In this Ableton Live tutorial, I want to show you how you can create custom percussion using the Collision module. Collision is a very powerful tool for creating percussion. It also has some hidden features that not many people use. These features allow you to easily change the timbre and character of the sound being made, and what’s even better is you can make it modulate itself for some variation.
So let’s get started. Simply drop a Collision onto a new track and create a midi clip consisting of constant 16th notes.
If you press play you only hear a tinkling sound, but that is all about to change. First, we need to increase the volume by changing the Mallet volume. -15db is a good place to start.
Now head over to the Resonator section and change the resonance type to Tube. Adjust the Decay and Radius until you have a sound you are happy with. Don’t spend too much time fiddling with knobs as the sound will be modulated.
Add a Random and a Velocity midi effect before the Collision. And choose the Velocity preset “Add some random”. I’ve used the “Force Jazz” preset for random, but in the end, I increased the choices from 1 to around 12. Also, a good idea to experiment with the directions. ‘Bi’ often gives good results.
Now if you play your clip, it will play notes up and down the scale, and at different velocities. It does sound horrible though. Luckily that’s an easy fix, and the last few steps in this tutorial.
Head back over to the Resonator section, and change Tune’s key from 100% to 0%. Now every note will be the same note, despite what the midi FX tells it to play. That same midi FX is how we are going to modulate the sound.
Most options in Collision have two percentage boxes under them. One for Key and one for Velocity. They’re always set at 0% as default. This enables you to use the volume or the pitch to make minor changes to the sound automatically.
So while the Tuning is set to 0%, you can still use velocity and pitch to adjust the tone and timbre.
Stiffness is a good place to start. I have set Key to 0% and Volume to -67%. Stiffness is set at 67%. The noise I have left at 50% but have set Key to -122%.
Over on the resonator section, I have changed the Pitch to 100% and increased the pitch envelopes time to 10s, and set the velocity box at -100%. Play around with both Decay and Radius’ Key and Velocity settings until you have a sound you’re happy with.
The last step is to erase the pattern of the 16th notes and create your own groovy pattern. I have opted for a simple triplet pattern at the end of the bar. The final product looks like this.
Finally, add a filter delay with the center channel disabled. Make sure to adjust the EQ so only the higher frequencies are coming through and make sure that the delay volume is reduced slightly.