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The Art of Producing Ambient and Downtempo

ableton live ambient basslines downtempo eq eight filter automation reverb Jun 08, 2020

In her first lesson for Mixmasters, Liz Cirelli explores the art of producing ambient and downtempo music. Breaking down both versions of her track made with Minkski: ‘Nothing Nothing’. This tutorial is also full of tips that you can apply to any genre. 


Liz Cirelli is a classically trained musician, former DJ turned producer. Her sound can be best described as a hauntingly beautiful blend of electronica, downtempo, dream pop and contemporary classical.

Here are some of her production insights, demonstrated in Ableton Live:


The Art of Producing Ambient and Downtempo: Producer Insights

  • Use different bass sounds to add texture and keep the listener interested.
  • Filter elements in and out in ambient and downtempo music so that you have a one moving layer of sound. 
  • Always use Auto-filter for filter automation, EQ Eight is only made for cutting and boosting frequencies. 
  • Use reverb on strings to give overtones more colour. 
  • Bonus Tip: Layer bass sounds an octave up to make them audible on laptop and phone speakers. 


Full Tutorial Description

  • Breakdown of Liz and Minski’s downtempo and ambient versions of ‘Nothing Nothing’.
  • Processing elements to create space and give each one maximum impact in the mix.
  • Using Ableton Live’s ‘slice to new midi track’ function. 
  • Using Effectrix to create drum variations.
  • Layering basslines. 
  • Using filter automation to add depth and interest when producing ambient and downtempo.
  • Processing live instruments. 
  • Using Overdrive and a bitcrushing effect to make things get a little crazy.
  • Healing Frequencies. 


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