How To make Rave With Emotion

We show you how to make rave with emotion in Ableton Live.


We've been blown away by Bicep's new record, so much to say that we've gone all rave in our latest blog outing.  From iconic chord progressions to rolling old school drum beats, check the video and description below as Stu get's all emotional! 




The emotional tone of any piece of music starts with the musical key, and the chords within it. Artists like 'Bicep' and 'Rival Consoles' perfectly balance euphoria and nostalgia, partly through sound selection, but equally by using the right minor key. We use A# Minor in the video, see what sounds right to you.

Throughout we try to keep the chords movements simple and spread them across octaves to get a powerful, impactful sound! Remember; playing one note over two octaves is still harmony. Flexing those dense jazz chords might not be the best choice here.



The obvious choice is to reach for those classic vintage synths! The Arturia Collection is an amazing way to enter the world of classic synth sounds, but we can achieve living, breathing synth sounds just using Ableton. In the video we create a reasonably involved patch using Wavetable and its modulation grid. 



The synth sound here isn't too disimilar in design to Rival Consoles 'Articulation'


Envelope Follower

The cousin to Ableton Gate, the Max For Live Envelope Follower allows us to use an audio signal from our synth to send a rhythm anywhere in real time. We use it in the video to send the synth rhythm to a AutoPan amount, and back into itself!



Beat and Bass

As discussed, the power a simple and spacious beat can have massively aids the emotional punch of a track. Layered with a booming sub can take this to the next level! 

Their usefulness is lessened though if they aren't balanced correctly. This is a whole other topic for a blog to dive into, but to be brief: if the bass/sub you're using has long decaying notes, keep your kick short and punchy to deliver attack but not get in the way. The opposite is also true (small bass notes work best with long, booming kicks!)

Bicep's 'Glue' uses just one bass tone throughout. It's unclear if this is a bass note layered under a kick, or just a long booming kick. Either way, it delivers a real punch!




Finally, we put all our sounds into one space. I like to keep my number of sound sources low, but send them to multiple reverbs. A combination of plates, synthetic and hybrid reverbs can create depth and colour to our track!

If you like the sounds in this blog, check out our 'Infinite Promise' and 'Euphoric Memory'