UK Garage Tips on Ableton

UK Garage Tips on Ableton

Many of our students want to learn how to produce UKG (UK Garage) with Ableton. There are many production techniques that are specific to UK garage so we've listed some top tips and tricks here to help you get started all courtesy of Ollie Rant a London based UKG garage DJ and producer.

If you would like to learn how to produce garage music on Ableton or Logic, enrol on our one-to-one music production course. You can take the lessons in our Manchester, Birmingham or Oxford studios and also at our sister-school London Sound Academy. Lessons are available online or in-person!


Using the simpler envelope for short choppy sounds
UKG is all about short, choppy stabs and hits using the Simpler's Amp envelope you can sculpt any sample to give it the flavour it needs.  

Start by making sure you attack is set all the way to 0

Next, bring the sustain down to -inf. DB. Finally, adjust the length of the sample with the decay dial to taste.


Swinging your drums with the Groove Pool
Another key element of UK Garage that sets its self apart from other sub-genres its heavy use of swing. Swinging the beat means rather having the notes land directly on the beat or fraction of that beat they fall early or late, giving it a more natural skippy sounding flow.

Above is a hi-hat pattern being sent to a drum rack.

Start by clicking on the hot-swap button where it says 'groove.' It will then open your swing and groove library above. In each folder are different swing settings from various samplers, drum machines, genres and DAWS.

My preferred settings is the MPC 16 Swing modelled after Akai’s legendary sampler/midi sequencer the numbers to the right of the word swing indicate the percentage of swing applied. There are loads of other interesting grooves to have a play with - for garage try the Logic, Sp 1200 and swing folder.

Once selected it will appear below the time signature - you have the option to commit the groove to the midi pattern which will physically move the notes of the beat - however just having it selected will play the notes swung without having them move. I prefer the latter option as it means I can switch between different percentages and patterns.


Vocal Chops

Chopping up sickly sweet RnB vocals is another calling card of Uk Garage and is achieved very simply within Ableton's Simpler.

Start by dropping the sample into simpler and selecting slice.

Next, you can choose whether to slice automatically by Transient, Beat  Region or manually cut each section yourself. Manual slicing offers the most control but if your looking for a bit a creative spark I would recommend using the transient slice and playing with the percentage - the higher the percentage the higher the sensitivity to transients so the more slices you get.

Make sure it is set to gate so you can control the length of the chops with the midi and the playback to mono so the chops do not play over each other.

Next, jump into your session view and try dropping in some notes the first slice will start at c1.


Give your chord stabs some movement using the Simpler's LFO
Once you've got your nice short choppy chords programmed in from step one you can add some movement to them by applying the Simpler's filter whilst having the LFO modulator the frequency cut off.

First load the sample in and switch to the control panel in the top right-hand corner - next reduce the cut-off and set the resonance to taste.

Next set the LFO to beat-sync and choose the rate of the LFO this will be dependant on the length of the note you are playing.

Finally set the filter modulation to 24 this is the maximum depth and gives a lot of movement - pull back the number if this feel overbearing.


Octave Jumps on Chord Stabs

Adding in octave jumps to your midi patterns on your chord stabs is a great way to spice up a pretty standard pattern.

Programme a standard midi pattern for your stab

High light the notes you want to put an octave up and press shift + up

Adjust to taste in this instance I decided the last octave jump was too much so put it back to its original place.

Well, that's it for now! Stay tuned to our blog for more great Ableton music production tips and tricks!



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