Quick Tip: Spice Up Your Melodies with Velocity Curves


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Today I will show you how to use the velocity curve to improve your melodies. Velocity is the most misunderstood and underrated tool which I have ever seen. Most producers don’t use at all. If you learn how to use it then you can experience how helpful this tool actually is.

Step 1: Create a Single Pattern on a MIDI Channel

So create a MIDI track and load an instrument. In this case we'll choose a Sylenth. Now draw some notes - if it possible an arpeggio pattern. Create a patch and listen what happens.

Now you have a simple arpeggio pattern but it is really boring. You have several techniques to make changes to the arp line. The most useful technique is to play with the velocities.

Step 2: Set Up the Velocity Destinations

In order to velocity curve take an effect you have to assign to certain parameters which will be the destination of the velocity curve. We often think that velocity only controls the volume of each note. The truth is that velocity can control any assigned parameter, which can be pitch, filter, LFO gain and many more.

In our case the velocities will control the filter control and the LFO 1 Gain which modulates the pitch of the instrument. You can see the adjustments on the first image.

Now we will redraw our velocities. You can copy my pattern, but I highly suggest to use your own imagination and create something unique. As you can hear the pattern now is much more interesting and more pleasant to our ears.

The great advantage of the velocity is that it can control numerous parameters at the same time.

Step 3: Use the Velocity Effect

Many synths have their own velocity effect, which controls the behaviour of the velocities. Ableton Live has an effect which is called Velocity.

Velocity can alter incoming MIDI note velocity values (1-127) in either a controlled or random manner. It can function on MIDI Note On (Velocity) or Note Off (Rel. Vel.) messages, or both, depending on the settings you choose.

So if you would like more complex velocity curves then use this effect. In our case I used the drive control to make the pattern more complex. Furthermore I automated on the whole pattern so now we have a really short but a really interesting arpeggio line. So as you can hear the velocity can be really effective if you are using in a right situation.

Next time I will show you how velocity can be used in drum patterns! So good luck until then, and happy music making!