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17 Amazing Ableton Live Tutorials

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Ableton Live is a DAW that's not only good at producing music, but it's also useful when you're playing live. It's available for both PCs and Macs, so just about anyone can use the software.

One of Live's unique features is its session view. This is a non-linear grid for recording and playing your music ideas in any order.

The program can deal with MIDI and audio, supports VST instruments, and has great looping features. It is flexible for musicians, and loved by DJs.

The program was first released in 2001, and version 8 came out in April of this year. An LE version is also available.

This article was previously published on the AudioJungle blog. We'll be bringing you an article from the archives each week.

Last week’s article covered Live’s history and features. This week we learn how to use it. Here are 17 tutorials coming from Ableton, Youtube and Audiotuts+. Most cover the current version of Live, but a few cover version 7 where the same techniques still apply.

1. Ableton Inc's Channel

Ableton have their own Youtube channel of useful tutorials. They don't allow us to embed the tutorials here (though a few sneak in below), but you can see them for yourself here.

2. Make Music with Ableton Live

"Ableton Live is about making music. When you're writing and composing, Live is quick and responsive. When you want to record and develop your ideas, Live has the depth and toolset for intricate production. It's got the features to take your DJ skills to the next level and it's stable and flexible on stage, whether you're playing in front of 10 or 10,000 people. However and wherever you make music, whatever music you make, Live will inspire you."

3. Making Electro House Music in Ableton Live

This video show you how Timofey works with Ableton Live to make electro house music.

4. Ableton Live 8: Quantizing Audio

"Berkleemusic instructor Loudon Stearns covers the usage of warp markers, transient detection, and quantizing of audio new in Ableton Live 8."

5. Recording Guitar in Ableton Live 7

"Huston Singletary takes you through the process of recording guitar tracks within the Live 7 Arrangement View."

6. Sidechain Compression in Ableton Live 8

"Huston Singletary explains and demonstrates the popular "pumping and breathing" effect used on countless electronic and dance tracks. Live 8's intuitive Compressor-Sidechain effect is explained and a custom preset is created in the studio showing the characteristics of this classic audio effect."

7. Ableton Live Tutorial - The Reverse Vocal Effect

"In this tutorial we show you how pull of a neat vocal technique used in the industry time and time again - and it sounds great! This can be used in many genres of music, maybe as a lead into the chorus, or in a breakdown, and is also used in movie soundtracks...nice!"

8. Ableton Live 8: Looper

"Huston Singletary talks about the "Looper" included in Ableton Live 8 at Winter NAMM 2009."

9. Understanding Ableton Live 8’s New Groove Engine

Jun 11th in Ableton Live, Production by Mo Volans

Ableton has introduced a huge list of new features into the latest version of Live. Amongst some of the highlights are new instruments, new warp algorithms and even several new effects plug-ins.

All these features are impressive (and some of them definitely deserve their own tutorials), but one of the most important updates for many users is the introduction of a brand new groove engine, so let’s get stuck in and see how it works.

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10. How to Use Ableton’s Beat Repeat Effect for Live Performance

Feb 27th in Ableton Live, Mixing & Mastering by Mo Volans

It’s not exactly news that a lot of people see Ableton Live as one of the best pieces of software for live performance. After relying on Live and a laptop for loads of gigs around the globe, I can fully recommend it as a tool capable of delivering the results. The interface is clear and luckily it hasn’t crashed on me yet.

With so many effects to choose from I’ve decided to cover one that has seemed to remain a constant crowd pleaser throughout my live career and that’s the extremely usable ‘Beat repeat’ effect. I’ll walk through how to map its key parameters to a control surface and then show some quick examples of how it can be tweaked with only a few knobs for maximum impact when playing live.

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11. Warping Tunes for Live Sets with Ableton Live

Dec 17th in Ableton Live, Mixing & Mastering by Mo Volans

Ableton is fast becoming the tool of choice for the digital DJ and has just about every tool you could ask for when putting together a live show or DJ set. One of the most important parts of getting things right on the night is syncing individual beats or entire tracks and if you want to get things 100% locked down the best strategy is to warp your files before the show.

Warp markers are small flags that Ableton uses to cut audio into small portions, these portions can then be shifted back and forth as the tempo of your project is changed. This basically means that the audio takes on an elastic nature and can be played back at any tempo without suffering from the degradation and anomalies related to traditional time stretching.

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12. How to Add the Experimental to Electronica, Part 1

Nov 10th in Ableton Live, Composition by Paul Taylor

It’s a bit of a shame that the abstract electronica genre isn’t thriving commercially the way it used to be. The heyday of labels like Warp Records and Planet Mu has long gone, and very few experimental electronica producers are making a living from their music.

That said, there’s a great wealth of absolutely amazing free electronica out there. I’d recommend any fan of electronic music to take a listen to the brilliant Bleepshow podcast for many fantastic examples. It’s a highly creative area, and one which needs a constant supply of fresh talent, so it’s a good time to get started!

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13. How to DJ with Ableton Live

Oct 2nd in Ableton Live, Djing by Solaremusic

Ever wanted to DJ with Ableton Live? Here’s how! While it’s true that you can produce a complete live show with Ableton Live, bringing your studio production to stage, some would just like to mix their favorite tracks “a la DJ.”

The most basic principle of DJing is to have a set of tunes playing continuously — no jumps, no cuts, no funny transitions, just as if all the pieces in the playlist were one. A long tune of an hour or more.

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14. Create Generative Ambient Music in Ableton Live

Aug 11th in Ableton Live, Composition by Ray Chemo

Create Generative Ambient Music in Ableton Live

In this tutorial we are going to use Ableton Live’s innovative follow actions to create generative music in the form of some electronic wind chimes. When writing generative music we look at composition from a different angle. Instead of composing melodies and writing arrangements, we define a number of fixed parameters and let the music write itself! Wind chimes are prehaps the most common example of generative music—a term coined by ambient pioneer Brain Eno.

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15. Producing and Mastering a DJ Set

May 22nd in Ableton Live, Logic Pro, Mixing & Mastering by Mo Volans

So you have your beat mixing down to a fine art and you have a great collection of tunes. You have recorded your latest live show or have put the finishing touches on a promotional set in the studio. The question is what do you do now?

To turn the recording into a really listenable product it’s a good idea to apply some basic mastering and ensure that it’s in the right format. It’s also important to be able to insert track markers if you intend to burn to CD. Here are a few tips to get you going.

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16. How to Make an Insane ‘Plucky’ Trance Lead


Aug 8th in Ableton Live, Production by Paul Taylor

The lead sound is the key to any track: pick a clichéd or dull-sounding lead and you’ll multiply the amount of work you need to do in order to create a memorable record. Obviously, your own creativity is vital when creating an original lead, but it certainly pays to know the territory before you embark….

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17. Make and Mix a Running 16th-note Bassline

Jul 4th in Ableton Live, Production by Paul Taylor

In this tutorial, we’re going to learn how to make and mix a “running” 16th-note bassline. You’ll hear this in countless dance genres such as techno and even breaks, but it’s become synonymous with trance over the years.

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