Hello Be the Ravers! If you’re interested in starting to use Ableton produce music of any type – from recording indie to busting out deep psy-trance or grimey dubstep, this should get you rolling. I’m going to cover a few basic things that are pivotal to understanding Ableton Live, no matter what genre – as Live is a versatile tool, once one begins to understand it, and can exploit its tools.
My name is Ben, but I produce and perform under the name Baesea.
Ableton Live, A Summary:
Live consists of clip view and arrangement view. The browser and other functions ( e.g play, record, stop, tempo) can be accessed from either view. Different styles of production call for different methods, but I prefer to compose almost exclusively in arrangement view while mixing and doing sound design in clip view. It’s a matter of preference, and you as you get comfortable with the program you will develop a production style.
Live is a powerful tool capable of manipulating audio with built-in warping that locks in on a track’s tempo and lets one manipulate the time and speed of the track. Live Suite 8 comes with myriad effects and instruments – from distortion, delay, and compression tools to samplers and some of the most powerful software synthesizers available.
In Live 8 Session View (“Live’s Unique Jamming Facility”), you can see many audio and MIDI tracks laid out like a mixer. From here you can control track volume, panning delay, ins outs, as well as access audio/MIDI effects. This view is perfect for creating loops, or clips, and launching them in time. You can create MIDI clips or drop in audio tracks. There are controllers specifically made for Live that help one create and play music Live in Session View, such as the Akai APCs and Novation Launchpad.
The Arrangement View, on the other hand, gives a full layout of the project, with measures laid out on top, and tracks going down vertically. I think what people usually do is gather clips in session view then drop them into arrangement view. Alternatively, you can drop audio tracks straight into an audio track in Arrangement View, or highlight a section a create a MIDI clip in a MIDI track. The mixer is available in Arrangement View, the controls are horizontal, and not vertical like a typical mixer.
Finally, Live’s browser is accessed by clicking on the triangle or any of the other six on the left of the screen. This will open drop-down menus not unlike a Windows file browser. Starting from the top there are:
1) Audio Effects effects that can be applied to both Audio and MIDI tracks – compressors, delays, etc.
2) MIDI Effects can only be applied to MIDI tracks – arpeggiator, velocity, etc.
3) Instruments – Live Suite 8 comes with a great collection of instruments including synthesizers, samplers, and crazy things I haven’t really touched.
Arguably one of the best parts of digital production – digital gear lust. Plugins are additional effects and instruments that can be added to your repertoire from third parties. I recommend that instead of building the largest plugin folder you can, you instead get a few you really like and learn them as well as possible.
File Browsers 1-3 and Hotswap
File Browsers open up file locations on your computer. I use 1+2 for different sample locations (vocal clips and drum samples) and 3 for my project files.
Live’s Hotswap functions allow you to switch out samples on the fly. This is perfect for finding the correct sample for the mix – if one sound doesn’t sound right, it doesn’t sound right. It saves time to find a well-fitting sample instead of processing a bad snare to death.
That’s a basic overview of the program! I hope this was helpful, look forward to more tutorials going over various instruments, effects, and other tips in Live in addition to other production related articles.