Sometimes the most rewarding production tricks or techniques are the simplest ones. Certainly they are often the ones that yield the most “happy accidents,” the term I use for when experimentation yields something that rocks.
Over the next while, I’m going to go through some of my go-to tricks for inspiration from unlikely sources – the often overlooked, sometimes misunderstood, always unappreciated devices in Live’s catalog.
Today we’re going to kick it off with a not-so-common use of the Live’s Gate.
This little guy right here:
Everyone (or rather MOST people) know about Live’s sidechain input on its compressor. It’s an often utilized and ubiquitous effect that gives production pump, groove, oomph, boom, whatever you want to call it. I’d argue that its one of those rare things that falls into the category of being both and effect and a mix technique.
What many people don’t know about, or at least don’t utilize, is the sidechain in on the Gate device.
Like sidechain compression, it’s a useful feature to pull out when making things dovetail together in the mix to clean up a signal, but in general when I use it it’s for an entirely different purpose.
There are often points where I want a simple, groovy lead but am lacking inspiration – sound design I find easy. Melody sometimes harder.
Well, this is an easy shake and bake approach that can yield extremely cool results, and I’d suggest you give it a try. I’ve even made it easy for you by packing up a quick project for you to check out in the link below.
Basically the approach is this:
1 – Take a sustained note from a synth.
2 – Add a Gate.
3 – Set the Gate to respond to a sidechain signal from an audio track.
4 – Grab a cool beat that you like, preferably something bounding with syncopation and interesting rhythmic content, and drop it in the audio track the sidechain is listening to. You can leave this audio track active or you can drop its volume, whatever you like.
5 – Hit play, then adjust the threshold, return and hold on the Gate until you start hearing magic. (You’ll also want to drop the floor to -inf db to get the right effect)
Simple right? Amazingly so, but unlimited in it’s ability to produce cool effects.
Change the beat? Totally different melodic element.
Change the tone? That’s a whole new set of results.
Many people will recognize this as a “trance gate” style of effect. If you do, congrats! If not, don’t worry, its not all about little fluffy clouds – try putting a gnarly basstone through it with a ton of modulation and you’ll start developing amazingly cool riffs.
If you want to level up from this, use your imagination – as an example, try putting a beat repeat on the drumloop and take the Gate’s input from after the beat repeat – you can get some really cool stuttered playback effects.
If you’re making a pad sound, try splitting the audio flow through an audio effect rack, and then applying a reverb with 100% wet signal to one of the chains, and put the Gate after that. Your ears will thank you!
Grab the Live Pack below and see exactly what I’m on about.