Scoring with Ableton Live 8

To be honest with you dear readers, Ableton Live is the only music making software that I’m good at (and i’m not even THAT awesome). But I guess the nature of the software which is directed more as a performing tool is something that naturally fits me, a person who creates music through analog devices by impromptu jamming. So, after using it for some years and getting familiar with it, Ableton Live has become my go-to software when it comes to music making.

Last year, I was making a film and then I choose to compose music as a score for it. People say I can use Apple’s Soundtrack Pro, which is a natural companion for the software that I use for film editing, Final Cut Pro. What I founded was the fact that the software is not flexible enough for me to use, and I do miss the “live jamming” feeling of using Live. I then went back to Live and founded out that it can also play a movie file as an audio track on the arrangement view. Aha!

So here are the steps that I did to create a scoring for my film “Indonesia” using Ableton Live

1. I already had a vision of what kind music will fit my film, so I then break the movies into several part and decided which sound should be played at each part. It’s just like expanding the shot list of the film.

2. I then composed bits and pieces of the part for the whole composition. Some parts are MIDI parts that I created with the help of my Novation Remote SL 25 MIDI controller. Others are audio samples that I further edited using Live’s built-in audio effects to my liking. I can’t help but imagining that I’m writing a riff here, just like what I usually does with my guitar.

3. With all the building blocks ready, I then jammed with them to create the full composition. I use Novation Launchpad for this purpose, it’s just easier for me to do it this way, more expressive than mouse for sure. Not to mention I can also set each track’s volume, albeit with less accuracy (which I then fine tuned using knobs from the Remote Sl 25).

4. After I had the full composition, now it’s time to put the film. I already had the film completely edited, so I then export it as an audio track in the Arrangement view, and play the whole film and music composition.

movie and music composition played together

5. Now with the music played along with the film, I can see which part I should edit, which part needs to be cut to fits the cutscene and so on, which track needs to be louder to emphasize the film’s feeling. I just need to pause at a certain moment of the film, and cut the audio or draw an automation at that time. Easy!

This is the final result of the film, along with the audio of course

Indonesia from Adityo Pratomo on Vimeo.

I guess that’s all I have to say. In the end, I was creating an amalgamation between the film and the music, producing a single uniting entity that is the end product, an audiovisual piece. I always think of creating a film when writing a song. I always think that a song is a film, it has flows and a storyline. So, to finally be able create a song as a companion to a film is something that I always dream of. Now bring on the next film project 🙂

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