Ableton Live Quickstart Guide – Part 1

Dropping An Audio Loop In Session View

Being able to drop a file into a Clip Slot is pretty cool, but this tutorial is about creating music quickly with Ableton Live. So, now that you’ve got the basics down, lets start working with audio loops.

1.) Start by deleting the existing snare sound in the Clip Slot by simply clicking on it, then hitting the delete key on your keyboard.

2.) Navigate back to the File Browser and collapse all of the folders you’ve expanded earlier. Do this by clicking on the arrows next to the folders that are pointing down. Your File Browser should look like this:

3.) Open the folders “Lessons” -> “Samples”. You will see plenty of audio files at this point.

4.) Before going any further, I want you to notice the BPM (Beats Per Minute) or tempo of this project (located top left of Ableton Live). It should read 120 (Live’s Default tempo). This will come in handy in the next step.

5.) Next, back in the File Browser, locate the file titled Hiphop.wav and drag it into the first Clip Slot of the first Audio Track.

6.) If you look at the BPM again, you’ll notice it automatically changed from 120 to 95. Why did this happen with this clip, but not the snare?

Since this is a drum loop, and not just a single sound (like the snare) Ableton calculated the BPM of this drum loop with it’s Auto Warp Algorithm, which it recognized as 95 BPM.

Because this is the first loop you’ve dropped into this Set, Live will automatically adjust the overall BPM to match. If you dropped another loop into another clip slot, the overall tempo of the Set would remain at 95 BPM until you manually change it.

7.) Click the play button on the clip. Once it starts, it should repeat until you hit the Clip Stop or the Transport Panel Stop.

Ableton’s Clip Stop. This will only stop the clip on the current track from playing.

To stop the entire Set, use the stop button on the transport panel.

Multiple Loops In Session View

Now that you’ve got a simple drum loop, it’s time to add a more melodic loop. Here you will learn the fundamentals of triggering and stopping audio loops in Session View.

1.) To add another audio loop, we’re going to go to the File Browser and locate the file named Synth.wav. By this point, if you’re not already there, navigate to the Ableton Live Library and expand the folders “Lessons” -> “Samples”.

2.) Once you’ve located the file, you can either double-click it. A new audio track should automatically be created, with Synth.wav in the Clip Slot. You now have two separate loops on two audio tracks.

3.) For now, we won’t need the MIDI track smashed in between the two audio tracks. Delete it by simply clicking where it says “2 MIDI” on top of the track and hit delete on your keyboard.

4.) Hit play on both clips, they should both trigger in time with each other. If you notice a slight pause when clicking play on both clips, this is Live’s way of ensuring that both clips start on the same bar. This is handled by Live’s Quantization Menu.

Selecting “None” on Live’s quantization menu, then re triggering the loops can yield interesting results.

5.) At this point, you can have fun with it. Experiment with other clips in Live’s Library. The basics of improvised arrangements can be learned by just starting and stopping certain clips and layering sounds.

To learn more about working with loops in Ableton’s Session View, visit the built in help in Ableton under “Help” -> “Help View”. Check back for part 2 of this guide in the near future.


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2 thoughts on “Ableton Live Quickstart Guide – Part 1”

  1. Thanks!! I need to make a two minute orginal song for a class I am in and I just needed to figure out how to get instrament sounds complied together. This was very helpful!

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