Learn Ableton: A Few Reminders as You Get Started

29 Sep

Ableton is one of the top DAWs when it comes to music production, especially among electronic music, hip hop, and EDM producers. In particular, Ableton Live 10 is one of the most powerful, popular, and versatile DAWs (Digital Audio Workstation) for macOS and Windows. Ableton Live can be used for real time performances, as well as used for composing, recording, mixing, and mastering.

If you're like most people, and you just downloaded Ableton, you may be a bit overwhelmed with its countless features. However, with hard work, determination, and this intro Ableton tutorial, you can learn Ableton just like the greats!

Help! What am I looking at?

Ableton's interface can be broken up into the browser, the detail section, and the session view, and the arrangement view.

The browser section is on the left side of the screen, and is where samples, effects, and plug-ins that come with Ableton Live are located.

The detail section is at the bottom of the screen, and can be used for editing functions, including MIDI patterns or manipulating audio files. MIDI tracks are where you draw a melody or chord patterns that the virtual instruments play.

The session view is the default view, and is designed for live sessions and performances. This view allows you to build live loops, as well as record over the looping.

The arrangement view allows for creating and arranging a full track. This is the most common view, and is typically used for composing (as opposed to the session view, which is more often used for playing).

Where do I start?

If you're ready to begin, let's start in the arrangement view.

Along the top of the arrangement view are a number of important controls when it comes to making your audio track. These include the tempo control, the phase nudge up/down control, time signature, metronome, draw and, of course, play, pause, and record.

Also on this bar are the draw and computer key functions. The computer key tool is particularly beneficial to beginners, as it turns your computer keyboard into a simple MIDI keyboard. The draw tool can be used for drawing or editing MIDI effects, patterns, or sequences with your mouse.

I'm ready to start creating!

First, ensure you are in the arrangement view and have chosen a tempo. Then, it's time to add a VST instrument, which is a plug-in that generates audio and stands in the place of software-based instruments and synths.

It is important to note, however, that VST instruments and plugs in are different. VST receives notes as digital information via MIDI, and outputs digital audio, while effect plugins receive digital audio and process it through to their outputs.

Next, add your MIDI clip and MIDI sequence. After you've created these and have the patterns repeat as often as you want, it's time to add audio effects! From reverb to warping, adding effects in Ableton is extremely simple: go to the browser on the left of the screen, then select "Audio Effects." You can edit these effects with the decay time and density functions.

I'm still kind of confused...

This tutorial was just the beginning. We highly recommend searching on Google or YouTube "Ableton Live Tutorials" for more specific, step-by-step beginners guides. These guides will show you the ins and outs of music production, whether you are in a studio or a live performance. Many certified trainer tutorials are perfect for music production newbies. They teach common keyboard shortcuts for macs and Windows, and explain the differences between Ableton Live 10 and Ableton Live 9.

It's important to learn all the ins and outs of Ableton so that you can ensure you are maximizing all of its functions. After reading and watching tutorials, the best way to do this is through actually making music and putting your newly-learned skills to work! Just like anything else, it will take a lot of practice, but with perseverance, your hard work will pay off.

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