Spooky Halloween Design Tricks using Ableton

To help you get in to the spirit of Halloween, we’ve assembled some Halloween-themed sound design tricks using ABLETON LIVE 9 and shared them with you to use in your most frightening productions! From ghosts and ghouls to vampires and werevolves, this project will leave your neighbors feeling like they’ve just walked in to a haunted house. Splice the project to create your own version!

Scary Pitch Modulated Lead


Halloween wouldn’t be complete without a pitch modulated lead, and LIVE‘s built-in ANALOG synthesizer offered us just the thing to create a theramin-like lead line that wails and wobbles. To create the effect, all we had to do was activate the built-in VIBRATO module and automate its AMOUNT control along with FILTER ONE‘s FREQUENCY CUTOFF knob. Instant spooky!



Next we wanted to create a solid heartbeat sound to get your blood pumping. To achieve this, we loaded up one of our favorite kick drum samples and used LIVE‘s built-in EQ EIGHT equalization module to LOWPASS the signal and remove all of the high frequency content, perfect for creating a heartbeat sound that’s rich with low frequency content and that can be felt more than it can be heard.

Wailing Wind


Nothing says scary like the sound of a wailing gust outside of your window, so for this trick we used LIVE‘s built-in ANALOG synthesizer to create the sound of a haunted breeze by running its NOISE OSCILLATOR through FILTER ONE in F12 mode and maximizing its COLOR knob. Once we did that, we automated FILTER ONE‘s RESONANANCE knob to create the illusion of wind that’s rising and falling!

Rattling Chains


For our next trick, we wanted to create the sound of ghosts and ghouls rattling their chains and shackles. To get things rattling, we selected one of our favorite tambourine samples and inserted it into LIVE‘s built-in SAMPLER. We then automated its MIDI VELOCITY via the CLIP EDITOR to create a ghastly groove. Add a little REVERB to spook it out, and there you have it – rattling chains!

Creaking Door


A creaky door opening can only mean one thing – something’s about to go down. To get this effect, we first loaded a trap-inspired snare drum sample in to LIVE‘s built in SAMPLER. We then added an instance of ARPEGGIATOR, making sure to set it’s rate switch to FREE rather than SYNC. By sequencing just one MIDI note and then automating the ARPEGGIATOR‘s RATE knob, LIVE will trigger the sample repeatedly, quickly at first and then gradually decreasing in speed – much like a squeaky door hinge!

Bat Wings


Halloween night can get all kinds of crazy. For this sound design treat we wanted to synthesize the sound of vampire bats flying overhead. To achieve this, we utilized ANALOG‘s NOISE OSCILLATOR routed to FILTER ONE in HP24 mode, with its COLOR knob set at maximum. We then added an instance of ARPEGGIATOR, much like in the last example, automating its RATE knob in FREE mode to simulate the sound of bat wings flapping with speed variations. The last step was to automate FILTER ONE‘s FREQUENCY CUTOFF knob slightly to create further variation in the sound and to emulate the feeling of vampire bats getting eerily closer to your head with each dive!

Vocal Samples


When creating this track, we knew we needed some scary audio samples to really bring it home, so we got our microphone out and went to town creating laughing demons, screaming apparitions, and skulking zombies! Once we had some audio material to work with, we went ahead and used LIVE‘s built-in audio editing capabilities to pitch shift the audio around and stretch it to taste.

Happy Halloween!

October 27, 2016