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Using Ableton Live To Sound Like Daft Punk

Published: Wed May 15, 2013  News Feed

Using Ableton Live To Sound Like Daft Punk
How To Do Daft Punk Disco In Every Version Of Live
Ableton Live Intro
Ableton Live 9 Intro

Get the funky envelope filter, Simpler for bass, strings and synth. Plus the Drum Rack for your rhythms.
Includes a library of funky guitar and bass licks as well as Grand Piano sounds. Vintage character from the Glue Compressor, Vinyl Distortion and Overdrive effects. Extract the groove from your favourite samples too!
Ableton Live 9 Suite
Ableton Suite 9

It's got it all. Rakes of samples, vintage synth & guitar tones as well as an entire orchestra and Max For Live.

Daft Punk Disco With Ableton
They're back! After what feels like a lifetime have returned with their first "proper" release in 8 years. Their single 'Get Lucky' has flown to the top of the UK charts and Spotify's most played list.

Speaking to Rolling Stone they revealed that they felt stuck in a bit of a rut using electronic gear and that a lot of modern electronic music lacks a signature sound. The initial answer to this appears to be looking to plunder the past for inspiration.

Bringing together Nile Rodgers of Chic and Pharell Williams they've produced a 'future disco' record that spans the sound of several decades while still sounding completely current.

In honour of their return Sonic Academy have uploaded their 'How To Make Disco Loops' course for us all to learn from. The resultant track sounds rather like the French duo's and it's full of invaluable tips and tricks, we've certainly picked up a few and have highlighted some of the important points.

First, a little painless research, have a listen to the track to get a feel for the classic disco sounds.

How To Make Daft Punk Disco In Ableton Live

Step 1 is to get some samples to work with. Here Sonic Academy have recorded their own, which is certainly a great way to get authentic sounds. You don't need session musicians around, just a guitar or bass to get a good groove. Plug it into your audio interface and your good to go, use Ableton Amp to get realistic amp tones.

It's worth considering tempo at this stage, samples can start to sound unnatural if taken too far from it's core tempo. Recording at a lower tempo and and speeding up is better than the other way around. Also try out the different timestretch types in the clip view to use Ableton's fantastic algorithms to your advantage.

The drums might be trickier if you don't have a pro setup to hand. Nothing quite beats that dry 70's kit sound for disco. Luckily Toontrack has made just such a kit available as a Sound Pack for Live.

Step 2  - So you've got your core sounds down and now it's time to add a little processing to get things pumping. This ain't a classical mix so it's best to go in early with the EQ and go in hard! You want that beat pumping in order to excite and inspire while you work on other elements, worry about the fine adjustments later.

As you can see in the video, carving out low mids in your kick and will give you that 'hollow' kick sound and help it find a place in the mix. When it comes to reverb on your kit, focus on the early reflections to give the kit width and impact, don't worry too much about a long,lush tail as it will only obscure details elsewhere.

Finally some pumping compression can't hurt for any kind of dance music. In the video we see him using Compressor but in Live 9 we would highly recommend the Glue Compressor. Vintage character and crucially it's got a Wet/Dry blend that will allow you to apply everyone's favourite trick, parallell compression. Quite simply you can smash the drums hard for character compression while keeping a blend of the clean signal to retain your dynamics. This also boosts room sound, so you might not need so much with heavy parallel compression.
Step 3 - You've not put away that guitar yet (or let your tame guitarist escape) have you? Good, you might need him again. While disco guitar doesn't require finger tapping or obscure tunings it is important to nail a tight rhythm.

Now some guitarists think themselves above the rhythm section (guilty) but it's important get it right here, just a few bars will do. Looping around on a 2 bar phrase won't hurt the track if you're drum programming is sufficiently groovy. Thank the lord for Ableton, no need to lock people in a dimly lit room until they've performed 4 minutes of music beat perfect. You have to feel for the drummer on ABBA records.

If you feel using the same phrase repeatedly makes things a bit stiff then duplicate the clip and try pushing and pulling using Warp Markers to move chord hits on and off the beat ever so slightly in different ways. Then use these subtly different clips in the arrangement to create some variation.
Step 4 -Now you don't even need a bassist for this part, just your fingers and a bass. No problem playing one note at a time and sample the results. This gives you great flexibility, while the guitar can remain pretty static in disco adding inflections on the bass can really help your track stand out, using a sampler and MIDI leaves your options open.

If you feel things could be moving and grooving a little better then try out Groove Templates or use Live 9's new Audio to MIDI feature to breakdown and analyse any recorded bass lines you have in the library.

Step 5
-Time for tines, get some piano on the track. Hard panning is suggested for that retro flavour.

You can use the Grand Piano that comes included in Standard and Suite versions of Ableton 9. Although some classic electric piano wouldn't exactly sound out of place either. Thankfully Ableton have you covered there as well, with a sound pack (included in Suite, optional for Intro & Standard).

Step 6 - Lush strings help bed out the track, while it's good to start with a nice full string sound we would advise to pay close attention to EQ. The strings should really be sat back (maybe with a splash of reverb too) so listen back with the full mix up and carve the strings with EQ to make sure you don't lose drum impact and bass thickness.

Again Ableton have you covered for realistic strings in Suite with the Orchestral sound packs. Intro and Standard versions have less authentic but still great sounding strings in Simpler.  As you can hear in the video synthetic string sounds do the job nicely.
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