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How to generate random music in Ableton Live

Written by on 16 February 2021

Self Generating music in Ableton, only with bundled instruments, plugins and effects.

A one minute example of music generated in Ableton with its built in midi effects. I’ve intentionally made it very random and glitchy in this example. There are ways to build effects racks that would allow for quick generation of melodic loops and chords with a more traditional musical structure. 


In this example I’m gonna show you what I used to get this result as well as some simple explanations for what’s being used and why.

The Drums: the sound is a break I cut up myself. The first in the chain is a random midi effect. Default settings, chance set to 100%, this is followed by a chord with random notes. This is to feed the arpeggiator 7 notes at once. The arp is also playing random sequences with a modulated rate between 1/12 and 1/48. The final effect is a scale, this is just to limit what notes can be played. My drum rack only has 16 samples, so I’ve limited where the midi notes can fall. The drums also have several beat repeats on the end of the audio effects chain which add to the sound.

Ableton drums generator

Drum chain


The Melody: again this chain starts with a random effect. Default settings again, chance at 100%. A chord playing a major 9th, this goes in to a note length effect, which I am using like a hold. So the notes toggle instead of having to be held down for the arp. Next the velocity is randomized, this feeds in to a midi rack I made where only above 89vel is the effect triggered, all the affect does is add a major chord to whatever note plays above 89vel. This is all fed in to a scale which is set to F minor.

Melody chain

Melody chain


The Chords: a random effect, in to a chord effect playing a major 9, the velocities of the notes are randomized and it’s fed in to a scale effect. All notes only play within F minor

the cords ableton um radio

The chords

Now you can generate some random music when the lack of creativity is an issue. Feel free to comment and post your music in the comments!