ABLETON LIVE: The Ultimate Crash Course | Kia Orion | Skillshare

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ABLETON LIVE: The Ultimate Crash Course

teacher avatar Kia Orion, Artist & Music Producer

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

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

    • 1.

      Are You Ready?


    • 2.

      Class Overview


    • 3.

      Where You At!?


    • 4.

      Lesson 1: Overview


    • 5.

      Lesson 2: Navigation


    • 6.

      Lesson 3: Browser


    • 7.

      Lesson 4: Audio Effects Rack


    • 8.

      Lesson 5: Using Clips


    • 9.

      Lesson 6: Recording


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About This Class

This is your last chance. After this there is no turning back. You have two choices.

The first: You skip the course. The story ends. You go back to your life and believe whatever you want to believe. Thinking about what could have been, watching your dreams of being a producer slowly drift farther away.

The second: You take the course. You start down a path of acquiring a skill you’ve always known you wanted. You start to see life in color. Vivid yellows and hues of emerald begin to jump out at you in places you’ve never seen before. Your dreams become goals. And your goals become a reality.

Stop dreaming. Start creating. You already know what you need to do.

What are you waiting for?


In this course we go from 0 to 100 real quick.  We don’t cover all the knobs, switches, and circuits within the software. I give you only what you need to know to start creating your own sounds.

In this 45 minute course, I break down the basics of what you need to know about the workstations, the sound browser, and how to record Audio & MIDI. I also provide you with the steps of what it takes to be a successful producer. This course covers

  • The different workstations within Ableton
  • How to navigate around the program
  • Using samples
  • Recording made easy
  • How to use and stack audio/MIDI effects

I also include my own Ableton template to get you up and running quickly. This course covers only the very basics, for more in depth tutorials stay tuned for classes rolling out in the next few weeks.

Want my Ableton template and samples used in this course? You can access them all at

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Kia Orion

Artist & Music Producer


Ay! I'm Kia. 

I'm an artist and educator who believes life wouldn't be the same without music.

Or tacos.

I realized that I was equally as passionate about teaching music as I was making it.

In 2016 I founded Beat School, an online platform and series of educational programs to help aspiring artists and producers learn how to make beats, accelerate their growth, and stay inspired. 

I'm originally from New York but these days you'll find me traveling around the world writing songs or playing beats on a rooftop somewhere.

I appreciate you stopping by, and if you'd like to get in touch you can DM me or shoot me an email at 

Life is too short not to do what you lov... See full profile

Level: Beginner

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1. Are You Ready?: 2. Class Overview: guys, What's going on? My name is Key. O Ryan, Thank you so much for joining me in this course. Uh, I'm originally from New York, but now I live out here in Chiang Mai, this beautiful, uh, city in Southeast Asia. And I traveled around the world, mostly Southeast Asia, right now looking for inspiration. And I make music, but it didn't start out this way. All the skills that I have, all the money that I've made from music has old been self talk. And listen, I'm not the sharpest tool in the shed. This doesn't take a rocket scientist to be able to do. If I could do this, you can do this. I mean that. So the biggest take away and note that I want to say about this courses don't expect to be master splinter overnight. The real key is to get started making music as fast as possible. And that's why, in this course, I get you from 0 to 100 because I want you to do is not not overthink it. Skip over all the bullshit and it's about executing, and it's just about making a lot of beats. There's a lot to learn. It will be a little bit overwhelming at first, but all digital audio workstations are It takes time. But if you give it that you will get better and you will be able to make music that you want to make, I can promise you that the whole thing is practiced. So I'll see you on the inside. Let's go. 3. Where You At!?: so I'm sorry for the little rant, but I'm not, because that's really important. I want to get out of the way also, with that being said, I want to talk to you about the class project. So it's important for me to know that you will took these skills that I'm giving you and took these ideas and actually can put them to practice, because I don't get better as an instructor if I can't see the progress or the problems that you all are having. So for the class project, I want you to upload a simple four bar, eight bar loop that can just be even sample sounds from able to me to dragon and drop. But I want to hear something from you. So take any of those of those elements that you heard that you like. And let's say for the assignment I was looking at the different loops that come with a built in, even if it's able to light and let's have a drum loop and some sort of instrument, So that's two things. That's the only thing that you need to have in your project for to qualify. But I want to see some of these projects. Okay, so a drum loop in an instrument, you can drag them and drop them in if you want. You can play the instruments in on Mitty. You can chop up a drug sample if you're already that good. Whatever it is, I want to hear some of your work. And please tell me what I can do to make these courses better. And what problems you're having is upcoming producers. Because, really, at the end of the day, I'm here for you. So let me know what you think. I'm looking forward to hearing what you guys come up with. Let's get into it. 4. Lesson 1: Overview: Okay, ladies and gentlemen, welcome to your crash course. Unable to live. This is simply going to be how I can get you from a to B in making a beat as fast as possible. I'm also going to give you this template that I'm using now that has all of these things already. Color coded. So that way you have an idea, sort of how to build out a track. This is what I use, uh, my template. And I'll show you how to upload that in a little bit under your preferences. So every time you start a new track, it'll already show up. Everything's color coded. You have all these tracks ready to rock and roll. So what this in this lesson, I'm just going to tell you a little bit about the overview of the workspaces. So think about a built in. It has kind of a couple different work spaces. This is gonna be your main one. And you have session view on arrangement view. So this is session view. This is arrangement view. I will only use session view if I'm toying with ideas or using it for performing. And since that's not what I will be doing in these classes. Um, for now, I'm just going to let you toy with this on your own, and we're just gonna be using arrangement view. This is what you're used to. If you've used any other day. WR Digital audio workstation. They have something kind of like this where you can you lay your track out in a linear fashion. And so over here, on the right things will be all your tracks. Obviously, I have them grouped. Depending on the low end. These your kicks eight awaits base regular drum snares, high hats, percussion transitions, etcetera, etcetera. And on each track, you'll have because this is this is the group percussion. And then these will be your actual tracks. And if you right click on them, you knew all this fun stuff. Color coding have you want This is your volume for each track up and down whatever you want . This turns whether that track is off or on. This is how you solo the track. If that's the only thing that you want to hear from that this is your panning, meaning it can go to your left ear to your right here. which can be really fun down the line. Once you get into mixing and then if it's a MIDI track or an audio track that has a input, you click this to actually arm it, so I'll show you that. Here I right click. If you insert a MIDI track Safety Me track, that's your arm button. If it's ready to record, but don't worry about that will jump into recording a little bit later on. So this is where your tracks live is over here on the right side of also your sends in your master track, which we'll talk about later as well. This is the actual arrangement where everything goes. This is where you put everything. This is what's called a browser. This is where you find sounds, audio effects, video effects. Excuse me, many effects. I'll have, ah lecture on that, and then down here you have to windows separate windows. You have one, which is your audio effects rack, which I'll show you in a little bit how you convey drag audio effects into here to affect the track or this is the clip. So the actual clip that you have once you have that Once you have a clip selected, this will be where you actually can tweak it and mess around and do fun Stuff this over here, you can turn this honor off. This is your help. So helping info. If you go to view and info that will turn that on info view, you can turn that on or off or hide. It depends what you want. It's nice. This will just kind of tell you what it whatever your whatever your scroll over it will tell you what it is. And then up here, obviously you have things like your track tempo, what time it's in. You have. This is your Metrodome. This is your quant ization play pause, Some other fun, nitty gritty things in here. This is how you loop wherever you're at and then other things over here, which we'll talk about later as well. So this is just an overview of your work station. This is where you assemble your track. These are the actual tracks, depending on which one you have selected. These are where you put audio effects. So where you couldn't tweak your audio or your midi clip your piano roll and this is your browser where you find your sounds and effects. So in a nutshell, that is just the overview of how the program looks. 5. Lesson 2: Navigation: All right, So now that we know what the different workstations air for, I'm going to dragon a clip from the browser. Don't worry about this. So I had to do that later. And one magical thing about able to in which why I love it is a Daw is because anything that any clip, no matter what tempos thes are at these were played. When you import any sort of audio and a bilton, it's automatically warped to your BPM. Your BPM is how faster track is. So this could be If I play this back, I'm gonna turn the volume down. Just doesn't. Last year's out. This is at 130 bpm. And if I take it back to 85 then this is now how it plays 85 which is pretty cool. And that's, uh, that saves so much time. If you're into sampling, which I am, I'm really, um, into manipulating audio, which able 10 is amazing for. And so what I want to talk about in this lecture is navigation. Just once you're actually in this when you're in this view, this arrangement view and you want to move things around, what is it that everything does now? Once you're in you and you actually have a clip, what can you do? So when you the way the tables and works is you have these three different icons that you notice the change when I'm up here, this magnifying glass is unique to a bilton. This is how you can sort of drag. If you drag it down, it zooms in, you can move it around. This is how you can see what's going on in your clip. This is your little play head where you can say how much you want it to loop. And so, no, if I want that toe loop, I'll click this loop icon, and this will perpetually play over and over. And then you also have this little this little speaker icon that shows up, and when you click that it'll play depending on where you click it in the track. So that's what How these work the magnifying glasses. Cool when you can get really kind of, uh, you can get it allows you to move around and edit things very quickly, which is really nice. There are also some key hot key preferences, which I'll get into in a quick lesson next. But while we're here, when you grab a clipping, you select a clip. It works like a lot of other processors, whether that's make yourself word or if you're in any you know, you want to copy and paste. Think of it in a very similar way. You would highlight what you want and then you right click. You get all these options, which again, these get this congee it pretty you can nerd out on a bunch of these things and there are other course that will dive much more into these. That's not what I'm gonna talk about here except simply copying, cutting, duplicating and pasting. So say, I just want that part of the clip. I copied it. Now I can right click and paste, which is really helpful if, say, I just wanted So I just wanted that kick. Then I can take it. I can copy, I can pace it. However, at the same time, what I'm going to talk about soon is the hot keys. That makes that a lot easier. But anything that you want, if you wanna grab it, you can highlight it like that if you had multiple tracks say we took this, you copy it and paste it up here. If I wanted to take all of this, I could highlight that both at the same time. Cut them, Put them over here. It's Ah, it's to be really, really helpful. So I'm gonna undo that, which is control Z like most most processing and instead what I want to show you is and especially able didn't live. 10. I don't think you knew this and nine, but you have these little corners that you can also drag with the fade in fade out, which is really helpful. And what I want to talk about now is something that I highly recommend and that's getting used to the key commands. Uh, it's really similar, you know, it's I'm not sure what it's like on a PC, but on a Mac, it's control. See for copy control, expert cut control Z for undue and control V for paste. So if you always have one hand on your mouse and then your other hand kind of hovering over your command and your shift keys, it allows it a lot easier. You can do things much quicker. Copy paste that. Take that. And actually, I want to cut that on. Put that over here. Wait. Let's undo both of those. So it allows you your work speed to really increase. You can also see all of these other key commands that I'm not gonna dive into. But you don't have to memorize them all. But just get used to the ones that you find especially helpful. Another one that I use all the time. If you hold down the option key and you click, you can duplicate clips to move to other places. So say I really like this loop. I'm gonna meet this. So I really liked. And I just wanted that to be it over and over. I can take that. And I can. Either you command d to duplicate it, or another option would be I could snag one and then I hold option and I dragged over here . Then I could grab both hold option. Drag them over here. Gravel. Four. You get the point. You can. If you're working with audio, you can. It allows your work pace doing just increase a ton. If you use the different key commands and they're just like everything else. It's copy paste, cut, undo and I'd hide the recommend just getting used to those. If nothing else, it'll save you a bunch of time. 6. Lesson 3: Browser: all right. So enabled. Unlike Dan, similar to Abel's alive nine, you have this thing over here called the browser, which I just want to talk about. I'm not going to talk about a ton. Ah, because this is something again that you're gonna use and find. It works for you, but this is where you find a lot of different things in the sense of sounds. These are all things that come with a built in drums that come with a built in instruments that come with a built in. You can load all of these up either by clicking, dragging and dropping them, or they'll have different presets in here. For you, like this operator is a synthesizer. You'll get used to these. Some of these are different sounds. And so wave table was again able to 10 synthesizer. And so these will be different sounds that you could come in and drag in. I don't use the's a ton so up anytime. Most since sounds that I use now, at this point, I make So rather than clicking these and going to their since sounds typically if I'm going to use an operator, I'll just load one up and then I'll just use it to actually craft my own synthesizer sound . But that's a whole another can of worms. And there will be other tutorials on operator things of that nature that we can always get into later. But so that's your instruments. And then you have your audio effects. So say I really like this loop, right? We're gonna take this loop the one that we had before and say I wanted to give it a little bit of reverb. That's where you would come in. Here you go. Toe all these are different audio effects that allow you to add and modify your existing audio. So say, this is my loop right now. So what I want to do, I'm actually gonna drag this loop out to be the 1st 1 that we had. And so I wanted some reverb on it. What you do is you can double that. They have different types of re verbs, but you can double click one and it will show up on your track. And now this reverb will be on this clip if we play it so you can hear the difference there . And that's something gonna talk about in one of the next videos are your audio effects, but this is where you find them. All is in your browser. You also have many effects, so this would affect a MIDI track. That's something that you would play on your keyboard, whether it's a midi keyboard of your actual keys on your laptop, Max for live. I'm not even gonna talk about much. That's how you can build your own instruments. That's the whole nother can norms as well plug ins. The These are different items and synthesizers and effects that you can get there called Third Party. And so these will be synthesizers, like this ominous fear synthesizer I paid a lot of money for, whereas other things you can possibly find online or I'm not gonna recommend necessarily bootlegging them. But if you if you can look around, you can often get either a free trial or find different versions of thes that you might have not have to pay. As much money for plug ins are can be really cool, powerful synthesizers and effects. At the same time, they often take up more processing power. So any any third party plug ins that you use. Just be mindful of that because they if you start running too many instances, it can slow down your project. Then you have clips again. These air these air from able to needs will be different depending on what you have and what you use. Uh, I don't really use much of the Mableton stock stuff. I do use a lot of, uh, loops and sounds that I get from spice or make my own. So if you don't have splice yet, I'd highly recommend that or find a producer that you like and buy their sample packs because having good sounds can get you a long ways. And I'm not saying I have anything else he's able to loops. Maybe these could be good for inspiration, but I just don't tend to use them much, so I'm not going to cover. I spend a lot time covering them in this tutorial. 7. Lesson 4: Audio Effects Rack: Okay, so now I've told you about the browser now has actually put this babble toe work. Let's go to clips or sounds. Where where we audio effects instruments samples are so here we are in sample. So we have this. This was a sample I dragged in. Let's find one more. Okay, so it's kind of a cool guitar pluck. Will just clicked it, drag it dropped that in here. And that will also now be if we enable that track that will also be it a similar BPM. Let's hear that sounds okay, so that's already a simple loop. But say you want to edit this clip. Either you want to add effects or you want to go in and tweak it. These were the two windows I was talking about before that air down here. So you have your audio effects, which we obviously don't have any. But when you select a clip, then you can come in to this window and this is where you can get Really, uh, you can get very granular with your edits. This will be a tutorial on its own on warping, editing, slicing audio. But in a nutshell, this is where you can, like, change your volume, you can pitch it up and down. This is when you get those kind of Kanye West chipmunk sounds or when vocals air transposed or pitch really high up You can take your clip. You can reverse it. You can warp it, change all sorts of stuff. This I'm not gonna dig into too much. But I just did Want to tell you this is where you can get Very This is where Mableton really shines is that you can get super specific with your audio clips, and that is a ton of fun. And so that's this left window down here is your clip. But over here is your audio effects. And this is where I just wanted to talk a little bit more about what you could do with audio effects. So I deleted that clip because let's say I just wanted this one riff and I'm gonna fade this out. So So I just wanted this one riff because I really like that. And I wanted it to maybe repeat or be a little bit, have more reverb or something like that, and you can stack audio effects on top of each other. So say we go back to our audio effects. Since is a piece of audio. That's what we're shooting for. And so I want to add some reverb so I can really kind of get it to feel a little bit more expansive. Let's hear that sounds okay, Cool. So now that's starting to shape up a little bit. Has a little bit more decay. It's starting to feel a little bit bigger and simple delay. You can again we'll get into what these different, um, effects are. But again, this is just showing that you can stack effects. So this is a simple delay, and this means that if you play it, you'll hear what I mean by a delay. And so then you can kind of choose the different kinds of delay that you want. And now this reverb is also stacked with simple delay, and so it can go on and on as many of these audio effects that you want to add to it. But know that this is where they're gonna live, and another key thing to remember is that the order that you have them in well effect the chain differently. So that's how you work with your clip view in your audio effects rack 8. Lesson 5: Using Clips: Okay, so now that we have the beginnings of this little loop, it's pretty simple. What I would recommend is just taking a couple of these different clips that already come with able to enter these samples in putting them in and for your project. That's all I want. It doesn't have to be on a completed beat just to take 11 loop, maybe like this, build it out. So it's a little instance and then say you click this and I do command d it will duplicate the whole thing. And now I have a little 10 12 2nd loop and this is what it sounds like if you play it. And so what would be, I think pretty easy to add to. This is if we just added some high hats. So let's come in here. And to add a new track going to delete this, just weaken, see ourselves better. You right. Click over here says drop files and devices here, you right click. And I know I want to insert an audio track. So I insert audio track and I'm gonna come appear to search, and I'm gonna search for ah, high hat. And so When you click these, you can preview them. Cool. So let's take this I had and drag it into the project. And now if I know I want this, I'm just about every other bar I can. I'm gonna hold option and so that I can duplicate it. Cool. So I'm gonna turn that down so it's a little allowed. But now that I have these two, then I can grab those to duplicate them on. So we're already starting to kind of see how that's affecting it. And again, you can come in here if I want to. Maybe turned down this piece of a high hat, Aiken, turn down that high hat and now also put that high hat over here, and then I can duplicate that clip so that it plays for this whole first part of the beat. So it's a simple is that that's all that I think just to get from a to B to start making a beat, that's all it takes is start looking around for different samples or clips that you like. You can just start messing around with them recording audio or medio excuse me recording audio or midi that you want in and you get a loop within just a couple minutes. Something super simple. Don't overthink it. It doesn't have to be. You'd have to be Dr Dre. Just get some sort of a loop down. And the more that you make, the easier it becomes just because you get used to the software and that's the key to sticking with it. 9. Lesson 6: Recording: in this video, I'm going to talk to you about recording both recording, audio and recording MIDI. So the first thing that I'm going to do show how to record audio. So this could be through a microphone that I'm speaking, and now, or if you wanted to record a saxophone or a flute or guitar through a microphone, you would record audio in. So you right, click insert audio track and then you want for your input, meaning the microphone. You have to check in live in the preferences to make sure you have the right input configured. So for input. Since I want the microphone that I'm using, I'm going to use my road and T USB. And now, if you look at it, you can tell that it's monitoring the input that's going in. If you want to hear yourself, you could select in or auto here, and then you can actually hear what's going on more than you can click off. If I arm the track, remember, if you're gonna records and it has to be armed, and now, as you can see these levels going up now, if I click one of these buttons, you'll be able to hear my voice again in it. It might sound a little bit, stranger doubled. If I choose that, then you can hear it's a little bit doubled. That's another one in. I'll leave that offer now. So once that is armed, then I'll have to do is you come up here and you click this they're pretty similar to you gonna be his big circles, these red circles, you click it and then you can record, uh, before I should mention that. So this is gonna be your count in This is your Metrodome and says You're counting of one bar and I have one bar count in before I record so that we get four clicks and then it records. So let's go now. If I talk into the microphone, you can actually see my voice being recorded here. So it's stop that I'll delete it and our court in a snap that goes along with the beat. Cool. So now we have our snaps. Let's hear back with snaps one off. So that's obviously pretty rudimentary, and you'd want to do a lot more of those because they're doing too much of the track right now, but you can see how you can get really creative with this once you start to add in audio effects and things of that nature. So that is how you record an audio, whether that's voice snaps, claps, guitar, flute, piccolo whatever you want. But another up, very. Another option that I use a lot is recording Midi. I don't record a ton of audio in, but I do record in quite a bit of MIDI. So then you're gonna go right click Insert midi Track, and what MIDI allows you to do is this is how you can play if you have a little midi keyboard or in my set up right now. Since I'm trying to be exportable as possible, I just play off my actual keys on my laptop. So as I press keys, you can see that this is triggering something. This is triggering that is giving us a MIDI signal. But I don't have anything loaded, which is why there's no sound playing. So let's come over to instruments in a browser. Let's load up a piano, let's load up a grand piano. And so now with this grand piano loader, if I press a key on my keyboard. It will obviously play the keys. And if we solo this track and I record this back in, that is how you can record enmity. And once you have enmity, obviously things you'll never Sometimes you'll play it perfectly. But often times you might miss a note here and there. And once you click a clip, remember, you can come down to this clip view. This is audio. This is gonna be where you measure with audio. If it's a midi track, this is where you can mess around with the different notes, and you can move things around. Even in this piano clip, you can copy and paste things. So you just wanted one note repeating over and over. You can duplicate notes you can short and notes, you can lengthen notes. Um, this is really amazing tool, especially if you aren't amazing. Classically trained musician. This is where you can have a lot of fun. You can change your know velocities because the opportunities are really endless, and you don't have to be a perfect musician to make good sounding beats. So this this piano roll is nothing we can dive into Ah maybe in another class. But if you want to just record whether these could be drum hits or different sounds, that would be a MIDI track. So again, the two options you have you can record either audio or MIDI. Midi is just a signal that's triggered their keyboard. The actual keys and audio would be something to record in, like a guitar or microphone, something like that.