Production
  • Ableton Live Level 6: Taking Your EP Global

This program is about learning Ableton Live by going through the entire process of being an artist, by developing your own sound through a series of sketches and experimentation. You will also learn the ins and outs of this powerful software through a series of exercises designed to help you master the steps involved in producing your own music. After a level of getting familiar with the tools that Ableton has to offer, you will then develop your sonic ideas into full length songs – one per level. You will be exposed to a variety of approaches to arrangement and composition, storytelling techniques, ways of creating tension and drama in your music. At the end of the day, it is the sum total of your choices as an artist that define your sound, and levels 2 – 6 will give you the experience of actually completing tracks to add to your portfolio.

NYC

  • Ableton Live Core & Advanced: 6 levels
  • Dubspot’s complete Ableton course load
  • 132 hours of hands-on instruction
  • Additional instructor-supervised lab hours

ONLINE

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  • Dubspot’s complete Ableton course load
  • 60-80 hours of high quality videos
  • 3 hours of instructor-led chat sessions per week
  • Direct video & audio feedback from instructors

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