One of my favourite plug-ins that comes bundled with Ableton Live is the Resonator. It’s a strange beast but essentially it’s a bit like oscillators that can be tuned independently and that react to the volume of whatever you put into it; it also has controllable decay, a dry/wet blend and a rudimentary filter. What’s great about it is that you can totally transform any sound into something musical.

Resonant Advisor

In this first example, I’ve taken the drum loop from my remix for Futurewife. Here they are dry:

I’ve added the Resonator and just switched the filter off and turned the wet up to 100% – already it sounds radically different:

Resonator #2

Now I’ve tuned the oscillators to a C major 7 chord (C, E, G and B). Starting to sound good:

Resonator #3

Next I’ve automated the start pitch from C to F, G# then D#, giving a tasty progression. I’ve also engaged the low-pass filter to take some top end out of the sound:

Resonator #4

Finally I’ve added some reverb and compressed it to glue the sound together and a side-chain compressor, triggered from a kick drum, on every beat:

Resonator #5

Resonant Evil

To take this example a step further, we’re going to look at it on the master bus. I’ve pulled in some stems from a track of mine called Push the Night. Here’s the dry mix:

I’ve tuned my Resonator to an F minor 7 chord (F, Ab, C, Eb, C) and automated the root to F, Ab, C and Eb but this time I’ve also tweaked the 2nd and 4th oscillators, whose notes determine whether my chord is major or minor. In the F minor 7 chord, Ab is the minor 3rd (+3 semitones) and Eb is the seventh note (+10 semitones). The C minor 7 chord has the same intervals as the F minor 7 chord, with just the root note changed. For the Ab and Eb chords, I’ve raised both by a semitone to create major 7 chords: Ab major 7 (Ab, C, Eb, G, Eb) and Eb major 7 (Eb, G, Bb, D, Bb).

I’ve automated the dry/wet signal from totally dry to totally wet over the course of the example, so you can hear it blend. The chords start automating halfway through:

Resonator #7

That’s it! The Resonator can be used for anything from creating drab tech-house stabs to turning your track into a harmonious drone and everything in between. Enjoy! If you’re interested, you can download the project files here.