Point Blank’s Weekly Tutorial: ‘Skream – Midnight Request Line’ Deconstructed

Welcome back to Point Blank’s weekly spot here on Music Tech, where this week we have a superb tutorial from Ski Oakenfull…

The task I set myself for this deconstruction video, was to program the whole track using Ableton’s Push controller, without looking at the computer screen. The key, as ever, is in the preparation. The more you can work on your presets and racks beforehand, the more you can concentrate on playing the parts and getting creative.

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Over the last year or so, I have made a point of diligently saving any presets I have created into my user library, and labelling them clearly so I can dial them up whenever I want. I generally include the track name in the preset title so I can easily make the association between the original track and preset. This especially makes jamming with Push a real joy, as you then have access to your own palette of sounds.

The trickiest element to program with this classic dubstep track was the arpeggio synth part, as it changes slightly with each section. The basic rack I made comprised of a Chord device playing a stack of two minor triads, feeding into the Note Length device which then feeds into the Arpeggiator, set to play in the ‘Up’ style, synced to the beat. All these midi devices controlled a simple monophonic Analog synth patch.

The two main parameters that needed to change with each section, were the note length which was much shorter in the intro, and also the Arpeggio rate which is 1/16 in the ‘A’ section, and 1/8 in the ‘B’ section. In order to be able to switch between these settings, I created a Chain list by duplicating the rack twice and applying the appropriate parameters to each Chain. I could then assign a Macro to the Chain selector which allowed me to switch between each Chain using a controller knob on the Push.

If that’s whetted your appetite, check out more on our Ableton courses here

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