Since its launch in Ableton Live has established itself as one of the most groundbreaking and widely adoted DAWs of the modern era. It’s the music production tool of choice for countless house and techno producers and has become a staple fixture in music studios – and bedrooms – around the world.
If you’re looking to learn Ableton Live then it can be difficult to know exactly where to begin. There’s no shortage of Ableton Live tuts online but they vary in quality and price. Luckily for us, Kadenze.com have teamed up with CalArts (California Institute of the Arts) to put together a fantastic – and free! – video tutorial course for anyone looking to get started with Live.
Free Ableton Live course: Sound production for musicians and artists.
What will you learn by doing this free* course? Over 9 sessions, course instructor Jordan Hochenbaum and guest tutor Robert Henke walk you through the basics of mixing, production and sound design in Ableton Live.
The material covered in this free course gives you a solid foundation in producing music in Live and sound design, to more advanced topics such as Ableton “racks” (Audio Effect Racks, MIDI Effect Racks, Instrument Racks, and Drum Racks) and multi-band effects processing, advanced modulation, warping, time-stretching, mangling audio and more.
This course will show you how to take advantage of Live’s audio analysis tools for extracting grooves, melody, harmony, and drums from recorded sound.
The course videos come with English, Spanish; Castilian, Chinese, German and Portuguese transcripts.
*Note that a few of the course videos require a premium (paid) subscription to watch but the majority of the videos are free to watch. Premium Membership is not required to enroll in this course.
Topics covered in this 9 part course:
Session 1: Introduction to Ableton Live
This session covers the fundamentals of Ableton Live. Jordan introduces you to Live Sets and Projects, tracks, clips, the Session View, the Arrangement View, exporting audio, and more.
Session 2: The Nature of Sound
This session covers the basic properties (physics) of sound, an introduction to digital audio theory, and gain staging.
Session 3: Levels and Panning
This session covers the fundamentals of setting up a basic mix, including balancing levels, placing sounds in the stereo field, and how and why to mix into pink noise.
Session 4: Sculpting Frequencies: Equalization
EQ is one of the most important tools in a producer’s tool box. This session covers using EQ to shape your sounds and mixes. Learn about the different types of EQs (3-band, Graphic, and Parametric) and how to use them on different sounds, using EQs for dramatic effect, as well as creating dynamic EQs.
Session 5: Reverb and Space
In this session you’ll learn about natural and analog reverb, sound reflections and absorption, and how to best to use Live’s powerful digital ‘verb to bring a sense of space and depth to your tracks. Additional lessons in using reverb for sound design and FX will be covered.
Session 6: Compression and Dynamics
In this session you will learn about the importance of using dynamics processing and how to take advantage of compression to produce punchy mixes. Topics covered include an overview of how compression works using Ableton’s “Compressor”, buss compression with the “Glue” compressor, Parallel/NY compression, multiband compression with the “Multiband Dynamics” compressor, and Side-chain compression.
Session 7: Slicing and Dicing: Sampling in Live
This session covers the foundations of sampling from a historical perspective (Musique Concrete to Hip Hop), and practical use of samplers and sampling including using Live’s Simpler and Sampler devices for synthesis and sound design, chopping up drum breaks, etc.
Session 8: Parallel Signal Processing: Ableton Racks
This session covers Abelton Racks including using Audio Effect Racks, MIDI Effect Racks, Instrument Racks, and advanced Drum Rack configuration for a wide range of applications including: dynamic audio effects, custom arpeggiators, multiband effect processing, and more.
Session 9: Inside/Outside: Advanced MIDI, Syncing Laptops, Mapping Strategies, and Audio Analysis
The final session covers a wide range of advanced production techniques in Live including a deeper understanding of the MIDI protocol, syncing multiple Live sessions on different computers via a standard computer network (WIFI/Ethernet), mapping strategies for live performance, as well as advanced audio analysis in Live (extracting “grooves” from audio, and converting melody, harmony, and drums from audio-to-MIDI).
What you’ll need to take this course:
To get the most from this course you’ll need a Mac or PC running Ableton Live 11 Standrard or Suite edition. If you do not have Live you can still find plenty of useful information which is applicable to any DAW – or hardware setup – in many of these videos.
Sign up for the course here. Reminder: A Premium Membership is NOT required to watch the majority of the lessons in this course.
You can start the course immediately after signing up.