Ableton Live Video Tutorial Roundup! Sound Alchemy w/ Raz Mesinai

For this Ableton Live video tutorial roundup, we’ve compiled three Sound Alchemy video tutorials, along with a special 808 kick drum tutorial from Dubspot Instructor and esteemed music producer Raz Mesinai. In the series, Raz explores creating Effects and Instrument Racks in Ableton Live based on different kinds of natural sonic phenomena.

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Sound Alchemy Pt 1 – The Singing Dunes

I heard about the Singing Dune phenomenon years ago from several friends, all from the Middle East. After searching online I found a few recordings, but none really clear enough to capture the experience. Later, I contacted Chris Watson (formerly of Cabaret Voltaire), who is now one of the most exquisite field recording artists I’ve ever come across. (I highly recommend his recordings on the UK-based Touch label). He told me that he had been trying to record the dunes but had had no luck as of yet (this may have changed since then). After more digging I eventually discovered this site which has some very good recordings of the phenomenon. I suggest you check them out prior to watching this tutorial, but use headphones or speakers with plenty of sub – you won’t hear a thing on your laptop speakers.

From there I set off to experiment in a little sound alchemy. Using Operator and Analog, I first focused on the main elements of the “landscape” where this is taking place. There is a base drone, representing the dune, a layer of noise, representing the sand moving, and modulation as a way to make the sand ‘blow’ in the wind at different rates.

From there I looked for a story to latch onto. The story is based off of the description that Marco Polo wrote down in the 13th century during a stay in the Gobi Desert. He described this phenomenon as being the voices of evil spirits which “at times filled the air with the sounds of all kinds of instruments, and also the drums of clashing arms.” This image of Marco Polo, perhaps sleeping in a tent in the desert, suddenly being woken up by these strange sounds, which to him were completely mysterious as his quote suggests, conjures two things for me. Firstly, it allows a lot of freedom for me to conceptualize this Instrument Rack, and secondly, it affirms my beliefs that bad things happen when white people go to the desert.

The intention of this tutorial is not to imitate the Singing Dune phenomenon, rather, it is to use these sounds from the earth as a source of inspiration, allowing me to conceptualize a soundscape that goes with an imaginary story that is seen through sound.

I hope you enjoy it! – Raz Mesinai

Sound Alchemy Pt 2 – Harmonic Throat Singing

Harmonic singing is a great source of inspiration for a tutorial on synthesis, because the way a synth works is very similar to how the voice works.

When we sing we generate a note and push it out through our lungs, just like an oscillator generating a sine wave routed to the amplifier of a synth. We can also modulate the voice with filter or pitch effects, just like using an LFO to control parameters in a synth, or generate noise by adding hiss, our voice’s version of white noise.

To some, harmonic singing may seem “other worldly,” mainly because specific frequencies normally suppressed in the voice are amplified in harmonic singing and because the mechanics of performing this style require learning a particular vocalizing ability.

In this sound design example, rather than hearing harmonic singing as being something mysterious and exotic simply because it is somewhat foreign to the Western ear, I’ve tried to create an Instrument Rack in Ableton Live focused on how the mechanics of harmonic singing works, boosting certain frequencies and widening the resonance. – Raz Mesinai

Sound Alchemy Pt 3 – Storm

This tutorial was completed around a week before Hurricane Sandy reached the US. As someone who was personally affected by Hurricane Sandy in a big way, I can only state the obvious, that there’s nothing more humbling than nature. – Raz Mesinai

Ableton Live Tutorial: How to Create 808 Style Kick Drums Using Operator

A common mistake I’ve seen when creating an 808 style kick drum is the immediate attraction towards the envelope for the amplitude of the oscillator and the transpose knob. A real kick drum, i.e. an acoustic one, is a round membrane, it remains round, so the envelope of the amplitude should remain full (sustain up), however a drum head is tuned with a drum key, which makes the sound either sharper or heavier by making it tighter or looser. The drum key is what the pitch envelope in Operator suggests, and by creating a sharp dip in pitch, you get a heavier kick sound. The amplification of the oscillator is where the sound comes from, so we want that round and untouched. – Raz Mesinai


Advanced Music Production and Performance Concepts with Raz Mesinai

Raz Mesinai (a.k.a. Badawi) will teach you advanced concepts and a unique approach to producing and performing with an entirely original sonic palette. This program will expand your production and composition skills with advanced recording, sampling, and effects processing techniques. You’ll explore new workflows and discover new ways to perform your music.

What’s Included:

  • Advanced Concepts Level 1: Sound Library Development, Organized Sound
  • Advanced Concepts Level 2: Composition, On and Off the Grid
  • Advanced Concepts Level 3: Performance, Sound System as Instrument

“Raz’s attention to sophisticated rhythms, sounds, low end, and performance methods has had a big impact on all of us, and it’s been great being part of a community united by Raz’s approach to music.” – Nick L

About This Program

If you are a producer or performer with some experience, this course will guide you through a brand-new way of working–even when using tools you already know. You’ll learn how to create a library of original sounds and use them to create your own unique musical style. You’ll also collaborate with fellow students, and explore new ways of performing your work.

Start dates and information about payment plans can be found here.

If you have questions, please call 877.DUBSPOT or send us a message.


Ableton Live Producer Certificate Program

The flagship of our music training, with every Ableton Live course offered at the school. After completing this program, you will leave with a portfolio of original tracks, 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: Beats, Sketches, and Ideas
  • Ableton Live Level 2: Analyze, Deconstruct, Recompose, and Assemble
  • Ableton Live Level 3: Synthesis and Original Sound Creation
  • Ableton Live Level 4: Advanced Sound Creation
  • Ableton Live Level 5: Advanced Effect Processing
  • Ableton Live Level 6: Going Global with your Music

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 tracks. 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.

More start dates and information about payment plans can be found here.

If you have questions, please call 877.DUBSPOT or send us a message.


NYC Open House: Sundays 11am & 12pm

Ask questions. Watch demos. Test drive workstations.

Anyone who comes by will have the opportunity to ask our instructors in-depth questions about our programs, curriculum and philosophy, and watch live music production and DJ demos. You can even sit down at one of our workstations and take it for a test drive. If you are still trying to decide what you are looking for, we suggest you stop by one of our Open Houses to learn more about the school, understand what the learning process at Dubspot entails and help you decide what is best for you. We can also help with scheduling details and payment options.

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