How to use Ableton Live’s Note Chance feature to generate new musical ideas

Sometimes we sit down to make music and the ideas immediately start flowing. Other times … nothing. Inspiration can be temperamental, especially when it comes to creating new chords and melodies. How can we use Ableton Live 11 to help us come up with new ideas?

One way is to use the new Note Chance feature to generate ideas based on a set of input notes and rhythms.

We’ll use Live 11’s new Scale feature to create a clip in a chosen key, then fill that clip with a random selection of notes. Next, by setting the note chance of all notes to a low value, we will only play a small set of notes on each loop. We can then save the output of those notes as new models and ideas.

In the example, we’ll keep it simple, with notes triggered on each bar, but be sure to experiment with different rhythms and pitches. The key to this technique is to use Note Chance to trigger only a random selection of notes on each loop.

Remember, like all generative techniques, this won’t instantly produce great results, but should give you some ideas to kickstart your creative process.

Ableton

(Image credit: Ableton)

Step 1: First, create a new blank clip and choose the range you want to use on the left side of the Clip view. Click on the “Fold To Scale” button to display only the notes of the chosen scale in the MIDI editor.

Ableton

(Image credit: Ableton)

2nd step: Then create a note that fills the entire bar, then copy that note to other random pitches in the scale, so that you have a range of random notes in the chosen key. Things tend to sound better if you leave spaces between the notes.

Ableton

(Image credit: Ableton)

Step 3: Select all the notes in the clip and open the probability editor. Set the Note Chance of each note between approximately 25% and 50%. Now when you play the clip, a random selection of notes is played on each loop. Experiment with amounts of Note Chance.

Ableton

(Image credit: Ableton)

Step 4: The last step is to save the output. Create a new MIDI track and set the MIDI From to the track that contains the generative clip. Simply record a clip to this new MIDI track to capture the output. You will end up with a range of ideas to choose from.