Ableton Live Quickstart Guide – Part 1

This guide is presented as a way for new users of Ableton Live to read less and do more. Get accustomed to the basics quickly, and start making music right away. I’ll present step by step instructions and only the information you need to get started. Here is Part 1:

Enter Ableton’s Session View

The first thing you see when you open a new Set is Live’s “Session View”. Live has automatically created an audio track and a MIDI track for you.

Ableton Live’s Default Session view. Usually seen when creating a new Live set.

Our first step is to trigger an audio “one shot” (a single snare hit in this case).

1.) Locate Live’s File Browser to the left of the screen. Notice to the left of the browser are three buttons that have small folders with numbers on them. Select the first.

2.) If you don’t have Live’s built in Library selected, do so by clicking the light gray box at the top of the File Browser (mine says Library in the screen shot above). Select “Library” from the pull down menu.

3.) Now that you’re inside of Live’s Library, click the small arrow that is left of the folder labeled “Samples”. You should see the folder expand into a three sub-folders labeled “Components”, “Loops” and “Waveforms”. This is how most navigating is done in the File Browser.

4.) Repeat step 3, only this time, open the folders titled “Waveforms” -> “Drums” -> “Snare”. You should now see a list of audio files, starting with Snare-AmbientLoudPunch-Stick-Hit-Hard.aif. Click the audio file and if you have the audition button enabled (located near the bottom left of the File Browser) you can preview the file.

5.) Click and drag Snare-AmbientLoudPunch-Stick-Hit-Hard.aif from the File Browser into the Audio Track. The audio file should now be in the Clip Slot 1 of the Audio Track.

6.) Click the “Play” button on the snare drum clip that is now inserted into Clip Slot 1. If you hear the not-so-subtle “thwack” of the snare drum, congratulations, you’ve learned the basics of triggering clips in Session View! Make sure you hit the stop button on your transport panel. (If you don’t know where that is, read my tutorial on Breaking Down Ableton Live’s Control Bar).

This may seem a bit dull, but the new found knowledge of dragging clips from Live’s File Browser, and triggering it in Session View is one of the most primitive, yet often used aspects of Ableton Live.

Next up, working with loops.

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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