Introduction to Ableton Live

Learn Ableton Live’s most powerful tools and how to use them to take your musical ideas from conception to final recording.

About The Course

In the past, Digital Audio Workstations (DAWs) were programs used only by audio engineers with a highly specific knowledge base, on machines inaccessible to most people. But over the past 10-15 years, DAWs and the act of recording music have evolved from being a luxury of the few to being available to the masses. Ableton Live is one such application. Used by an extremely broad range of music creators, Ableton Live not only facilitates the work of engineers, producers, and writers in professional, home, and mobile studio settings, but it is also a powerful platform for musicians on stage, in the DJ booth, and elsewhere.

In this course, you will explore some of Live’s most powerful and useful functionality: MIDI programming, audio recording, warping and processing, looping editing, mixing, performing, file management, and troubleshooting. Meant to be a springboard for those who are new to Ableton Live and/or DAWs in general, this three-week course will provide you with a strong knowledge base for using Live to take your musical ideas from conception to final recording. The course breaks down the many barriers of entry into music technology and encourages all those who wish, to create fearlessly.

Note: If you do not own Ableton Live 9, you can download a free, fully featured trial version at  https://www.ableton.com/en/trial/. The trial version will allow you to save and export your work for 30 days. If you use the trial version, do not download it until the course is scheduled to begin.

Frequently Asked Questions

What version of Ableton Live do I need to use?

Any version of Ableton Live 9 can be used in the course. A fully featured trial version of Ableton Live 9 is downloadable for no charge at  https://www.ableton.com/en/trial/. The trial version will allow you to save and export your work for 30 days. Please note that if you use the trial version, you should not download it until the course is scheduled to begin.

What is Blend and how do we use it in the course?

Blend is a powerful web-based application that will allow us to share, comment on, and collaborate on session files online. The course will require that you create a free account on Blend in order to complete peer review assignments.

Recommended Background

  • No prior knowledge of Ableton Live or any other DAW is necessary to complete the course.
  • No instrumental or theoretical understanding of music is required, but it is always helpful.
  • No specific hardware is required and several options will be demonstrated, including using your computer’s keyboard as a MIDI controller.