Ableton 101 | Aaron Carstensen | Skillshare

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

4 Lessons (39m)
    • 1. Introduction

    • 2. Lesson 1 Navigation

    • 3. Lesson 2 Instruments

    • 4. Lesson 3 Effects

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About This Class

This class is one for aspiring music producers who are starting with little to no previous experience with Ableton Live. I will be starting off with basic navigation in the tool and by the end we will be making a very simple song for a final project. I will also be teaching some tips and tricks along the way and providing basic knowledge on some of the audio effects that are most commonly used.

(This class will use only MIDI instruments included in Ableton, no external sound recording required)

If you do not have Ableton but would still like to try this class out they offer a free 30 day trial! I will post the link below:

Meet Your Teacher

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Aaron Carstensen

Keep making music


Hi! my name is Aaron and I am an electronic music producer with 8 years of experience. I have completed my degree in electronic production from the Berklee School of Music and am currently working on my trap metal project Xstitch.

The most recent release here is my Quick Mix: Low End video tutorial. I am starting the Quick Mix series as a way to quickly showcase practical techniques so if you like the first one I'd be happy to make more.

If you've gotten any use from my lessons it would be super helpful to get a follow on Instagram, I'm most active there.

As always let me know if there is something you are stuck on or want me to cover I would be happy to make a tutorial on the topic.

Keep making music!

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1. Introduction: Hello, everyone. And welcome to a built in 101 My name is Aaron Carstensen, and I'll be your teacher. So before we get started, I want to do a little class overview. What? This this particular courses about and really what this is gonna be is a very, very basic introduction toe able 10 um, as a d a w Do you w stands for digital audio workstation. Um, there's a lot of different kinds able to is a very powerful tool. Um, I do everything audio in this tool from production. Make the beats. I do sound design with few plug ins. Um, and then I master and release completed tracks All in this in this tool. There's a lot of other tools out there. Um really personal preferences. Faras probably heard of pro tools. Pretty industry standard. A lot of modern electronic musicians air using able to these days. So as we get started, what we're gonna be learning is just simply how toe start up a song. Start up a few audio tracks, few midi midi instruments. It's really basic stuff. Thes thes programs could be overwhelming. When you first opened them, there's a lot of buttons, a lot of a lot of tabs, and it could be frustrating when all you want to do is just make some music. So what? That let's get started. 2. Lesson 1 Navigation: Hey, guys, this is Erin of be less on one. And in this lesson, we're just going to simply learn toe navigate the tool right here. This screen I have is gonna be right. When you open, able to double click, it's gonna pull up right here. And so what? What I'll show you right real quick is that you have four tracks preloaded two of these. They're gonna be midi tracks. It's us where you drag in a, uh, software instrument. A couple of them were gonna be audio tracks. It's gonna be more for, like, vocal recording. You can hook a microphone up, as you can see right here. It's actually taking the information from a microphone right here. All right. If you look at your left over here, this is gonna be the main main search tool you have. Starting at the top. You have different sounds is gonna be sounds that a Bolton has preloaded for you. Um, you can click on him as you click on them. It's gonna preview each one now. So those were just a few based sounds is really nice when you just want to drop in an instrument and just start playing around. We'll come back to that in a second. The second type drums. They're gonna keep all your kits right here. This this tool right here, Drum rack. This is gonna be very important. Um, each drum rack is gonna be, um uh, completely customizable. Drop whatever samples you want in their very, very powerful Come back to that later. Also. So this instruments is gonna be different than sounds. One thing that was confusing to me when I first started was the difference between sounds and instruments. Thes instruments are going to be actual software synthesizer instruments that are used. That able turn has provided for you. Um, see, here sampler there's a sampler. Tensions gonna be good for making, um, string sounds. See operators there FM synthesis. Analog is just a basic analog synthesizer. So these here are going to be good to look at. Good to learn if you want to do some sound design or something like that, but will come back to that in a later lesson. Maybe in the next, the next Siri's. Because sound is, I can get a little complicated. All right. Next tab is audio effects are the effects could be put on any single track you have. Odd effects are like the paintbrush. And, like the artistic flair of of the audio world, something like e que equalizer. You're gonna throw that on almost every track you have. Just, um, just carve out little pieces or boost little parts. Just basically, basically, um, tweak things. That's what they howdy affects. They're really good for reverb. Another big, big one we're gonna use. Have everything sit in the mix, right? All right. Next down is gonna be midi effects. The MIDI effects are they're cool. The thing about them is you're only gonna be able to put them on a MIDI track. So if you have recorded audio or recorded, um, guitar John, track something live recorded, you will not be able to put the MIDI effects on there. They need the actual digital information to work correctly and which the audio tracks did not provide. Max for live will skip over that plug ins if you have third party instruments or, um, effects is where they're gonna show up. You have questions about how to get that that, um, them to show up in a Bolton. You can shoot me, shoot me a message that's kind of gets a little technical, but it's it's very simple for what it is. I don't know if you've heard of massive, but massive is gonna be a audio is gonna be 1/3 party synthesizer by native instruments. Extremely powerful. Almost every single electronic producer these days uses it. Um, yeah. See, I have a few other absent. Also Native instruments, few glitch effects plug ins. There's a lot of free ones out there, So if you can find some good ones, um, they're super helpful. Clips, preloaded clips. Um ah. Clip enable 10 is gonna be one of these little guys. Pull one in their right there. See, this is a clip just basically a section of audio. Here's some these obviously some preloaded clips that able to know as and then samples. What a sample is is just, like, even shorter than a clip. It's gonna be just a short, short piece of audio. Um, if you take a sample and put it in one of these sampler instruments, you can almost limitless limitless possibilities on how toe stretch mangle. Just make it sound. Make it sound crazy. Um, samplers Air really fun. So finding some, like the plug ins, There's a lot of free samples on the Internet that are gonna be very, very fun to play with. Um, I have a lot of extra, as you can see, these visit extensive, extensive library right here, which is some for Milton, but mostly apart from that, right. Next thing we're gonna look at is the session view. That's this box, right? Here is the session view. If you hit the tab button, it's gonna pull up the arrangement view. So the thing about these is there independent. As you can see, I have this clip right here in my session view, but it's not showing up in my arrangement of you, um, personal preference on which, uh, do you, like, toe work in? I usually start my songs in the session view and then work towards the arrangement view as you get build beyond just short loops and, um uh, just small clips. So if we also look up at the top, it's gonna have a few things to notice. A minute. All right. So pretty basic BPM beats per minute is gonna be time signature. So another thing about able to is gonna tell you down here. What? Um, each thing you're scrolling over is so it's pretty helpful. This right here. Metrodome. Very useful. Just gonna turn on a click when you, uh, press play. So there's the Metrodome. Turn that off. It's gonna be basically where you're at in the arrangement. Um, it's gonna be in this view, though, play stopped record. It's gonna be your main ones. These buttons are gonna be some automation. Things will come back to them because sometimes when you change an automated parameter, um, it actually disables, and you have to click this button to make it, um, make sure re enables. All right, a few final things to look at thes two tracks over here. These are gonna be sends. So what that means is usually gonna have an effect lined up on there And what you can dio is take any track over here, and as you turn this knob up, it's going to send that information through this track. Let's say you have a reverb over here as you turn this this a up Sunday at the track, this track is going to play back. Um with more reverb on it. So that sends and then a final thing to look at it. Just a master track. This is gonna be, um, just where you dropped audio effects that will go in the whole track. You can see there's a master Volume two. It's good to work with this down a little bit because you'll start to clip. Once you get good amount of instruments playing at one time, you can bring it back up at the end. Um, but it's good to avoid clipping at all costs. That's when them the, uh, volume will go above zero db, and it will turn red so you'll know when you clip. So that, basically is a quick overview of Thea navigating the tool. And so next next lesson, we'll learn it, Uh, learn how to put some audio down and start making a quick track 3. Lesson 2 Instruments: he guys, welcome to lessen too. In this lesson, we're gonna put down some music. It's gonna be fun. So first thing to notice before you get started is Thea Master bpm. Few common be PM's They're gonna be 1 40 for Dub step in Trap 1 28 toe 1 32 is gonna be good for trance and house. Would you go down to 90 and 80? It's gonna be more hip hop. All right? For this track, I'm just gonna do 1 28 and lay down a trance beat because it's pretty simple on a good starting spot. So the first thing I like to do is go to the drum track, find a drum kit that that you like, You can sample the sounds here some like in that one. I'm gonna drag that in. Someone get rid of all these extra ones, actually dragged in a court progression that I'll go over in a second just to get one down for the the class. All right, so what you're gonna do now is once you picked your kit and dragged into your this button right here is gonna be the arm button. So that's gonna arm your your keyboard to that track. Another thing to look at. So what I just happened was I'm pressing the buttons on my keyboard. Did you Could see right here. It's playing a higher octave on the keyboard on the samples. So it's not getting the ones that are activated, the ones that air working down here, So we're gonna do is press easy to go down a knock tive annex to go up inactive. So watch here, they're now my C is on the correct on C one. Before it was up here, you can see it's not the right area. So once you get your, um, you're correct active. You can either DoubleClick appear in this clip area to start a clip, or you can hit this record button. You can see two records live recording. Whichever way is easier for you. I personally like to click in the beats. So for clicking in the beats, you can see the length right here. When you click a clip, it's just gonna be a one bar clip. If you come down here, the length you can either type it in, so make it a four bar or you can click and drag Bring it down to three or two. Whatever you want to dio, I usually like toe work in clips and around four, 2 to 4. So they're just short, easy. You can start getting fancy and, um, the arrangement view. All right, so this this lesson, what's gonna be just, um, drums? Easy base, um, lied in a court progression. So right now, which gonna lay down a very simple trance beat. I thought I like to do just click in the, um Yeah, that's a nice kick. Click in the beats, and then if you press space bar wants to start and once again to stop. It seems here real quick what you're doing. See? There's a all right, Some double clicking. Then what I did. There was a highlighted this area and breast control deed duplicate. I was gonna duplicate this. All right, So very simple. Um, next, What we're gonna do is go Dragon, the piano sound. I have one already dragged up, but I'll show you how to do it real quick. You're gonna go to sounds, whatever sound you want. I just went down and picked a piano sound dragged it in, um, Drew in the notes, Just like with this drum kit. They're just musical notes. And then, um so, like that. Very easy. Whatever cords you want to put down, Um, there are certain chord progressions that are used for electronic music. Um, I'm not gonna get into that and get to get a little complex. Um, so just find a chord progression or look one up that you like, and then this will be a good baseline, fair track in general, so over the top, you can, ah, put it lead, and we're gonna put down a base first and then a lead, and then that'll be it for this class. Um, after that, we're gonna talk about effects in the last video. All right, so now just sounds, man, this one, um it's a double click. Put in a clip. I'm gonna put this up to four four bars. What I'm gonna do is take these notes here, De, uh, so they're gonna be the root notes. I'm literally just gonna take this clip. What you can do. Hold control. Click and drag. Keep holding control and let go the click. Now this, um, this clip from the piano is gonna be playing through the sound of the of the base. The thing is that the base is gonna be way lower. So if you highlight all the notes and press shift and press down on the key, you can you can bring down in octave and then get rid of these upper notes. See, that sounds too low. That sounds pretty good. All right, So what I like to do is once I have ah, base or ah, just kind of make it a little interesting. I'm actually gonna do it quick. All right? So just do a quick rolling baseline you can highlight controlled the duplicate, drag it to the right. No area do that very quickly. Oops. All right. And there you go. You have a quick, um, baseline. I'm one more thing to add in is gonna be, ah, lead over the top. Ah, so that would be a little out. Um, could grab that. So once again, just gonna click in do four bar loop. Um, like I said before, So we're playing low because it was on the base. So if press X to go up inactive still sounds a little, uh, that's gonna be good. Uh, range for this. So I was gonna click and drag in a little melody here. - Another thing. If you're clicking in and you want to hear what note you're gonna play, you can click. These headphones are here. Now, when you click, it's gonna play. What note is coming? - All right, so there you go. You have ah, quick little, um, arrangement right there. And in the next video, we're gonna talk about audio effects. Just some common ones. All right. See you later, guys. 4. Lesson 3 Effects: Hey, guys, for the last Listen, we're gonna go over some audio effects. So this tab right here, like I said before this great, great place to just add some, um, artistic expression to your track. What we're gonna look at first is an e que so e Q eight here there's gonna be on almost every single one of your tracks. It's on every single one of ah, the tracks when I'm making a song. And so basically what this is is gonna be the frequency spectrum. So I'll sell of this and show you a couple of things. No, So you can see down here is gonna be low as mid range is around here, and then hiring is gonna be appear. There's gonna be a different types of, um, filter. There's this, um the default is gonna be some The shelves on the bottom, Um, a bell. It's gonna be just really common. You want to do a little boosting and thing about e que is gonna be if you're gonna want to minimal minimal, um, tweaks. If you're going something like this, it's just gonna destroy the sound. You're gonna want to keep it pretty even on the spectrum. So this is a really aggressive 15 db. That's huge. Usually when I'm, um, cutting. So cutting something is gonna be You're not. Take this Q button. Drag that up. So small cuts remember small cuts and wide boosts. So take the cue down. So here. So what? We're gonna do this quick. We're gonna listen to this. So this this is AM lead sound. So what we want to do here is change this to a low. Um, high pass. Best for, um So what this does is going to cut off the low end thing about low end is it gets really muddy really fast. So, like, let's say we bring in some president Control control. Click. So now the base in the leader soloed way have it all the way down. They're going to start interfere with each other a little bit. If you bring it up, you're gonna cut the low frequencies on the, uh, on the lead. So it it meshes better with the base and think about e que It's gonna be subtle. I'll play it on and off. As you can see, it's just a little bit a little bit cleaner. The thing about this is if you clean everything up a little bit, it's gonna sound a lot better in the longer end. Eso the same thing applies to the base, but opposite I'm gonna dragon eq you in there. So this base, um, is gonna be mostly low end. So, um, it does have some high parts to it because you hear that click? We don't want to get rid of that whole sound. So what I would do is look at this. Where's the lead coming? It's gonna be around one K that's gonna be like a mid range, a solid midrange. I'll play the one k. So that's a really, like, loud part for the human here to here. So if we take and cut that a little bit so you can see I'm just doing like, three db cuts. Pretty small, just tiny little bits. Um, and you'll get a near for as you play around. Mostly, when you start off, you're gonna be doing larger cuts than you need. Just cause you won't be able to tell, Really? Um and then let's bring in Just the source can do like you everything. So this piano. Also gonna really left the low end. Actually, I might take out this this one K range also. Yeah, it's a good spot. Just a little bit. So this base, I'm because I want the piano to come through more. I'm also gonna take so this pianos playing around it's, like, 300 to 500 kind of area. So if we take that that that spot is gonna be kind of like honky a little bit, so it might be a good spot to cut anyway. So this with the cube, I'm gonna eat clean up a little bit. So that's a little simply queuing. Play around with the frequency spectrum. Um, like, put some big boosts in and just see what frequency is. What? Um, it's gonna be just a lot of practice and knowing where What frequencies? Air important to cut our, which are important. Toe boost. Mostly cut. Though It's more of like making a puzzle piece kind of fit together than, um, like boosting things too. Boost into each other. It's it's more carving. That saves more carving, then adding, So carve away this stuff. It's not necessary. All right, so that's look at the EQ you. So that's gonna be on most everything here we're gonna look at, um I want to put a delay on the piano and then some reverb on the top on the lead. So let's look at the delay. Because so a good starting delay is gonna be the simple or not ping pong. Pretty easy. So you just click drag effect on their Ah, One thing about effects is it does matter what order you put drag him out in. So because I haven't eq you first and then a second the delay, it's gonna delay what? I have already queued. If I did delay first, it's gonna delay the signal first and then cut it. So usually Aniki is gonna be the first thing you want down just to tighten up the sound. So here this what the delay is going to sound like. So it makes it bounce around a little bit. Makes a little faster. I'll go over, the knobs are stopped. The bottom, actually, So this top is gonna be a frequency so kind of like this IKI right here. It's gonna be a little bell where you want the delay to happen. So that's a low delay. As you can hear is a high delay. I'm gonna keep it low around 500. This is gonna be how big or how small you are. The delay. You mean bring up it? Sounds pretty good at this button. Are these buttons? Um, it's gonna be how often it delays. So something like this for it's gonna Dilan quarter notes. 16th notes. It's gonna be really fast. Um, just slow every bar. Um, so play around with the usually the three sounds pretty good. It kind of gives it that little just bouncing the center in between the notes moving down is gonna be dry wet. It's gonna be how much signal is delayed. And how much is the dry? This the dry sound that's just a dry piano sound is the delay. So usually I usually put around like you don't want it completely overwhelming because you're gonna destroy the original signal, which you want to cut through. And usually DeLay is gonna be secondary and kind of fading out. So I usually do around 35 and then feedback here is gonna be how many repetitions of the delay you have. So it's only doing Done done. This is gonna be the 95%. It's gonna be a huge delay. It's gonna just keep going. So think about the fact that you have other elements. And when you do too much delay, it's going to start rolling over on itself. Let's because they're long notes so we can do it longer delay. So I'm liking that. It's simple. We might. I'm raising back up once we get in the mix. But let's just take a listen. So as you can see, when it was so load, it sounded fine. But as we put it back in the mix, who couldn't hear it? So I brought Thea frequency up and that, um, just the volume up in general, because if you add these effects, it's gonna kind of quiet it, um, and just pull it back in the mix. So be careful about putting up too dry or too are too wet because gonna pull it back even farther. So there's that all dry. See, the dry signal is pretty quiet when you're 50% it supposed to. That's pretty in your face. All right, so this sound, that's kind of ah quick delay tutorial. Um, another really common one is gonna be reverb Delaine river by good mixing tools. Um, this track, Ari actually has a reverb on it. I'm gonna take it off and show you a little how able turns works. So I'm gonna go here to this reverb, take it all the way off, actually addicted to laugh, too. So it's completely dry. Can hear that. That's the river they had on it. Just getting that's completely dry. You can see how aggressive it is. Doesn't sound musical at all. So what you're gonna want is put a reverb on it to bring it back in the mix. I'm gonna put it so, um, not to get too complex with it. Um, the main What we're just gonna look at is decay time and dry, wet. So dry wit is the same thing as on the delay. Dry signal, the wet signal. So this completely wet river completely dry. So here we're gonna So this button right here, this knobs decay time. This is important on getting the size right and just he's drying out more. So, um, pretty long delay. Uh uh. Decay on the reverb. Right? there. And what I'm actually to do is put a longer decay and not so much Try wet. So there's some EQ you decay and reverb tutorial. Um, I'll probably be posting a more complex tutorial on go over each individual parameter. Um, these could be pretty complicated and overwhelming when you first start. But so just practice with just, uh, practice with mixing these together and just try to make him sound just more musical on more, uh, more like a real song. So that's gonna be a the audio effect, A tutorial. And I think that's gonna be it for this lesson. So keep making music making every day. See that, I guess.